Friday, December 22, 2006

The Maiden who Travels the Planet
Written by Benny Matsuyama
Published in the FFVII Ultimania Omega book.

Translated by Xcomp.

Chapter Links Broken, Do not use.

Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Underwater...

Aerith was sinking. Lying stretched out with an expression as if she was asleep, she quietly sank into the cold and tranquil lake. The net of light scattered by the ripples of the surface danced upon her motionless body. It was as if it was trying to tie onto her.

Her kind face could no longer have those expressions that were full of energy. The feelings of joy and fun that would spread to everyone around her, the anger she had towards the weak, and the endless tears she had in sorrow... None of them were going to appear again.

Her body was going to be silenced for eternity.

However, that didn't mean the end of Aerith. She was watching. She wasn't watching through her beautiful green eyes but through her soul... She watched within a discarnate body filled with the energy of life, as it overlapped her physical body. She watched as the surface of the lake drew further away. She watched as the human shapes gazed at her from the hazy other world (the world where things were alive was another world to her). She watched Cloud's face which looked as if his heart was going to fall apart from the sadness of loosing her, the anger and hate he had for her being taken from him.

"Don't blame yourself. There's nothing to worry about anymore. It's going to be all right even if Meteor falls. So don't let yourself be dragged down by those feelings. Just think about how you can be yourself."

She tried to say it but her lips wouldn't move. There was no magic that would let her thoughts reach Cloud from her spiritual body as Cloud disappeared fast into the distance. The light that twinkled on the lake's surface became weak and distant as she sank. She fell smoothly into the depths of the Cetra ruins, The Forgotten City. Aerith, the last remaining survivor of the Cetra had fulfilled her mission to protect the Planet. The final place where she was supposed to reach had no boundaries no matter where she went...

Chapter 1

Yes. No matter where she went.

She had reached the bottom of the lake. But even now Aerith continued to sink.

Her physical body after many years of losing its life was now held deep underwater, covered in plantation that was like powdered snow. It told of how she was now separated from her short twenty-two years of live for eternity. The vessel that had been separated from the soul was going to return slowly to the Great Earth in the pure water.

Aerith's consciousness was moving to the next lower level.

Nothing changed as she breathed lightly in the dust that floated around her. Aerith continued to sink through the heavy layer of precipitation. The only thing she could see was darkness... But it was a warm, tender lightless world where she didn't feel lonely.

She soon realized that it wasn't dust or mud that she was feeling. Her senses had adjusted so that she could feel the things around her. Her five senses were at a higher level that let her feel the true nature of the objects.

The world she could see now was not of darkness.

She was inside some faint green light that wrapped around her. At the same time, she recognised what she saw. Energy that was split into thousands no, millions of streams were flowing and circulating around every nook of the Planet. The flood of light that engulfed her was one of the streams that separated from the rest. The amount of Mako energy that the Planet had was far beyond human expectation and could not be presented by mere figures.

Aerith watched as if the Planet was beating with life. She watched the brilliance of the Lifestream that drifted around. She recognized the source of life of which everything returns to.

It was a place full of energy where countless souls were merged together along with their knowledge and experiences. Even their memories were unbound from them. But Aerith was "whole". She remained herself in the place where the consciousness of the dead flowed and swirled about, keeping the character she had when she was alive. She retained the consciousness of the Aerith Gainsborough she once was and she was now drifting with the Lifestream.

She didn't know that she would become this way.

As the last surviving Cetra, she had the role of maintaining the Great Earthfs richness during her lifefs journey. Aerith talked to the Planet. Talked to the consciousness that was part of the Lifestream, that is. She was told that death was not the demise of life.

Most humans thought death meant that they would become nothing. Having their consciousness engulfed by darkness, never waking again, a nothingness that can't be comprehended ? they thought death meant to be totally annihilated. That's why humans feared death. They were afraid of losing their existence. Even if they themselves realized that they were a race that had a short lifespan, there were many that wanted to avoid it. Even those that had reached an old age after a fulfilling life.

Aerith knew that death didn't mean to be annihilated. She even knew about the world that a Cetra would reach in the end once they had fulfilled the mission they had on the Planet. That was why she accepted death fearlessly even when she had a strong feeling that it was going to happen to her soon one day. She fulfilled her mission the way she should have without any fear. Her heart was at peace even though the humans, who lost their power to speak with Planet long ago, said that she died an unnatural death. She had no regrets such as wishing she was still alive or because she avoided her mission.

Even so, she was sad. Her heart was in pain.

All the companions that she had journeyed with, the people she grew close to for the first time, the mother that raised her and looked after her for fifteen years Elmyra, the people that she didnft know too well, the people who she might have met in the future, people she hadn't met yet... It was a fact that she could no longer be with the "living".

Aerith also knew that the sadness was also with those who she left behind. They didn't know that she still existed as her soul. They didn't need to know. Even if she wished they did, the sadness wouldn't be healed if they knew the truth. The thought of everyone's sorrow made the pain in her even worst.

Aerith was in even greater pain when she thought about Cloud.

She also had good feelings towards him. At first, she thought he somehow had some similarities to her first love. Even so, his looks, voice and personality weren't similar and he also made her think of him as a mysterious person... But it soon didn't matter. She loved him much more than her first love. Cloud was her hero and he couldnft get away from danger. She saw him as someone full of confidence, cool and had the impression that he would disappear in an instant if she took her eyes off him. She wanted to stay by his side forever if she could. She really wanted to.

When she left her companions and headed for the Forgotten City, Cloud's heart was like an egg that was on the verge of cracking open. It wasnft going to crack open like the way an egg hatched but, as if only the yolk was going to seep out of it. It was as if his mind was going to shatter. She wanted to comfort him. If she wasn't the last survivor of the Cetra she probably would have done so without a doubt.

However...

The pale black and silver white man, who was once a hero, had taken over the will of the "disaster that fell from the skies", Jenova and was in a state of madness. He was going to summon the most powerful destructive magic, Meteor using the Black Materia. Having been passed the mission from her Cetra ancestors, she had no choice but to carry it out. Sooner or later Sephiroth was going to summon the giant meteor that will surely inflict an enormous amount of damage to the Planet. It would cause a wound that could destroy the very Planet itself. Without doubt, the Planet would then concentrate a large amount of the Lifestream to heal itself. It was Sephiroth's intention to make all that power his. After that, he would become one with the Planet and become something equal to a God. He would probably then burn all the humans he hates to death. The future of the Planet and the cycle of all life would all end as she knew it.

Aerith could sense from the whispers of the Planet that something could be done to prevent the worst from happening. She also knew that it was something that only she, the last remaining Cetra, could do. She could only obtain the indepth knowledge from the Forgotten City. But heading there also meant that she would become the greatest obstruction to Sephiroth's plans.

That was where Aerith hesitated. Will she let all humans die or was she going to avoid such a disaster in exchange for her life... But she never did think about it and was already prepared. When she did hesitant about leaving Cloud in sorrow, she would think about how it wouldn't save her companions or the people of the world. She had already made up her mind. There was no other choice. It was all for Cloud too.

And so alone, she set off to the altar that was in the Forgotten City to find out what she had to do. Indeed, the key was the last of the Cetra. It was the White Materia that was passed down by the Cetra... As if it held the fate of the last remaining Cetra, this tool could summon the ultimate White Magic Holy needed to counter Meteor. It was the Materia that was entrusted to Aerith by her mother, Ifalna. She had never used it before and had always hid it inside her ribbon, never leaving her. She had the White Materia. Finding out that she had it on her, she prayed with all her heart. Through the Materia, she talked to the Planet trying to summon the White Magic Holy that would destroy Meteor.

Even the slightest hesitance may have meant that her prayers wouldn't reach the Planet. But she done it. The requirements were fulfilled before Sephiroth struck her, after realizing her intentions. She accepted the death that she had felt long ago as the sword pierced through her. She looked at peace.

But a cry came through to her.

It wasn't the sound of her cry. If it was then she would have felt the blood gushing up through her throat and the fury that forced its way out from the depths of her soul - It was the sound of Cloud's heart cracking. It was the cry of his heart that could never be healed of the grief he had towards Aerith's death, the blame towards himself and the hatred he had for Sephiroth.

She was surprised at the great sorrow he had for her. She was a little happy that he thought so much of her but she also felt the pain that was many times greater. There was nothing she could do about Cloud's suffering and the pain ached in her heart.

The pain continued even though she was in the Lifestream.

Although she had lost her body, she recognized the pain by creating an image of herself in her mind. Aerith looked down as she put her hands to her throbbing heart... Before long, she realized something.

All around her was the existence of countless number of consciousnesses. There were lots of voices and an abundance of memories. Everyone around her was something that she never felt when she was in the church in Midgar. Like her, the souls of those that had died had returned to the Planet and were all here.

Even so, she couldn't see anyone nearby that had a form like she did. From what she saw, only she retained the image of her past self in the mist of the flowing energy full of different consciousnesses.

"I wonder... If it's because I'm a Cetra?"

The words came out as a murmur from Aerith. Here, words and thoughts were the same. As an entity of consciousness, her thoughts and feelings were only expressed as waves she emitted. Similarly, the huge number of memories in the Lifestream also reached her as all sorts of waves. All around her she heard whispers of how if you didn't retain a strong ego, you would soon no longer know which consciousness belonged to you.

"I was hoping my words would reach Cloud..."

She puffed out her cheeks a little looking displeased. She was not affected by the confusion of the various consciousnesses that existed in the sea of memories and knowledge inside the Mako energy. Because of her experience of hearing the voice of the Planet when she was young, she had built up a lot of patience. Aerith was raised so that she could retain her own consciousness and not lose her personality.

But she understood returning to the Planet depended on how she was separated as a "whole". Even when water droplets fall into a river, they blend in and can't be seen anymore. No matter how used to things she was, she thought it was odd how her soul could still remain unique in the vast sea of conscious energy.

"But the Lifestream must be a Cetra too, just like me. My mother died and she was also a Cetra... It's been fifteen years. In that time, maybe Ifll disappear and become one with the Planet too."

Slanting her head to the side, she thought more about it.

"Will I be able to talk to Cloud somewhere? So that I can tell him I'm fine... It's kind of odd saying I'm fine but maybe I can be "clearer" about myself here."

Maybe she could be clear about her affections towards Cloud here. Then maybe they would be seen as family or lovers... During her lifetime in Midgar, she felt many souls of the ones that tried to confess their love. Those that still had those feelings or had those feelings left behind them could strongly retain their consciousness as a "whole".

"But does that mean I'll disappear as soon as I meet Cloud? I wonder if that's what's happening or... Is there still something else I've still to do...?"

At that instant, Aerith felt something like an electric shock surge through her. She clenched one of her hands into a fist and hit the palm of her other hand, as it struck her. It was only her imagining her phantom self hitting her hands together but, she could clearly heard the "bang".

"It makes sense. There's a meaning to all this. There must be some reason why I haven't merged with the Lifestream yet and why I am still here as the way I am. Like how I was the only one in the world that could summon Holy from the Planet... There might still be something left that I have to do."

Just when the thought crossed her mind, she felt a little commotion from the Planet. It wasn't from the individual consciousnesses but the Planet as a whole as if to confirm what she was thinking.

"...I see. I wonder what it is."

Her question was answered with silence. The Planet too had yet to know what it was.

She smiled like the flowers that she used to sell in the slums. In the gentle fluorescent light, the smile that was loved by everyone bloomed sweetly.

"It's OK. There are still people I don't want to be separated from. I can't sleep yet. Until that time comes, I'll wander around here for a while. Ifll spend my time here in the Planet... In our Promised Land..."

Wishing she could send away her thoughts, Aerith looked up at the sky... She looked beyond the shell of the Planet above her head. The particles of Mako that floated and shooted around looked like the night sky to her.

She looked up into the sky like the time she sat beside Cloud around the kindling fire in Cosmo Canyon.

Chapter 2

In the world of Mako - Aerith knew that the concept of time and distance here was different from the surface.

Time seemed to flow by slowly and if she wanted, it could also flash by in the blink of an eye. The passing of time in the Mako held no meaning in the first place. The Planet's history was made up of accumulated memories, all merged together and were always by her side. There were memories of the present and also of the past. There was no way that Aerith could have seen all of them but, the events that were inscribed into the memories had surpassed time and were all linked together as a whole. It hinted that time was moving into the future in the world of the living. As those new memories from the surface merge together with the Planet, new life would be brought into the world as the energy from the Planet is delivered. That cycle told her how time flowed by one period after another.

Everything was linked to the insides of the Planet through the Lifestream. Even on the surface, in the most distant places, the flow of conscious energy would be delivered. On the other hand, there were places that were so close but yet, the energy couldn't reach. There were areas that existed where even the winding flow of Mako canft get to. Aerith thought it must be the fault of all the Mako reactors. The energy was never meant to be used that way and if they continued to draw it out by force, it will eventually upset the balance. If the Planet could help humans live a easier life then it probably would have done so. But Shinra Inc. was going too far. If their greed was to continue, then the equilibrium of the Planet's life would collapse... Aerith remembered how flowers would only bloom in the church and how the city of Midgar was drenched in Mako.

"And that's why the people of Shinra wanted to know where the Promised Land was. A land abundant in Mako energy, where only the Cetra knew how to get to... But that place was here. Itfs the place where everyone would reach in the end as they returned to the Planet. The land where the Shinra could obtain all the energy they wanted didnft really exist, did it? It was all just a mistake."

She murmured as she let herself drift with the Lifestream. She gazed at the moving Mako world that had very little change.

"The Promised Land that Sephiroth had in mind was much different. He was trying to create it all by force. He was going to wound the Planet on purpose so that almost all the energy would gather in one place. So that he himself could control it all alone. That was the Promised Land Sephiroth wanted..."

Aerith shivered as she imagined what the Planet would be like if that happened.

"I wonder if Cloud and the others are all right... I hope Tifa and Cloud aren't pushing themselves too hard going after Sephiroth..."

"...Cloud? Tifa? Barret?"

The waves of one of the consciousnesses right beside her expanded as it reacted to her words. She rushed to leave the current she was in because it was the first time she came across another firm conscious other than herself. When she reached the place where it came from, a shadow rose from the Mako. It wasn't as clear an image as Aerith but she knew it was the remnant of a female.

"You know them? Who are you?"

"I'm..."

It seemed her memory was muddled. It was probably because most of her soul had already merged with the Mako. But her core hadnft decomposed and was still drifting there as a whole.

"Oh, I have to introduce myself first. I'm Aerith. Could you be one of Avalanche's members?"

"Avalanche... Yes, yes that's right."

The memories she had was being reconstructed from the Sea of Mako. Realizing who she was once again, her transparent figure rapidly returned to the form she had when she was on the surface. As if Aerith had some influence on her, the colours also came back to her.

Compared to Aerith, she still looked faint but she looked human now and the clothing she had worn also reappeared. Her hair was tied back in a pony tail so that it wouldn't get in her way and her clothing looked like that of a soldier. She too had arrived here too early and she was about Aerith's age.

"How stupid of me to forget... I'm Jessie from Avalanche. Hey... Are you Miss Aerith?"

"You can just call me Aerith."

"Thanks, Aerith. You know Cloud, Tifa and Barret don't you? How is everyone? Are they still fighting Shinra? Oh..."

Jessie shook her head as if to apologize. "You must be like me now that you've come here."

"Don't worry. I'm sure they're all fine."

She changed her thoughts as she tried not to think about Cloud. Here, she couldn't lie so she had to not think about it.

"There was something that bothered Barret for a long time. So you died that time... You were one of the people who were trying to protect the Sector Seven pillar as a member of Avalanche back then. I've only met Mr. Wedge so far..."

"Wedge?!"

Jessie's eyes widened. "Yes, Biggs too! All three of us arrived here together but lost sight of each other... Yes, until just a moment ago, I couldn't remember anything. Until I met you, Aerith."

As if guided by Jessie's memories, two more figures appeared. The forms of a man with a thin beard and another that was stout bodied rapidly formed together.

"Wo- Woah."

The bearded man, Biggs stared at the palms of his hands. "Ifm still me. I thought I was going to disappear."

"I'm so happy I can see the two of you again. And... You're the one that nursed me that time, Miss... Aerith? Did you die too?"

Instead of giving the obvious answer, Aerith nodded with a smile.

"It's been a long time, Mr. Wedge. Itfs nice to meet you, Mr. Biggs. After that time, I became a member of Avalance too so that kind of makes me a junior to all of you, doesn't it?"

"Hmmm, that kind of shows how dangerously high the death rate for Avalanche is, doesn't it?"

"Is Barret still the swagger of a guy he is? Well, he is quite a likeable guy."

"Junior? I'm too happy! It's always been my aspirations to be a senior!"

After that, Aerith told all three of them what Avalanche was fighting for now. It wasn't just Shinra Inc. anymore but also with the much more dangerous existence known as Sephiroth... They had left Midgar to stop his evil ambitions of making the Planet his.

"So Cloud's become one of us now... I'm so happy."

"Heheh... He's a cold guy but I knew he would join us."

"Does that mean Mr. Cloud is a junior too? Hefs going to be tough to deal with."

There was a lot of commotion among the phantoms of the Avalanche members as they laughed and smiled. But in the end, Aerith noticed their sadness. Some deep remorse bound the three of them together.

"What's wrong? All of you look like you're in pain..."

"Well... It's because of the way our lives ended. We can't redeem ourselves now."

Jessie looked down sadly as Biggs continued.

"We fought with Avalanche because we had the same sympathy and thoughts. We thought that it couldn't be helped to have a few sacrifices if we were to stop Shinra. But we were completely wrong. We understood that when we came here... You know about it too don't you, Aerith? About the explosion of the First Sector Mako Reactor."

"Yes... The First Sector was a little distance opposite from the slums I lived in. We weren't told much about it but, we heard quite a lot of people died..."

"At that time, we only thought that they were getting what they deserved if they got caught in the explosion, since they were all people that worked for Shinra on the upper plate. But in the end, all of us ended up here whether we worked for Shinra or not. So wefve been thinking about why we did it. All we were really doing was raising our voices and shouting out our opinions like drunks. We were just over-exaggerating about how we were saving the Planet..."

"...I too didn't think about it that much. I didn't want a minor role in life. I wanted to shine. So I thought by joining Avalanche, I could be a hero who could save the future of the Planet and that's all I thought about... I never imagined that it would get others involved. It's just so foolish..."

Wedge lowered his head in embarassment.

"The whole plan was actually drafted by the old Avalanche which no longer exists anymore."

Jessie went on regretfully, "There were many more members in Avalanche and they were a much more extreme group. We only inherited the name of their resistance group, "Avalanche" from those people who are no longer around. But details of how to make a bomb and the plans of where to set it were left on a computer. Since I was good with machinery and bombs, I decided to try it... But I'm sure that plan was never intended to be used to just disable Mako Reactor One. The people that came up with the horrific plan hated the Shinra. They hated them so much that they would go as far as sacrificing lots of people... I should have realized it. Barret knew nothing about it."

"That's why we..."

Dejected, Biggs looked up to the sky. "Why we wanted to merge with the Planet right away. We wanted to disappear. I remember now. But it was impossible. Barret's fighting to save even more people. We can't do any of that to atone for our sins. We can only be here and continue to suffer."

"In the end, it was all too easy for us to forget who we were because we wanted to be at ease here."

"It just didn't work. When we had the chance, we would revert the way we were. Even then we're not as clear an entity as you are. It's somewhat like a curse."

They all laughed with self-derision until it all ended with a sigh.

"But... But."

Aerith tried to comfort them with her words.

"Everyone's been wrong before. Even I have been selling flowers thoughtlessly for money..."

"Hmmm... I really can't compare my stupidity to that."

"But all of you have been suffering all this time..."

"Thanks, Aerith. But as a senior in Avalanche, it's such a shameful story. All that big talk feels like it's backfired on me."

"I really can't forgive myself. That's why this is the only way I can be here."

"Someday, the day may come when we can return to the Planet but right now, we can't. Now go, Aerith. You must be in that form because there's a role you must fulfil. We're worried our sinful memories will transfer over to you."

"No..."

"And then we'll suffer even more. So go, please?"

Jessie was lying. Aerith knew that she was trying to get far away from her so that she wouldnft have to share their pain.

The phantoms of the three people were fading. Aerith bit her bottom lip as tears welled up.

"Please let me say this at least. That day, many people managed to escape because the three of you worked hard to protect the Seventh Sector pillar. I'm sure the number of people that managed to escape was more than the people who died in Sector One... And I also managed to save Marlene because of that. Maybe that isnft enough to free you allc I know that people's lives arenft something you add and subtract with but... Please remember that it's not only sins that you carry."

"...Thank you. Thank you, Aerith."

The voice of someone that no longer knew who they were echoed and they were taken back to the prison that they had decided for themselves. They sank into the sea of memories.

Aerith wiped away her tears and started walking again. She prayed that the souls of the Avalance members would be able to rest in peace soon.

Chapter 3

Aerith didn't know how much time had passed on the surface. Has it been days since she met Jessie and the others, or was it just moments ago?

She wondered if their pain could be healed by themselves. As she asked herself that question, she continued to travel the underground world. She drifted in the Lifestream in the Planet's Sea of Mako.

When she saw the next phantom, she held her breathe.

The point of a steel tube rose from a swirl of faint light. When she realized that it was an artificial hand linked to an arm, she thought that Barret too had left the world of the living. Aerith was sure that she had escaped Midgar with her mother Elmyra. Her heart tightened as she thought of Marlene.

"Marlene!"

Aerith's waves of thoughts expanded and they reached the phantom. The full figure of a man with a gun attached to his arm rose from the Mako. The weapon emitted a cold glow from it but it was from his left arm. The gun was fearsome as if it was physically real and the man's faint figure was stained in red.

"You're..."

"A woman... Where have I seen you before? You even know Marlene's name."

"We've met haven't we, Mr. Dyne."

He was Dyne, the governor of Corel Prison, an exile land full of sand and scrap. He was also once Barret's close friend. After what Shinra done to his hometown, his despair made him irrational and falling into a state of madness, he slaughtered many people.

"Ah, I see. You're the girl that was with Barret. Then that means you must be dead too. What a pity."

Not believing what he saw, Dyne laughed. "I can't believe that after killing so many people, I would end up in the same place as an innocent girl like you after I die. This world truly is absurd. What a boring thing this Planet is. Everything really should be destroyed."

"Is that what you still say?"

Aerith's figure stood in contrast to Dyne's. She raised her slender eyebrows.

"Even though you really care about Marlene."

"Who cares. Girl, you-"

"I'm Aerith."

"Heheh... You're a strong one. My left arm is all that remains of my past life. Fine. I'll call you by that name. You heard what I said that time, didn't you? The words I had with Barret. When I was trying to destroy everything, I was going to take Marlene with me here too."

"You're lying. You were just bluffing."

"I can't lie here, right? I was seriously thinking about it at that time to say the least. Then I challenged Barret to a deathmatch and became enlightened."

For a while, Dyne laughed out loudly because of how he had to pay it all back with his right arm and his body. "And I thank Barret for that. After all, I've been swallowed up by the very "world" I wanted to destroy. I didn't want to end my own life. So instead, I wasted all those useless people that were scared in the exile land to free them and make them happy."

"...."

"Do you see now, Aerith? Before you is the helpless, broken apparition of a man that even the Planet won't accept. The Planet that my wife Eleanor has already returned to. And I've already entrusted Marlene to Barret. Whatever happens to the Planet afterwards has nothing to do with me."

"...."

Looking at how silent Aerith had become, he laughed again at how he managed to make the cheeky little girl back down. Then he realized that it wasn't funny and noticed that Aerith never took her eyes off him. He realized he didn't manage to make her back down at all. There was a glow in the gaze of her jade green eyes that made the madness in him back down.

"...You have no guts."

"What did you say?"

"I'll say it again. You have no guts. You don't have the courage to go back and start over. You've only been tumbling round and round where it's the easiest going for you."

As Aerith stared at Dyne, she took a step forward. Under the pressure of her powerful eyes, he hid his face with his gun and unconsciously stepped back.

"Barret also exchanged one of his arms for a gun. He said he would destroy the Shinra with his feelings of regret and hatred. That's why he too had his hands stained with the blood of many people. But he didn't fall apart. Besides taking on the burden, he's really trying to save the Planet this time. He's trying to protect the world that Marlene will live in without running away."

"...Being able to change like that is that simpleton's strength."

"Is Barret special and you're different?"

Dyne moaned at her question. He was waking from his intoxication. It was the thing he hated most of all... He had been intoxicated all this time so that he could forget about himself but, Aerith's direct gaze scattered the mist of madness around him. The armour around his heart shattered.

"I reek of the blood of those I killed with my bare hands right to the very depths of my soul. Can't you see? They've all been clinging onto me all this time. If I go back at all, I'll be dragged back by them."

The red mist that clouded around Dyne's figure suddenly changed into a sticky substance. In the four years since Corel Town got destroyed, he didn't care about how much hatred built up with his metal left arm and because of that, it was now drenched in blood. It was the lock of sin that made Dyne give up.

"Just how am I supposed to start over? All I could do was stay intoxicated. All I could do was hate everything and drown myself in madness! Was I wrong?"

"You're wrong."

She didn't use coercion but instead, she approached Dyne gently. Extending out her hands, she touched the layer of blood that covered him.

"The blood bound to you is something that your feeling of guilt is making. The lives you took away returned to the Lifestream long ago. You can't forget about what you've done but, there is no reason why you can't start over. I guarantee it."

"...."

From the point where Aerith touched, the blood dried up into tissue, detached from Dyne and wore away. Then, Dyne's left arm started to fade away.

"...Will I be able to join the Planet someday?"

"I'm sure you will."

"When Marlene's reaches the end of her lifespan and comes here, will I be able to come out and greet her as part of the Planet...?"

Aerith looked up at Dyne's face and nodded smiling.

"Because you're starting all over again. It will be all right."

Dyne's faint face could now be seen clearly. It was different from the person she met in Corel Prison. It was the true face of someone who sincerely loved his family and hometown more than anyone else.

He could not return to the peaceful times when he would sweat in the mines of Corel before the tragedy happened. Both Dyne and Aerith knew that. Even so, the hearts of people can be rebuilt. They can stand up and face those sad painful memories. If they couldn't then the absurdity would truly spread throughout the world.

"What can I do in this Sea of Mako? No, it's what I must do... I'll continue thinking about the ones I killed for a while. Until the day I can merge with the Planet."

"Yes, I think that's a good idea."

"Aerith, I'm sorry how I treated you. I'm glad I met you."

"You didn't treat me bad at all."

"You really are a stout-hearted one."

For the first time, Dyne smiled from the bottom of his heart and quietly, his image faded away. The tip of the gun on his left arm disappeared.

"After dying and experiencing all that, I can finally stop turning my back against Barret and Marlene. Let me say my thanks..."

Just before he sunk into the Lifestream, Aerith saw it.

She saw Mako particles make their way towards Dyne and huddle together on him as if they had a will of their own. Dyne's faint, surprised voice could be heard.

"Eleanor?"

And so, Aerith went back to her journey.

Chapter 4

Until now, Aerith thought the Lifestream had no scent.

The way her soul perceived was sort of done with five spiritual senses - Hearing was how she felt the remnants around her and, sight was how faint or weak energy was perceived as images. It was true she could touch things too but in this world, you could say it was just an extension of sight.

There was no need to eat so clearly, there was no taste. She just knew when her sense of smell was working, even when there really was no scent. Even the blood that was on Dyne was only symbolical so there was no smell in this world. Aerith thought briefly about how sad it was that even flowers wouldn't have had any scent here.

She came across another soul.

It had the smell of something rotting. It was as if it wasnft completely decomposed but yet, released a strong unpleasant smell as if it was starting to rot away. It was the kind of stench that made you frown.

It was the only spot that the Mako was weak. It was an area where the Mako was distorted as it flowed past it, unable to reform because of getting stuck there. An old man was there.

"Well well, that's a face I remember."

Just like his past life, the man wore an expensive suit that was tailored to fit his character. At a glance, Aerith could feel that he too retained an image that was almost as solid as hers. But the only things clear were his expensive clothing, shoes and ornaments. His face was very faint. He had chubby cheeks, a moustache that had been tidied up and he talked with a shaky voice just like that of an old man.

"Your name was... Doesn't matter. You're the girl that has the Ancients' blood flowing inside you. Am I right?"

"It does matter."

But Aerith had no intentions of telling him her name. The person before her was the former leader of Shinra Inc, President Shinra, the absolute authority of a corporation that surpassed and dictated the nations.

"I see, so you fell down here too. You're dead like me? In the same place?"

The President continued unable to hold back the joy in his tone. "We're reunited in the end as if we've been sent to another life together. The Planet really knows how to make arrangements. I really feel like I've gained something out of this."

"Gained something?"

It meant the same thing that Dyne said at first. But in Dyne's case it was mostly only cynicism towards himself. The old man was completely different. Aerith sensed from his thoughts that President Shinra was seriously thinking the way he was.

"You don't understand do you? The Ancients are more stupid than I thought. Well, that's why you refused cooperating with Shinra Inc so much. My my, what a pitiful and miserable life."

"How rude. I don't remember being miserable at all."

The old man let out a chuckle at how angry Aerith was as if he just made a fool of her.

"Not knowing onefs gains and losses is happiness in a way. But try to think about it. After escaping from Hojo's facility together with your mother, your life has been in the garbage dump slums for fifteen years. When the Turks found you, you could have lived a luxurious life on the upper levels of the plate if you came back to us. At that time, Hojo was dreaming of some other experiment and so I gave the instructions to keep an eye on you. But if you took the initiative of deciding to cooperate with us then I would have welcomed you and given you special treatment. So what do you think now? After living in the slums, crawling around like a bug, getting involved with Avalanche and dying without knowing what luxury is, can you still say that your life wasn't miserable?"

"...That's really a conceited point of view, weighing how fortunate and how unfortunate others are."

"Ifm a self-righteous person. If you look at it fairly I'm sure there is no human being that gained more than me."

A sneer came to his face and the President continued to remonstrate.

"With my wits, I managed to expand Shinra, a company that only started off by producing weapons, to the size it is today. Discovering the possibilities of the uses of Mako energy and developing the Mako reactors that drew the energy out was the turning point. The Mako provided power to the public, raising their standards of life and also made them my slaves. After getting their hands on such a life of convenience, it became something like an addictive drug to the ignorant people and took over their minds. And we, the Shinra that controlled that energy expanded the scale of our company in an instant. With some simple advertising we could gather all the top talents we wanted. Dreams of planning the construction of a Metropolis, a space exploration programme... They would all do it all for me. I could use them. They served me like servants to a king. The public couldn't see what was happening. Even the media that drove the public could only follow Shinra's command as we monopolized the Mako energy. Shinra had taken over the country and I had ascended on a throne in which no one would ever criticize me no matter what I done. I could trample all the fools, have unlimited wealth and dictate as the ruler of the world! I wouldn't mind living a longer life but, never mind that. So, what do you think Ancient? Do you understand which of our lives gained more now? Or rather, how miserable your life was?"

"Hmmm... Maybe?"

What Aerith did understand was that the happiness the old man before her had was far different from what she was thinking. The happiness he spoke off was all relative things. He wanted to be in a position where he had more gain than anyone else. As a result of that, the Shinra Inc's thoughts of absorbing the Planet's life remained with him even now. He was like a helpless soul that couldn't feel happiness anymore than those that were less fortunate than him could.

She had no intentions of pointing that out. If that was the end point of his satisfaction then it couldn't be helped. He couldnft take his hands off the wealth he had scraped together and like rubbish, it was rotting away releasing a stench. As if stuck in a drain - the ugly old man didn't know that he wasn't freed from the misery of his ambitions even after dying.

Always seeking for someone to compare himself with, the President was dissatisfied seeing how responseless Aerith was.

"It was so foolish of me to compare myself to such a stupid human. I'm not in a good mood. I'm pretty annoyed. Leave quickly if you don't understand what I'm saying."

"I'll do that."

This old man couldn't be saved. On the throne where his desires rotted drifting away, he was going to remain there until he reached the end of his long years and his ego disappeared.

Just when Aerith turned her back towards President Shinra and was about to return on her journey...

Something strange happened. A queer wave separate from the Lifestream, rushed into the Sea of Mako shaking it violently. It was an ominous wave like a great pulse.

"What is this?"

Hearing the screams of the old man, Aerith spun round.

All she could see was the figure of the President being drawn away into the distance. Gradually, the speed picked up extremely fast.

He wasn't on a current. The old man was dragged away as if he was caught by gravity, picking up speed as he dropped. He was heading somewhere in the Sea of Mako, drawn away.

Leaving a long trailing scream of terror behind, President Shinra disappeared.

Aerith felt the pulse again. She knew what it was clearly this time. It was the same wave of the one who ended her life in the Forgotten City.

That man was lurking somewhere in the Lifestream.

"Sephiroth..."

The silver haired apostate angel smiled thinly as if taking away the wicked souls to hell. This time Aerith knew the danger wasn't over.

The Holy she had summoned was being suppressed just as it was about to work. The Planet's scar from long ago... Sephiroth was in the Northern Crater that was Jenova's "Promised Land", waiting for the moment when he would be reborn as his original self.

The Ultimate Destructive Black Magic Meteor was on the move. The devil's hammer that would descend from the distant heavens to smash the Planet was summoned.

Chapter 5

Cloud was falling into the Lifestream.

He wasnft falling into it as the dead or as a soul. He was falling into the Sea of Mako alive, in his living body. He was going to pass out.

In the Northern Crater, he found out that his memories were false. He was just a doll who the mad scientist Hojo had transplanted Jenova cells into. A being made to merge with Sephiroth for his resurrection. But as a failure, he was an inferior clone that wasn't even given a number.

He was thrown out like trash in Midgar. Then he met Tifa. He met his "real" childhood friend, Tifa Lockhart. That time, with Jenova's power to duplicate memories, the memories that Tifa had of Cloud was instantly transferred to him. The missing parts were then filled with his own memories of being in Soldier to complete it all. That was how the patched up personality of Cloud Strife, based on the young man that existed in Tifa's conscious, was born. While that "Cloud" held many contradictions about himself, he built up a fictitious character so that he wouldn't be doubtful of himself. That character was himself.

However, the disguise was going to be stripped away.

It started to fail a long time ago. After coming into contact with many Sephiroth clones, the resonance inside Cloud's conscious uncovered many suspicions. Before long after Aerith's death, the dam he had built holding back his suspicions started to overflow. Using the anger he had towards Sephiroth and the goals he had in mind he somehow managed to suppress it but, that only lasted until he met the original Sephiroth.

In the Northern Crater before Sephiroth who had Jenova at his core, Cloud's brittle character fell apart. Right after that, even his conscious came under his control as Cloud himself handed over the key to summoning Meteor, the Black Materia.

Cooperating with the one enemy he hated and being made to turn against his own goal of stopping Meteor, Cloud's character completely collapsed. His false mosaic ego shattered into pieces and in his empty conscious, only the despair of how he was no one but a failed Sephiroth clone remained.

And so...

Now no longer of use, Cloud crossed into the Planet through the Northern Crater, - abandoned into the Lifestream.

With his ego lost, what was going to happen if the highly concentrated Mako, containing the aggregated memories of the Planet, entered his system?

He was equal to a dried up sponge soaking up a liquid. His blank conscious and vast nonsensical memories were all going to be buried away. This state in which someone was expected to be extremely intoxicated was commonly refered to as "Mako poisoning."

With his mind being infringed beyond the point of recovery, Cloud floated within the Lifestream. Before long, his living body that shouldn't be in the Lifestream, was ejected through one of the natural Mako energy geysers into the nearby coasts of Mideel. With his character lost, he was now a crippled person in confusion.

***

Aerith knew one of the reasons why there was a place that the Lifestream couldn't approach. That place had a barrier that Sephiroth setup. The disaster that would fall from the skies, Jenova, brought with it a meteor that created an enormous scar on the Planet due to its impact. Now that place, where lots of energy was gathering to heal the scar, had become a cradle for Sephiroth's resurrection. The flows of life all around were drawn into the unnatural swirl, preventing a discarnate entity like Aerith from approaching it.

Aerith was eager to talk to Cloud as his living body flowed out of the swirl. She had been trying to while his body was being carried to Mideel. But with his mind shattered and filled with despair, Cloud couldn't hear Aerith's voice. No matter how much she cried out, her voice wouldn't reach Cloud just like the time when they were separated in the Forgotten City.

Helplessly watching Cloud's body return to the surface, Aerith stood in the sea of Mako in dismay.

***

"How can I save Cloud? How can I stop Meteor? I didn't think that Holy would be held back. At this rate, the Planet's going to end up the way Sephiroth wants it... What can I do? Tell me, Cloud..."

Aerith cried as she thought about the shattered Cloud that even her prayers wouldn't reach. His wrecked character could no longer be fixed. If he wasn't Cloud in the first place then, who was he? Knowing him only as a former member of Soldier, there was no way she could guess. She embraced the feeling of helplessness that she couldn't put into words.

"Cloud... I miss you. I miss the real you..."

Her whispers and thoughts became expanded into waves and spread out in the Mako.

Her memories of being with Cloud came to mind again. Her impression was that even though he wasn't very social, there was some cheerfulness about him.

"I felt something odd about him but, was everything really just made up and part of his false character? Cloud wasn't real at all? ...No, that can't be true. There were things that only Cloud could think of. Things that he done because he was Cloud. He was never an empty vessel to begin with!"

But she couldn't figure out the truth. Her thoughts just went in circles. Aerith delved into her memories again. Memories that showed Cloud's individuality. The way he walked. She remembered all his actions one by one...

Most of those thoughts merged into the Sea of Mako and awakened a character. The character recognized the image she recalled and "he" woke up.

"Aerith... Is that you?"

At first, Aerith couldn't remember whose voice it was because it was so sudden. Panicking, she turned round and saw a nostalgic face she hadn't seen for five years. He was her light taste of first love. He was also now a very dear friend who she hadn't seen ever since she heard nothing from him. He had the same character she saw in Cloud. Zack who had blue eyes that proofed he was in Soldier appeared before her. He had an image inferior to Aerith's solid image.

"Zack! Does that mean you're dead too?"

Although usually Aerith wasn't the one to ask obvious questions, it was the first thought that came to mind and she spoke out as if it was a reflex. Besides that, it was odd that such a seasoned and highly skilled Soldier would die. Even though she didn't know his whereabouts, she was sure that he was safe and living peacefully somewhere... She blamed herself for blindly believing in such a thing. This cruel reality was a strong shock for her.

""You too?"... Does that mean you're dead too, Aerith? Well, I was going to say the same thing anyway and then... How should I put this... Give my condolences?"

"You haven't changed one bit."

No matter what happened, Zack never lost his cheerfulness. As if saved by his cheerful personality, Aerith smiled weakly. Even though she knew that he was a member of Shinra's Soldier, it was that part of him that was charming to her.

"Lots of things happened. All terrible things. It all started when I was dispatched on a mission to the rural Nibelheim."

"Nibelheim?"

"Yes, do you know about it? That time, I was together with a very famous Soldier that was known as a hero. He suddenly went mad..."

"You mean Sephiroth, don't you?"

Aerith swallowed her breathe. She believed that there was a meaning to why Zack appeared. She had a feeling it was linked to something.

"That bastard really is famous. Or was it because you read about the huge Nibelheim massacre in the news?"

"You were there at the time, Zack? Then what about Cloud...?"

"Woah woah, hold it there! How do you know about Cloud too? And is he safe?!"

"You know Cloud too. There really is a Cloud, isn't there?"

The two of them quickly exchanged what they knew. And then Aerith knew. She knew that Cloud wasn't just a cloned doll made for Sephiroth. She also knew why she saw Zack in him now.

Zack also knew. He knew the current state his close friend was in now. The friend who got involved together with him in the incident as they got hunted down by the Shinra. He also knew that Sephiroth was going to be resurrected and become a threat not just to Nibelheim but to everything on the Planet.

"Zack... What should I do so that Cloud will know about the truth about himself? Can you tell him that he's real?"

"It's impossible for us to do it. The only one who can do it is that girl that was there with us in Nibelheim, Tifa. If the memories she has could draw out the memories in Cloud then maybe..."

"That's going to be hard. But I won't give up. I'm sure there's a chance."

Aerith's face brightened now that there was hope. "When that's done, Cloud and the others will be able to do something about Sephiroth. They'll be able to remove the obstacle that's suppressing Holy.

Before long, the chance came.

***

Under pressure with the Meteor drawing near, the Planet released its massive biological destructive Weapons and the flow of the Lifestream was disrupted by their activities. The amount of energy that surged up onto the surface was never seen before. Gushing out into Mideel, Cloud who was peacefully resting there with Tifa nursing him by his side, both of them get swallowed up into the Lifestream.

Both of them were engulfed by Mako as they fell into the Planet. For Cloud, it was the second time but for Tifa, it was her first experience.

Aerith risked everything she had in this golden opportunity.

She desperately tried to talk to Tifa who was about to get intoxicated by the highly concentrated Mako. Guiding her conscious, Aerith took her into Cloud's closed heart.

In truth, Aerith really wanted to do it herself. But she couldn't carry out the task. That's why she entrusted Tifa with it. She entrusted Tifa with all the feelings she had for Cloud in her heart. She entrusted them to the one that was going to "live" together with Cloud...

And so, Tifa accomplished the task. Collating her own memories with that of Cloud's, she looked for the things that only the real Cloud could know. Proofing it all, the closed door was opened. Not leaving Soldier allowed Jenova's power that was implanted in Cloud to copy the Soldier traits of his close friend, Zacks. Drawing out the deep memories that were firmly clammed up inside all of that, she reconstructed his original character instead of the fake character he created to protect himself.

"You did it, Tifa. Thank you... I'm a little jealous of you but, do take care of Cloud and the upper world."

Tifa embraced Cloud tightly as he returned to his senses. Aerith watched as both of them returned to the surface while smiling like an affectionate mother.

It was a dazzling sight for Zack.

"Man, you know Aerith. Out of all the girls I've gotten along with, you truly are the best. After that mission, we could have stayed the way we were and might have been able to continue to go out with each other after I returned home. I hate Sephiroth. And I hate Shinra who's been hiding all the stuff they've been doing."

"Someone who's gotten along with so many girls can never become a lover."

"How mean. I'm nice to everyone."

"And that's your bad point. You're not simplistic and awkward like Cloud."

"Is that what you liked, Aerith?"

"Who knows. Things might have changed after five years."

"Heh."

Zack put on sad face as if he was sulking but then smiled carefree. It was the unchanged smile that Aerith knew from when they were young. When she was seventeen, it was what attracted her to him.

"It's not over yet but, I'm going to sleep for a while. It seems there's nothing I can do just now. But whenever you feel lonely, call me Aerith."

"Only if I get really lonely. Goodnight, Zack."

Giving a wave, the First Rank Soldier sank into the Mako. Believing that his role was not yet over, Zack settled down to sleep to save up his energy.

Aerith wasn't going to sleep. Because she was Cetra, she didn't seem tired at all.

She was happy. She was happy that she now knew the real Cloud and was able to watch over him, even though it was just for a short while.

Chapter 6

"Hahaha..."

Aerith stopped in her tracks as she heard laughter that sent chills down her spine.

Even as Cloud and the others fought to find a way to break into the Northern Crater on the surface, she continued to travel through the Lifestream, trying to find some tear in Sephiroth's barrier or some opening that would let her free the suppressed Holy. But she found none. Having fully unveiled Jenova's powers, Sephiroth was firmly protecting the Crater that was going to become his cocoon, especially from any forms of approach by the Lifestream. By doing so, he could avoid the will of the Planet that had grown wary of Jenova for all these years and, hide from the eyes of the Weapons that were born to expel any foreign bodies from the Planet.

If Holy didn't work in time then... Just as Aerith began thinking about the situation, the laughter echoed again.

A new soul had just fallen into the Sea of Mako. It was a hunchbacked man in a lab coat who had a face filled with thin nervous veins and a deranged laughter - Originally under the authority of Shinra, he was a mad scientist that performed unethical human experiments repeatedly. Hojo slowly turned his attention to Aerith.

"Professor Hojo..."

"Ah, the daughter of the Ancients. I see. As long as the Cetra has the will power they can exist in the Lifestream without letting their conscious be scattered. They only lose their ability to be human... Hahaha, very much like Jenova and Sephiroth you could say."

"Don't put me together with them. And you still don't remember my name."

"That doesn't matter. It's far more appropriate to call you the last remaining Ancient than any other name so that it reflects your true unique nature. Oh yes, your difference in my samples coupled with my numbering would have been sufficient enough to distinguish you..."

"Are humans and all living things just test subjects to you? You still can't change even youfre here as a soul?"

"Hahaha... Kyahaha!"

As if he was told a funny joke, Hojo laughed out loudly as if he was possessed.

"...Heehee, heeheehee. No, I have changed. I've changed a lot long before I fell into this Lifestream. You don't understand do you? Ah, this lab coat is in the way."

Hojo wrapped his fingers on the lab coat he was wrapped in and tore it off vigorously. The image of his lab coat was torn into thousands of pieces, flying away wildly like feathers, exposing the body of flesh that was hidden underneath.

"...!"

Aerith gasped. The body before her was not human but was composed of Jenova's cells, a sight that she had seen many times. Hojo had grown tired of experimenting on the bodies of others and had turned himself into a subject for his corrupted experiments.

"Heeheehee. In other words, I'm no different from a sample now. Even you never imagined that had changed this much, did you?"

"What have you done... Have you given up your humanity, Professor Hojo? You've violated your soul so greatly youfll never be able to return to the Planet..."

"Lifestream... The cycle of life... Will of the Planet... All of it is no more important than nail clippings to me. What's truly important to me is to find out how far science can go in surpassing nature and the Planet's system. If I can satisfy my supreme ambitions and insatiable curiosity then I have no regrets of losing my humanity. I don't care what happens to the Planet as long as I can proof my theories about the being of Jenova!"

The thoughts that Hojo emitted was pure madness and it wasn't like the madness that Dyne needed to be intoxicated. Unlike President Shinra's ambitions, the end point of his goals was of certain destruction. Hojo was like a living corpse. He had become a slave to knowledge, possessed by his own madness for science, with no regard of life or his future.

"Now this proofs I have far surpassed Gast who was recognized for his talent, even though he tried to flee from science like the coward he was. If Gast was in charge of the Jenova Project now, he surely would never have reached this stage... Haha, yes. Professor Gast was your father, was he not?"

"...Father realized that the Planet was more important than science."

Aerith found out when Tifa and Cloudfs memories merged with the Lifestream when they fell. She also found out that it was Hojo who shot her father when he tried to stop him from taking her as a newborn sample.

"Ha, that was the limits of Gast. Stopping and not doing what remained to be done was blasphemy to science... Heh, itfs time for our talk to end."

Without showing the least bit of guilt, Hojo turned his head in the direction of the Northern Crater in the distance.

"My son- Jenova's ruler is calling. Hefs asking for more life energy. Hahaha, I shall offer myself. Then he will become one with me, the one who he hated the most and looked down upon. This will be our reunion."

Hojo, who had merged with Jenova was drawn away just like President Shinra that time. Laughing happily with madness, he was sucked towards the bottom of the gravity well.

"Let me give you one last piece of advice, Ancient. No matter what you do, it's futile. It's all part of this Planet's system. Many foreign entities from the skies fall into the Planet's life cycle unknowingly and now Jenovafs in there. So where does its soul go? Even if you try to destroy it, it will never disappear. It has merged with the Sea of Mako, drifting through every part of the Planet through the Lifestream. One day, you will all have to live as part of Jenova. Hahaha... It's only a matter of how soon that will happen."

"I will never let that happen!"

"You too will understand someday. Hahahaha-!"

Leaving only his sneering laughter, the thing that was Hojo disappeared outside Aerith's conscious. And then Hojo became a sacrifice to Sephiroth with an expression dyed with joy and madness. Until the last moment before his soul was worn away, he showed no regrets or shame.

Aerith knew that Hojo's death meant the end of Shinra. In that case, Cloud's decisive battle drew near.

She started to run. If Hojo could die to support Sephiroth then there must be something that they could do to save the Planet.

That's what she believed.

Chapter 7

Cloud and his companions defeated Sephiroth.

Sinking into the Planet's scar and absorbing the Mako energy, the original Sephiroth was revived with his wounds fully healed. In the battle that unfolded afterwards, the will he inherited from Jenova, his own ambitions and the strong thoughts he had inside him granted him formidable power but, the humans still managed to crush him in the end. Sephiroth's physical body was destroyed and full of wounds, he retreated.

But only Cloud knew about his retreat. Having been exposed to Jenova's cells, there were traces of Sephiroth's conscious in him - Part of his conscious resonated with it. Cloud could feel the existence of his remnant somewhere inside the Lifestream, continuing to obstruct Holy even now.

Letting only his conscious enter the Sea of Mako, Cloud went in pursuit of him. Riding through the currents, his old enemy was waiting for him. Sephiroth's soul was not yet destroyed and was still a threat to the Planet.

In the world of conscious energy, their swords clashed with each other as they confronted. Sephiroth, the strongest Soldier and the most admired person, tore his long sword across Cloud like a beam of light. But Cloud wasn't afraid. Believing that he had won, Sephiroth raised his long sword for his next strike and at that instant, Cloud struck out at him unleashing all the strength he had. His large blade slashed into Sephiroth's body during that brief opening. His attack opened up another opportunity for him as he struck out at Sephiroth again. It was an unstoppable storm of slashes - fifteen unavoidable attacks one after the other, cut through Sephiroth.

The mad apostate angel smiled boldly. But the damage he had taken was far beyond what he could endure and his spiritual body started to fall apart as he laughed. Beams of light blasted out from inside his body as if they were cutting him apart. Sephiroth was destroyed. Cloud's nightmare that had been continuing since five years ago in Nibelheim finally came to an end.

The Holy that was no longer obstructed immediately came into action.

This time, Cloud had separated from his body and was now in an absentminded state but, in the abyss of the Mako world, he saw a hand there to guide him. It was white and delicate - it reminded him of the hand that gave him a flower in Midgar. Unconsciously, he stretched out his hand...

His conscious returned to his body. Tifafs hand grasped his as the ground below him collapsed away.

If the hand hadn't been there to guide him then he would have been at the bottom of Hades right now. It was good timing. Cloud realized that he had been saved.

But it was all too late.

Midgar was about to become the impact point for the Meteor from the skies and it was already too close to the ground. The gravitational force between the Planet and the giant meteor stirred up whirlwinds that mercilessly revolved on the plate of the upper city. As a result, the Holy energy that stretched in between the Planet and the meteor only increased the destructive power between the two instead of having the effect it was supposed to have.

At this rate, not only will the residents of Midgar taking refuge in the slums get involved but, the Planet would be damaged so badly that it would be beyond recovery. Sephiroth's plan was crushed now but, everyone knew that the worst was yet to come.

The Planet was meeting its demise.

"Lend me your power, everyone!"

Aerith cried out. Her waves of thoughts expanded through the Sea of Mako. Carried by the Lifestream, it spread throughout the Planet.

"I can't do this alone. Lets all protect the Planet!"

The cry of the last Cetra shook the countless consciousnesses that she had awakened during her journey. The entire Planet's conscious was awakened. Of course, among them was also the consciousness of those that were suspended for their atonements. With their strong wills combined together, they managed to control the enormous energy of the Planet.

"I've been waiting for this! Lets light the fuse and blow that meteor away with a bang!"

"It's the Avalanche Lifestream Divisionfs turn! Now that Barret isn't here, I'm the leader!"

"Nooo! I wanted to try being a leader too! That's so unfair, Mr. Wedge!"

"You guys are never serious even though you're Barret's companions. Lets take this seriously and do it for Marlene."

Under their command, countless streams of light appeared on the surface, intertwining together with the Lifestream. Then covering the Planet protecting it like a net, it slipped beneath Meteor and pushed the battering ram from outer space back. The movement of light was like a valkyrie leading her immortal army, riding across the heavens.

"Hey Aerith, did you see Cloud's finishing?"

Zack guided his energy into the second wave as Meteor was thrown back losing its force. "That was one my sword techniques too. Doesn't it make you fall in love again?"

With enough space, Holy now started to take effect. Acting as a barrier, the parts of Meteor that came into contact with it was eroded into dust and was released into space. The Meteor was no longer a threat to the Planet and was now just helplessly waiting to be destroyed.

The Planet had avoided its destruction.

Aerith's thoughts were freed.

Aboard the Highwind, Cloud saw it. So did Tifa, Barret and the others. They saw Aerith's smile that never left their memories, appear in the Lifestream and gently, it faded away as it returned into the Planet.

As time started moving again, their sadness was healed a little.

And so, the records of life that the Planet created continued.

Continued into the birth of a new era...

Many Years Ago:

  • The Cetra, a nomadic magical race which may or may not have originated on the Planet, settle after a long and arduous journey. Some Cetra (later known as Ancients) choose to continue their journey, whilst others settle down and eventually become humans. A few true Cetra still survive, however. [FF7]
  • The Cetra create a tablet describing the existence of Chaos and Omega and their purpose. This tablet will be discovered by Dr. Grimoire Valentine and Dr. Lucrecia Crescent, providing the spark for their experiments. [DoC]

2000 Years B.G.:

  • JENOVA, a malevolent creature, crash-lands on the planet and causes a huge rift, the Northern Crater. JENOVA infects the Cetra with a virus, turning them into monsters. Most of the remaining Cetra are slaughtered as the humans hide out in their new settlements, avoiding the terror. The Planet creates five Weapons to battle JENOVA, but they are never used. A small number of surviving Cetra succeed in containing her in the Northern Crater. The Planet begins to heal itself using its life energy. (It never fully heals.) [FF7]

Between 1999 - 41 B.G.:

  • The Shinra Electric Company emerges as the leading energy provider in the world. They use Mako energy, which is drawn from the bowels of the earth. Mako is also known as Lifestream, a spirit force which is shared by the planet and everyone living on it. Condensed Mako, known as Materia, draws a high market for its magical properties. Eventually Shinra diversifies into military, political, urban development, scientific, astronomical, and communications departments and becomes known as the 'Shinra Corporation', or simply 'Shinra'. [FF7]
  • The existence of Shinra gives way to Midgar, the city constructed around the central power plant. Eight Mako Reactors are placed at the edge of the circular city to provide power to the two levels: the upper plate consists of the well-to-do society, and under the plate, where the slums are.
  • Knowing the Mako can't last forever, Shinra begins conducting a search for the rumored 'Promised Land', a land of supreme happiness and abundant Mako. Only the Ancients know of its location, and Shinra intends to build 'Neo-Midgar' there. [Conjecture: in DoC, Dr. Valentine mentions the ancient tablet may contain info regarding 'Promised Land', so we can assume they are already looking for it at this point.]
  • The Turks are formed as an internal and hush-hush departement in Shinra; they carry out less desirable missions like kidnapping and assassinations. [FF7]

55 B.G.:

  • Vincent Valentine is born. [FF7 - Remember that Hojo's experiments on Vincent allow him to live much longer (theoretically forever). He was killed when he was 27 and stays that age perpetually.]

40 B.G. ca.:

  • The peaceful tribe living in Cosmo Canyon is attacked by the violent Gi tribe. Seto, a wolf-like creature, protects the Canyon by going through a secret passage, and succeeds in holding off the Gi tribe, but is pierced by their petrifying arrows and turns to stone in the end. The tribe, including Seto's son, Nanaki, believes Seto turned tail and fled. Only Seto's father-in-law, Bugenhagen, knows the truth. [FF7]

35 B.G.:

  • Barret Wallace is born in Corel Village. [FF7]

32 B.G.:

  • Cid Highwind is born. [FF7]

30 - 29 B.G.

  • Professor Gast, Shinra's leading scientist, heads a team including a young man named Hojo, a woman named Lucrecia into the Nibelheim Mountains. Gast excavates the body of JENOVA, whom he believes to be an Ancient, and sets up his research lab in the Shinra Mansion in the nearby town. [FF7]
  • Grimoire Valentine, Vincent Valentine's father, discovers an ancient Cetran tablet describing Omega and Chaos, a partnership capable of destroying the world. He believes it may have to do with the "Promised Land" and is given permission to study it. He also takes on an assistant - Dr. Lucrecia Crescent. Together, they discover a cavern, which they reason is where Chaos will eventually awake. They also find the Protomateria there. [DoC]
  • During an experiment on a dark substance they they find there (later known as "G-substance"), it jumps out of the regeneration tube and attacks Dr. Valentine. He later dies of the wound and Lucrecia blames herself for it. [DoC]
  • Vincent Valentine joins the Turks. [DoC]

29 B.G.:

  • Vincent Valentine is assigned to protect Lucrecia Crescent while she is working with Dr. Hojo, a brilliant Shinra scientist. He does not know his father was working with Dr. Crescent before he died. [FF7 and DoC]
  • Vincent falls for Lucrecia, but he also sees that she is in love with Hojo, and resigns himself to that fate. Lucrecia also chooses Hojo and his proposed experiment on her unborn child. She does so because she feels guilty about Vincent's father. Vincent discovers this fact, and additional information about the experiment that killed him. The effects of this on their relationship are unknown, but there is strife. [FF7 and DoC]

28 B.G.:

  • Lucrecia's son is born and given the name Sephiroth. He is not told his true origins, however, instead being told that his mother, named JENOVA, died giving birth to him. [FF7]
  • When Vincent discovers that Sephiroth is a result of Hojo having injected Lucrecia's yet-unborn baby with JENOVA's DNA, Vincent loses it and confronts Hojo. Hojo kills Vincent and conducts an operation on his body, reviving him and turning him into an unstable monster capable of mutating further when angered. [FF7 and DoC]
  • However, Vincent's body proves unstable, and Lucrecia takes it to perform further experiments on it. She injects Vincent with the Chaos gene; the process unleashes Chaos for a moment, but it is quickly subdued. She takes the Protomateria and embeds it in Vincent's body, fully reviving him but leaving him with the effects of both Hojo's experimentation (the ability to turn into monsters) and the Chaos gene. [DoC]
  • A short period later, Lucrecia dies, though her induction of JENOVA cells seems to have some sort of after effect. Vincent remains ignorant of her fate. In disgrace, Vincent enters a coffin in the Shinra Mansion and falls into a deep sleep. [DoC and FF7. It is unknown if Lucrecia really dies or not, as she is found in the Waterfall Cave during FF7, and suspended in a crystal in the same location in DoC. Her status after this point is a mystery, but we are led to believe she is no longer living as she once was.]

25-22 B.G.:

  • Dr. Gast also flees from Hojo and runs to Icicle Inn in the north, where he discovers a Cetra named Ifalna, who he believes is the last of her race. Hoping to get information on the Promised Land, he videotapes his interviews with her, but eventually falls in love. [FF7]

25-22 B.G.:

  • Dr. Gast and Ifalna have a child together. They name their daughter Aeris. [FF7]
  • Hojo storms the inn, discovers the Ancients and attempts to take them. Dr. Gast is killed trying to protect them, and Ifalna and Aeris are captured by Hojo. [FF7]

21 B.G.:

  • Cloud Strife is born in Nibelheim. [FF7]

20 B.G.:

  • Tifa Lockheart is born in Nibelheim. [FF7]

16 B.G.:

  • Yuffie Kisaragi is born in Wutai to King Godo. [FF7]

15 B.G. ca.:

  • Shinra's military wing proceeds to declare war on Wutai, an Oriental village. Shinra is eventually victorious, and its leader Godo humbled. Eventually Wutai loses its status as an honorable and polite nation and becomes a tourist attraction. [FF7]
  • Ifalna somehow manages to take Aeris and escape Hojo. Gravely injured, she makes it to the Midgar Sector 7 Train Station before collapsing. A woman named Elmyra discovers them, and promises they dying mother to take care of Aeris, as her own husband had died during the Midgar-Wutai war. Ifalna gives Aeris the White Materia, a legendary stone which has the power to call Holy. Aeris grows up thinking the Materia doesn't do anything at all. [FF7]
  • Over time, Aeris begins to show a strange talent. She is able to sense the death of Elmyra's husband out at war with Wutai before Elmyra actually gets word of it. She also seems to be able to 'talk to the Planet'. [FF7]
  • Cid Highwind, creator of the Tiny Bronco biplane, is given the go-ahead by Shinra to launch a space rocket from his home town. Having looked forward to this time for ages, his excitement is mounting when his assistant, Shera, discovers a malfunction in an energy tank. She refuses to leave the soon-to-be-burning-hot chamber, and Cid forces himself to shut the rocket down before it can ignite. He refuses to forgive Shera for destroying his dream, and Shera lives with him in penance from then on, acting as a servant. [FF7]

15 - 10 B.G.:

  • Hojo performs experiments using cells from the body of JENOVA. He infuses Shinra soldiers with JENOVA cells. The results are staggering - those who are infected have strength and skills far beyond normal persons. Based on these results, Shinra forms SOLDIER, a program designed to use and train an elite military force by infusing subjects with Mako and JENOVA cells. [FF7]
  • Sephiroth is introduced into SOLDIER and quickly rises in the ranks. He is monitored continuously and shows promise far beyond anyone else. Eventually she gathers the interest of the Turks, as commanded by Hojo, who try many times to capture Aeris, but she eludes them. Aeris takes up a job as a flower girl in the Midgar slums. [FF7]
  • Cloud and Tifa grow up next to each other in the city of Nibelheim. They are not particularly friends, however much Cloud would like it to be otherwise. After the death of Tifa's mother, she runs into the Nibel Mountains. Cloud follows her, but a bridge they both stand on breaks, and Cloud is blamed for the injuries suffered by Tifa. They later have a conversation by a well where Cloud tells Tifa of his desire to go to Midgar and join SOLDIER, and promises to come back for Tifa if he should make it big in Midgar. [FF7]
  • Hojo brings his experiments to the Mako Reactor in Nibelheim, which involve dousing human beings in condensed Mako. Eventually the humans become completely unrecognizable monsters, but they are watched closely in sealed containers. The suspended-animation device containing JENOVA is moved there as well. [FF7]

10 B.G.:

  • Denzel is born to well-to-do parents in Sector 1. [OAWTAS: Denzel]

10 B.G. - 7 B.G.:

  • President Shinra turns a SOLDIER hospital underneath Sector 0 of Midgar into Deepground, an elite battle unit whose soldiers undergo high-level Mako conditioning. The only others who know of this top-secret project are Hojo, Heidigger, and Scarlet. [DoC]
  • Shelke and Shalua Rui's mother passes away. [DoC]
  • Zack, a Gongaga native who has moved to Midgar to join SOLDIER, meets Aeris. The two date for a while, but Aeris cannot take the fact that he is in such a violent organization and they break up [FF7 Conjecture: The time where Zack and Aeris date is never said, but it is reasonable to assume it was before Zack became a SOLDIER]

7 B.G.:

  • Cloud moves to Midgar and joins Shinra. He attempts to join SOLDIER as well, but fails to make the cut. Instead he is relegated to a small position in the Shinra military force, little more than a grunt. [FF7]
  • Shelke Rui is kidnapped or recruited by Deepground after they recognize her deep-diving abilities. Her sister Shalua begins her quest to find her. [DoC]

5 B.G.:

  • Sephiroth, now a famous General from the Wutai-Midgar war, and Zack, a 1st class member of SOLDIER, are assigned to Nibelheim to investigate the Nibel Mako Reactor upon hearing of monster attacks. Cloud, a military grunt excited to be in the presence of the much admired Sephiroth, is assigned to accompany them, suffering motion sickness the whole truck ride over. [FF7 Conjecture: Also note that Cloud and Zack have become friends at some point during their individual training]
  • Tifa Lockheart is assigned as their tour guide through the Nibel Mountains. She does not recognize Cloud, who is disguised under his military outfit. Someone takes a picture of them before they leave. [FF7]
  • Sephiroth finds the JENOVA and Mako-infused monsters in the reactor, as well as the chamber holding JENOVA itself. He begins to doubt his origins and who he is. He discovers a secret library in Nibelheim where he finds out the truth about himself, that he was created with JENOVA cells from before birth. Overwhelmed by the new information and the lies he was told, he goes on a rampage, beliving himself to be the 'chosen one', the one to rule the Planet, and burns Nibelheim to the ground. Zack and Cloud find that he intends on taking JENOVA, who he now considers his true mother. Tifa runs up to the mountains for revenge, followed by Zack, who is in turn followed by Cloud. [FF7]
  • As Sephiroth tries to open the chamber to JENOVA, Tifa takes Sephiroth's sword (which he has carelessly left on the ground) and attempts to stab him for the death of her father. Sephiroth gets the better of her and slashes her, leaving her seriously injured on the ground. He enters the inner chamber and takes JENOVA's head from its stasis container. Zack arrives to attack Sephiroth and is also stabbed and lies wounded. Cloud eventually comes, finds Tifa lying bleeding on the ground. Overcome by emotion, he takes Zack's sword, and attacks Sephiroth. Sephiroth easily dispatches him, and runs him through the gut with his masamune. Cloud is seriously injured, but in a haze of emotion, somehow manages to grasp the sword by the blade and reverse the hold, throwing Sephiroth into the Lifestream beneath him. [FF7]
  • Sephiroth drifts through the Lifestream and ends up in the Northern Crater, frozen. [FF7]
  • Tifa is rescued by her martial arts instructor, Zangan. She makes her way to Midgar, where she opens a bar in Sector 7 called Seventh Heaven. [FF7]
  • Zack and Cloud, both barely alive, are captured by Hojo, taken to the basement of the Shinra Mansion (also in Nibelheim), and used as part of his new experiment - to attempt to create Sephiroth clones (clones is something of a misnomer, as he is trying to make another Sephiroth through injection of JENOVA cells and concentrated doses of Mako). Most of Hojo's other victims are from the ruins of Nibelheim. All other the experiments are failures, resulting in a vegetable-like state, and most end up in the slums of Midgar. Cloud does not take to the treatment - the JENOVA cells do not affect him. Hojo labels him a failure, but keeps him around. [FF7]
  • Zack recovers more quickly than Cloud, probably because of his healthier constitution. When a guard comes to give Zack his food, he knocks out the guard, rescues Cloud (who can barely move) and escapes. He hitches a truck to Midgar, taking Cloud with him the whole time. After debating with himself, he decides that he and Cloud should become mercenaries. While climbing a cliff overlooking Midgar, they are chased down by Shinra soldiers. Zack is shot dead, but they leave Cloud, who can still barely talk and move. Cloud manages to crawl to Zack's body and take his buster sword. [FF7 - There are some events in Last Order (a 30 minute anime extra in the JP version of FF7:AC) that conflict with the game. Events of the game are presented here.]
  • Cloud's mind, awash in pain and fear, confused and sick and neck-deep in self-denial, guilt, and shame, begins to construct its own version of the events of Nibelheim. He merges his memories with the role Zack played and takes his position in the occurrences, thinking he became a member of SOLDIER. He also glosses over his friendship with Tifa as if they were best friends. He somehow manages to make his way to the Midgar train station. Tifa finds him there, and decides to watch over him for a while. [FF7 - Why Cloud did what he did is conjecture, but reasonable assumptions can be made]
  • Shinra orders Nibelheim to be rebuilt and populated with Shinra staff to oversee the actions of the Sephiroth clones from Nibelheim. They are ordered to pretend no catastrophe has ever happened there. (The flashback which shows the escape from Shinra Mansion is only seen in the American and International versions, not the original Japanese version) [FF7]
  • Hojo takes the remaining body of JENOVA from Nibelheim and ships it to Shinra HQ in Midgar, minus the head that Sephiroth took with him. [FF7]

4 B.G.:

  • Sephiroth finds that he can control Hojo's attempted "clones" with his mind, although he cannot make them do anything of any value due to their vegetable state. However, he finds that he can control Cloud more effectively, as long as he does it on a subtle level. [FF7 - Conjecture]
  • Shinra decides to build a Mako Reactor in the coal mining town of Corel, sending Scarlet, leader of Shinra's military wing, as their representative. The plan is opposed by a man named Dyne, but his best friend Barret Wallace convinces him to let it go. The Mako Reactor is eventually built. [FF7]
  • One day, when Barret and Dyne are outside the city, they return to see the city in flames. An accident occurred at the Reactor, and Shinra blamed the townspeople, burning the town. Barret's wife Myrna and Dyne's wife Eleanor are killed in the fire, but Dyne's newborn daughter Marlene survives. The two attempt to return to the city, but are stopped by Scarlet. In the pursuit, Dyne falls over the edge of a chasm; Barret grabs his arm. While the two hang there, both thier arms are shot off by Scarlet. Dyne drops, but Barret survives. [FF7]
  • Dyne survives the drop, unbeknownst to Barret. Both of them, overcome with anger, replace their missing arms with chain guns. However, Dyne's mind deteriorates, flooded with grief from the tragedy, and he becomes unstable. [FF7]
  • Gold Saucer, a huge entertainment complex, is built over the ruins of Corel, and the old town eventually becomes Corel Prison, where convicted criminals are held. The survivors of Corel move north and start a new town, called North Corel, but they remain a poor town. [FF7]
  • Dyne moves to the Corel Prison and takes it over, becoming known as the Boss. Barret moves to Midgar with Marlene (whom he adopts), and starts a rebel group named AVALANCHE, intent on stopping Shinra wherever they turn. [FF7]

4 - 0 B.G.:

  • Yuffie leaves Wutai in anger, and searching for Materia. It is her belief that bringing Materia will allow Wutai to protect itself and regain its honor and status. [FF7]
  • Nanaki of Cosmo Canyon is captured by Hojo and used in an unrelated experiment. Hojo brands him "Red XIII". [FF7]
  • Cloud, now fully recovered, but still taciturn, begins to aspire to move out of Midgar. Wanting to keep an eye on him, Tifa approaches Cloud with a proposition. She convinces him to act as a mercenary for AVALANCHE, whose headquarters are in Tifa's bar - Seventh Heaven. [FF7]

0 B.G.: (the events of FF7)

  • Cloud's first mission with AVALANCHE is blow up the Sector 1 Reactor. Cloud and Barret are aided by Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie, and succeed in planting a bomb, disabling the reactor. Cloud meets a flower girl (Aeris) on the way out, who offers to sell him a flower for 1 gil. Cloud heads back with Barret to Seventh Heaven, where they are greeted by Tifa and Barret's adopted daughter, Marlene. [FF7]
  • Denzel's parents move to Sector 5. [OAWTAS: Denzel]
  • AVALANCHE carries out a second mission on the Sector 5 Reactor. However, they are visited by President Shinra, who leaves them to be destroyed by a new military robot. They disable the robot, but an explosion drops Cloud through the roof of a church in the Sector 5 slums, where he is discovered by Aeris. [FF7] The explosion kills the parents of Denzel and leaves him homeless, wandering to anyone who will take him in. [AC]
  • Reno chooses this time to lead a faction of Shinra soldiers into the church in another attempt at capturing Aeris. Cloud helps Aeris escape and they travel to her house, where she introduces him to Elmyra. Cloud asks how he can get back to Sector 7, and is told that Wall Market, in Sector 6, is the only way there. Aeris offers to take him, but both Cloud and Elmyra agree secretly that he should leave without her. [FF7]
  • Don Corneo, a playboy who lives in Wall Market, is ordered by Heidigger (head of Shinra's "Public Safety Maintenance", a euphemism for the Turks) to discover Barret's whereabouts. He does so, but Barret finds out from Corneo's assistant about him, as well. He keeps a harem of women and chooses one each night. Barret agrees to let Tifa infiltrate his mansion and extract whatever he knows from him. [FF7]
  • Cloud makes it through Sector 6 alone, but finds Aeris waiting for him at a nearby playground. Before they can leave to Wall Market, they see a Chocobo-driven coach with none other than Tifa on it; Cloud resolves to find out what's up. They continue to Wall Market. [FF7]
  • Cloud and Aeris find out about Don Corneo. Aeris offers to go in herself, but Cloud refuses to let her. Aeris decides to dress Cloud up as a girl and have him infiltrate the mansion himself! They do so, find Tifa and rescue her from Corneo's henchmen, and corner him in his room. They find out that Shinra is planning on destroying the entire Sector 7 to get at AVALANCHE. Before they can get there, though, Corneo drops them into the sewers and sics his pet monster on them. [FF7]
  • They defeat the monster, make their way through the sewers and the nearby train graveyard. They find the pillar which holds up Sector 7 already under attack, with Barret and the other AVALANCHE members in hot battle. Aeris agrees to stay behind to look after the wounded. She finds Marlene there and sends her to her house in Sector 5. However, she is captured by Tseng. Meanwhile, Reno of the Turks activates the destruct sequence for the pillar, keeping Cloud and party occupied while it runs down. Cloud, Tifa, and Barret make it out alive, but the other AVALANCHE members perish in the explosion. [FF7]
  • Barret finds Marlene at Aeris's house in Elmyra's care, and tells them to move away from Midgar, as it's no longer safe. They listen to him and set off for nearby Kalm Town. The AVALANCHE members travel to Sector 0 via a wire in Wall Market, and enter the Shinra HQ in an effort to rescue Aeris. They're helped by Mayor Domino, who's sick of his office being abused by Shinra. [FF7]
  • On the 66th floor they overhear a discussion about the destruction of Sector 7 and see Hojo for the first time. They follow him to the next floor up, where Cloud finds the headless remains of JENOVA taken to the HQ after Nibelheim. Nearby, they discover Aeris an a container. Hojo tries to get Aeris and a strange red beast in the same chamber for procreation reasons, but Barret blasts the chamber and a reaction occurs. Hojo quickly opens it, but is attacked by the beast, who turns out to be Nanaki/Red XIII. [FF7]
  • The five people split up and agree to meet at the 66th floor elevator, but are captured by the Turks and brought to the top floor. President Shinra gives them a long-winded speech, then locks them in jail. However, a Sephiroth clone arrives during the night and slaughters everyone, including President Shinra. It also takes the remains of JENOVA's body during its escape. Rufus, the President's son, takes over as President. Cloud confronts Rufus on the roof while the others escape and Tifa waits for him, but Rufus takes a helicopter out as well. [FF7]
  • Cloud and Tifa rejoin the others on the main floor; they escape using a motorcycle and a stolen truck. They end up outside Midgar, and Cloud tells them that they must search after Sephiroth. They travel to Kalm Town, where he explains the story (casting himself in the role of Zack, as this is what he believes) and vows to destroy Sephiroth. [FF7]
  • They catch a nearby Chocobo and travel through a nearby marsh to the Mythril Mines. They meet Tseng, Rude, and a new member of the Turks named Elena, who's taken over while Reno recuperates from his injuries in the Sector 7 pillar fiasco. She blurts out that Sephiroth has been seen in Junon. [FF7]
  • Cloud and co. travel to Junon, where they rescue a girl named Priscilla and her dolphin friend from a water dragon. They're told that Rufus is arriving soon in the upper levels of Junon. Priscilla lends them Mr. Dolphin to reach the upper levels. Cloud disguises himself as a guard and marches in Rufus's welcoming parade. In the meantime, his other party members disguise themselves as sailors and stow away on a cargo ship, dragging Cloud with them when the parade is over. [FF7]
  • Sephiroth (or rather, a clone controlled by Sephiroth) shows up on the cargo ship as well, and JENOVA attacks them. He quickly disappears after the battle. [FF7]
  • Cloud and party end up at Costa del Sol, a vacation village. They meet Hojo, who's on a vacation, but he tells them to go to Mount Corel. [FF7]
  • They do so, and end up in North Corel, where Barret is accused of causing the fire that afflicted the village all those years ago. Barret gets angry and depressed, and Aeris suggests they go to the nearby Gold Saucer, a huge amusement park, to let off steam. They meet a toy cat riding a toy moogle, calling itself Cait Sith; it is controlled by Reeve, the head of urban development in Shinra; it insinuates itself as a spy into the party. [FF7]
  • However, Dyne comes up for a visit as well, and butchers a bunch of people near the Battle Arena. A stunned witness claims it was done by a man with a gun on his arm, and Barret is indicted for the crime by Dio, the Gold Saucer's owner. Barret and his friends (including Cait Sith) are taken to the Corel Prison. [FF7]
  • Barret discovers Dyne in the Prison, and Dyne attacks him. Barret defeats him, and Dyne throws himself off the gorge for the last time. He gives Barret his necklace as collateral for Barret to get back up to the surface. The only way up is to win a Chocobo race, and Cloud volunteers for the job. He wins, of course, and Dio, by way of apology, lends him a Buggy to travel around in. [FF7]
  • They take the Buggy to Gongaga, a town to the south. They meet up with Reno and Rude, who have been alerted to their presence by Cait Sith. They drive them off, though. They come across a deserted reactor and witness Scarlet and Tseng attempt to take materia from it; the materia is apparently not up to par. Scarlet is looking for Huge Materia (an extremely dense isotope) for a new weapon. They also meet Zack's parents, but Cloud doesn't remember Zack at all. [FF7]
  • The Buggy shorts out after trying to get past Cosmo Canyon, so they are forced to take refuge there while a repairman fixes it. They are greeted warmly when the townspeople find out that Nanaki/Red XIII is with them. Red XIII introduces them to his grandfather, Bugenhagen. Bugenhagen wishes Red XIII to go with Cloud to defeat Sephiroth, but first intends to tell him the truth about his father. [FF7]
  • He takes Red XIII and Cloud's party through the sealed corridor (which is now infested with ghosts of the Gi tribe) and to the end, where Red XIII sees the stone visage of his father. Having been told the truth, he resolves to travel with Cloud to defeat Sephiroth. [FF7]
  • Cloud and party reach Nibelheim. No one there recognizes them, however, since it is staffed by Shinra officers and vegetable-like Sephiroth clones. They descend back into the Shinra Mansion where they are met by Sephiroth (another clone) again. He flies away after mentioning the "Reunion". [FF7]
  • SIDE QUEST: Cloud finds the key to the room housing Vincent in the Shinra Mansion and convince him to help him fight Sephiroth and Hojo.
  • Cloud and party travel through the Nibel Mountains to Rocket Town, where they discover President Rufus and Palmer, head of the space division of Shinra, trying to convince Cid to lend them his Tiny Bronco bi-plane. Cid refuses, and he and Cloud escape on the Tiny Bronco. However, Shinra soldiers shoot it down, and it becomes only good enough for a makeshift boat. [FF7]
  • SIDE QUEST: If Cloud finds Yuffie in forests near Junon, they fight. After he beats her, she joins him when she realizes he has lots of Materia, and schemes to steal it at her first opportunity. After Cloud gets the Tiny Bronco, Yuffie suggests they visit Wutai. Once there, Yuffie steals all his Materia and runs away. He chases her throughout Wutai, and finds the three Turks on their break there as well. They are asked by Shinra to search for Don Corneo, but refuse. However, Elena and Yuffie become captured by Corneo, and the Turks agree to help Cloud save them and drop Corneo off a cliff. [FF7]
  • SIDE QUEST: If Yuffie manages to defeat the bosses in the Tower of the Five Gods, including her father Godo, she and he will have a reunion and she will receive the materia to summon Leviathan, who is the protector of Wutai. [FF7]
  • On the coast of the main continent, a weapon maker in a secluded hut tells Cloud about the Temple of the Ancients, a legendary place housing the Black Materia. The Black Materia has the power to call Meteor, an ancient destructive magic. However, he tells them that a Keystone is needed to enter the Temple. [FF7]
  • Dio, owner of the Gold Saucer, has a Keystone and is willing to part with it if Cloud fights in the Battle Arena. He does so, and Dio is good to his word. However, the Ropeway connecting to the mainland has been broken, and Cloud and co. are stuck in the Gold Saucer. Cait Sith takes them to the inn in the Ghost Square to meet, talk, and sleep. [FF7]
  • Cloud is awoken in the middle of the night by either Aeris, Tifa, Yuffie, or Barret (the character depends on how Cloud has responded to each of them throughout the game up to this point, usually it will be either Tifa or Aeris). Cloud and Cloud's date have a night out in the Gold Saucer, partaking in a comic play in the Event Square and seeing the sights in the Round Square. However, they see Cait Sith with the Keystone. He runs away. They chase him to the Chocobo Square, where he throws the Keystone to Tseng, who escapes in a helicopter. Cloud threatens Cait Sith, but he plays a recording of Marlene, captured by Shinra, which stays his hand. [FF7]
  • Cait Sith pleads to be allowed to follow Cloud to the Temple of Ancients; doubtless Shinra was there first, but they would still need to follow them there to find Sephiroth. Cloud finally agrees. [FF7]
  • They arrive in the Temple of Ancients to find Tseng wounded by the Sephiroth clone. Sephiroth has continued to the bowels of the Temple, and Cloud and Aeris follow him. Aeris discovers the voices of Ancients telling her things inside the Temple; for starters, about the ultimate black magic Meteor which is kept via the Black Materia. The Sephiroth clone visits them and tells them that if he would call Meteor, the planet would unleash a huge amount of energy to intend to heal it; and if he were at the center of the planet, the energy would all channel into him. [FF7]
  • They find the Black Materia itself. It's kept in a strange puzzle; a miniature Temple of the Ancients, which itself contains another model, and so on; the Black Materia is in the bottom. However, by reaching it and canceling the models, the adventurer would cause the entire thing to collapse on him. Cait Sith (being a toy robot) volunteers to do it himself. He does so, and the Temple of the Ancients collapses, leaving the Black Materia at the bottom. Somehow, Tseng survives this, either by being carried out by another or his own volition. [FF7]
  • Cloud finds the Black Materia, but Sephiroth controls him and forces him to give it to another clone, who begins the journey back to the North Crater. Cloud begins deliriously attacking Aeris, but is stopped by Cait Sith #2, who shows up at this point. [FF7]
  • Now that the Black Materia is in the hands of Sephiroth, Aeris decides to travel to a sacred place, the Forgotten Capital. At its bottom is a water altar where an Ancient can summon Holy to counteract Meteor. Aeris tells Cloud in a dream she's going to the Sleeping Forest, and leaves. [FF7]
  • Cloud follows her to Bone Village, the entrance to Sleeping Forest. He excavates a Lunar Harp, which allows him to enter the Forest and Coral Valley, which leads to the Forgotten City. They wait until night, when the passage to the water altar opens, and discover Aeris praying there. However, she is given a surprise visit by a Sephiroth clone, who runs her through with his sword, killing her instantly. The White Materia she carries falls into the ocean and begins glowing green, indicating that Holy has been activated. However, the real Sephiroth in the North Crater stops Holy somehow. Cloud "buries" Aeris in the nearby pool. [FF7]
  • Cloud follows the Sephiroth Clone north through the Snow Fields to Icicle Inn, where they find evidence of Dr. Gast and Ifalna. They are also met by Elena and some Shinra officers, who refuse to let them out of the village. Elena blames Cloud for Tseng's death, and they fight. Cloud finds a snowboard and a map to the Great Glacier, and snowboards down the slopes to reach it. [FF7]
  • They find their way to Mount Gaea, a huge, cold mountain. An old man named Holzoff offers shelter and advice before they climb it. At its top they finally see the Northern Crater. They continue down to the Whirlwind Maze, where the Reunion is taking place - all the Sephiroth clones are returning to him, where he cuts them down. [FF7]
  • Rufus, Scarlet, and Hojo arrive in the Highwind, a Shinra airship. They discover the resting place of the Weapons. In the meantime, Cloud, Tifa, and the party find the Sephiroth clone who stole the Black Materia, and fight it out out of him. Cloud, though, is scared that Sephiroth may control him again, so he gives the Materia to one of his party members to hold while he goes ahead. Sephiroth, however, ends up tricking the party member into running after Cloud to the center of the crater. [FF7]
  • Cloud is given an illusion by Sephiroth intended on confusing him; in fact, Sephiroth is only telling him the truth: that he *wasn't* the SOLDIER at Nibelheim. Cloud's mind begins to deteriorate. The party member arrives on the scene and gives the Black Materia to Cloud. Cloud is unable to resist Sephiroth's mind and throws the Black Materia into the Mako pool where Sephiroth's real body resides. Sephiroth immediately calls the Meteor spell. The remaining party members and Shinra officials quickly escape on the Highwind. The five Weapons are awakened. Sephiroth erects an energy barrier around the Northern Crater, stopping anyone from coming in. [FF7]
  • Tifa and Barret are arrested and brought to Inner Junon, where Shinra plans on executing them publicly to blame them for the giant meteor on the horizon. Yuffie infiltrates Junon, posing as a reporter, Cait Sith as an official, and Cid and the others attempt to hijack the Highwind. Cait Sith helps Barret escape, but they are too late to save Tifa from the gas room she's been put in. However, before the execution can take place, one of the five Weapons attacks Junon. The giant cannon is put into use and destroys the Weapon before it can do any major damage. It does manage to break the seal of the gas room Tifa is locked in, and she manages to escape. [FF7]
  • Cait Sith rushes Barret to the Highwind. Tifa manages to elude Scarlet and her Shinra cronies until she reaches the very end of the Junon cannon, where she engages in a slapping fight. Before Scarlet can fire on her, though, Cid and Barret execute a daring rescue and they fly away on the Highwind. [FF7]
  • Tifa leads the search for Cloud; they find him in the city of Mideel, suffering from extreme Mako poisoning. Tifa decides to stay with him, and Cid takes over as leader. Cait Sith offers news of Shinra's new plan to create a cannon which utilizes Huge Materia as a weapon. Cid decides to stop the plans at all costs. [FF7]
  • The first of four Huge Materia shipments is at the North Corel reactor. Cid leads a party there; they hijack the train holding it, and manage to stop the train before it crashes into the city. [FF7] [Note: The game allows the possibility of not being able to save the game, but it does not effect any of the other events of the game, except that the party continues to be spurned at Corel]
  • The second is at the top of Fort Condor, where the people (who are trying to protect the condors at the top of the fort) have been waging war against the Shinra forces trying to take it over. Cid assists them and rescues the condors and the Huge Materia. However, the large condor at the top of the fort dies and leaves an egg, which hatches into a baby condor. [FF7]
  • Cid becomes worried about Cloud and returns to Mideel, which is suddenly attacked by the Ultima Weapon! The city breaks up and Cloud and Tifa fall into the Lifestream. Here, Tifa and Cloud strive on getting at the truth, and the true version of the past is realized. Cloud remembers himself and he and Tifa escape the Lifestream. [FF7]
  • Shinra takes the huge cannon from Junon to Midgar, to position it to destroy the barrier around the Northern Crater. [FF7]
  • Cloud takes over as leader and leads the expedition to rescue the third Huge Materia. They travel to the Underwater Reactor in Junon. They are stopped by Reno, but beat the mechanical monstrosity he sics on them. They hijack a submarine and shoot down the one carrying the Huge Materia, later rescuing it from the wreckage. They then get a transmission to return to Junon (Shinra thinking that the sub is manned by their own troops). [FF7]
  • The fourth and last Huge Materia is taken on the Gelnika, a Shinra transport, to Rocket Town. It is intended to be shot into space, along with a Materia bomb, to explode at the Meteor. Cid and Cloud travel there and beat Rude (who is guarding the rocket). They are given no warning before the rocket takes off, however (with Shera as its technician). They manage to unlock the Huge Materia and take it with them. However, the rocket is on a crash course for the Meteor and before they can reach an escape pod, an energy tank blows and crushes Cid. He is saved by Shera helping the other two party members, and apologizes to her. He notes that the tank which blew was the same one Shera was worried about during the first launch attempt. They take the escape pod back to Earth. The bomb damages Meteor, but does not disrupt its path (bits fly off it but are kept near the main bulk by magical forces). [FF7]
  • They return to Bugenhagen in Cosmo Canyon. He tells them that he will watch over the Huge Materia, and reminds them that Aeris is probably the key to defeating Sephiroth. They return to the Forgotten Capital, where Bugenhagen finds reference to a key hidden in the depths. Cloud finds the key by using the Shinra submarine and searching underwater, and brings it back to the Forgotten Capital. It is used to activate a display which teaches them about the White Materia and the fact that Holy is on its way, but stopped by Sephiroth. [FF7]
  • Cait Sith (i.e. Reeve) learns that the Sister Ray, the huge Junon cannon, is ready to fire, but before they can reach Midgar, the Diamond Weapon arises and heads towards Midgar! Cloud staves it off but can't destroy it. The Sister Ray fires on Sephiroth's barrier, destroying it and the Weapon, but not before the Weapon unleashes a counterattack, which destroys the Shinra HQ and kills Rufus. [FF7]
  • Reeve finds out that Hojo is powering up the Sister Ray again, this time to full power, intending on sending the energy to Sephiroth in the Northern Crater. Cloud and party parachute into Midgar, intent on stopping Hojo. They are stopped by Elena, Rude, and Reno, and a fight breaks out, but the Turks run away after it. (The fight can be avoided.) They are then attacked by a huge monster piloted by Scarlet and Heidigger, which also fails to stop them. They finally find Hojo, who undergoes various mutations (using injections of JENOVA cells) before finally yielding to Cloud's attacks. [FF7]
  • Cloud and party finally make their way to the Northern Crater and descend into it, defeating JENOVA and Sephiroth once and for all. Meteor continues falling. Then the Holy spell comes forth. However, it is too late. Meteor is too close and the fierce combat of the two spells results in even more destruction. It seems not only Midgar will be destroyed, but the entire planet. Just then, Lifestream emerges from the Planet, aided by the consciousness of Aeris (and all those who died), and pushes back Meteor, neutralizing it once and for all. [FF7]
  • Vincent and Yuffie lead a rescue operation of Midgar during Meteorfall. Vincent, acting on a hunch, climbs up the tower to discover Hojo is still alive, returned to human form, at the computer console where they left him. Just before Vincent is able to pull the trigger on his gun, the tower explodes, and Vincent manages to escape by jumping onto Yuffie's "hover bike". Hojo manages to activate the "Fragment Program", a computer program that injects his consciousness into the "worldwide net" just before the HQ explodes. [DoC]

SIDE QUESTS: (These can happen at any point in the game providing the player has the ability to do them. For example, you will not be able to meet Lucrecia in the waterfall cave if you never found Vincent in the first place!)

  • Vincent discovers Lucrecia in a waterfall cave. The only thing he can thing to say to her is that Sephiroth is dead. He later finds his best weapon (Death Penalty) and Limit Break in the cave. [FF7] This Lucrecia is only a projection of the real Lucrecia, who "crumbled away long ago". [DoC]
  • Cloud breeds his own chocobo in the chocobo stables, and runs them in races. He can find hints and tips about breeding by talking to a purple Chocobo Sage, who unfortunately suffers from periodic amnesia. Cloud breeds his Chocobos in such away they make ones with different transportational abilities (some can go in land, some rivers), ending in the Gold Chocobo, which can go anywhere. He uses these various Chocobos to visit four secret Materia caves; the Knights of the Round summon is in one of them.[FF7]
  • Cloud chases after the flying Ultima Weapon in the Highwind, and gets the Ultima Weapon sword when he defeats it. It also causes a huge chasm in the Cosmo Canyon area, and Cloud can climb to the Ancient Forest, which houses another sword, the Apocalypse, as well as some other goodies like the Typoon summon. [FF7]
  • Cloud visits the Gelnika, shot down by a Weapon (possibly Emerald Weapon) when flying to Rocket Town. Reno and Rude are here as well, and they initiate a fight. Much treasure is inside, including the Hades summon. [FF7]
  • Ruby Weapon buries itself in the Corel desert, only poking out a claw to catch unwary travlers. Cloud manages to defeat it, and a trader in Kalm Town will gives him his own gold Chocobo. (This is only in the American and International versions, not the original Japanese version) [FF7]
  • The Ghost Ship enemy in the Underwater Reactor drops a 'Guide Book' if morphed. Cloud gives it to the trader in Kalm Town who returns with an Underwater materia. This allows allows Cloud and the others to breathe underwater so they can defeat the Emerald Weapon dwelling under the ocean. (If Cloud does not have the master materia, he has twenty minutes to defeat the weapon before he dies). After he defeats Emerald Weapon, the trader gives him one of every Master Materia! (This is only in the American and International versions, not the original Japanese version) [FF7]

0 - 2 A.G.:

  • Meteor is destroyed, but when Lifestream spreads over the Planet, it carries JENOVA cells with it (because JENOVA was blown apart inside the Planet and its pieces fell into Lifestream). These JENOVA cells are contracted by people and infect the body, which causes the body to fight back with its own spirit energy (the body's internal lifestream). This internal conflict causes the body to overcompensate and causes fatigue, open sores, discoloration of the skin, secretion of black liquid, and eventually death. This disease becomes known as Geostigma and heavily affects the people, though they do not know what causes it, and thus, can't cure it. [AC]
  • Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Cid, Yuffie, Vincent, Red XIII, and Cait Sith stop once at the Forgotten City to pay homage to their fallen comrade. They all split up as easily as they joined, but promise to reunite one day. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • Midgar is in a shambles. The people decide to stop using Mako, and thus, the Mako Reactors. Shinra Electric Company goes under (moreso) and Midgar is abandoned. [OAWTAS: Denzel]
  • Tifa, Cloud, and Barret go to Corel and then to Nibelheim. They all decide they can't live in the past and travel to Kalm. There, Barret reunites with Marlene and they tell Elmyra what has happened. Kalm becomes flooded with refugees, and the three decide to go back to Midgar to try and reestablish normal lives. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • The citizens form a city on the borders of Midgar, calling it Edge. They construct a monument to Midgar (a replica made out of debris) in the center of the town. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • Denzel continues staying with people who will take him in, suffering much heartbreak as people around him die of Geostigma. Eventually he joins a group of orphans who are hired to gather scrap material for the building of Edge. [OAWTAS: Denzel]
  • Barret comes to the house one day with a bottle of Corel wine. After getting drunk he proposes they make a business out of selling the wine. They decide to build it in Edge, and sleep under a plate threatening to fall as they gather the parts to build it. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • The bar is built, and they end up calling it Seventh Heaven again. Barret becomes sort of a bouncer (although most of the time he just sits in a corner drinking wine), and Cloud takes it upon himself to gather the fruits, vegetables, and other goods needed to run the bar. He is having trouble socializing. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • After the first week, Barret says he needs to go on a journey to settle his past, leaving Marlene in Cloud and Tifa's care. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • At some pont during this journey, Barret gets an upgrade to his gun arm, giving it the ability to look and operate like a normal arm. [AC Conjecture: We see Barret has a different gun which can change to look like a normal arm, albeit made of metal]
  • Months after the bar opens, Cloud buys a bike, and spends most of his free time and money upgrading it. This allows him greater distances to travel to obtain goods. While traveling back and forth, he also starts earning extra money by delivering items for people. Tifa discovers this and encourages him to open up a side-business venture. Strife Delivery Service is formed - Tifa and Marlene take the calls, Cloud delivers the goods, although he can only go places he can reach on his bike. The business is successful, as monsters are still present, and lifestream geysers have ruined many of the roads. The business' success also means Cloud isn't around much anymore, and Tifa's surrogate family finds itself in a rift. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • Eventually, most of the people move out of Midgar to this city, including Denzel's group of orphans. Helpless and hungry, he finds a motorbike and a phone outside a church. He calls the number and accidentally calls Tifa. After a brief exchange, he collapses from Geostigma, and is brought to Tifa's. He lives there helping out in the bar when he is not suffering from Geostigma's ill effects. When she asks Cloud where he found him, she realizes that Cloud is staying somewhere else. [OAWTAS: Denzel and OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • Denzel treats Cloud as a hero and father figure. Although Tifa is a little hurt by this, it means Cloud stays around more, taking less and less deliveries. Relations between everyone seem to be getting better, and Tifa believes their family has returned. [OAWTAS: Tifa]
  • Tifa confronts Cloud about where he found Denzel. He confesses that he has been staying at Aeris's church. After that conversation, Cloud leaves. The only way Tifa can get in contact with him now is through PHS phone messages (he never picks up). He does this because he feels guilt and shame for all those who died that he could not prevent, particularly Aeris. Also, he hides the fact that he has contracted Geostigma, which he covers with a single sleeve. Due to his Mako exposure, he has more intense symptoms, with flashes of pain and white light, and spasms in the affected arm. [OAWTAS: Tifa and AC]
  • Reeve, having the financial backing of an anonymous sponsor (who Reeve suspects "is in debt to the planet"), starts up the World Regenesis Organization, a paramilitary outfit dedicated to cleansing the planet of its ills. Shalua Rui joins them; at this point, she has lost her left eye and arm in unidentified circumstances and uses a robotic arm. [OAWTAS: Denzel and DoC]
  • Hojo's neural consciousness is fragmented into the world network. When the world network is reactivated, his consciousness reforms. He uses his knowledge of Deepground, and Lucrecia's experiments on Chaos and Omega to formulate a plan. [DoC]
  • On his journey, Barret looks for alternative fuel sources, coming upon an oil field. [AC]
  • Reno, Rude, Elena, Tseng, and Rufus Shinra, having survived everything, make base at the Healin Lodge (west of Midgar), where Rufus is recovering from being hit by Diamond Weapon. He also has Geostigma. With all that has happened, he realizes the mistakes of the past and decides he must reform them. Procuring a Shinra helicopter, he organizes a mission to Northern Crater to retrieve the last remains of JENOVA. [AC]

2 A.G.: (the events of Advent Children)

  • Reno, Tseng, and Elena go to Northern Crater to retrieve JENOVA's remains. The mission goes awry when they discover Loz, Yazoo, and Kadaj there, and they are attacked. Reno is able to get away with JENOVA's remains, but Tseng and Elena are captured by the three, and tortured for information. [AC]
  • In Edge, Marlene helps Tifa take care of the orphanage, including a boy named Denzel, who has Geostigma. Tifa gets a call from Reno. He has asked her to tell Cloud to meet them in Healin. [AC]
  • Cloud receives the message from Tifa and goes to Healin via the Wasteland. But he is attacked by Loz and Yazoo, who summon Shadow Creepers (monsters from negative lifestream energy). It becomes apparent that they are looking for "mother" and call Cloud "big brother". But as soon as they start attacking, they stop, and Cloud makes it to Healin. [AC]
  • Cloud is briefly attacked by Reno and Rude, who he easily shrugs off and discovers Rufus is alive. He appears confined to a wheelchair and has Geostigma. Rufus asks to hire him for his muscle, as he intends to restore Shinra as a benevolent power and set things right, to reform the mistakes he's made. He tells Cloud about the mission to Northern Crater, but when seeing he is not interested in joining them, he tells Cloud they found nothing. [AC]
  • Kadaj, after torturing Tseng and Elena, finds Rufus Shinra at Healin, and beats the snot out of Reno and Rude. Kadaj demands to know where "mother" is, showing him Tseng and Elena's bloody ID badges to show he means business. Rufus replies he doesn't know, that the remains they recovered fell from the helicopter. Kadaj reveals his plan to initiate another Reunion, using the Geostigma as the invitation. [AC]
  • Tifa and Marlene find the church where Cloud is staying and discover a dirty arm ribbon, evidence he is hiding the fact he has Geostigma. Loz enters, looking for "mother". He and Tifa fight, with Loz as the victor. Just as he's about to kill her, Marlene throws a Materia globe at him from Cloud's big box. Loz leaves, taking the materia and Marlene with him. [AC]
  • Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo gather together the children affected by Geostigma, including Denzel, saying they are taking them to a place to heal them. [AC]
  • Cloud returns to the church and finds Tifa unconscious in the flower bed. He suffers a bad attack from his Geostigma and wakes up back in the orphanage. Apparently, he was brought there by Rude and Reno, who go off to find what happened to the children. Tifa confronts him about his disease and why he kept it a secret. Cloud remains tight-lipped and closed off, saying he does not deserve help. Tifa asks him to open up, knowing Aeris is at the back of his mind, but Cloud refuses. Reno and Rude return, saying the children were brought to the Forgotten City. Cloud leaves to pursue them. [AC]
  • Kadaj takes one of the materia Loz has brought with him and inserts it into his arm. He talks to the children at the pond in from of the Forgotten City. He tells them that "mother" gave them a gift, but the planet is trying to fight it, causing the Geostigma. He wants to heal them, to strike back at the Planet. He permeates the water with his will and commands them to drink. They all do, including Denzel, despite the pleas of Marlene. This activates their JENOVA cells and their Reunion instinct, with Kadaj's hopes that this will lead them to JENOVA's remains. [AC]
  • Cloud arrives, ready for action, but the kids jump in front of his bike, causing him to skid out. He is attacked by the three, and fights a losing battle, but is saved at the last minute by Vincent. They retreat to a safe place in the forest where Vincent reveals his theory of what Geostigma is and what Loz, Yazoo, and Kadaj are. Marlene appears, asking for him to stop isolating himself from those who are still with him and love him. Cloud decides to stop brooding and try gaining forgiveness. [AC]
  • In Edge, the children have gathered around the monument to Midgar. Loz and Yazoo prepare to pull it down, believing this is where JENOVA is, but are surrounded by angry parents and summon Shadow Creepers to fend them off and cause chaos. Tifa tries to waken Denzel. Meanwhile, Rufus and Reno fight Loz and Yazoo. [AC]
  • Meanwhile, Rufus looks at the chaos from a vantage point in a building somewhere in town. Kadaj approaches him, and Rufus asks what motivates him. Kadaj confesses of his jealousy of Sephiroth, who JENOVA really wants, but would do anything for "mother". Rufus says history will repeat itself, and no matter what, Kadaj and his ilk would be stopped again and again. Kadaj answers back by summoning Bahamut SIN through the materia. Bahamut causes even more chaos in the town, as Kadaj has the ability to control it though the materia. He makes Bahamut rip through the monument with its flare attack. The explosion breaks the hold of the Geostigma on the children. Just as Bahamut is about to attack Denzel, Barret arrives and fends him off. The others arrive too - Red XIII, with Cait Sith on his back, Yuffie, Cid, and finally, Cloud. He says he feels lighter. The group all take turns fighting Bahamut off, jumping from building to building, as Bahamut destroys the place, but they are like ants to it. Cloud dives in with a little more success. [AC]
  • Back at the building, Rufus reveals he has been holding JENOVA's remains all this time under his cloak, and throws the box off the building. Kadaj dives after it. Rufus dives after him, shooting his gun. [AC]
  • With Kadaj distracted, his control over Bahamut SIN is released, and Bahamut returns to his default behavior and rises in the air to attack with Mega Flare. Cloud jumps up in the air after it, being propelled by his friends Barret, Cid, Red XIII, Yuffie, Vincent, and Tifa. But it is not enough, as the force of the Mega Flare begins to push him back... until he receives a final hand from Aerith through the flare. Cloud drags his sword along Bahamut's spine and he falls in a giant explosion. [AC]
  • Shinra and Kadaj are still falling. Kadaj grabs the box, but Shinra shoots it open. Rufus is caught in nets thrown by Tseng and Elena. Kadaj recovers the box and escapes on a bike. Cloud pursues them through a closed-off highway. Reno and Rude wait with a flashy bomb at the end and detain Loz and Yazoo. Cloud and Kadaj jump off the highway, and Cloud loses him in the wasteland. [AC]
  • Kadaj hides in Cloud's church, opens the box, and screams when he sees the damaged contents. Cloud finds him and drives his bike into the church. They fight again, bringing down parts of the building. Just as it looks like Kadaj has the jump on him, the flowerbed erupts with a geyser of water/lifestream, flooding the church and repelling Kadaj. The water falls on Cloud, healing his Geostigma. Cloud pursues Kadaj outside and the Shera, holding Cloud's friends, hovers nearby (including Yuffie, who has apparently gotten over her motion sickness). Vincent says that Kadaj is a remnant of Sephiroth, a larva. They discuss what to do, but Tifa says Cloud has to fight this alone. The others don't understand, but go along with it. [AC]
  • Cloud successfully defeats Kadaj, leaving him hanging on the ledge of a building with the box of JENOVA's remains in his free hand. Kadaj falls back, holding the box, merging with the JENOVA cells. Cloud realizes what he's about to do and dives in pursuit. Just as he is about to bring down his sword, he is blocked - by Sephiroth's Masamune. They fight, as Sephiroth tells of what he wants to do, to choke this Planet and turn it into a vessel to sail the cosmos and find a new Planet. Sephiroth summons the spirit energy of those who died from Geostigma to turn the world to darkness. Cloud remembers those who he cherishes and defeats Sephiroth with Omnislash Ver. 5. Sephiroth wraps himself in his one black wing, saying he will never be a memory, and vanishes, leaving Kadaj's form which falls. Rain falls, rain like that from the lifestream that flooded the church. It falls on Kadaj, healing his JENOVA cells, which makes him disappear. Cloud basks in the rain and his victory as the Highwind returns. [AC]
  • Suddenly, he is shot in the back by Yazoo, who stands with Loz on the building, struggling not to disappear in the rain, using the ton of materia in their arms to sustain themselves. Cloud attacks as they release the power of the materia, causing an explosion. [AC]
  • Cloud drifts through white space, being observed by the spirits of Zack and Aeris. He wakes up in the church, surrounded by his friends and the children, in the pool of lifestream that has flooded the floor. He pours the water over Denzel, healing him of the Geostigma. All the other children jump in, laughing and splashing around. As they have their fun, Cloud sees Aeris walking out of the church, with Zack in the doorway. Cloud smiles, knowing he's been forgiven. [AC]

2 - 3 A.G.

  • Vincent buys a cell phone.
  • Hojo gains control of the body of Weiss the Immaculate, the strongest Tsviet (an elite member of Deepground). He uses this to control the other Tsviets (including Nero the Sable who has a deep affection for his brother Weiss) to begin gathering troops in order to 1) gain the Protomateria in order to bring about Chaos and 2) kidnap people not infected with Geostigma and drop them into Lifestream to purify it to bring about Omega. [DoC]
  • Deepground steps up its attempts to awaken Omega by kidnapping and killing 1200 people from Junon. Their troops attack, discard anyone who has a hint of Geostigma, and take the "pure" victims to their headquarters, where they are slaughtered. They attack Wutai in the same manner. They also upload all of Lucrecia's data to Shelke, who uses it to learn of the Protomateria. Shelke begins searching for Vincent in order to find the Protomateria. [DoC]

3 A.G. (the events of Dirge of Cerberus)

  • Vincent is text-messaged by Reeve, who asks him to come to Kalm for a meeting. Some sort of festival is taking place; however, it is interrupted by Deepground, who attack again and finally reveal themselves. Shelke finds Vincent there, and she and Azul come after him. However, Shelke faints and Azul takes her away. Vincent meets Reeve, who's pierced by gunfire, at which point his body comes apart, revealing Cait Sith, who'd "dressed up" as Reeve. Vincent later meets with the real Reeve, who tells him Edge is under attack. (It appears that most of the city had evacuated, as Shalua indicates that only 500 people are "still living here") [DoC]
  • The WRO tries to protect Edge, but Rosso the Crimson kills the entire squad. No one is left. [DoC]
  • Weiss broadcasts a message to everyone, telling them the "pure" will be "spared for the cause" (i.e. taken to Omega and sacrificed) whereas the "tainted" (i.e. those with Geostigma) will be hunted down and killed in a variety of nasty ways. [DoC]
  • Vincent and Reeve are attacked on the way to Edge; Vincent makes it there by himself. He meets Shalua briefly, but their distrust of each other has them go their own ways. Vincent saves a child from the Deepground forces, who helps him reach Rosso. Rosso attacks, but Vincent loses control and transforms into Chaos, blasting Rosso away. [DoC]
  • Shalua finds Vincent and takes him to the WRO headquarters, where she tells him of the existence of Lucrecia's thesis, "The Planet's Pulse", regarding the Chaos gene. However, Deepground, led by Azul and Shelke, invade and attack while they're talking. Shelke invades the lab and the two sisters are reunited after ten years, though Shelke should be nineteen and looks nine. Despite Shalua's gushing, Shelke attacks. Vincent uses tranquilizer bullets and Shalua takes her away. However, Azul pursues and attacks, but Reeve and Vincent destroy his Protect barrier with a rocket, and Vincent defeats him in battle. [DoC]
  • Vincent heads towards the Shinra Manor in Nibelheim to find Lucrecia's thesis; he goes via the sewers to avoid Deepground troops being deployed around it. At the same time, Cait Sith No. 5 is sent to the Deepground base under Sector 0. He sees Deepground's sacrifice of the Kalm residents to Omega, but is destroyed by Nero the Sable before he can do or see anything else. [DoC]
  • Vincent finds a hologram data disc of Lucrecia in the basement of Shinra Manor (the same place where Sephiroth was eight years ago). The disc cryptically explains that Omega is born of the Lifestream, and its purpose is to usher in the end of days by cleansing the planet of all living things. He finds four more parts of the Omega report (these sections appear to have been written by Dr. Grimoire Valentine, the other four found throughout the game were written by Lucrecia). In the main hall, he is attacked by Rosso the Crimson and a Deepground battle robot. With Vincent weakened from battle, she pulls the Protomateria out of Vincent's body. Without the Protomateria to control it, he transforms into Chaos, but can't move. Just before she can finish him off, Yuffie arrives and spirits Vincent away. [DoC]
  • Yuffie and Vincent travel back to WRO Headquarters in a truck. Reeve contacts them to let them know his plan - they intend to launch a full offensive on Midgar and Deepground headquarters, deep within Mako Reactor 0. Shelke wakes up in a WRO lab where Shalua has been taking care of her (Azul is also unconscious in another lab). Shelke takes her weapons and prepares to fight her sister, but Shalua challenges her and it's a standoff. Meanwhile Azul transforms into a giant Behemoth-like beast and begins rampaging through WRO HQ. This signals Deepground to attack again. The alarm sounds, heralding Deepground's arrival. The truck reaches outside headquarters, but Yuffie gets a bang on the head and is out for the count, leaving Vincent to deal with the troops. [DoC]
  • Vincent meets Shelke and Shalua at the same time that Azul catches up with them. Azul attacks Shelke, but she neutralizes his barrier. He turns back into a human and smacks her again, telling her that she's no longer needed, now that the Protomateria has been found. Shalua grabs Shelke and shoves her and Vincent to a door which begins closing. She uses her robotic arm to keep the door open while they get through and apologizes to Shelke for letting her suffer so much. The door finally closes on her arm, crushing it, just Azul is upon her. All we see is liquid from her artificial parts seeping beneath the door. [DoC]
  • Vincent finds Reeve in a destroyed office after the attack is over. At some point, the WRO find Shalua unconscious and take her to a regeneration tube. As Yuffie is watching over her, Vincent and Shelke enter. Shelke cannot understand why Shalua did what she did, how someone could give their life for another. Vincent tries to explain that she was Shalua's "reason for living", that that quality is what makes people human. Reeve tells Vincent that the Omega Reports he found in Shinra Manor are incomplete. Shelke says that the data fragments inside her head could be merged with the Omega Reports to complete the information. Just before this, Cid arrives in the Shera and everyone goes onboard. [DoC]
  • Everyone aboard the Shinra works on preparing for the assault on Midgar. Reeve analyzes the Omega Reports. Shelke works on modifying the Shinra equipment in order to perform a "Synaptic Net Dive" (Shalua has also been moved on board). Cid works on piloting and coordinating the attack on the ground with Barret, Tifa, and Cloud. Yuffie, Cid and the others will attack from the air. [DoC]
  • Shelke commences a synaptic net dive with Lucrecia's data, merging the information. The Shera's bridge erupts into a hologram of space (evoking images of FF10). Through Lucrecia's voice, Shelke explains that Omega is a sentient being created of Lifestream. Its role is like a Weapon, but, before the Planet is about to end, Omega will awaken to gather all life unto it. When it has finished taking all the Lifestream, it will journey into the stars. So just as souls return to the Lifestream, so too will the Planet return to whence it came. In essence, Omega is a "elaborate safety mechanism designed solely to protect the flow of life". Normally it poses no threate, but Deepground has been trying to awaken it by sacrificing pure souls to it, convincing the Planet the end is near. Reeve reports that Omega is being created from Reactor 0, which itself is being fed from the other 8 reactors. The air and ground assaults are meant to destroy the other 8 reactors and cut off Omega's supply of Mako/Lifestream while Vincent infiltrates Reactor 0, at the center of Midgar. [DoC]
  • Before they land, Vincent loses control of Chaos again. However, before anything nasty can happen, an image Lucrecia appears to him and calms him down. Shelke gives Vincent his cell phone back and tells him he can use it to contact her so she can guide him on the way to Deepground. [DoC]
  • The attack begins, the missiles fly. Yuffie and the first wave fly out the Shera on some sort of "hoverboard". The ground troops clash and Rosso meets Cloud head on. Azul attacks the airships with a giant rocket launcher, hitting the Shera. Vincent escapes an explosion with the second wave and glides down to Midgar dodging shots. Shelke contacts him and tells him he's missed his target, landing in the Train Graveyard (yep, the same one we saw at the beginning of FF7). Shelke guides him through the graveyard to the center of city, and the central complex. But he finds Rosso at the entrance to the Shinra Building. Midway through battle, she turns into Bloodburst Rosso. He defeats her, but rather than give anyone the pleasure of killing her, she destroys the part of the building she's standing on, and falls into the depths. [DoC]
  • Shelke tells Vincent that the assault on the other Mako Reactors has not been completed, they are still functioning. From the central complex, the only way to Mako Reactor 0 is to go up into a secret entrance in the President's office. Vincent is again assailed by Chaos, who tries to awaken. Shelke/Lucrecia explains that Chaos exists inside him, but independently. It is the being who will "gather all life" for Omega at the end of the Planet. [DoC]
  • Shelke's helmet malfunctions and she loses contact. She goes up to the bridge to see what's going on. Cid notices engine levels dropping; Shelke goes to investigate. She finds the engine room half-destroyed, and meets Nero the Sable there. He has already killed the entire crew. Shelke attacks him, but he draws her into his darkness. Shelke survives by using her magic to form a spherical shield against the darkness, but the shield has already begun weakening. [DoC]
  • Vincent travels through the Shinra building and finds the way to the undercomplex of Shinra HQ. When Vincent tries calling Shelke, he gets "User Not Available". Immediately after, though, he's then contacted by Cloud, Tifa, and Barret on his cellphone. They tell him they lost contact with the airship and send him a map of the Shinra Building (remember, he wasn't with them when they were there the first time). [DoC]
  • When Vincent gets on the elevator to take him to Mako Reactor 0/Deepground HQ, he encounters Azul. They battle, the second round Azul turns into Arch Azul - his beast form. Vincent is simply not strong enough to kill him. He then turns into Chaos, and transforms Azul back to human. Then he hurls Azul's own gun right through his chest. Azul laughs and drops into the abyss. Vincent goes unconscious as Nero hovers nearby. He drops Shelke's cellphone near his body before vanishing. [DoC]
  • On his way through the underground city, Vincent is suddenly engulfed by Nero's darkness, but Shelke tells him darkness cannot control him since he has Chaos and a part of him was born from it. He escapes the darkness unharmed. At the gateway into the reactor, he meets and fights Nero, who drags him into darkness again after telling him that Shelke is in there too. Vincent lets himself be swallowed by the darkness; this time, he finds Shelke and gives her back her cellphone before taking her out with him. Nero attacks again, but Yuffie intervenes just like in Shinra manor, and he disappears. [DoC]
  • Vincent finds a room with a Mako tube (similar to what Cloud and Zack had in Shinra Manor) and puts Shelke in one so that she can recover. Vincent goes off to find Nero and Weiss, and Yuffie goes after the reactor; however, their paths soon converge. [DoC]
  • They find Weiss, dead (or unconscious) at the center of the reactor. Nero stops them, though, shoving them into his darkness again. Vincent grabs Yuffie and escapes it yet again. Nero transports Vincent some bizarre realm (think Xen from Half-Life) and transforms into Arachnero. Midway through battle, he transforms into Gorgonero, but Vincent defeats him as well. After it's over, they come back to the reactor room and Nero stumbles toward his brother Weiss the Translucent, who is beginning to awaken. [DoC]
  • Weiss spears him through his chest, saying he has no more use for him, and tosses him aside. Weiss reveals that he is really none other than Hojo. The "Fragment Program" he initiated at Meteorfall dispersed his consciousness throughout the computer networks, then was brought back together. Now, using Weiss as his indestrucible body, he will merge with Omega to "traverse the cosmos in a blaze of glory", just as Vincent has merged with Chaos. (His original plan was to perfect his body by injecting JENOVA cells, but we all see how that turned out). Vincent attacks Weiss/Hojo but has his ass handed to him. Lucrecia/Shelke appears to him and urges him to control Chaos rather than letting it control him. Vincent succeeds in doing it, using Weiss's Protomateria to use Chaos's power while still in human form. Vincent battles Weiss Empowered, and defeats him, flinging him into a wall, rendering him unconscious. [DoC]
  • Nero gets up, having become "Dark Nero" and stumbles over to the incapcitated Weiss/Hojo. Helpless, Hojo watches "Dark Nero" embrace his brother and merge with him. The impurity of the darkness drives Hojo out and he disappears. Weiss/Nero walks to the Mako reactor and the Mako bursts up. Outside Midgar, a giant Weapon begins to form, attaching tubes of Lifestream from the reactors and feeding from it. Omega has awakened, and Vincent has transformed into Chaos. However, Chaos is unable to damage Omega, due to some sort of forcefield. [DoC]
  • Shelke does a synaptic net dive into Omega, treating the Lifestream that makes it up as a giant network, in order to find the Protomateria. Being restricted by ropes of darkness, she finds a bright light obscuring a woman (Lucrecia) holding it out to her. Shelke (or her astral projection) bursts out of Omega's head, and dives toward Chaos. Shelke shoves the Protomateria in his chest (and an image of Lucrecia bathed in white pushes it in further, before she is wrapped in a black strand and pulled back into Omega's wound, where his head reforms). Lucrecia's memories and true feelings seep into him. Newly invigorated, Vincent/Chaos rescues Shelke, materializes a gun out of midair (known as "Death Penalty") and tells her that "he has a story to end". [DoC]
  • While Vincent/Chaos tries to get closer to Omega, Cloud, Yuffie, and the others finally manage to blow the reactors, separating Omega's ties to Lifestream and some of his strength. With the cheers of his friends in the background, Vincent/Chaos dives into Omega. He works his way through to the core, being hampered by organic security probes. He finally manages to destroy the Omega Cocoon which holds Weiss inside. After freeing Weiss, they scuffle. Then Weiss attaches to a giant machine monster through strands of Mako and becomes Omega Weiss. After his defeat, Weiss sinks into the ground. Outside, Omega crystallizes. His majestic wings become alive and he begins ascending to the sky. Vincent/Chaos soars out of Omega and flies ahead. As the counterbalance to Omega, only he can end it. Vincent/Chaos flies forward into Omega and causes a giant explosion (one that can be seen from space!). However, the explosion apparently harms no one, and the white cloud disappears. There's no trace of Omega or Chaos. The particles of Lifestream disperse, along with a collection of purple fragments (Chaos), and return to the Planet. [DoC]
  • We also see Shalua's tube standing somewhere in Midgar. The glass is cracked and she remains prone. Her fate remains unknown. [DoC]
  • One week later, Shelke is adjusting to a normal life and has some coffee in the refurbished 7th Heaven Bar in Edge. Tifa, Yuffie, and Red XIII are also there. Cloud is searching for someone (Vincent or Shalua). But Shelke knows where he is. [DoC]
  • Vincent is visiting Lucrecia's waterfall cave again and leaves after he says to her "Thank you. It was you. You were the reason I survived." We see a single tear drop from the crystallized form in the cave. He goes outside to see Shelke waiting for him, watching the cloud-like remnants of Omega in the sky. [DoC]
  • Underneath Midgar, Weiss lies on a slab of rock, his gun-swords at his side. A mysterious man, known only as G, appears and says "It is not yet time for slumber. There is still much to do, my brother". His eyes shine with mako and a white wing sprouts out of his left side. He flies off. (This is a a secret scene, only shown if you collected all three "G-Reports") [DoC]

500 A.G.:

  • Red XIII and his grandchildren climb to the top of Cosmo Canyon and look at the ruins of Midgar, now covered in greenery and forest. [FF7 and AC]