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The story of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth


The city of Midgard lies in ruin. The battle between AVALANCHE and Shinra has taken a large toll on the city’s inhabitants. A Shinra reporter relays the nature of the destruction from the Midgar expressway. He explains that the destruction can be blamed on the actions of AVALANCHE and possibly their national rivals, the Wutai.

As the report continues, Zack approaches the city holding a wounded Cloud. They stop to watch the broadcast and discover that Shinra operatives are searching for the wounded soldier. The footage shows Shinra operatives searching through the rubble for AVALANCHE members. Tifa, Red XIII, Aerith, and Baret can be seen being taken away on stretchers. Zack is shocked to see Aerith being taken away by Shinra forces.

Zack leaves the unconscious body of Cloud with a local named Kyrie before running off to investigate. As he chases after the Shinra helicopters, he notices they are experiencing turbulence. Onboard the helicopter, Red XIII has awoken and is attacking the Shinra guards who have captured the AVALANCHE members.

Zack discovers the crashed air vessel and quickly takes out the Shinra forces. However, Zack must move quickly as more Shinra forces are on the way. He grabs Aerith and thanks Red XIII for his sacrifice before fleeing the area, leaving Red XIII lying unconscious in the helicopter.

Chapter 1: Fall of a Hero

Barret asks Cloud to inform the group about his friend Sephiroth. Cloud agrees and begins his story five years ago in the Nibel Region. At 16, Cloud had already become bored of his job as a Soldier. There weren’t very many missions, and when one did pop up, they would bore him to tears. However, one day he received the mission of a lifetime. He would be sent away with the mighty war hero Sephiroth.

As they travel to their destination, Cloud confides in Sephiroth about his boredom. He is upset that the war with the Wutai was placed on hold just as he received his Soldier First Class ranking. He tells Sephiroth that he didn’t join the force to run errands, he joined in the hopes of becoming a great hero like Sephiroth.

Sephiroth chuckles at Cloud and informs him they are headed on another boring mission. The two Soldiers are en route to inspect an old rundown reactor. However, Sephiroth does have one interesting detail about the mission. The reactor is stationed in Nibelheim, Cloud’s hometown. Back at their hideout, Baret remarks that Nibelheim is where Shinra built the first reactor. Tifa adds that there was something wrong with the initial reactor.

Returning to Cloud’s hometown, Sephiroth asks Cloud how it feels to be back. Sephiroth explains that he is curious about how it feels because he has no place he can call home. His mother, Jenova, died shortly after he was born. He decides that there is no reason to discuss his history with Cloud and heads to the city. Once they enter, Mayor Zander greets them and offers a short tour of the area. Sephiroth tells Cloud to take the rest of the day off and meet him at sundown.

When entering the local hotel, Cloud is caught off guard by a martial arts trainer named Zangan. He measures Cloud’s body and informs him that he is toned but needs to bulk up. Zangan offers his services to Cloud but he refuses. In an attempt to sway his opinion, Zangan tells Cloud that he is training a local girl by the name of Tifa. However, this does nothing to convince Cloud and he leaves the man alone.

After wandering the city, Cloud carves out some time to visit his mother. Unfortunately, there is something wrong with this memory. It begins to skip forward, as if pieces of it were missing. After attempting to find Tifa, Cloud heads back to the hotel. He recalls that Sephiroth wasn’t acting himself that day.

He finds Sephiroth staring out a window. When Cloud asks what he is doing, he explains that he feels as if he has seen this landscape before. Cloud can tell that he is distressed and asks if Sephiroth is ok. To this, Sephiroth pats him on the shoulder and tells him to get some rest, informing him they have a big day tomorrow.

When the two arrive in the morning, Cloud is shocked to see that Tifa is their guide up the mountain. As they head up the mountain, the group is stopped by a photographer. Sephiroth initially brushes him off, but Tifa and Cloud convince him to take a group photo for the town. Along the way, the group crosses an old wooden bridge that collapses under their weight. Unable to make their way back up, the group falls into the river below.

Luckily, the group manages to find their way to a nearby shore and begin their trek back up the mountain to the reactor. As they work through the mountain region, the group stumbles upon a Mako spring. Tifa points out that her father told her that as Mako is extracted from the planet springs like this will dry up and fade away. Cloud disagrees with this statement. Making the point that the planet is huge and Mako will never run out.

Seeing the spring does spark his curiosity, however. He asks Sephiroth how Mako is turned into Materia. Sephiroth scoffs at this childish request. He tells Cloud that the knowledge of the ancients is sealed into each orb, allowing the user to wield their ancient connection to the planet.

Barret stops Cloud in the middle of his story. He points out that Cloud is making Sephiroth out to be a standup guy. Cloud says that he was up until that point. This news comes as a shock to the rest of the group who only know Sephiroth as a murderous villain. Cloud promises that it will all make sense by the end of his story.

Back at the reactor, Sephiroth tells Tifa to stay outside. She initially protests but Sephiroth shuts down her request and informs her that civilians are not permitted in the reactor. As they enter, Sephiroth explains that unlike most of the reactors that are under Urban Planning, this one is handled by the R&D department. While the previous man in charge of R&D was a great man, Sephiroth had little respect for its current head, Professor Hojo.

As they enter the research area, Cloud and Sephiroth find several rows of pods housing unknown experiments. At the furthest area, they see a chamber with the word Jenova written above it. Sephiroth tells Cloud to leave the area and shut off the pressure valve to the pods. When Cloud returns, he finds Sephiroth destroying the pods. He explains that these pods were repurposed by Hojo to measure the results of living being exposed to large amounts of Mako. To prove this, he cuts open a pod that has a humanlike creature that has been hideously deformed by the process.

Seeing this monstrous creature sends Sephiroth into a flashback. When he recovers, he concludes that he must have been created the same way. Distraught by this revelation, the two head back to the inn for the night. When they arrive, Sephiroth locks himself in the room and refuses to speak with Cloud. Later that night, Cloud goes into the room to search for Sephiroth. However, Sephiroth has already left the hotel. After talking with the townspeople, he learns that Sephiroth was last seen near Shinra Manor.

Cloud finds Sephiroth in a hidden basement of the building. It is here that Sephiroth begins to learn the true nature of Jenova. The Shinra Corporation discovered its body in the 1970s. Shortly after they classified it as an Ancient and approved the Jenova Project. This genetic experimentation program led to Sephiroth's creation. After explaining this to Cloud, he leaves to be reunited with Jenova. When Cloud attempts to stop him, Sephiroth throws him across the room with a flick of his wrist. This blow knocks Cloud unconscious.

When he awakens, Sephiroth has destroyed the village. Working his way through the city, Cloud returns to his mother's house. The building is encased in fire and explodes, knocking Cloud to the ground. A militiaman attempts to help Cloud to his feet but is stabbed and killed by Sephiroth. Cloud watches in horror as Sephiroth slays the remaining people in the town.

Cloud manages to follow Sephiroth back to the reactor. Tifa and her father had arrived earlier to hide from the city’s destruction. However, once her father saw Sephiroth approaching, he decided to confront him about what he had done. Sephiroth does not hesitate to kill the man and heads into the reactor room. Distraught by her father's murder, Tifa takes Sephiroth's sword and heads into the reactor.

Tifa sneaks up behind Sephiroth and attempts to stab him with the sword. However, his quick reflexes allow him to take the blade from Tifa and slash her across the chest. Cloud discovers Tifa bleeding to death and carries her to safety. Cloud allows his anger to consume him and runs after Sephiroth.

He finds Sephiroth in Jenova’s chamber confessing his admiration to his mother. Clouds readies himself for battle against the warrior, but his memory cuts off just before the fight. Aerith chimes in that she recalls seeing the story on the news with her mother. She tells the group that the news initially reported that Sephiroth went missing during a training exercise but eventually changed it to killed in combat.

Barret reminds the group that the news is just a propaganda machine used by Shinra to manipulate the public. After thinking for a moment, Cloud says it doesn’t matter, it's clear that Sephiroth is still alive. Aeith corrects this statement and says he is still around, not necessarily alive. What she really wants to know is why Sephiroth would come back now.

Cloud tells the group that he believes Sephiroth has come back to finish what he started. He wants to rule over the world with Jenova at his side. Aerith lets out a yawn and says that she is worn out from traveling. The group decides to call it a night and heads off to their rooms.

As they sleep, Tifa asks Aerith if she knows where Cloud has been these past five years. Aerith says that she may have but her memories have been erased by whispers. Tifa sighs and says that as crazy as it sounds, she doesn’t recall Cloud being in Nibelheim all those years ago.  Tifa then sneaks out of her room to check on Cloud. She informs him she wants to speak in private and leads him outside.

However, before Cloud can meet her outside, he sees a vision of Sephiroth. After toying with him, Sephiroth tells Cloud that he must remember him killing Tifa. So, who or what is the person adventuring with Cloud? He shakes off this vision and heads outside to meet Tifa. He asked her how she managed to survive her fight with Sephiroth. Although initially offended by the implication that she is an impostor, she lifts her shirt to show Cloud the scar from her fight with Sephiroth.

She tells Cloud that she was rescued by a man named Zangan. She then begins to question Cloud about where he has been these past five years. However, at the mention of this question, Cloud’s memory begins to fragment, leaving him unable to answer. Frustrated by this, Tifa leaves Cloud and heads back to her room. When Cloud finds her, Tifa states that she thought they could reunite after all of this time like nothing happened, but she was wrong.

Chapter 2: A New Journey Begins

The next morning, Cloud awakens to discover the rest of the group has left the Inn. He grabs his sword and heads off in search of his friends. Before he leaves, he runs into the hotel owner, Broden, who informs Cloud that Barret has left a message for him. The message instructs Cloud to take the day off and have his equipment upgraded.

Outside of the inn, Cloud finds Red XIII waiting for him. Red XIII takes the time to thank Cloud for rescuing him from Hojo’s wicked experiments. He tells Cloud that he now owes him a life debt and will accompany him until the debt is paid. The two head off to have their equipment upgraded.

Along the way, Cloud runs into Aerith waiting on him outside of the bookstore. She asked if he would climb the clock tower with her after he has finished his errands. Cloud agrees and Aerith heads off to buy them a pair of tickets. Cloud discovers the rest of the group doing their own errands around the city and meets Aerith at the clock tower.

At the top of the tower, Aerith talks to Cloud about his relationship with Tifa. She reminds him how important their relationship is and tells him not to take her for granted. Before they can continue, they notice a group of helicopters flying into the city. Shinra operatives parachute from the choppers and begin searching the town for the AVALANCHE members. At Broden’s instruction, the group uses a secret tunnel in the inn to escape and head east.

Once outside, the group is presented with a lush, green landscape to explore. Aerith expresses amazement at seeing the lush environment. She states that it is amazing that the environment is flourishing even after all that Shinra has done. Red XIII corrects her and says that it may look fine, but the planet's energy is barely hanging on.

As the group heads off, they encounter a friendly old man by the name of Bill. He informs the group that once he gets his vehicle up and running, they can call on him for a ride. The group tells him they are enjoying the nature but are curious if there is a place to rest nearby. He points the AVALANCHE members to an abandoned house in the swamplands. The group thanks Bill and heads out in search of shelter.

When they arrive, Barret suggests they obtain a boat and head through the mines until they reach Junon. Unfortunately, the swamp is home to a vicious creature known as the Midgardsormr. The group decides they will need to rent a Chocobo before attempting to cross the waterway. So, the group heads off in search of Bill, who will rent them a Chocobo.

They discover Bill at his humble Chocobo Ranch. Unfortunately, Bill’s grandson Billy informs the group that there are no spare Chocobos at the moment. Billy offers to bump the group up the list if they are willing to shell out 10 thousand gill each. Aerith explains to the young man that they don’t have that much money, or any money at all.

Assuming that he won't be able to get any coin from the group, Billy tells them a Chocobo ran off earlier in the day. If the group is willing to track it down, they can keep it free of charge. At the other end of the stable, the group meets Billy’s sister, Chloe. The young girl explains that her brother has been money hungry since their parents went away. She asks if the group knows Chocobo Sam and informs them that he has something to do with her parent's disappearance. However, Billy cuts her off before she can explain in more detail.

Utilizing his Soldier Training, Cloud sneaks up and captures the wild Chocobo. As the group heads off, they inquire about some odd jobs in the local town. They are sent to investigate a broken mako pipe for the city's mayor. However, when they arrive at the facility, they encounter Kyrie. Who now operates as a mercenary for hire. Kyrie admits that she is in over her head and asks the group for help. Cloud agrees to help the girl, so long as she stops referring to herself as a merc.

The group leaves Kyrie behind and sets off in search of the parts required to fix the pipeline. The AVALANCHE members quickly find the parts and repair the pipeline with Kyrie. However, the young woman revokes her earlier promise and ventures off to find more work as a mercenary. Cloud decides to head back to Broden to assess the damage from Shinra.

When they find him, Broden appears to be very ill. He asks the group if they would be willing to help him. Cloud agrees but asks Broden about his previous involvement with Shinra first. He explains that he used to be a grunt for the company but returned to run the hotel following the death of his parents. When Cloud inquires about his health, Broden tells him that he has headaches and hears voices urging him to head somewhere.

After helping his friend with a task, the group returns to Broden. As they talk with him, Red XIII picks up a terrible scent that reminds him of Hojo’s Lab. Before they can investigate, Broden yells out in pain and exclaims that he must go. Once the trance has passed, Broden explains that his condition is part of the Soldier programs cell deterioration. He tells Cloud to enjoy his life and never let Shinra take the time he has left.

The group grabs their Chocobos and heads across the swamplands. As they explore, Cloud believes he sees Sephiroth and takes the group on a detour. However, when they reach the location, the other group members are unable to see Sephiroth. Instead, there is a shambling man dressed in a cloak who refuses to interact with Cloud. Back on track, the group crosses a small island in the swamp. However, the Chocobos become spooked at kicked off their riders before fleeing the area. As the AVALANCHE members arise, they come face to face with the dreaded Midgardsormr.

After a lengthy battle, the snake like creature grabs Cloud and drags him to the bottom of the swamp. As he drowns, Cloud sees Sephiroth appear from a purple and black mist. Sephiroth easily slays the beast before vanishing once more. Cloud awakens on the beach surrounded by his friends. Cloud spots a group of shambling men in robes down the road. He assumes that these men must also be searching for Sephiroth. The group decides to follow them in the hopes that they will lead them to the villain.

Chapter 3: Deeper in the Darkness

The AVALANCHE members enter the Mythril Mines and begin their search for Sephiroth. As they close in on the cloaked men, a quake causes the path to dislodge, leading several cloaked men to fall. Feeling sympathy for them, Barret heads down into the mines to offer support. Tifa offers to help Barret, but he refuses, insisting that she is too important. However, he does take up Red XIII's offer to help him navigate the cave system. The group splits up and continues to follow the robed men.

As Cloud’s group continues, they discover Rude speaking with another Turk agent. It would seem that Shinra is also interested in the whereabouts of the robed men. After Tifa alerts the Turks to their presence, the new member introduces herself as Elena. Unthreatened by the new agent, Aerith asks Rude where Reno is. He informs her that he has taken a vacation. As the two groups battle, Barret and Red XIII show up to help their friends. Barret fires his gun at the Turk agents and forces them to surrender.

Barret threatens the Turk agents telling them they need to pay for what they did at the Sector 7 slums. However, before he can do anything, Tseng shows up and kills the robed men. Tseng tells Barret that if he wants someone to blame for what happened in the slums, he should look in the mirror. He tells the AVALANCHE members that they have other targets. So long as they stay out of his way, he will stay out of theirs. He tells Cloud to take care of Aerith before escaping with the other Turk members.

As they leave, Elena throws a grenade at the AVALANCHE members, causing Barret and Red XIII to fall to the lower depths of the Mythril mines.  Separated once again, the group members decide to meet back up at the exit of the cage. As they come across the body of one of the robed men, Red XIII tells Barret that Hojo’s lab was filled with men like this, each one suffering from Mako poisoning. The AVALANCHE members regroup at the exit and continue their pursuit of the robed men.

They find the men shambling to a nearby city. Cloud informs the group that this is a Shinra occupied area known as Junon.

Chapter 4: Dawn of a New Era

The group heads to Junon to investigate the robbed men's motives. Since Junon is under Shinra's surveillance, the group decides to head to the undercity first, where they will be less likely to be spotted. When they arrive, they are greeted by Rhonda, the town's mayor and sheriff. She immediately clocks the groups as the terrorist cell known as AVALANCHE. Luckily, she isn’t interested in helping Shinra. She directs the group to a local inn where they can rest up.

Cloud asks if she has seen any men in black robes pass through. Rhonda says that she hasn’t, but she did see the Turk agents head through the town. Hearing this, Barret prepares to attack the Turk members but is stopped by Rhonda. She tells them that the upper city belongs to Shinra and if there are any disturbances the city below will face the consequences of their actions.

The AVALANCHE members agree to keep a low profile and head to the town to find information about the robed men. As Cloud searches the town, he hears a young woman screaming for help. As he investigates, he finds the young girl being attacked by a large sea monster. Luckily, Yuffie is able to grab a dolphin's fin and ride to safety. At the mayor's request, the AVALANCHE members step in and defeat the monster. 

The next morning, the group has a meeting with Yuffie. She tells the group that she is a materia hunter and ninja operative for the Wutai government. She left her homeland to join the battle against the Shinra forces. She tells the AVALANCHE members that they have the same goal and should join forces. Sensing the group's distrust, she informs that she has been hired by Rhonda to assassinate Rufus Shinra.

Yuffie explains that Rufus will soon enter the city for his inauguration parade as the new owner of Shinra. Barret scoffs and expresses disbelief in Yuffie’s plan. Offended by this, Yuffie tells the AVALANCHE members that Rhonda plans to pay her by turning them into Shinra for the bounty money. Hearing a disturbance downstairs, Yuffie escapes through a nearby window, telling the group to meet up with her if they escape.

Outside, Cloud finds Roche waiting on the group. The Jovial soldier invites them to battle outside of the city so that they may use their full potential. As Roche leaves, Rhonda approaches the group to explain her betrayal. The mayor hands Barret some gill and tells him that it is part of their bounty. Rhonda turned them in because she knew they could handle whatever fighters Shinra threw at them. She can now use the money to fight against the tyrannical company alongside the terrorists. The group decides to forgive her and continue their investigation into the city.

President Rufus sits inside the Junon command center waiting for his inauguration. Tseng enters the room and informs him that a representative of Wutai is here to see him. The emissary introduced himself to Tseng as Colonel Glenn Lodbrok. Rufus tells Tseng to send the man in.

Upon seeing the man, Rufus states that he believes this person to be dead. This causes Glenn to laugh, stating that was the correct assumption. He has come to remind President Rufus that he has obligations to fulfill. He reminds Rufus that his company works alongside the Wutai government. Before he departs, he delivers a message from the Wutai Viceroy. He mockingly congratulates him on his new role as president and leaves the room.

After helping the local villagers, the group heads to the upper city to find Yuffie. They decide to join the parade to try and get info on President Rufus while he is in town. The AVALANCHE members split up to find ways to infiltrate the parade. Tifa, Cloud, and Aerith find a cache of guard supplies and disguise themselves as Shinra troops.

However, they are soon discovered by a Shinra Commander who demands that they perform their parade route routine for inspection. Luckily, Cloud still remembers his basic training and guides Tifa and Aerith through the process. Unfortunately, the group performs too well and receives a promotion to the parade captain of Midgar’s Seventh Infantry.

Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith round up their newly appointed units and begin to head for the parade. However, just before the parade begins, President Rufus decides to reactivate some of Shinra’s unused military equipment as a show of force. This action will be seen as an act of aggression and end the cease fire currently in place with the Wutai government. Rufus dismisses these outcomes, stating that he wants to start his new role as president with a bang.

Cloud does a fantastic job leading his troops through the parade. They perform so well that Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith are permitted an audience with President Rufus. However, Shinra has been aware of their presence the entire time. Secretly monitoring them the moment they walked into the city. President Rufus instructs Tseng to monitor the robed men while he deals with the AVALANCHE members.

President Rufus takes the podium and provides a rousing speech to his citizens. He explains how he will lead the country through these troubling times and invites Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith on stage with him to collect their award. After offering them their public praise, Rufus cuts the mic and states he has some private words for the soldiers. Seeing that the feed has been cut, Red XIII and Barret head toward the stage. However, as they advance, they see Yuffie heading to the stage wearing a disguise.

Back at the podium, Rufus informs the AVALANCE members that he knows who they are. He congratulates Cloud on his performance and states that it was worthy of his Soldier class. Stunned by this, Cloud removes his helmet, drawing the attention of Heidegger. Rufus tells his general to stand down and turns his attention back to the group.

Rufus tells Cloud that he has read his file and finds him to be a fascinating individual. He offers the group a favor. If they are willing to leave Midgar and stay out of his way, he will no longer send troops to capture and kill them. He tells the group he has no interest in his father's legacy and wants to become his own leader. To achieve this, he needs to accomplish two things. First, is to rebuild Midgard, and more importantly, kill Sephiroth. He tells Cloud he will leave them in peace if they can kill Sephiroth for him.

Rufus informs the group that the men in black robes are shadows of Sephiroth. If they follow them, they will lead the group to Sephiroth. Unfortunately, just as they are about to seal the deal, Yuffie attempts to assassinate Rufus. Her attack fails but Rufus blames the AVALANCHE members and leaves the area. The AVALANCHE members regroup and head to the port to flee the area.

The group manages to secure a boat headed for Costa del Sol and safely leaves the area undetected. As they board, they also notice a group of the robed men entering the ship.

Chapter 5: Blood in the Water

Deciding to enjoy their leisure time, the group signs up for a Queens Blood Tournament. Clouds wins the tournament, beating out Regina, the reigning champion. However, at the last moment, a moonwalking Red XIII shows up and challenges Cloud for the title. After a close match, Cloud defeats Red XIII and walks away with the trophy.

After a long day, the group gets some rest in their cabins. Unfortunately, Cloud and Red XIII are awoken by an emergency announcement requesting that all military personnel head to the ship's deck. The two AVALANCE members head off to investigate the trouble. Upon reaching the deck, they discover that it is swarmed with fiends. As they battle through the ship, Cloud notices the fiends are targeting the men in black robes.

After attacking them, the fiends merge bodies with the robed men and create a new, stronger lifeform. When the group finds Barret, he is protecting a group of the robed men. Unfortunately, the captain steps in to kill the men in order to protect the passengers of the ship. To avoid being murdered, Yuffie removes her black cloak and identifies herself to the AVALANCHE members.

Before they can discuss why she is on the ship, the corpses of the robed men bind together and create an explosion. When the dust settles, the group is faced with a new threat, Jenova Emergent. After a harrowing battle, the monster disappears, and the bodies of the robed men are all that remain.

Chapter 6: Fool’s Paradise

The following morning, the group arrives at Costa del Soul. At Tifa’s request, the group decides to find a hotel. Along the way, they run into Tifa’s old friend Johnny. It turns out that Johnny has been doing well for himself. He is now the owner of a rundown hotel. The group is excited to see Johnny and takes him up on his offer for free accommodations.

After being shown their rooms, the group splits up and heads out to explore the town. At the beach, the AVLANCHE members encounter Professor Hojo. However, the mad scientist has no interest in the group. He tells them a very special show is about to begin and ventures down the beach. As Cloud questions Hojo, a large machine crawls up onto the beach area and releases a swarm of fiends. These monsters merge with the robed men and become stronger.

Hojo celebrates his accomplishment as flying robots capture the new creatures and take them back to his lab. Barret readies himself to attack Hojo but is stopped by Aerith. Unfortunately, the remaining monsters are attacking the townspeople. The group leaves Hojo and heads to the beach to defend the innocent bystanders. With the help of Yuffie, the AVALANCHE members destroy the machine and save the town.

The following morning, the group heads outside to continue their investigation when they are stopped by Yuffie. The young girl insists that she would make a valuable asset to the team and demands to join. After some convincing, Cloud relents and allows her to join them in their hunt for Sephiroth.

Chapter 7: Those Left Behind

Back on the hunt for the robed men, The AVALANCHE members take a small mountain trail up to some broken reactors. Barret informs the group that he grew up in this region. Along the way, Yuffie runs ahead of the group in search of Materia formations around the Mako reactors. Frustrated, Barret runs after the young girl to scold her. Tifa tells Cloud that she is going to help Barret. She believes being this close to his hometown is messing with his emotions.

As Aerith, Cloud, and Red XIII climb the mountain, they discover a Shinra helicopter docking in a small barn. As they approach, they find Elena and Rude unloading a group of robed men. Elena tells the group that she isn’t interested in fighting them and begins to board the helicopter. However, as she prepares to leave, she releases a giant mech to kill the AVALANCHE members.

Back at Shinra HQ, President Rufus holds a board meeting and goes over his plans for the Magnus Materia Project. He informs the group that anomalies have been detected at the Mako reactors. After scanning the environment, he has concluded that the Weapons have returned. These massive lifeforms appear when the planet is in danger. Each one harbors a massive orb of materia.

Along with Hojo, he plans to capture these Weapons and harvest their materia. After receiving some pushback from his council, Rufus admits that his main motivation for capturing the creatures. He states that the government of Wutai is also searching for the Weapons. After this is brought to light, his board members prepare to help him on his mission.

In the sector 5 underbelly, Zack lies sleeping in an abandoned house. Awoken by a stranger knocking at the door, he grabs his sword to investigate. He opens the door to find Aerith’s mother, Elmyra. She asks where Aerith is and Zack points her to the upstairs room. Elmyra states that she is taking her daughter home. When Zack protests, Elmyra says that he is doing a terrible job of taking care of Aerith and Cloud. Noting that he didn’t even bother to wipe the dirt off her daughter's face. She places Aerith in a wheelchair and instructs Zach to carry Cloud back to her house.

Back at the mountain, Aerith wonders how her mother is holding up. Cloud dismisses her worries, stating that she can talk to her mother as soon as they are finished. As they head up the mountain, the group reunites with Yuffie, Tifa, and Barret. They soon reach their destination, The Corel Mako reactor.

As they follow the robed men, Yuffie asks what is wrong with them. Barret states that they are victims of Shinra. Yuffie states that she can relate, telling the group of the horrors Shinra inflicted upon the Wutai people during the war. When the ceasefire was signed, the Wutai people were furious that they would not be able to get revenge.

Luckily 3 ex-soldiers, run by Lodbrok, instituted a revolution. These actions led to the formation of the interim government of Wutai. After Yuffie's story, the group heads further into the reactor. Following the reactor's destruction, the landscape has been enveloped in Mako. So much so that the area directly under the reactor has formed a sea of Mako. As the group admires the destruction, a large Weapon emerges through the water and flips through the air. Although Yuffie wants to catch the monster and obtain its materia, the group continues into the reactor.

They find the robed men deeper in the mine. The shambling men a stuck before an impassable bride. The group watches in terror as the robbed men step off the bridge and fall to the depths below. As Cloud watches, he unknowingly walks towards the edge of the bridge. Luckily, Barret notices this and catches Cloud before he passes out. The group takes Cloud to camp and tells him to rest while they look for a way to lower the bridge.

After lowering the bridge, the group follows the railway carts to a small village. When they arrive, the group is approached by a group of angry villagers who tell Barret they are surprised he had the courage to return. They slap Barret and pour wine over his head, but Barret doesn’t retaliate. Yuffie rushes forward to help him, but Barret grabs her by the shoulder and tells her not to interfere. Growing bored of their distraction, the townspeople leave them alone.

However, as the AVALANCHE members walk away, a civilian shouts at the group, warning them not to trust Barret. As they head through the town, Tifa stops at a local clinic. After her injury in Nibelheim, her rescuers brought her here to be treated by Doctor Sheiran. When Cloud enters the clinic, he receives another vision of Sephiroth.

This vision tells Cloud not to trust the others and to put his faith in Sephiroth. Alarmed by this Cloud shouts Sephiroth's name and swings his sword. However, his shot is blocked, and this vision fades to show Barret standing before him. After Nearly killing Barret, Cloud notices the clinic is filled with robed men. Before Cloud can explain his actions, Doctor Sheiran comes out to ask about the disturbance.

Upon seeing the group, he remarks to Barret how good it is to see him before turning his attention to Tifa. When the young woman thanks him for saving his life, he says it wasn’t a single effort and comments on the Shinra helicopter that aided him in saving her life. Seeing the look of confusion on Tifa’s face, Doctor Sheiran tells her that not every apple in the bunch is completely rotten.

He turns his attention back to Barret and asks him to hold one of the robed men still while he takes some blood. He informs the group that he believed the robed men simply had mako poisoning but their lab results provided a strange anomaly. After noticing Cloud’s eyes, Dr. Sheiran asks Cloud if he would mind submitting a blood sample. After Cloud refuses, he explains that he believes these men are suffering from cell deterioration caused by the Soldier program. He then informs the group that the robed men who don’t end up in his clinic shamble their way down to the Golden Saucer. The AVALANCHE members leave the clinic and take the nearby lift to the Golden Saucer.

While they wait on the lift, the group questions Barret as to why he let the townspeople treat him that way without retaliating. After sufficient prodding, Barret breaks down and tells them what happened. While Barret still lived in the village, he convinced the townspeople to hand their mines over to Shinra in exchange for a residual payment for their Mako extraction.

However, two years after Shinra took control, the Mako reactor exploded. In an attempt to cover up their mistake, Shinra arrived at the town and murdered many of its inhabitants, burning their homes to the ground. To cover their tracks, Shinra crafted a story about a local insurgent group that was responsible for the town's destruction. While it is primarily Shinra's doing, Barret carries his own guilt about the deaths. Without his involvement, the town would have never agreed to Shinra’s demands, and the town may have been saved.

Chapter 8: All That Glitters

As the group enters the Golden Saucer, Cloud comes into contact with the park’s director, Dio. This very muscular man shakes Cloud’s hand and challenges him to a duel. Cloud refuses the duel and tries to walk away but Dio has an impressive grip and won't allow Cloud to leave. After some encouragement from the crowd, Cloud decides to duel Dio. After besting the large man, Cloud takes a moment to enjoy the resounding applause from the crowd. As a reward, Dio hands Cloud a golden ticket to the amusement park.

Before the group can set off to enjoy the park, Cloud has another vision. As Sephiroth flickers into his vision, tells Cloud to enjoy his fun before it is too late. Worried about his friend, Barret asks Cloud to come with him to book some rooms. Cloud reluctantly agrees and goes to rest while Aerith, Tifa, Red XIII, and Yuffie go off to have fun.

While searching for the hotel, Cloud and Barret find themselves in a high-tech haunted attraction. Barret becomes infuriated by the sight of all the wasted Mako used to run the holograms and begins destroying props. After knocking over a gravestone, a giant toy pops out of the ground and offers to read Barret's fortune. After being momentarily confused, Barret notices a cat like creature riding atop the toy. This cat introduces itself as Cait Sith. 

Leaving Cait Sith, the two head inside the Haunted Hotel in search of a room. Unfortunately, the concierge informs them that all of the hotels at the Golden Saucer are booked for the evening. Luckily, Cait Sith reapers and offers to buy them a sweet for the night. After hacking into the hotel's booking software, Cait Sith cancels a reservation, opening two rooms for the AVALANCHE members to stay in. Once inside the room, Barret tells Cloud he is going to go for a walk. Before leaving he tells Cloud to rest up and get back to normal. Cloud agrees and heads to bed.

Back at Sector 5, Zack continues to watch over Cloud and Aerith. He then heads downstairs and joins Marlene and Elmyra for breakfast. As they eat, Elmyra informs Zack that Biggs stopped by in the night to drop off some food. When Zack asks why he would come in the middle of the night, Elmyra explains that he is still being hunted by Shinra for his work with AVALANCHE. Hearing the discussion, Marlene becomes upset and says that she will never see her friends or father again. In an attempt to cheer her up, Zack tells the young girl that he will go and get Biggs for her right now.

Cloud awakens two hours later at the hotel. As he exits his room, he finds Tifa waiting for him. When she inquires about his health, Cloud shrugs it off and states he just needs some rest. Content with the answer, Tifa tells Cloud that everyone else is busy having fun at the park. She then asks Cloud if he would be up to spend some time with her. Cloud agrees and the two head off to explore the area.

As Tifa and Cloud are about to enter a ride, Cait Sith stops them and tells them to head to the Colosseum. He says that they need to hurry as security is searching for a man with a gun for an arm. Assuming the assailant is Barret, they head off to investigate the danger. When they enter the area, Dio tells Cloud that the assailant was tracking a Shinra employee and killed their security detail along with some civilians.

Dio makes it clear that he believes Barret is behind these actions. As proof, he pulls out the Shinra wanted poster that proves that the group are fugitives. After the group protests that Barret would not be capable of these actions, Dio relents. He tells the group that if they find the real culprit, he won't turn them into Shinra. Following Cait Sith’s lead, the AVALANCHE members begin their investigation into the crimes.

The friendly cat leads them into an elevator to take them to the lower levels. He informs the group that this region is known as the Dust Bowl. The area was initially used as housing for the Golden Saucer employees. However, after massive amounts of fiends showed up, the employees vacated, and the area has since been filled with low life criminals.

As soon as they enter the area, the group is surrounded by criminals. They kindly welcome Cloud to Corel Prison before knocking him unconscious. When the group awakens, they are taken to the group's leader, Gus. He tells the group that he has the criminal bound in the middle of the prison and that he would be more than happy to hand him over to the group. So long as they are willing to do a favor for him. All Cloud needs to do is enter the Chocobo race and bring Gus the prize. As insurance, he captures the other team members and imprisons them until Cloud returns.

After winning the race, Cloud returns and provides Gus with his payment. Gus then directs them to a pipeline that will lead them to their ride. Once they find their vulture, it will take them to a shack where the prisoner is held. When they arrive at the location, the group finds Barret in the sands. Cloud questions Barret about his involvement in the shooting.  After taking a moment, Barret states that it wasn’t him, but he isn't blameless in the shooting.

He tells the group that the man who murdered those people is Dyne, his best friend. After the reactor blew up, Barret and Dyne scoped out the area to try and determine what happened. However, when they returned, they witnessed what Shinra had done to the town. As the town’s Mayor explains what happened, Shinra operatives show up and start reigning bullets down upon them.

 Dyne and Barret rush off to save Elanor and Marlene but are attacked by more soldiers. During the attack, Dyne falls off a cliff but is caught by Barret. However, Scarlet shows up to deal with the liabilities and shoots at their hands until Dyne falls to the depths below. Barret managed to escape but was bleeding to death. Luckily Doctor Sheairan found him and patched him up. However, he wasn’t able to save Barret’s arm. So, he replaced it with a gun. He assumes that Dyne has come back to enact his revenge upon Shinra but hopes he can talk him out of whatever he had planned.

The group continues to the area where Dyne is being held captive. He tells the other group members to stay behind. Stating this is something he needs to do alone. When Barret approaches the man, Dyne appears to be delirious. He tells Barret thanks for stopping by on his wife's birthday and asks Marlene to set a place at the table for Barret. He then asks Barret where Myrna is. Barret lifts his broken friend and takes him outside.

However, when Dyne sees Cloud, he accuses Barret of working with Shinra. Dyne opens fire on the AVALANCHE members forcing Barret to point his gun at him. Dyne taunts Barret, telling him to go ahead and kill him. Barret lowers his gun and begs Dyne to stop, telling him that he is here to help him. Dyne laughs and says that Barret is only here for himself before opening fire on him. Cloud tries to intervene, but Barret tells him to stay back. He needs to deal with this himself.

After a tiresome battle, Barret removes his gun arm. He turns to Dyne and tells him to end it, he is tired of living like this anyway. Dyne calls Barret a coward but before he can kill him, the group is attacked by Shinra forces. After the battle, Dyne lies bleeding on the ground. He tells Barret that he wants to kill himself to rejoin his wife and child but doesn’t dare to follow through with it. Barret tells Dyne that Marlene is alive in Midgar. After rescuing her from the mining village, he took Marlene in and raised her as his own. She has been the shining light in his life that has given him the strength to battle Shinra and get revenge for what happened.

Dyne becomes enraged by this and tells Barret that he has stolen everything he ever loved. Confused by this, Barret tells Dyne he should be happy that Marlene is alive, and that Dyne can go see her. However, this only infuriates Dyne more. He tells Barret that he is too far gone and cannot allow his daughter to see him this way. He tells Barret that he can't hold his daughter with all this blood on his hands. During his speech, another round of Shinra soldiers arrive and attack Dyne. Before he dies, he tells Barret to live with his actions and to carry the weight of what he has done.

While Barret grieves, Cloud and the rest of the group notice a Shinra helicopter approaching from the distance. Inside the machine, Rude and Elena discuss how they received the whereabouts of the AVALANCHE members. Stating they believed Gus was sending them on a wild goose chase. They then drop a large mech suit house the Shinra Board member Palmer to deal with the eco terrorists.

The group defeats the mech and heads off to grab Barret. Luckily, Dio arrives in an off road vehicle and rescues the AVALANCHE members from the desert. Barret leaves his friend and joins the rest of the group in the vehicle. However, before they can leave, Rude and the rest of the Shinra forces arrive to stop them. Luckily, Dio tells the group to leave and that he will deal with the riff raff.

Back at Shinra headquarters, Reeves sits at his desk and changes the AVALANCHE pictures on the Shinra wanted poster, helping the group hide their identities. Behind him sits a doll that looks remarkably similar to Cait Sith.

In the presidential office, Rufus discusses Aerith with Tseng. President Rufus tells Tseng to continue to monitor Aerith, stating that it has always been a dream of his to see the promised land in person. After Tseng leaves the room, Glenn appears in a cloud of smoke. When Rufus asks who he really is, Glenn tells the president that he already knows the answer to that question. He laughs at Rufus, telling him he is nothing more than a lonely child seeking his dead father’s approval. When Rufus agrees, Glenn laughs and says the world needs more people like him before disappearing again.

As the AVALANCHE members flee the area, Cait Sith asks where they are headed now. Barret states that they need to get away from Corel and suggests that the group heads south. The group agrees and Cait Sith takes the group to the southern region.

Chapter 9: The Planet Stirs

The group stops to attend to Yuffie’s car sickness. While they wait for her to recover, the group formulates a new plan of action. After spinning their wheels for a bit, Cait Sith suggests that they go and investigate a nearby Mako reactor. Having no other leads to follow, the group agrees and heads off. As they arrive at the reactor, Cait Sith informs them that they should pop into the nearby village before seeing the reactor. Cloud surveys the area and states that the area feels oddly familiar, as though he has been here before.

As the group arrives at the Gongaga village, they are immediately surrounded by a group of people brandishing weapons. The leader of the group believes that she recognizes Cloud and then states she must be mistaken. As she asks the group what they are doing here, she spots Cait Sith who motions for her to pretend she doesn’t know him. She then introduces herself as Cissnei, coalition captain, and welcomes them to the village.

On the way to the village, the group stops and pays their respects to all of those who were lost when the nearby reactor exploded. After the explosion, Shinra built a small monument for those who died. Barret states that one monument won't fix the evil that Shinra has done. Noting that the group must be tired Cissnei invites them to her house to rest.

As Cloud explores the town, he finds Aerith in a small home with two villagers. When they notice his eyes, the older couple asks Cloud if he knows their son Zack. However, when Cloud hears this name his memory fractures once again. After coming back to his senses, he tells the parents that he doesn’t know anyone by that name. They ask Aerith to let them know if they encounter their son. Aerith agrees and leaves the building with Cloud.

Outside, Aerith talks with Cloud about Zack, reminding him that he was her first love. She tells Cloud that being in Zack's hometown is emotionally overwhelming and that she regrets lying to his parents about knowing their son. Tifa joins the group and asks Aerith if there have been any updates on Zack. When Aerith says no, Cloud tells her she should just forget about him. Stating that if he has been missing this long, he is most likely dead. However, when he says this, his memory fractures yet again, causing him great pain. As Cloud walks away, Aerith tells Tifa that his reaction proves that Cloud doesn’t know who Zack is.

After getting some rest, Cloud is awoken by strange noises coming from the abandoned reactor. After talking with Cissnei, the group determines that the sound must be a Weapon. However, the Weapon seems to be protected by Whispers who will not allow anyone to enter the area. Yuffie, Tifa, and Aerith are sent to protect the village while the rest of the group heads off to investigate the disturbance. 

As the group approaches the reactor area, they are stopped by a group of Whispers. However, these Whispers appear to be different than the ones they have seen in the past. As Cloud looks ahead at the monsters, one of the Whispers turns into Sephiroth. The mighty warrior beckons for Cloud, telling him it is time to join him. Before Cloud can respond, the whispers disappear. The group follows the Whispers, hoping they will lead them to the Weapon.

As they approach the reactor, the group witnesses hundreds of Whispers circling the Mako reserves. Cloud tells them they must work quickly because of the dangerous levels of Mako. However, before they can embark, a massive Shinra aircraft appears above them. Barret turns to Cait Sith, assuming that the mechanical cat turned them into Shinra.

 Unfortunately, there is no time to talk out their differences as groups of Shinra soldiers, commanded by Scarlet drop from the aircraft. On top of that, the Shinra board member releases some of Hojo’s horrible experimental creatures to exterminate the group. After defeating the experiments, Scarlet drops from the ship in a giant mechanical suit, determined to kill the AVALANCHE members once and for all.

Back at the village, the remaining AVALANCHE members hear a massive explosion from the reactor region. Seeing the massive Shinra air fleet above the area, the group heads off to rescue their friends. After battling through the Shinra troops, Tifa, Aerith, and Yuffie reunite with the rest of the group and help them take down Scarlet.

Unfortunately, exposure to the Whispers and concentrated Mako hampers Cloud's ability to fight. As his reality unfolds, Cloud sees visions of Sephiroth everywhere, telling him to give into his anger and abandon his trust in his friends. As Sephiroth’s influence corrupts Cloud, he tells Tifa that she has no battle scars and can't be the real Tifa.

She tries to remind Cloud that she has shown him the scar before, but it does no good. Cloud raises his sword to Tifa stating that she is a vision sent by Jenova to confuse him. He lashes out at Tifa, knocking her into the lake of Mako beneath them. Tifa regains her composure and swims to the bank for safety but is eaten by the Weapon. After witnessing this, Cloud realizes what he has done and drops to his knees in anguish.

In the belly of the Weapon, Tifa hears her parents calling out to her. Following the voices, she finds several Weapons and Whispers swimming through the Mako. As she follows them further, she finds two groups of Whispers fighting and determines that she must be in the Lifestream. Further down the path, she sees images of her hometown as it was when she was a child. Exploring further, Tifa discovers the Weapon and Sephiroth engaged in battle, each with their own army of Whispers at their disposal.

Sephiroth stabs the majestic beast, releasing more of his dark Whispers. As the creature takes damage, Tifa begins to drown. Fighting for her life, Tifa sees her friends reaching out to her, begging her to come home. However, she also sees Cloud walking away with Sephiroth. The last thing she hears is Sephiroth telling her that it is too late, her words can no longer save Cloud.

As the AVALANCHE members wait above, the Weapon rises to the surface. Inside its Materia core, Aerith spots Tifa, passed out in the Mako. Barret slaps Cloud across the face and tells him to get his mind together and come help his friend. He reluctantly gets up and heads towards the Weapon. As they do so, the Weapon opens its mouth and releases Tifa. It then retreats to the depths of the Mako Lake.

Back at the village, a guilt ridden Cloud waits by Tifa’s bed. When she awakens, Cloud tells her that he will leave and get the others. But she stops him and says that she witnessed their childhood while she was in the Lifestream. These visions proved to her that Cloud is the hero she always thought he was. Cloud says that he isn't a hero, what kind of hero pushes someone he cares for into a pool of Mako? He tells Tifa that he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. He has trouble remembering things that he should but also has memories that he shouldn’t. It is as though he has multiple people living inside his body. He can't even tell where they end, and he begins.

He thinks this is because of the cell deterioration caused by the Soldier program. Tifa takes Cloud by the hand and says that he saved her before, now it is her turn to save him. As the two lean in for a romantic embrace, they hear whispers outside the door. When Tifa opens it, Yuffie and Cait Sith come tumbling into the entryway. The two apologize before running away.

In the living room, the AVALANCHE members go over everything they witnessed at the reactor and decide to head to Cosmo Canyon to search for answers about the Lifestream. Before they leave, Cissnei offers them information about a local pilot who can help them get part of the way to the Canyon. The group thanks Cissnei and heads off once again. After traveling through the region, they find their air captain and take the flight to Cosmo Canyon.

Chapter 10: Watcher of the Vale

Cid drops the AVALANCHE members off at the Cosmo Canyon Airstrip. Red XIII then leads the group to Cosmo Canyon, explaining that it is a sanctuary where the world's greatest minds come to meet. As the group approaches the compound, Red XIII runs ahead of the group, yelling to the researchers that he has returned. After having a joyous embrace with the guard, Red XIII instructs him to allow the AVALANCHE members into the compound before running off to pay his respects to Fellow Bugenhagen.

After exploring the area, Red XIII tells the group about the region and himself. He informs them that he was born and raised in the Canyon and was destined to become Watcher of the Vale. However, he was captured by Shinra and used in Hojo's terrible experiments. Now that he has returned home and repaid his life debt, he plans on serving his village once more. The group thanks Red XIII for all his help and wishes him well.

Cait Sith decides to stay in the village and nap while the others head off to learn the secrets of Planetology. Along the way, they run into a man by the name of Bugenhagen, who explains that he teaches adventurers about Planetology. Bugenhagen explains that Red XIII, whom he calls Nanaki, is 48 years old in his species but only about 15 in human terms. Red XIII states that this age is perfectly suitable to protect the village, unlike his good for nothing father.

Bugenhagen sends Red XIII away and asks the AVALANCHE members to come into his home to learn about Planetology. Here, he explains that if the planet's life force were ever to be completely depleted the planet and all that inhabits it would die. Bugenhagen sends Tifa and Aerith off to the seminar room to learn more about Planetology while the rest of the group explores the village.

Later that evening, the group rejoins at the River of Lights Festival in the village. Here, Aerith admits to the village that she is the last remaining ancient. She explains the pain and torture that her birth rite has bestowed upon her. However, because of her cause and her friends, all the pain and suffering is worth it. She no longer views her origin as a curse, but rather a tool to aid her new friends in their mutual cause. The group watches the lanterns fly into the night sky as they reflect on Aerith’s words and the journey that lies before them.

As the festival comes to a close, Bugenhagen gathers the group, saying he has something to show them. He takes them to a sealed door and tells Red XIII that behind it lays a trial that will prove whether he is worthy to become the protector of the veil. He takes the group deep into the cave of the GI to begin the trial. As they travel, Red XIII explains that his parents were both watchers. However, the two couldn’t have been more different.

When the village came under attack, his mother died with honor protecting it. However, his father turned tail and fled. When they reach the trial area, Bugenhagen places Barret in charge of monitoring Red XIII’s progress. As they explore, they encounter statues of the Gi, the creatures that killed Red XIII’s mother. These creatures were locked away in this temple thousands of years before the village above was formed. The temple serves as a barrier between this world and that of the Gi.

In the depths of the temple, Red XIII finds his father's body, turned to stone. Knowing about the terrible danger presented by the Gi, his father fought alone to close the portal that allowed them into this world. He saved the village but was turned to stone in the process. Angered by this, Red XIII asks why he was never told the truth about his father. Bugenhagen explains that it was for his protection. Had he been told before he was ready, he would have set off in search of his father and died in the process.

Having passed his test, Bugenhagen tells Red XIII that he must leave the village once more. His new task is to venture forth with his new friends and aid them in their goal of saving the planet. He asks the AVALANCHE members to look after his ward and send Red XIII on his new adventure. Before they leave the area, the group is approached by a Gi named Nattak who asks that they come with him. As they follow the path, Cloud sees Sephiroth heading in the direction of the GI.

When they catch up with Nattak, he shows them the path to the land of the Gi and invites them to board his ship. As they ride, Nattak explains that the Cetra of old were an intolerant people, but their history has been lost to time. He tells Aerith to consider her ignorance of their history a blessing as the Cetra’s past is filled with horror and sorrow.

In the Sector 5 Undercity, Biggs explains how he survived the Shinra onslaught to Zack. As he lay bleeding to death, he felt a strong wind move his body. When he awoke, he was back in the orphanage. However, no one could explain to him how he arrived there or who saved him. Zack relates that he had a similar experience. He was attacked by an entire Shinra army and managed to walk away relatively fine. It is as though fate played a role in their survival. The question is, why would fate step in to save either of them?

As they travel through the slums, they happen upon an AVALANCHE flyer. Against Zack's best wishes, the two head off to investigate who is behind the flyer. When they arrive, they discover Kyrie hiding behind some crates. When they inquire about the note, she says she isn’t involved with AVALANCHE, she was merely stopping in to see who would fall for such terrible propaganda. With no eco terrorist group to talk to, the two fighters decide that it is up to them to continue to fight the good fight. Zack goes back to Aerith’s mother's house to check on her. As he watches her sleep, he reaches out and touches her hand.

As Aerith rides the boat, she feels a strange sensation in her hand. The group arrives in the land of the Gi, but Nattak disappears into a cloud of smoke, leaving them alone. As they travel, they can hear Nattak’s voice in their mind. He tells them that the Gi’s flesh may be gone but their spirits still linger in this place. They are trapped here, forever denied the planet's embrace. As such, the Gi are unable to join the planet's Lifestream. This cursed them into becoming bound spirits with no hope of ever being laid to rest.

As a result, the Gi are in search of a Materia that will allow them to no longer exist. As they venture deeper into the Gi homeland, Cloud has another vision of Sephiroth. When he returns to reality, he tells the group that they will play along with the Gi but will deny them the Materia. After agreeing to find the Materia for him, Nattak transports the group back to Cosmo Canyon. As they travel back to the town, Cait Sith suggests they use the local Shinra terminal to find any records about the black materia the Gi are after. Unfortunately, the town had since repurposed the machine into a windmill. As they talk with Bugenhagen, it is brought to their attention that a man in a black robe is standing at the town gate.

When they approach the robed man, he is very close to death. However, he is able to mutter the word Nibelheim. Having no other options, the group heads to the airstrip to catch a ride to Nibelheim. 

Chapter 11: The Long Shadow of Shinra

At the Nibelheim airstrip, Cloud has a flashback of Sephiroth telling him to bring him the black Materia. He is then approached by a robed man muttering about black Materia. Frightened by his visions, Cloud draws his sword and prepares to attack. Luckily, Tifa grabs his arm and brings him back to reality.

Arriving at Nibelheim, the group is surprised to see the village. Instead of rubble and burned down buildings, the town of Nibelheim looks brand new. As they search for the Shinra terminal, the group is approached by the town's supervisor. He explains that Shinra has taken complete control of the area and has turned the city into a treatment center for Mako poisoning. While Cait Sith uses the Shinra terminal, the rest of the group explores the new town.

After exploring his hometown, Cloud checks into the local hotel. However, once he enters the room, he has a vivid flashback of him and Zack sharing this hotel room while on a mission from Shinra. Cloud suddenly becomes aware that he did know Zack and wonders what happened to his friend. Cloud shakes off his confusion and heads down to check on Cait Sith’s progress.

Unfortunately, Cait Sith only has minimal access to the console and cannot gather the information he requires. To remedy this, he asks the site supervisor for access to Shinra Manor. However, the supervisor does not have the clearance required to authorize this and sends Cait Sith to his boss for approval. Rejoining at the edge of the city, the AVALANCHE members head up to the reactor to find Murasaki to gain access to Shinra Manor.

As they go up the mountain path, Cloud’s memories begin to blend together. What was once a faceless Shinra agent being dragged away by the stream current is now Zack. Seeing the look on his face, Tifa asks Cloud what's wrong. He explains that his memories are coming back to him. Frustrated, Cloud wonders how he could forget that his friend died along this trail. After thinking for a moment, he comes to the conclusion that the Soldier's cell degradation must be taking pieces from his memory. Tifa takes him by the hand and tells Cloud that everything will be ok. Before moving on, Tifa and Cloud agree that Tifa will tell Aerith the truth about what happened to Zack.

As they reach the entrance to the reactor, Yuffie comes upon the dead bodies of Wutai soldiers. Confused by this, the group heads into the reactor. After exploring the area, the group finds a Shinra terminal. They call Cait Sith and inform him that Murasaki died in a battle with the Wutai and will not be able to help them. Cait Sith then uses Muraski’s keycard to open Shinra Manor, instructing the rest of the group to meet him there when they get back to town.

Cait Sith, Aerith, and Barret head into Shinra Manor to track down the Shinra terminal. As they explore, they are confronted with a hologram of Hojo who instructs them not to disrupt his lab and that all valuable information has already been removed from the building. As it concludes, a trap door opens beneath the group dropping them into a jail below. Although they cannot squeeze through the bars, Cait Sith is small enough to venture into the air ducts and find an escape route for the group.

Cait Sith frees Aerith and Barret from their cages. Unfortunately, the group must defeat another one of Hojo’s failed experiments before they can leave the jail area. After a gruesome battle, they exit the area and reunite with the rest of the AVALANCHE members. As they explore further, the group stumbles upon a coffin. After inspecting it, a man named Vincent Valentine leaps from the ornate box. He tells the group that he is the security officer for the area. After explaining their fight against Sephiroth, Vincent allows the group to use the Shinra terminal.

However, he warns the group not to touch anything besides the terminal in the next room. Unable to control himself, Cloud follows a group of cables back to some storage vats. When he approaches them, he can hear Hojo’s voice discussing an experiment. As he comes back around the corner, he finds Vincent pointing a gun at him. Having disobeyed his rules, he challenges Cloud to a fight. Before they begin, Vincent shows the group his true power, transforming into a giant, horned beast.

After defeating the monster, Vincent turns back into his human form. While he recovers Cait Sith explains what he knows about the mysterious man. Vincent is a former Turk who was imprisoned in this Manor because of an interaction he had with Sephiroth. Given they have the same enemy, Cait Sith suggests that Vincent join them in the hunt for Sephiroth. However, Vincent has no interest in joining them and heads back to his crypt to recover.

Now knowing the location of the Cetra holy site, the group heads for the exit of the reactor. Once outside, Cait Sith explains that they will need to find an ancient relic called the Key Stone to enter the Cetra temple. Unfortunately, said relic has been lost for twenty years. Its last known location was at the Gold Saucer. Having no other options, the group heads to the Saucer in search of the relic.

As they leave the area, the group witnesses Roche drop from the sky riding a motorcycle. He tells them that he has defied Shinra to have his final battle with Cloud. As they fight, men in black robes circle the area. Cloud can also see that Rouch has a number tattooed on his arm now, similar to the numbers on the arms of the robed men. Their battle ends early as Roche succumbs to the Soldier cell degradation. When he arises, Roche becomes yet another shambling robed man.

Back in the slums, the city's inhabitants become distracted by a live news bulletin. On the screen, Glenn informs the public that he is reaching out to any Shinra resistance groups. He proceeds to show the audience video evidence of Shinra violating the cease fire agreement and instigating a war between Shinra and the Wutai. He tells the citizens of Midgar to rise up and fight this tyranny alongside the Wutai commander, Viceroy Sarruf.

In the Shinra board room, Rufus discusses the video with his cabinet. Tseng informs the group that his agency has no information about the mysterious Viceroy Sarruf. However, they do know that Glenn is an Ex-Soldier, experimental class. Shinra had sent him on a mission fifteen years ago to Rhadora that led to his defection from the company. He has since traveled the area finding anti Shinra groups to add to his cause. After much discussion, Rufus informs his group to put this on the back burner, the company's main priority is still following Aerith and finding the holy land.

As the AVALANCHE members board Cid’s plane, they are surprised to see Vincent boarding as well. He tells the group he has unfinished business with Sephiroth and would like to join their cause. Cloud allows him to join but informs him that if he betrays them, he will kill him. As they travel, Cid’s plane takes some damage and crashes into a nearby lake. 

Chapter 12: A Golden Key

After some time, Cid repairs the ship. It is unable to fly, but it will allow them to navigate the waters and reach Costo del Sol. From here, they make their way to the Gold Saucer. Once they arrive, they split up and search for Dio. As the rest of the group heads off, Cait Sith stops Cloud to provide him with more information about the Temple of the Ancients. He states that no one who enters the temple ever returns. Cloud brushes this off as just a legend and continues his search for the key.

As they search, Cloud comes across Billy. The young man asks him to enter the Chocobo competition and beat Chocobo Sam so that he can finally figure out what happened to his parents. After Cloud wins the race, Chocobo Sam explains to Billy what became of his parents. The loving couple started a Chocobo sanctuary to offset the ecological destruction caused by Shinra.

However, the cost of this effort was more than they could afford. So, they reach out to Don Corneo for a loan. When they couldn’t repay the loan, they were sent away to Shinra for research experiments. Before being sent to their deaths, they sold their stock to Chocobo Sam so that their children could have enough money for food and shelter. Billy vows to honor his parents and keep their ecological efforts alive.

The group finds Dio in the auditorium and inquires about the keystone. After Aerith explains that the Key Stone is her birthright, Dio agrees to give her the key under one condition. They are to compete and win in the Colosseum’s upcoming exclusive event. This spectacle will pit Dio’s champions against the Corneo Family. Whoever wins will gain ownership of the Gold Saucer. The group agrees to the terms and prepares for battle.

Back in the slums, Elmyra hands Zack a bowl of water and tells him to go clean Cloud. When he enters the room, he comments that Aerith sure does sleep a lot. Marlene tells him that she has to stay asleep until Cloud gets better. When Zack asks why that is, she explains that when Aerith wakes up, a scary man is going to try and kill her.

She says that Cloud will try and save Aerith, but he won’t make it on time. Marlene tells Zack that the scary man has long grey hair. Frightened by this, Zack heads off to find Professor Hojo, hoping that he will have a cure for Cloud. He instructs Elmyra not to allow Aerith to leave the house if she wakes up. When he gets on his motorcycle, he finds a note from Biggs telling him to stay away from reactor 6. Knowing that they are in grave danger, he sets off to find Elmyra.

Back at the Gold Saucer, Tifa invites Cloud to spend the day with her. After experiencing the Opera, the two go for a romantic ride on the Sky Wheel. While they ride, Cloud asks Tifa if she has talked to Aerith about what really happened to Zack. Tifa lies and says that she hasn't. As the fireworks explode in the air, the two share a long overdue embrace and finally kiss.

The next day, Elena, Rude, and Tseng fly to where they believe the Cetra promise land is held. They are aware that the winner of today’s event will be given the keystone and plan to take it for themselves. Back at the Saucer, the AVALANCHE members defeat Corneo and his goons and prepare to collect their prize.

However, as soon as the fight is finished, the light in the Colosseum goes out. The Turks have taken the key, claiming that it is Shinra's property. Cait Sith yells for Rude, who throws the key to him. To the AVALANCHE member's surprise, Cait Sith runs off with the key. Having little choice, the group fights off the Turk members before finding Cait Sith and the key.

After chasing him through the Gold Saucer, the group witnesses Cait Sith betraying them by handing the artifact over to Tseng. As the Turk members fly off in a helicopter, Cait Sith stays behind to explain his actions to the AVALANCHE members. However, none of the members are interested in listening to any of his excuses.

Luckily, Vincent can track the Turk helicopter to its location. With no other options, the group boards Cid’s plane once more to head to the Temple of the Ancients.

Chapter 13: Where Angels Fear to Tread

After intercepting their communications, Vincent determined that Shinra had mobilized their military to the North. Running out of time, the AVALANCHE members quickly head in the direction of the Shinra troops. However, the Turk agents had already arrived at the location and placed the key into the altar. As Tseng does so, the Temple pieces appear in the air and begin forming themselves into a building.

When the AVALANCHE members arrive at the location, Aerith begins talking to the plants and helping them grow. Seeing this Barret begins quotes the Cetra prophesy about the holy land. However, Aerith corrects him, telling him that this temple is not the holy land from the scripture. As the group heads for the temple, they discover that it has already been heavily fortified by Shinra troops.

After fighting their way through the guards, the group discovers a pile of dead bodies leading into the temple. Vincent explains that the men have been killed by fiends protecting the temple. Although they have Aerith, she is only half Cetra and does not gain them free access to the sanctum. Ever vigilant, the group heads into the inner sanctum of the temple. From a distance, Rufus and Hojo monitor the group's efforts, waiting for their moment to strike.

As they travel, Yuffie, Aerith, and Red XIII are separated from the group via a rising pillar. Although worried about their friends, Cloud insists that the search for the Black Materia is their primary focus. After battling through swarms of Shinra troops, the AVALANCHE members are confronted by the Turk agents. However, instead of fighting them, the Turk agents detonate a round of explosives, blocking the AVALANCHE member's progress.

After using a massive fiend to break down the wall, the group catches up to the Turk agents and engages them in battle. Unfortunately, the two teams seem to be equally matched. As the fight continues, a slam attack from Cloud breaks the floor, causing all members to drop to the area below, conveniently falling on an area where Aerith, Red XIII, and Yuffie are fighting against Tseng and Elena.

As Cloud approaches the Turk agents, something takes over his actions, he raises his sword to deliver a final blow to Elena, but she moves out of the way at the last moment. As she crawls away, he tells her not to be afraid. He states that this isn't death, it is a homecoming. Luckily, Tifa stops him, and Barret convinces him they need to find the Black Materia.

Further into the temple, Tseng assesses the layout of the area. He concludes that the temple was designed to keep something out, but he doesn’t know what. As he ponders this, Sephiroth appears and stabs him in the stomach, stating that the defenses are for humans. He tells Tseng that the Cetra slaughtered the humans to protect their secrets.

As he pulls his sword from Tseng's body, he turns to see the AVALANCHE members approaching. In a final moment of defiance, Tseng shoots Sephiroth in the back to protect Aerith. Unfortunately, this version of Sephiroth fades away to reveal another robed man. Tseng tells Aeith that she needs to use the pillar in the room to gain access deeper into the temple, before limping away to report what happened.

When she uses the pilar, it reveals a message that each party member except Cloud must complete a trail to be granted access. Here, each member must experience their worst memories before being released from the chamber. Once back outside, Aerith tells the group they can no longer let their rage and grief drive them. Only the power of forgiveness will allow them to overcome Sephiroth and save the planet.

As they venture further into the temple, they witness how the Cetra met their end. A combined effort between mankind and a shapeshifting monster from the sky drove them from their lands. Once there, they were decimated by the creature, who could take the forms of their loved ones and kill them off one by one. After the Cetra died off, their enemy fell into a deep slumber and was named Jenova. The Cetra then explain the nature of the Black Materia. Stating that it will summon the destroyer of worlds, causing meteors to fall from the sky and destroy the planet.

Sephiroth appears to refute this information, stating that all life on the planet will die beside him. As the son of Jenova, the Black Materia is his birthright. He plans to reunite all the pieces of Jenova and claim the worlds that she has inhabited. As Cloud rushes forward to stop him, Sephiroth summons a massive demon to keep the fighters at bay.

After killing the beast, the group proceeds to the altar and finds the Black Materia. Cloud begins to laugh maniacally and grabs the orb causing a chain reaction of destruction. Removing the Black Materia triggers a failsafe in the temple causing it to collapse upon the intruders. However, Aerith tells the group that Black Materia is a fake. It is used to destroy intruders before they can find the real item. Luckily, Cait Sith arrives at the last moment and keeps the pedestal from collapsing, giving the other AVALANCHE members time to escape.

Outside of the destroyed temple, the group members encounter another version of Cait Sith. Seeing that Cloud is zoned out once again, Barret takes the fake materia from him and rolls it down the bridge. Unfortunately, Sephiroth is there to catch it. He tells the group that this Materia is the key to beginning the destruction of the planet before rising to the sky and opening a portal that releases hordes of black whisps. He then beckons for Cloud to join him.

As if possessed, Cloud heads towards Sephiroth. He rolls the Materia to Cloud and tells him to bring it back to him. However, Tifa jumps onto Cloud knocking the Materia from his hands. Aerith grabs the orb and runs away, causing Cloud to give chase, laughing along the way.

She tells Cloud that no matter what happens, she is here for him before handing him the Materia. Cloud then returns to Sephiroth and gives him the Materia. However, once the Whispers begin to attack Aerith, Cloud returns to his senses and tries to rescue her. But Sephiroth has no interest in letting her live and cuts the vine they are standing on, dropping them both to the depths below.

Chapter 14: End of the World

In the Tunnels of Midgar, Zack is torn between finding Hojo and securing a cure for Cloud or heading to the reactor to save Biggs. In an effort to save Aerith, he heads to Hojo’s lab to find a cure for Cloud. Back at Elmyra’s house, Aerith wakes up Cloud. Confused by how he got there, Cloud asks if they are dead. Aerith says that it would be better to describe it as a dream. More precisely, this is her dream. She takes him on a tour of the city and asks him to buy her some jewelry as if it were a date. 

Zack finds Biggs at the Mako reactor. Sitting on the floor, Biggs tells Zack that there is no point in blowing it up because the planet's Lifestream has been depleted. There isn't much left to do besides wait for the end of the world. Before they leave the area, a single bullet rings out and kills Biggs. Before he can react, Zack is surrounded by Shinra troops. Deciding to live his life on his own terms, Zach jumps off the ledge into the area below.

Frustrated by her lack of transparency, Cloud demands Aerith tell him what’s going on. She agrees to tell him if he will accompany her to her favorite spot. Zack sits outside the Sector Five church lamenting his lost friends when Sephiroth enters the building. He quickly grabs his sword, but Sephiroth strikes out at him, transporting him to a stream filled with Whispers. However, Zack denies his fate and swims against the current, promising to find a way back to his friends.

Back at the church, Aerith confesses her true feelings for Cloud, telling him that she is happy she got to experience this with him before reaching out and embracing him. As they embrace, she whispers that no matter what happens next, don’t blame yourself. She hands him her Materia and says he will need it to save the world and herself before she pushes him into the Lifestream. As he falls, Cloud sees Sephiroth approaching Aerith from behind.

Now floating in the Lifestream, Sephiroth tells Cloud the true nature of reality. When the limits of fate are broken, new worlds are created. The planet is filled with unlimited realities, all happening at once. He plans to reunite these various worlds and rule over them as Jenova's son. Cloud strikes out in defiance, but Sephiroth simply disappears. As he does so, he tells Cloud that he gives him his blessing.

Finding himself in a forest, Cloud is surprised to see Aerith pop out from behind a tree. He warns her that Sephiroth is nearby, but she doesn’t seem concerned. Instead, she tells Cloud to focus on himself. She says that she can handle Sephiroth, but Cloud needs to find the real version of himself if he is to survive this. She then disappears, leaving Cloud confused as to what is happening.

Cloud awakens to find that he has rejoined with the AVALANCHE members. The group members are searching for Aerith who has ventured deep into the woods searching for an ancient Cetra altar. Cloud sees a group of Whispers heading north and decides to follow them in the hopes that they will lead to Aerith. As they search Cait Sith explains his betrayal to Cloud. Since the temple was cursed, he thought it would be better if Shinra entered instead of his friends. Cloud forgives him for the moment, telling him they have bigger fish to fry.

Exiting the woods, the group encounters a massive abandoned city. Red XIII explains that this is the forgotten temple, the heart of the Cetra civilization. Knowing that this must be where Aerith is, the group presses forward. However, as they approach, they notice that the city is surrounded by Sephiroth’s black Whispers. Before they can react, Sephiroth uses the Black Materia, ushering in the end of the world. However, his progress is slowed by Aerith’s prayers at the Cetra temple.

Although their path is blocked by Whispers, Cloud is able to make it into the temple. He finds Aerith praying in the center of the temple, asking for guidance on how to save her friends. As he approaches, he is overcome with the desire to kill Aerith but stops at the last moment. However, his struggle is in Vain as Sephiroth drops from the sky and pierces Aerith with his sword, killing her. As she falls, her Materia falls away and enters the Lifestream.

While Cloud holds Aerith’s dying body in his arms, Sephiroth laughs behind them. As she dies, Aerith reaches up and touches Cloud's face, telling him everything will be ok. As he lays her body on the ground, the other AVALANCHE members enter the temple. Sephiroth rises to the sky and tells Cloud that he cannot truly be sad as he is nothing more than a puppet. He then turns into Jenova Lifechanger and attacks the group.

Zack finds himself in an all white area, losing all sense of direction. As he travels, he finds a vision of Cloud, seemingly frozen in time. However, when he touches him, he is transported to the asteroid that Sephiroth left Cloud on after their first encounter. The two join forces and attempt to kill the legendary hero. As they battle, Sephiroth opens a rift, sending Zack to another world. As he flies away, Zack shouts to Cloud, telling him to save Aerith.

Now alone, Cloud must face off against Sephiroth’s most powerful form, Sephiroth reborn. The remaining AVALANCHE members find themselves trapped on a strange asteroid and must fight an alternate version of the behemoth Sephiroth. Zack finds himself back at Aerith’s church and is also attacked by a massive version of Sephiroth.

After all versions of Sephiroth are destroyed, he returns to the asteroid with Cloud. He attempts to kill him using his black Whispers, but they are halted by Aerith’s white energy. She appears before Cloud and joins him in the final fight against Sephiroth. After a gruesome battle, Sephiroth flies away, knowing that the battle is far from over.

Aerith transports herself and Cloud back to the other AVALANCHE members. They have protected their world, but Zack's reality still faces oblivion. He takes his death in stride, falling into the Lifestream. As Cloud approaches the group, Tifa kneels next to Aerith’s body, crying for her lost friend. As Cloud embraces Aerith, she reawakens and smiles at him.

As the group reflects on all that has happened, Barret suggests that they leave the area. Although Cloud agrees, he recalls Aerith’s Materia falling into the Lifestream. Aerith tells the group to follow her, she will show them the way out of the temple.

Back at Shinra HQ, Rufus and Glenn discuss what has happened. Rufus tells Glenn that he knows what he is up to. The entire war effort has been nothing but a distraction to keep him away from Sephiroth. Knowing he has been caught, Glenn laughs and gives Rufus a round of applause. He then transforms into a hybrid of himself and Sephiroth.

Telling Rufus that it doesn’t matter, his promise will come to fruition soon. Slightly frightened by this, Rufus pulls a gun on Glenn and states he is tired of dealing with a cheap imitation. However, Glenn tells him an imitation is all that he deserves before walking away. Letting his rage fill him, Rufus shoots Glenn in the back, killing him. However, this was merely another robed man, transformed into a vision of Glenn.

Zack awakens back at the church. He wonders to himself if everything he experienced was a dream but decides it couldn’t have been.

The AVALANCHE members prepare to board Cid’s plane as the ghost of Aerith attempts to comfort them. Although they can feel her presence, it offers them no solace. As Cloud toys with Aerith’s Materia, it suddenly turns into the Black Materia. He places the Materia into his weapon before gathering the group. He tells them that his Soldier’s intuition indicates that Sephiroth is hiding out up north. Although they don’t fully trust him, the team members board the plane and follow Cloud's directions.

Cloud asks Aerith if she will find her way home ok. She says she will be fine but will send a smoke signal if she is in trouble. She will head back to the temple to use her prayers against Sephiroth. Before Cloud flies away, he promises that he will stop Sephiroth. Aerith watches them fly away and whispers a soft goodbye as they leave.

This page written by: Cameron Mcfarland

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