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Final Fantasy VII

Cloud's Strife
By Enrique Inocente [ 02-22-01 ]


Introduction

In my own opinion, I think Final Fantasy VII is the best RPG ever made. The memorable characters, the Materia system, and of course Sephiroth. Everything was perfectly done. It was also the very first role playing game I played, and my most favorite game of all time (Next to Sonic the Hedgehog 2.) Okay, let me stop sweating the game and get to what I'm trying to accomplish here. The story I'm about to tell you is a history on our blond spiky haired hero, Cloud Strife. This story is a retelling on the flashbacks that occurred during the game. I have woven all those events together (with some minor adjustments) to broaden the history of Cloud. Some of you may notice that the names of certain characters in this story are the same as other characters from previous Final Fantasy games. These are not the same characters. They just happen to have the same name, that's all. Our story begins when Cloud was at the tender age of six years old in his hometown Nibelheim. Enjoy the story and thank you for reading.

Chapter 1

The morning sun shined softly through the window, gently landing on Cloud's sleeping eyes. He lay in his tossed bed ignoring the morning call. Taking his pillow, Cloud placed it over his face, pressing it hard to filter out any sunlight that might have seeped through his eyelids. He didn't wish to get up. He had no motivation to do so. There was a gentle knock on the door. Cloud buried his face deeper into the pillow hoping whomever it was would leave him in peace. The door slowly squealed open.

"Cloud, dear," the voice said. It was a familiar voice. The same voice Cloud heard every single day since the day of his birth. It was the kind and warm voice of his mother. "Come on, son. Seize the day," she said, walking into his room.

Cloud remained motionless, pretending he was still slumbering. "I know you're up so stop playing," she said, playfully nudging Cloud awake. Cloud resisted and stayed asleep.

"Oh, now you're playing difficult." She reached to Cloud and began to try and tickle him awake. He was able to resist until he finally burst into laughter. He began rolling around in hysteria as his mother ran her fingers around his body. It was a warm-hearted scene until Cloud abruptly yelled, "Leave me alone!" Suddenly the mood had changed. Cloud's mom stood baffled by her son's fierce outcry. He wrapped himself in his covers and turned away from her.

"What's wrong, Cloud?" she asked concerned.

He didn't respond.

"Well, I just came to tell you that your breakfast is ready," she said. His mother left the room and whispered, "Love you," before closing his door. Cloud, now wide awake and staring at the ceiling, stayed in his bed. He didn't mean to snap at his mother, and now realized that he may have over reacted. Cloud was aware that she was merely playing. That was her way. She had just caught him at a bad time.

The reason for this behavior was the result of an incident that occurred the day before. In the house next door lived the Lockhart family. The Lockhart's had a lively daughter by the name of Tifa. Cloud and Tifa weren't best friends. They were more like acquaintances that greet each other if they happened to cross paths. Though Tifa didn't know, Cloud secretly admired her. He admired her energy and kindness. She carried an air about her that brought merriment to everyone. Her face, from her bright amber eyes to her warm humble smile, was pure with innocent mischief. She was the most popular girl in Nibelheim. Maybe too popular, Cloud thought. Tifa always ran with her clique. A group that Cloud wasn't a member of. For the most part, Cloud was an extreme introvert who always kept to himself. He felt that Tifa's friends were immature and anal. They laughed and giggled at every moronic thing that happened with no real grip on reality. Cloud's ill feelings for Tifa's friends also had a hint of envy. There were times when Cloud would spy on the group and wish he were playing with them. Sometimes he would stand in their plain sight in hopes that one them, preferably Tifa, would invite him to play. They just ignored him, except for Tifa, who would every now and then look and smile in his direction. A simple gesture that would make Cloud happy for the day.

Anyway, regarding the incident. In the middle of the town was a water tower. Children were prohibited from climbing it, but Cloud disregarded the caution. He found comfort while atop the tower, thinking his deep thoughts. The scenery was beautiful. On a clear day he could see flocks of the ostrich-like levrikon birds and the crimson mountains of Cosmo Canyon. As he sat on top of the high structure he heard somebody ascending the water tower. He figured it was his mother or some other adult climbing up to get him down, like usual. He didn't bother turning when the person sat next to him.

"Wow, you could see Cosmo Canyon from here," the person said.

To his surprise, it was Tifa sitting next to him. But there was something in her tone that implied to Cloud that there was something wrong. It was subtle, but he picked it up.

"Yeah," Cloud said, responding to Tifa' observation.

It was quiet for a while. Cloud noticed that her bright amber eyes had sunk to a dull brown. Her warm, humble smile was gone and replaced with a sad, indifferent smirk. Cloud wanted to ask what was wrong, but didn't want to intrude on her business.

"Cloud," Tifa said in a low voice, "where do you think dead people go when they die?"

"My mom told me there's a place beyond Nibel Mountain where dead people go," Cloud said, looking to Tifa.

"Really?" she asked.

"That's where she said my dad is,"

"You ever think of visiting your dad?"

"Sometimes, but mom tells me it's too dangerous on the mountain, and she said she would be sad if anything bad happened to me," Cloud explained.

"My mom's sick. I overheard the doctor tell my dad she might die," she started sobbing, "I don't want my mom to die. I love my mom." Tifa laid her head on Cloud's shoulder and softly began to cry. Cloud felt it was an awkward moment, and didn't know what to do. He thought he should at least say something. No exact words came to mind.

"Hey, what's this?" a voice yelled from below. "Look, Tifa's got a boyfriend!"

The rowdy comedian was Locke, accompanied by three other children. Locke was Tifa's friend who was a year older than Cloud and always had to be the center of attention. The boy had noticed Cloud and Tifa atop the water tower and saw an opportunity to make some fun.

"He's not my boyfriend!" She screamed at the top of her lungs. Cloud was taken back by her reaction. Tifa got up in a fury and began descending the water tower in a hurry. Locke, down below, went to meet her on the bottom, but as she touched the ground she stormed right passed him and her other friends. Cloud didn't quite understand her behavior. He assumed Locke's joke was poorly timed considering Tifa's mother was dying. Cloud personally felt Tifa overreacted.

Locke ran in front of Tifa to try and calm her down.

"Wait, Tifa," he said holding her back, "I was just kidding. I know you aren't interested in Cloud. I mean look at him."

Everybody looked high to the water tower and began to leer at the lone figure on top. Locke continued, "Who wants a scrub like that. He's all there by himself. It depresses me just to see it." The children started laughing at Cloud. Tifa gave a little chuckle, but didn't go wild like the others.

"C'mon you forgive me?" Locke pleaded

She thought a bit and finally said, faintly, "Okay."

Tifa, Locke and the rest of the crew left, but as they walked, Cloud overheard someone say, "Now that you mention it. Cloud is always by himself. Doesn't he have any friends?"

Another child said, "Of course not. Nobody wants to play with him. He's so weak that he can't even wrestle around without getting hurt."

Soon, they were all playing and forgot about what had happened back at the water tower. Unfortunately, Cloud didn't forget. He sat hugging his knees on the tower, still stunned by the way everybody laughed at him, especially Tifa. Even though they didn't talk much, Cloud considered her a friend. Possibly his only friend in Nibelheim.

Now it was the next day. Cloud finally decided to roll out of bed. Having had time to sleep on that unpleasant event, he made up his mind not to dwell on it. Tifa was unaware of Cloud's feelings and meant no harm. He staggered his way down stairs to eat his breakfast. His mom always made some good pancakes, which he was all too eager to devour. While walking to the kitchen, Cloud noticed his mother was nowhere to be found. The appetizing smell of hot syrup and orange juice struck Cloud's nose. He climbed onto the chair and began eating his breakfast. Cloud heard the front door open and then close shortly after. His mother stepped into the kitchen wearing her coat and holding a bag of groceries.

"Where'd you go, mom?" he asked while chewing on a big chunk of pancake.

"I went to get some things from the Item Shop," she said.

She set the bag on the kitchen counter. The mother sat in the chair across from her son. She smiled as Cloud hungrily ate his breakfast with teeth clenched for every bite. It reminded her of how a puppy chewed on hard kibble.

Her faced slowly turned grim, "You know, while I was buying these items, the clerk told me the sad fate of Mrs. Lockhart."

"Yeah, she's sick," Cloud explained.

"No. Cloud, Mrs. Lockhart died last night."

He stopped chewing his food, dazed by what his mother had just said.

"She was such a kind woman," his mother began to say, "I'm most worried about her daughter, Tifa. Such a cute child, and generous, too. Tifa would always help carry the groceries for her mother. Those two were inseparable. I'm sure Tifa must be taking the death hard."

Cloud's mother was correct about the relationship between the mother and daughter. Tifa loved her mother more than mere words could express. Cloud pushed his food aside and promptly got off the chair.

"Where are you going?" His mother asked.

"I have to see Tifa. I want to know if she's okay." Cloud said walking to the door.

She smiled and said, "Okay, dear. I'll keep an eye on your breakfast."

Chapter 2

The morning sun was slowly engulfed by the gray skies. Soon, the air itself seemed to whither and die. A cold, unforgiving wind blew through the deserted streets as Cloud walked to Tifa's house. He stopped at a distance from her home. His head shifted upward to Tifa's bedroom window. He noticed someone spying out the window looking at him. It wasn't Tifa. Cloud couldn't make out who the individual was, but he could plainly make out it was a boy. He thought that it could have been one of Tifa's friends. They had beaten him to her.

In Tifa' room, four of her friends had stopped by to comfort her over the death of the mother. Locke sat by the window where he noticed Cloud standing out in front of the house.

"Hey, its Cloud," Locke said, "I wonder what's his problem."

A girl by the name of Relm said, "He's weird. Why is he out there?"

Cloud didn't want to associate himself with Tifa's friends so he decided to catch her later. Maybe when she was alone, he thought. He turned and walked away.

"Cloud's leaving," Locke said.

Tifa sat curled in the corner of the room gently rocking back and forth. Her two other friends, Edgar and Sabin, sat by her. They tried their best to comfort her broken heart. Tifa's eyes were scarlet red as tears ran down her tender cheeks. She raised her head to look at everybody in the room. The children stood silent. Tifa appeared as if she had something significant to say.

"I have to see Mom," she said in a whimper.

"What are you talking about?" Sabin asked.

Tifa got up, "There's a place past Nibel Mountain where people go when they die,"

"Where exactly is it?" Asked Edgar

"I don't know, but I'll find it," she said with sure confidence.

"You can't, Tifa! It's dangerous," Relm said, urging her not to go.

"I have to see my mom. Even if I only get to be with her for minute. She wants to see me, too. I'm sure she'll be waiting for me." She walked out of her bedroom followed by Locke, Edgar, Sabin, and Relm trailing behind.

Cloud, not knowing what to do with himself, began to aimlessly walk the streets of the town. He pondered on what encouraging words he could use to ease Tifa's loss. Cloud came upon the Shinra Mansion on his venture through the town. Shinra, the powerful and corrupt corporation with a monopoly on Mako Energy, had built the mansion to house their corporate executives while they were on business in that region of the continent. Now it was rumored a Shinra scientist by the name of Professor Hojo inhabited the mansion along with some members of the secret organization known as the Turks. It was a mystery as to why they were there, and what it was they were doing. Cloud stood in awe at how lavish and enormous the mansion was. He heard little footsteps walking slowly behind him. The boy turned to find Tifa leading her friends up the dirt path into the Nibel Mountains. Neither of them noticed Cloud by the gates of Shinra Mansion, and so continued their trek to the mountain. Curiosity overwhelmed Cloud as he began following the group up the path. He didn't make his presence known to the others. Following from a distance, Cloud trailed them up the course.

The sky grew to a dark gray, almost pitch-black. Booming thunderous sounds echoed through the formless skies. All the children jumped at the shattering cry from above. Relm had had enough of Tifa's journey. The pathway had become more traitorous and the girl's feet began to hurt. She turned around and walked back to town without telling the others. She passed Cloud as he was making his way up. They made eye contact but nothing more. Relm was now gone. Cloud picked up his pace. The trail the children had been following soon disappeared, and now they walked the jagged steep mountain with no path for reference. Edgar and Sabin stopped. They looked at each other and decided to head back to Nibelheim. Both feared the excursion was becoming dangerous with each passing moment. They, too, left without telling Tifa or Locke. Cloud saw the brothers run past him, not even taking a moment to notice him. He had no idea why everybody was deserting Tifa, but he had no intentions of leaving her by herself. Locke also passed by Cloud as Tifa's last friend headed back to town.

She was now by herself. Tifa continued her journey, determined to reunite with her mother's soul on the other side of the mountain. Cold and bitter rain poured from overhead as thunder echoed in the miserable air. The jagged rocks glistened as the rain milled them, making climbing all the more difficult. Cloud lost sight of Tifa as she made it to the top of a small summit. He climbed as quickly as possible to reach the height with the icy rain striking his face like a thousand needles. Out of breath but still mobile, Cloud reached the top of the summit. Tifa was nowhere to be found. His heart started racing, fearing the worst.

"Help!" a voice yelled.

It was Tifa's voice. Cloud began looking frantically for her until he happened to find her hanging on the side of the mountain. The ground she had walked on collapsed from underneath, leaving her dangling for dear life.

"Tifa!" Cloud yelled to get her attention.

Tifa looked at him with her trembling eyes.

"Cloud?" she said, surprised to see him. "Please, help me!"

He stretched his cold hand out for her to grab. Tifa got a tight grip on his hand; just then, the little footing she had to keep her from falling gave way. Tifa dropped deeper along with Cloud in hand, but he was able to stop any further decent. The impending fall wasn't a straight vertical drop, but an incline made up of rock-strewn terrain. Vertical or not, Cloud wasn't planning on letting Tifa fall.

"Pull me up, Cloud! Quick!" Tifa cried.

Cloud's arm shot with pain as the blistering wind pounded his body.

"Please! Please, you can do it," she shrieked.

He wanted so desperately to pull her up, but wasn't strong enough. Cloud looked at Tifa and knew she was going to plunge. It was a futile moment for him. It made Cloud feel weak and helpless. The thought of letting her go and saving his own life crossed his mind. He quickly pushed that option out of his head. Cloud's grip on Tifa got tighter as his strength slowly left him. The rain became harder and colder. Sadly, Cloud's strength had now completely disappeared. Tifa plummeted down with Cloud hand in hand. The world seemed to go in slow motion as they fell down the steep inclined mountain. Their bodies were tossed like lifeless forms down the gravel plain. Lightning flashed a blinding light, and the sky went on fire with a brilliant flare. And then there was total darkness.

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