The Maiden Who Travels the Planet

Cloud was falling into the Lifestream. He wasn’t falling into it as the dead or as a soul. He was falling into the Sea of Mako alive, in his living body. He was going to pass out.

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

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

However, the disguise was going to be stripped away.

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

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

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

And so…

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

“Cloud… I miss you. I miss the real you…”

Her whispers and thoughts became expanded into waves and spread out in the Mako.
Her memories of being with Cloud came to mind again. Her impression was that even though he wasn’t very social, there was some cheerfulness about him.

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

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

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

“Aerith… Is that you?”

At first, Aerith couldn’t remember whose voice it was because it was so sudden.

Panicking, she turned round and saw a nostalgic face she hadn’t seen for five years. He was her light taste of first love. He was also now a very dear friend who she hadn’t seen ever since she heard nothing from him.

He had the same character she saw in Cloud. Zack who had blue eyes that proofed he was in Soldier appeared before her. He had an image inferior to Aerith’s solid image.

“Zack! Does that mean you’re dead too?”

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

“”You too?”… Does that mean you’re dead too, Aerith? Well, I was going to say the same thing anyway and then… How should I put this… Give my condolences?”
“You haven’t changed one bit.”

No matter what happened, Zack never lost his cheerfulness. As if saved by his cheerful personality, Aerith smiled weakly. Even though she knew that he was a member of Shinra’s Soldier, it was that part of him that was charming to her.
“Lots of things happened. All terrible things. It all started when I was dispatched on a mission to the rural Nibelheim.”


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

“You mean Sephiroth, don’t you?”

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

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

“You were there at the time, Zack? Then what about Cloud…?”

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

“You know Cloud too. There really is a Cloud, isn’t there?”

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

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

“Zack… What should I do so that Cloud will know about the truth about himself?
Can you tell him that he’s real?”

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

“That’s going to be hard. But I won’t give up. I’m sure there’s a chance.”

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

Before long, the chance came.

* * *

Under pressure with the Meteor drawing near, the Planet released its massive biological destructive Weapons and the flow of the Lifestream was disrupted by their activities. The amount of energy that surged up onto the surface was never seen before. Gushing out into Mideel, Cloud who was peacefully resting there with Tifa nursing him by his side, both of them get swallowed up into the Lifestream.
Both of them were engulfed by Mako as they fell into the Planet. For Cloud, it was the second time but for Tifa, it was her first experience.

Aerith risked everything she had in this golden opportunity.

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

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

“You did it, Tifa. Thank you… I’m a little jealous of you but, do take care of Cloud and the upper world.”

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

It was a dazzling sight for Zack.

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

“Someone who’s gotten along with so many girls can never become a lover.”

“How mean. I’m nice to everyone.”

“And that’s your bad point. You’re not simplistic and awkward like Cloud.”

“Is that what you liked, Aerith?”

“Who knows. Things might have changed after five years.”


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

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

“Only if I get really lonely. Goodnight, Zack.”

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

Aerith wasn’t going to sleep. Because she was Cetra, she didn’t seem tired at all.
She was happy. She was happy that she now knew the real Cloud and was able to watch over him, even though it was just for a short while.

And so, Tifa accomplished the task. Collating her own memories with that of Cloud’s, she looked for the things that only the real Cloud could know. Proofing it all, the closed door was opened. Not leaving Soldier allowed Jenova’s power that was implanted in Cloud to copy the Soldier traits of his close friend, Zacks.

Drawing out the deep memories that were firmly clammed up inside all of that, she reconstructed his original character instead of the fake character he created to protect himself.

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