Origins of the Shera

Due to conflicting and vague statements, many fans are confused as to the true origin of the airship the Shera. Depending on which part of the Compilation you have enjoyed, you may think that the airship is a relic from a lost civilization or that Cid built it himself.

Thanks to the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, we can safely say that the following is current canon: The ship itself was built by Cid and his team in Rocket Town, but the ship is powered by the “legacy of an ancient civilization”. The complete nature of this “legacy” is still unknown.

This article lists and analyzes all the quotes relevant to the origin of the Shera, to show how perception of the airship’s origins have changed over time.


In a middle portion of Dirge of Cerberus, the player is free to control Vincent Valentine through the Shera and speak to NPCs there. Two WRO members, one in the engine room and one on the bridge, make surprising revelations about the airship.

WRO Member in the Engine Room

Official English Script & Dub Japanese
While the airship is named after Cid’s wife, construction of the
vessel wasn’t performed by the captain at all.
Our team of loyal scientists here at the World Regenesis
Organization or those criminals at Shinra weren’t involved, either.
To tell you the truth, the ship is not even from this era.
It is a relic from a lost civilization.
Most of the machinery in the engine room
is boxed up in black casing, so we don’t even
know what half of it does.
There’s no need to worry. Even though
we cannot reproduce the technology, we can
still put it to good use.
I can almost guarantee there will be no problems.

To date, this is the only known quote to clearly state that the entire airship wasn’t built in the present era. While we shall see that this statement doesn’t mesh well with other sources, this part of the game script was especially easy to accept for those in the know on the somewhat obscure canon that Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy VII take place in the same universe, with the events on Spira in FFX being in the past and on a different planet from the one in FFVII. See full dissection in the ‘Is FFVII connected to FFX and X-2‘ article.

While it was never stated that the Shera was of Spiran descent, it made sense (and arguably still does) to conclude that the airship is a remnant of technology left by settlers from Spira. Standard description of the Cetra as migrating people without shelters doesn’t lend as easily to the idea that they at one point developed aircrafts.

The next quote by a half-familiar character from the original FFVII flesh out this paradigm.

WRO Member on the Bridge

Official English Script & Dub Japanese
Mr. Valentine! It’s me!
Don’t you remember?
I was one of the Highwind crew!
That bird was a beauty,
but this ship’s just as sweet.
And you won’t believe this, but she
runs on some mysterious ancient power.
But you don’t have to worry.
You’ll be safe in my hands.

In the canon, as it was in Dirge of Cerberus, the Shera is thusly an airship from a lost civilization and it runs on a “mysterious ancient power”. No comments are made neither in-game nor in guide books if other ships in Cid’s fleet are of the same mystical origin and if they too use a mysterious ancient power source.

The way that Cid Highwind refers to the Shera in Advent Children feels somewhat at odds with what the WRO member in the engine room says in Dirge of Cerberus. When Cid descends to Edge, he turns to Tifa and says the following.

English Dub Japanese Retranslation
“She’s a beaut! My Shera, the latest model!” 「新型だー! シエラ号」 “The new model! The Shera.”

If the Shera was an ancient airship that had been found, referring to it as a “latest model” or a “new model” sounds out of place. To say that something is a recent model implies that the appearance was conceived and/or made by Cid himself.

Cid’s line is the same when you compare Advent Children (2005) and Advent Children Complete (2009), so even by the canon of 2009 it does not comply with the Dirge of Cerberus script.

In May 2006 “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children – Reunion Files-“, simply referred to as the Reunion Files, was released. It can be viewed as a guide book to the 2005 version of the movie and it is kind enough to have all its content both in Japanese and in English. What does this book have to say about the Shera’s narrative origins?

Page 46 of the Reunion Files:

After the battle two years ago, Cid
returned to Rocket Town and devoted
himself to developing a new airship
capable of functioning without mako
as a power source. After a bumpy
road of trial and error, Cid’s new
airship – the Shera – was completed.
But not much later, Cid got word of
Cloud and the others being in danger.
So along with his newly built airship,
he traveled to Midgar to join the

Quote Scan

Here the airship is one that Cid developed and that clearly belongs to our favorite chain-smoking pilot. The power source used is not specified. The context clearly implies that the airship was completed after he found a way to make it function without mako.

Every character-specific page begins with a character plot summary such as the one above but without citation. Our next quote, which already is important to the topic of how materia works and is treated, does have a citation.

Page 86 of the Reunion Files:

What do they use for fuel
in this time period?

“Cloud and the gang certainly aren’t
using mako anymore, because it drains
the life of the planet. That means they
don’t use Materia, either. Yuffie collects
them, but that’s just because she lives to
collect things (laughs). I guess the airship
must be running on some mysterious
ancient power source.” (Nomura)



Quote Scan

Here is our second and final mention of the “mysterious ancient power”. The way Tetsuya Nomura brings it up is unsettling, with the sentence starter “I guess” making the notion sound like something that was either conceived on the spot or which has not been fully fleshed out yet.

If we combine the quotes from page 46 and page 86, Cid can be credited for the building of the ship but he can’t be the one who made the original technology that powers the ship. If we say that Cid managed to tap into a mysterious power source, it would only be called “ancient” if he used the parts or blueprints from ancient technology as a starting point. If Cid deserved full credit and used no ancient artifacts at all, the fuel would be dubbed “mysterious power source” rather than “mysterious ancient power source”. Most power sources in both real-life and fiction have existed for countless eons, but will only be given the attribute of “ancient” if they have been tapped into and applied in the past of human history.

These conclusions clearly don’t apply to Dirge of Cerberus, where the entire airship was from a lost civilization. Without any other sources to compare and contend, it would be almost impossible to agree on which is canon. The Reunion Files was released after the initial Japanese releases of Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus, but we can’t say for certain when the quotes in the Reunion Files were first written/spoken. Does Tetsuya Nomura’s quote predate the development process of Dirge of Cerberus and the writing of the script for the two aforementioned WRO members? Does Dirge of Cerberus count as taking canonical precedence over the Reunion Files, since the former was re-released in 2008 in Japan as Dirge of Cerberus:International? Should Cid’s line in Advent Children, including the Advent Children Complete release, be considered merely an oversight, with the Dirge of Cerberus script still maintaining what is canon?

Fortunately, the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania appears to clear some of the confusion.

This book was first released in 2007, then re-released in 2009 with additional content. In Cid’s character profile on page 72-75 (page 74-77 in the 2009 release) we see that a compromise was made between the “ancient airship” and “built by Cid” origins.

Translations by the Lifestream.Net community.

In Advent Children

Aboard a new airship,
The master of the skies returns to aid his friends!

Age: 34

When the city of Edge is in danger, Cid comes to the rescue in the newly completed Shera, and battles with the monster hoards roaming the city. After fighting off Bahamut SHIN with the friends he once saved the planet with, he takes the team aboard his airship as they watch over Cloud from the skies.



年齢 34歳

エッジの街が危機にさらされたいさい、完成したばかりのシエラ号で救援に向かい、街中に湧いたモンスターの群れを相手に奮闘。かつて星を救った仲間とともにバハムート・震 を撃退したのちは、仲間を飛空艇に乗せて大空からクラウドを見守る。

The Shera is clearly a new creation, as stated above, and clearly belongs to Cid. We can conclude from this that Cid was responsible for the building of the airship. This is followed by an interesting statement in the “Compilation check” section that list Cid’s vehicles.

New-type Airship: Shera
Features in AC and DC. Said to use the legacy of an ancient civilization to power it, and it still has many black box areas yet to be fully understood. The ship is christened after Shera, Cid’s partner.
『AC』『DC』に登場。旧世代文明の遺産を動力としているらしく、解明されていない部分も多い。シドが自分のパートナーであるシエラから名前を取って命名し た。

The wording used here, “legacy of an ancient civilization to power it” clearly limits the Shera’s non-original parts to its operational system, most clearly its engine. Many questions are still left unanswered however. Is the engine the only legacy of an ancient civilization or does it still use a “mysterious ancient power source” as stated in Dirge of Cerberus and suggested in the Reunion Files? Because of how vague the statement is, we can’t know for sure if the Shera, by the time of AC and DC, runs on an ancient power source or not in the updated canon.

Unknown details aside, the above sections in Cid’s character profile can be deemed the last word on what is canon, if only because of the 10th Anniversary Ultimania having been re-published as late as 2009 and because of it being compliant with Cid’s line in Advent Children Complete.

The FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania does aid in how one is supposed to read and interpret the content of the On the Way to a Smile chapters.

In the English 2007 “Advent Pieces Box Set”, fans were treated to the story of what Barret did after he left Cloud, Tifa and Marlene in Edge. Up until 2009, with the Japanese release of the full “On the Way to a Smile” novel, this was the only published version of Barret’s story.

When Barret reaches Rocket Town, Cid’s fellow engineers are constructing an airship. This airship gets completed in the timeline of Yuffie’s and Nanaki’s respective On the Way to a Smile stories, but it is never given a name. If this was coupled only with the script from Dirge of Cerberus, readers would think that this airship has nothing to do with the Shera. Thanks to the 10th Anniversary Ultimania, we can conclude that this airship is the Shera or at the very least an earlier model of it.

In Barret’s story, the engineers of Rocket Town are pumping oil from an old oil derrick in the eastern desert. They are perfecting the oil refinement process and, as Cid reveals in the story, aims to refine it into jet fuel for the airship. In Yuffie’s and Nanaki’s respective stories, the ship is taken on a test flight and is clearly still using oil as its power source.

From Episode:Yuffie, when Yuffie is near Corel and Cid arrives on his new airship…

“Hey, Yuffie!”

Cid caught up with them. He looked exhausted. Or maybe he’s grown thinner.

“Is that a new model?”

“Damn right it is! I completed it somehow. We’re in the middle of a test flight.”

“Looks like it’s going well.”

“You could say that. But there ain’t much fuel left. Just enough to go round half the planet.”

“It doesn’t look like it’s going well.”

“I’m just going to have to place my hopes on that rush-headed Barret. He’s out looking for another place where there’s oil. I already have all the materials and the staff ready to go when he calls but, where on the planet could he be, eh?”

By this point further uncertainties arise. In Episode:Barret, Cid was described as working on an engine. Later, the narration summarizes Cid’s explanations.

They needed a more potent fuel. They had persisted in efforts to that end, and at last prospects for making jet fuel were looking bright. In tandem with that, work was underway to revamp the engines to run on the new fuel. But that work wasn’t going quite as well.

To “revamp the engines to run on the new fuel” imply that they are revamping mako engines. Or are they revamping ancient non-mako engines? The origins of the engine Cid works on isn’t specified. Is the engine a “legacy of an ancient civilization”? Was an ancient engine acquired later? Was an ancient engine discovered after the airship’s test run in Episode:Yuffie? Does the Shera use a mysterious ancient power source as its fuel in AC or after AC or not at all in the current canon? This extensive list of questions is important to highlight just how vague the inclusion of ancient technology has become when it comes to the Shera.

When the claim was that the entire airship was from a lost civilization, it was easier to adopt the theory of “Spiran technology” as the explanation. Now when the technology is limited to operational systems and possibly a mysterious ancient power source, it becomes more difficult to determine if Spirans or Cetrans are the more likely inventors of the tech. It is worth mentioning though that usually when ancient artifacts are brought up in FFVII lore, the “Ancients” or the “Cetrans” are clearly referenced. In the case of the Shera, whether it be the retconned quote by the NPC in the engine room or the statements in the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, they leave out this specification as though they intentionally want the reader to wonder.

That wraps it up for the complicated and still confusing story about the origins of the Shera. We know by now that it was built by Cid and his fellow engineers and that it is powered by the “legacy of an ancient civilization”; what that legacy is and how and when it was adopted is left unknown.



Article commentary and images: Shademp
Various Japanese Transcriptions & Retranslations: Squall_of_SeeD & hitoshura