Bizarre Occurances Chapter 17

The Past Remembered

By Dino Pollard

Avalanche stood in the Operations Room of the Highwind in complete silence.

“Well, Red is gone,” Cloud began. “We’ve just experienced our first casualty.”

“He’s not dead yet,” Sephiroth said.

“I beg to differ,” Cloud muttered. Aeris looked at him, sympathy in her eyes.

“Any word yet from Tsunami?” Vincent asked.

“No,” Cloud replied. “And that worries me.”

“At their last check-in, Shen said that a talking Gold Chocobo named Zyx had joined up with them and that they were heading into Shin-Ra Headquarters,” Cait said. “They must’ve been captured.”

“You’re with Shin-Ra,” Barret said. “Shouldn’t YOU know?!?”

“I haven’t been paying much attention,” Cait replied. “Haven’t heard one thing ‘bout Tsunami yet. If they are captured, then Rufus and Heidegger are keeping it under wraps.”

“So now what?” Yuffie asked.

“The Highwind can’t fly forever,” Cid said. “We’re gonna hafta refuel soon.”

“What does the Highwind run on?” Cloud asked.

“Mako,” Cid replied.

“Perfect,” Cloud replied. “That means we need a Reactor.”

“There is only one place I know of that has an abandoned Reactor where we can leave the Highwind without any inconvenience,” Sephiroth said.

“Where?” Aeris asked.

“Nibelheim,” he replied.

“Things just keep getting better for us, don’t they?” Cloud said sarcastically.

“The Mt. Nibel Reactor’s been unmanned for some time,” Cait said. “It’s run automatically. No one even goes up to the Reactor anymore. We could leave the Highwind there and no one would ever know.”

“And where are we gonna live?” Yuffie asked. “If I hafta stay in this ship any longer, I’m gonna go crazy!! Those beds are WAAAY too uncomfortable!! And there’s no chance in HELL I’m sleepin in a dusty old Reactor!!”

“We can stay in the Shin-Ra Mansion,” Vincent said. “It has also been abandoned. The ‘townspeople’ are too frightened to even approach the gate. The only people who were anywhere near it were the clones.”

“That sounds great,” Knolan began. “But it’s not for me. If it’s not too much trouble, can you drop me off at my island?”

“I’ll go with Knolan as well,” Baakusa said.

“But why?” Barret asked. “We saw ya’ll fighting against da Shin-Ra an’ now ya wanna leave?”

“I will be available to help you whenever you need it,” Baakusa replied. “But right now my main concern is the Ultimate Summon. If I can help Knolan in discovering it, then we may have the means to destroy Meteor.”

“How can you find it?” Tifa asked.

“I’ve got a LOT of spell books,” Knolan replied. “Some of them are centuries old. With an extra pair of hands, I’ll be able to find it.”

“Then we’ll leave you two at the island and the rest of us will head to Mt. Nibel,” Cloud said.


Sephiroth looked around the Shin-Ra Mansion when they arrived in. God, he hated this place. But it was large, and perfect to accommodate the team.

“This place has 10 bedrooms,” Cloud said. “Enough for all of us.”

“It’s really dusty too,” Aeris noted, coughing a little. “This place needs a LOT of work.”

“Well it hasn’t been lived in years,” Cait said.

“Everything’s exactly as it was five years ago,” Sephiroth said. “Nothing’s changed.”

“I GET TO PICK A ROOM FIRST!!” Yuffie exclaimed, darting up the steps.

“Amazing...” Cid said. “She can fight and she can run around like she’ll never run outta energy, but she can’t handle a simple ride in a ship.”

“We might as well get settled in,” Cloud said. The others nodded and went in their separate directions.


Cloud surveyed the room he claimed as his own. After taking a tour of the Mansion, he lied back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. Then, his PHS rang. Quickly he snapped it up and answered it.

{{Hello,}} he said through the device.

{{Cloud!!}} Shen exclaimed through the other end of the PHS. {{I’m glad I was able to get a hold
of you!!}}

{{Shen?}} Cloud asked. {{How are you? Is everything all right?}}

{{One question at a time,}} Shen said. {{We were able to get into Shin-Ra Headquarters with the keycard Barret gave us. But we were ambushed by a giant robot of some sort named Calibretto. It defeated us and we were taken captive. I’m speaking to you from i--}}


“Shen?” Cloud asked. “SHEN?!?”

No answer. The line went dead at the under end.

“SHIT!!!” Cloud cursed. He threw the device at the wall, but didn’t bother to go pick it up. Instead, he lied back once again and fell into a deep trance. Now all he would see were his dreams. And his past.


Seven years ago. Cloud stood before Shin-Ra Headquarters, his eyes wide with awe.

“Hey!” he heard a voice from behind.

“Yes?” Cloud asked, turning to face the man. He looked strange. He was about Cloud’s age. He had blue floppy hair that fell over his face.

“You gonna stand there all day, pal?” he asked.

“No, I just can’t believe I’m here,” Cloud replied.

“Ditto,” he replied. “Name’s Rudy. Rudy Roughknight. And who are you?”

“Cloud Strife,” Cloud replied. “From Nibelheim. Where are you from?”

“Dunno,” Rudy replied.

“You don’t know where your hometown is?”

“Nope,” Rudy said. “I don’t have one.”

“What about your parents?”

“They died when I was young,” Rudy said. “I came to live with my aunt in Kalm. But now I’m gonna join SOLDIER.”

“Yeah,” Cloud said. “I’ve always dreamed of being in SOLDIER.”

“You ready?” Rudy asked, looking at the building once more.

“It’s now or never,” Cloud replied. The two carefully stepped through the large glass doors.


The SOLDIER recruiting office was bustling with activity. SOLDIER Officers and MPs were racing back and forth. Many men were sitting down in chairs, filling out forms and applications.

“I had no idea it’d be like this,” Rudy said.

“Maybe we should just get those forms,” Cloud replied. He walked over to a man sitting behind a desk.

“How can I help you?” he asked.

“We’re here to join SOLDIER,” Cloud replied.

“I see,” he said. “Well, you’ll need to fill out these forms and then bring them back to me. Then you wait until you’re called.”

“Thanks,” Cloud said. He and Rudy each took a form and found a seat.


Rudy and Cloud were amazed at how easy the tests were. However, it was too good to be true. A man with short black hair, a colorful uniform, and a broad sword sheathed on his back stepped to the front and began to speak.

“Welcome, candidates,” he said. “I’m Garrison. You’ve all done well on the tests. Now you will proceed to Junon for further training. You will be taken on a Gelinka. There, we will determine who is fit to be in Third Class. If you make Third Class, you’re in SOLDIER. If not, you will have the choice of becoming a Shin-Ra MP or leaving the military service altogether. Any objections?” The room was silent. “Good. Congratulations. You are all Pre-SOLDIERS.”

“Pre-SOLDIERS?” Rudy asked. “What the hell does that mean?”

“I think it means we need more training before we can be in SOLDIER,” Cloud replied. “Guess this isn’t gonna be as easy as I thought.”


Rudy sat on the couch of the apartment he and Cloud shared in Junon, trying to watch TV.

“Dammit Cloud,” Rudy said. “Stop pacing. I’m trying to watch TV.”

“I can’t take this,” Cloud said. “It’s been two weeks since our Pre-SOLDIER training ended. Now when do we find out if we’re in SOLDIER?”

“Dunno,” Rudy replied.

The PHS rang. Cloud and Rudy froze.

“You gonna answer that?” Rudy asked.

It rang a second time.

“C’mon Cloud,” Rudy said. “Just pick it up and stop worrying about it.”

Cloud slowly lifted the receiver to his ear.

“Hello?’ he asked with a cracking voice.

{{Hello, is this the residence of Cloud Strife and Rudy Roughknight?}} the man on the other end asked.

{{Yes,}} Cloud replied.

{{We’re sorry to inform you, but you have not made it into SOLDIER.}}

{{Which one of us?}}

{{Both of you.}}

“Well?” Rudy asked. “What’s he saying?” Cloud lifted a hand to silence him.

{{But I do have some good news,}} the man continued.

{{What?}} Cloud asked, hopefully.

{{You are both perfect candidates for MPs,}} he replied.

{{MPs?}} Cloud repeated.

{{Yes. If you interested, you will be relocated to Midgar.}}

{{Thank you,}} Cloud said. {{Bye.}}

“Well?” Rudy asked again.

“We didn’t make it,” Cloud replied.

“You’re bullshittin’ me,” Rudy said. Cloud shook his head.

“No, I’m not,” Cloud said. “But we can be relocated to Midgar and become MPs. Maybe after some more training, we’ll be able to join SOLDIER.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Rudy said. “I came all this way. No sense in going back empty handed.”

“So that’s that,” Cloud said. “We’ll become MPs and try for SOLDIER in about another year. We’re sure to make it then.”


Cloud and Rudy stood in shock when their commander told them the news. They were to accompany The Great Sephiroth on a mission!! Cloud knew this would be the once chance to prove himself. They were told that another First Class SOLDIER Officer would be there as well. And he was seventeen. Cloud was filled with jealousy. This guy was only a year older than him, yet he was in First Class, working side-by-side with Sephiroth!! Today was when they would first meet. It would be a boat ride from Junon to Costa del Sol followed by a truck ride to the mission. Cloud made up his mind that during that time, he would see if he could get some pointers from Sephiroth. Rudy said he would just sleep the whole time.


The boat was all set to depart from Junon Harbor to Costa del Sol. A young man with spiked black hair and a large sword strapped to his back approached Cloud and Rudy.

“Hey,” he said. “You must be our escorts. I’m Zack Trimmer.”

“Cloud Strife.”

“Rudy Roughknight.”

Nice to meet you two,” Zack said. “I’m glad some guys my age are gonna be travelling with me.”

“There aren’t more First Class SOLDIERS your age?” Cloud asked. He turned to see Rudy fast asleep already.

“Oh there are,” Zack replied. “But most of them are stuck-up. Matter of fact, I only met one who wasn’t.”

“Who was that?” Cloud asked.

“Striker Kerig,” Zack said. “The two of us were best friends for as long as I can remember. We grew up in Gongaga and both shared the dream of joining SOLDIER.”

“What happened?” Cloud asked.

“After the war ended, we were going to be promoted to First Class,” Rudy began. “But he said Shin-Ra was corrupt. I told him he was just acting crazy. But he wouldn’t listen. He left SOLDIER with hatred towards me. And if I could, I’d go and apologize.”

“Maybe you should,” Cloud said.

“I will,” Zack continued. “As soon as this job is over.”


Zack and Cloud became good friends during the boat ride to Costa del Sol. Zack told Cloud stories about the wild stunts he and Striker would pull, stories from the war, and he even talked about a girl he met in Midgar when he had made Third Class. In addition, Cloud told him about Nibelheim and his need to join SOLDIER so he could impress Tifa. Rudy would wake up occasionally from Cloud and Zack’s laughter, grunt, then go back to sleep. Cloud had thought this would be a good time to get to know Sephiroth, but instead he found someone more interesting than the General of SOLDIER—Zack Trimmer.

After reaching Costa del Sol, the four were met with a truck and a MP ready to take them to their destination.


Zack couldn’t keep still in the truck. He was constantly bouncing around, very excited.

“Hey Cloud, you okay?” he asked.

“Not really…” Cloud replied.

“I wouldn’t know,” Zack said. “I’ve never had motion sickness. Maybe you should take off your mask if you’re not feeling good. How are you doin’ Rudy?”

Rudy snored in reply.

“Calm down,” Sephiroth said.

“They gave me some new Materia,” Zack said to Sephiroth. “I can’t wait to use it!!”

“Just like a kid…” Sephiroth muttered.

“So, what’s this mission all about?”

“Okay, listen up,” Sephiroth said. “I’m only going to say this once. This is no ordinary mission.”

“Good!!” Zack exclaimed.

“What?” Sephiroth asked.

“I’ve always wanted to be a hero, like you,” Zack began. “But by the time I made First Class, the war was already over, and so were my hopes to be a big shot. That’s why I sign up for all these tough missions—to prove myself.”

“I see,” Sephiroth replied. “Anyway, we’re to investigate a malfunctioning Reactor. It seems that it has been producing monsters. Our job is to eliminate the monsters and get to the bottom of the Reactor’s malfunction.”

“Where is this Reactor?” Zack asked.

“A small town called Nibelheim,” Sephiroth replied.

“Nibelheim!?!” Cloud exclaimed. “That’s where I’m from!!”

“Then you will have an opportunity to meet with your family and friends again,” Sephiroth replied.

“Umm… sirs?” the driver called back. “There’s some sort of creature outside.”

“That would be our monster,” Sephiroth said. “Come on.” He drew his sword and stepped out of the truck with Zack following him.


Sephiroth stepped towards the gates of Nibelheim and turned to Cloud.

“How does it feel?” he asked. “It’s the first time you’ve been in your hometown in a long time, right? I wouldn’t know because I don’t have a hometown.”

“Umm, what about your parents?” Cloud asked.

“My mother was Jenova,” Sephiroth replied. “She died after she gave birth to me. My father…” he began to laugh. Sephiroth clutched his side then shook his head. “What does it matter? All right, let’s go.”

The four-man team stepped into the town and looked around.

“We have a room reserved at the inn,” Sephiroth said. “We only need one lookout so the rest of us can go get some rest. Rudy, you stay out here and inform us of any monsters. We leave early tomorrow morning so we should get some sleep. I’ve hired a guide to take us to the Reactor.” He began to walk to the inn, but stopped. “Oh. And you may visit your family and friends.”

Cloud nodded and walked towards his house.


“Hi mom,” Cloud said as he stepped through the door to his old home.

“Cloud!!” Lisa Strife exclaimed. “It’s so good to see you!!”

“It’s good to be home,” Cloud replied.

“Let me look at you,” she said. “My how you’ve grown. You’re so handsome now. You look just like your father. So, this is the uniform of SOLDIER?”

“I… have a confession to make,” Cloud began. He sat down at the table. “I never made it into SOLDIER. I didn’t pass Pre-SOLDIER. I’m planning on going back in after this mission is over. You’re probably disappointed in me.”

“I am,” she replied. “You wrote and called saying that you had made SOLDIER. You lied to me. But I don’t care if you’re in SOLDIER or if you’re just a school crossing guard. You will always be my son. And I will always be your mother. And that’s all that matters.”

“Thanks mom.”

“But I am worried about you,” she began. “There are a lot of temptations in the city. I’d feel better if you just settled down with a nice girlfriend.”

“I’m alright,” Cloud replied.

“You should have an older girlfriend,” she said. “One that could take care of you. I think that would be the perfect type for you.”

“I’m not interested.”

“Just remember what I told you,” she replied.

There was a knock at the door.

“Cloud?” Zack asked. “I saw you come in here.”

Cloud opened the door. Zack and Rudy walked in.

“Sephiroth says we should go get some rest,” Zack said. “Rudy’s been sleeping this whole time, so he’ll be the lookout.”

“Okay,” Cloud replied. “Mom, come here. I’d like you to meet Zack Trimmer and Rudy Roughknight.”

“Hello,” she said. “Cloud, if you need to leave early tomorrow morning, you should probably go.”

“Okay,” Cloud said. “Mom, do me a favor.”


“Don’t let anyone know I’m here.”


“Because I wrote to everyone telling them I had made First Class. I don’t want them to know I failed.”



Cloud was surprised the next morning to see that Tifa was their guide, but he made no comment. He wanted to join SOLDIER to empress her, and if she knew he failed, then she would know how weak he was. So he decided it would be better to keep his mouth shut.


The route to the Reactor at Mt. Nibel was long and difficult. As they began to cross the rickety bridge, Cloud shuddered when he remembered when he and Tifa fell from this bridge and she was in a coma. He escaped with just scrapped knees, though.

“Damn, you sure this bridge is safe?” Rudy asked.

“Not really,” Cloud replied in a low voice so only Rudy could hear him. The bridge began to creak. Cloud froze. He carefully took another step forward. Then, the rope snapped.

Cloud grabbed onto the rope, and took Rudy’s hand.

“SHIT!!” Rudy cursed.

“I gotcha!!” Cloud exclaimed. Rudy’s glove began to slip off. He fell.

“RUDY!!!” Cloud cried. Then, the other end of the rope snapped.


Cloud slowly awoke and saw Sephiroth approaching him.

“Come on,” he said. “We should get a move on.”

“Wait a minute,” Cloud said. “Where’s Rudy?”

“Hmm…” Sephiroth paused. He looked around the area. “I haven’t seen any sign of him. We should get back to the others. He might be with them.”

Cloud nodded and followed Sephiroth to where Zack and Tifa were.

“Let’s continue on,” Sephiroth said.

“Aren’t we missing someone?” Tifa asked.

“It may sound cold,” Sephiroth began. “But we don’t have time to search for him.”

Cloud sighed.


The Mako Reactor at Mt. Nibel wasn’t very big. In fact, it was known to be one of the smallest on the Planet.

“Come on,” Sephiroth said to Zack. He began to walk up the steps leading to the Reactor.

“I’m going to!” Tifa said.

“It’s too dangerous,” Zack said.

“This Reactor is full of Shin-Ra’s industrial secrets,” Sephiroth added. “Only authorized personnel are allowed in. Take care of the lady.” With that, Sephiroth stepped into the reactor. Zack followed. Tifa tried to follow as well, but Cloud stopped her.

“Mmm-man!!” Tifa exclaimed. She stomped over and turned her head to Cloud. “Better make sure you take real good care of me, then!!”

Cloud sighed and shook his head. The mask was beginning to make him extremely hot. He wanted to take it off desperately, but didn’t want Tifa to know that he failed.

“Hey,” Tifa said, walking over to him. “Sorry about that. I’m just a little upset.”

Cloud remained silent.

“Someone I know named Cloud said he was in SOLDIER. When I heard that SOLDIER was coming to Nibelheim to investigate the Reactor, I had hoped Cloud would be with them. But he wasn’t. Do you know a Cloud?”

Cloud nodded.

“Really!?!” Tifa exclaimed. “Did he really make it into First Class SOLDIER?”

Cloud nodded.

“I knew he could do it!!” she shouted. “How come he didn’t come for this mission?”

Cloud simply shrugged his shoulders.

“You’re not very talkative, are you?”

He shrugged again.

“Maybe I’ll go to Midgar someday and visit him.”

Cloud froze. He knew this charade wouldn’t last. If Tifa came to Midgar, she would find out the truth about him. But Midgar was so big. Eight sectors plus the slums underneath. There’s no way she could find him.

“But I’d hafta finish my training with Zangan first.”

There were footsteps. Cloud turned to see Sephiroth and Zack come out of the Reactor. They both looked… disturbed.

“Did you find out the problem?” Tifa asked.

“Yes,” Sephiroth replied.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine!” he snapped. “It’s a long hike back to town. We had better start to move.”

Cloud couldn’t put his finger on it, but something about Sephiroth’s attitude made him uneasy. It’s as if he just saw a ghost.


“Hey Cloud,” Zack said. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure thing, Zack,” Cloud replied. He walked over to the sitting room where Zack was. After the encounter at the Reactor a week ago, Sephiroth had confined himself to the basement of the Shin-Ra Mansion they now occupied. Cloud couldn’t understand why the escort hadn’t come to take them to Costa del Sol.

“Sephiroth saw… something…” Zack began. “Inside the Reactor. It—it wasn’t human. Well, it was. But not completely. It was some type of creature. Sephiroth said Professor Hojo was responsible for it. Then, he started saying something about him being created like them. He said ever since he was small, he felt different… special in some way… but not like that. It was really weird. And now he’s stayed in the basement ever since then, reading those reports. This is really starting to worry me.”

“I know,” Cloud replied. “Sephiroth seems… different.”

“What should we do?” Zack asked.

“I’m going to go visit my mom,” Cloud said. “Maybe you should go talk to Sephiroth?”

“Yeah,” Zack replied. “I’ll try…” He walked towards the secret entrance to the basement as Cloud walked to the exit of the Shin-Ra Mansion.”


“When are you going back to Midgar?” Lisa asked.

“Probably tomorrow,” Cloud said. “The transport is a week late. That’s unlike them. It’s almost as if someone deliberately told them not to come yet.”

“Who would say that, though?”

“I’m not sure,” Cloud replied. “But ever since we got back from that Reactor, things have been different.”

“Like what?” she asked.

“For one we lost Rudy,” Cloud replied. “And two, Sephiroth seems… different. He’s been in the basement ever since we got back.”

“You should probably get going,” she said. “Maybe Shin-Ra is trying to contact you.”

“Yeah, you may be right,” Cloud agreed. He put his mask on and opened the door. The sight he saw shocked him! Sephiroth was standing there, outside the gate to the mansion. In his hand, Cloud could see a green orb flare up. Sephiroth grinned as he spoke.


The town became ingulfed in flames. Cloud was ready to charge after Sephiroth, but a beam weakened by the fire came crashing down on his head.


Cloud awoke soon after the beam had hit him. He found that the town was nearly ashes now. And the fire was spreading. Not thinking about any of the other townspeople, he ran into his house. Flames were all around him. But he pressed on. He wouldn’t let his mother die here.


Cloud swiftly turned and saw the most frightening sight of his life.


There was his mother, gasping for life, a fallen beam crushed her legs. He ran to help her, but it was too late. The roof collapsed right on top of her. He dodged away and rolled from the house. Looking around, he saw that his town was destroyed by the very man he wanted to be like!!



Within moments, Cloud found himself in the Reactor. He had lost all sense of reasoning. Now he was running completely on adrenaline. There was only one thought on his mind. Revenge. As he ran through the corridors, he saw Joseph Lockheart lying on the ground, a sword wound in his chest. He was dead. Sephiroth’s handiwork. As he continued to walk further into the Reactor, he saw Tifa lying at the foot of the metal staircase. Then, Zack was thrown from the door at the top of the steps. He landed at Cloud’s feet. Cloud took note of the sword in Zack’s hand. Out of pure rage, he grabbed it and ran into the room labeled Jenova.


Sephiroth was standing in front of some glass tube with what appeared to be a headless woman inside of it. He was muttering something about mother and that it was time to take this world back for her, something about him being the rightful heir to this Planet. Cloud wasted no time. Gripping the large sword in his hands, he ran up to Sephiroth and rammed it into his gut!

“Uh!!” Sephiroth moaned in pain. “Wh-what are you--?”

“My mom, Tifa…” Cloud replied. “The town. Give it back.”

Sephiroth looked at him and shoved him down. In his hands, he held a head. Jenova’s head. With what little strength he had left, he was able to push past Cloud. Cloud didn’t worry. Sephiroth wouldn’t get far.


Cloud dropped the sword by Zack’s side. He turned to Tifa and examined her wounds. It looked pretty bad.

“Cloud…” Zack said. Cloud ran over to him. “Kill Sephiroth…”

“Your wounds…” Cloud began.

“Forget about them… I’ll be fine…”

Cloud nodded and ran after Sephiroth.


“SEPHIROTH!!” Cloud shouted. He ran up to the injured man. In a lightning-fast move, Sephiroth drew the Masamune and jammed it into Cloud, lifting him in the air!!

“Don’t… push… your luck,” he said. However, Cloud resisted. Gripping the blade, he slid himself off of it!!

“It can’t be!!” Sephiroth said with surprise. Cloud began to swing the sword with Sephiroth on the end of it!! Eventually, Sephiroth lost his grip and fell down into the Lifestream below!! Cloud tossed the Masamune after him. With that, he collapsed from his wounds.


Cloud awoke to find himself in a tube. He looked around. He was in the Shin-Ra basement. There was a tube next to him which housed Zack. He needed to find a way to communicate with him. He tapped the glass to get Zack’s attention. It worked. With his fingernail, he began to scratch a message to Zack. It read, “We have to get out of here!”

Zack understood and began to scratch his own message, “Feeding time—that’s our chance!!”

Zack pointed to a lab assistant bringing a plate of food. Zack prepared himself. When the assistant opened the tube, Zack leapt out and knocked him down!! He then let Cloud out and grabbed his sword.

“Come on,” Zack said.

“Uhh…” was all Cloud could say. For some reason, he couldn’t speak!!

“You must be groggy from the experiments,” Zack noted. “And that uniform of yours is pretty beat up. I’ve got a spare you can borrow. And don’t complain about the smell.”


“Hey old guy!!” Zack shouted to the driver of the truck. “We at Midgar yet?”

“Shaddup!” he shouted back. “Yer lucky I picked you up!!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Zack said. He turned to Cloud. “So, what are you gonna do once we reach Midgar?”

Cloud made no reply.

“I have this house I can stay in with my girlfriend,” Zack continued. “Wait, the mother lives there too. Damn. Looks like I’m gonna hafta change my plans. I’ll need to get a job. Hey Cloud, what do you think I’d be good at?”

No reply.

“Hey old guy!” Zack shouted to the driver again. “What do you think I’d be good at?”

“What’re you complaining about?” the driver called back. “You young folks should try everything!”

“Hey, that’s it!!” Zack exclaimed. “I’ve got a lot of skill and brains that other guys don’t. That settles it. I’m gonna become a mercenary! Yeah! Dangerous stuff, boring stuff, ANYTHING for money!! Thanks old guy!”

“Didn’t you listen to one word I said?” the driver asked. “Aww ferget it. Damn kids think they know everything.”

“So Cloud, what are you gonna be?”

No answer.

“Just kidding,” Zack said. “I wouldn’t leave you hanging. We’re best friends, right Cloud?”

Cloud nodded. The first action he was able to perform.

“You an’ me, Cloud,” Zack said, sitting next to his friend. “Partners for life, right?”


Zack carried Cloud near the outskirts of Midgar. Then he heard footsteps approaching. Zack saw three MPs and a commander running towards them. Acting quickly, he dropped Cloud and drew his sword, running at them. He deflected a few bullets with it, and managed to kill one of them. But the commander got off one shot and Zack went down. He clutched his shoulder in pain. One of the MPs began firing his machine gun at Zack. The other aimed his gun at Cloud.

“What about this one, sir?” he asked.

“Leave him,” the commander replied. “He’s too out of it anyway. And according to our reports, this is the one that went through all that Jenova-therapy crap. He’ll be lucky if he remembers who he is.”

The MPs and the commander ran off, leaving Zack’s body. A few moments later, Cloud slowly began to move. Using his arms, he pulled himself towards Zack’s sword. When he stood, he grasped it in his hands and looked down below him. Midgar was there. And so was his future. He was Cloud Strife, a former First Class SOLDIER Officer, born in Nibelheim. He believed that now more than ever.


The conductor of the train at the Sector 7 station stood over Cloud.

“Hey, you alright, kid?” he asked.

“Ugh…” Cloud said.

“What happened to him?” a young woman asked, running up to Cloud.

“I’m not sure,” he replied. “I just found him like this. Poor kid. He seems really out of it.”

“He looks familiar…” she said.

“Ugh… ugh…” Cloud said. “Uh… Ti—Tif—TIFA!! Tifa!”

“Yes?” Tifa asked.

“It’s me, Tifa!” Cloud replied. “It’s Cloud!”

“Cloud!” Tifa exclaimed. “How long has it been?”

“Five years,” Cloud replied.

“Yeah…” Tifa replied, unsure of herself. “So, what have you been up to?”

“After that incident five years ago at Nibelheim, I came to Midgar,” Cloud replied. “I’ve been a mercenary ever since. But it’s dangerous to work in Midgar with the Shin-Ra around. I’m going to a different town. Somewhere like Junon.”

“Oh…” Tifa replied. “Hey Cloud, if you need the money, then I’ve got a job for you!”

“Great!” Cloud replied. “How much does it pay?”

“Come with me,” she replied.


Tifa owned a bar in the slums of Sector 7 called Seventh Heaven. Underneath it was a secret hideout with computers. A large man with a gattling gun grafted on his right arm stood looking over Cloud.

“Dis da guy?” he asked. “What’s yer story?”

“I was a former First Class SOLDIER Officer,” Cloud replied. “Now I’m a mercenary. Tifa told me you had a job for me.”

“Dat’s right,” he replied. “The name’s Barret Wallace. An’ this bar is the hideout for Avalanche!”

“Avalanche?” Cloud asked.

“Protectors of the Planet!!” Barret replied. “We’re gonna stomp out dat Shin-Ra scum!!”

“A rag-tag group of rebels is going to stop a company which pretty much runs the world?” Cloud asked. “What do you have in mind? Storm inside Shin-Ra Headquarters and kill everyone inside?”

“Dat’s a thought,” Barret replied. Cloud snickered. “But first we’re gonna weaken them. We’re gonna start by blowin up the No. 1 Mako Reactor in Sector 1. Interested?”

“Could be,” Cloud replied. “What’s the plan?”

“We take the train up to the Sector 1 plate,” Barret began. “The station is just outside of the Reactor. Den we sneak into the Reactor using a code we were able to get. When we get to da core, we set a time bomb and blow it up!!”

“Do you have the layout of the Reactor?” Cloud asked. Barret motioned his hand to a young woman working on a computer. She gave Barret a mailing tube.

“Thanks Jessie,” Barret said. He opened the tube and took out the plans for the Reactor and put it on the table. “Here’s da core. Dat’s where the bomb will go. To get to it, we need ta go in through the front entrance. Dis is a four-man operation. After we get through the main entrance, someone will stay by the emergency exit so we can get out easily. That’ll be Wedge’s job. Once we get past some security doors, Biggs will wait there to keep a lookout. We then go past some ladders and take down some security along the way. There’s another lookout by the Reactor’s core. That’s where Jessie comes in. Den I was gonna go set the bomb and get out.”

“Have you thought about the robo-guards?” Cloud asked.

“Robo-what?” Barret replied.

“Robo-guards,” Cloud began. “They’re robot guards that are ten times more powerful than a regular MP. There’s always at least one guarding the Reactor’s core. You can’t hope to beat it alone. You’ll need me to go along with you to make sure you don’t get yourself killed. Besides, by the looks of it, it doesn’t even seem like you have any Materia.”

“Who needs Materia?” Barret asked.

“You will if you hope to stand a chance against the robo-guards,” Cloud replied. “Bullets won’t work alone. Bolt spells are a surefire way to cause them to short-circuit. I’ve got a Lightning Materia on me. It’ll come in handy.”

“Awright, yer in,” Barret said. “But I don’t like it. Now get some rest. We’re leavin early tomorrow.”


Cloud awoke once again. He looked around. He was back in his room inside the Shin-Ra Mansion. Suddenly, Yuffie came running in screaming at the top of her lungs.

“Hey Cloud!!” she exclaimed. “Come to the Highwind quick!!”

“What’s going on?” Cloud asked.

“It’s Sephiroth!!” she exclaimed. “He’s gone missing!!”

“Then let’s get going!!” Cloud exclaimed. He grabbed his sword and followed Yuffie out.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Yay, the first flashback chapter is done!! This is mainly Nibelheim from Cloud’s point of view, which is why there is nothing about Sephiroth in the basement or about him going into the Reactor when Sephiroth went a little mad. I also wanted to do a little more to develop Rudy’s character, since he’s in Tsunami and in his short time with Avalanche, he basically just fought and was amnesiac, so we couldn’t learn anything from him. I plan to explore more of Rudy’s past, like what he did after he fell from the bridge. Now for the future. We’re going to be holding sims sooner than I planned, so there won’t be much more chapters based on the characters’ past. Chapter 18 will have Sephiroth reminiscing as he goes on his own personal mission. This will be the last character reflection chapter. After that, the team will begin searching for Jonah Strife and Cloud’s mysterious brother. I assure you though that the identity of his brother WILL shock you!! Brave New World has been put off for awhile until this other stuff is straightened out. During the search for Jonah and the answers Cloud has been searching for, Avalanche will run afoul of Strike Force, a team of mercenaries, in the conclusion. I’m not gonna reveal anything, but Hojo plays a big role and there is something involving Zack, but not what you think.


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