BioQuest: Sideways

Read how to join this choose your own adventure story here.
Read the previous chapter.

Like what you see? Leave me a tip on Ko-Fi or become a Patron!


Elizabeth didn’t have an exact count on how many people from the Family were with Grace, but she believed Grace wouldn’t let harm come to them. Even if they didn’t agree to the truce, she’d keep the peace. Elizabeth had to believe that.

“I have considered your offer, but I actually come here with one of my own.” She holstered her weapon, hearing Diane doing the very same behind her. If anyone recognized her in connection to Ryan, they didn’t mention it.

“We’ve made a truce with Ryan,” she started frankly, hoping that honesty would earn her some leniency. Elizabeth saw anger come to Grace quickly, spreading to the Family with her like wildfire.

“A truce with that monster! Like he cares what happens to the good people of Rapture,” she scoffed. “Throw your lot in with him if you like, but we–”

“Grace, please hear me out before you decide. I implore you,” Elizabeth begged, trying to pull this back from the brink. She only had this one chance. “This is our opportunity to bring peace to Rapture for everyone.”

Grace shook her head, scowl unwavering. “Peace? That animal doesn’t want any peace.” Muttering agreement rippled through the group beyond her. “How can you tell me about peace with Ryan when he holds Dr. Lamb, the one who really cares about us little people?”

bioshock rapture family

“We’ll talk to him about Dr. Lamb,” Diane interjected, stepping up to stand beside Elizabeth. “It’s the only right thing to do.”

It was a tall order, but they had to try it. And the fact that Diane came forward… Elizabeth couldn’t be happier. Her friend was finding the self-esteem to be brave when she had to be.

“You do that,” Grace bit back, but at least her expression had softened slightly. “But you hear this, and you remember it well: his answer is ours.”

“I understand,” Elizabeth nodded, taking the unspoken command to leave. Diane walked alongside her in silence until they were far enough from the Limbo Room for comfort when the radio she carried crackled to life.

“Zur Hölle fahren,” came the first distant words, and Elizabeth’s heart froze. Gunfire followed while Diane scrambled to get the radio where they could both speak into it.

“Tenenbaum! Can you hear me?” Elizabeth waited for what felt like ages in static.

“Yes, yes, I hear you,” she snapped back. “Scheisse.” More gunfire burst in the background. “Fontaine was watching us. With you both and Booker gone, he attacked.”

atlas fontaine bioshock

“Oh, oh no,” Diane worried, her brows furrowing. “What about the girls?”

“And Jack?” They only just opened up to one another, finally starting to date. She waited for him to ask, why did she do that? What if he was–

“We pushed him back. They’re safe, but not for long.” Static punctuated her sentence and it was all Elizabeth could do not to run off without a word.

“We’ll be there soon,” Elizabeth promised, rushing ahead as Diane hurried to keep up.

– – – Back at the clinic – – –

The first thing she heard was Jack biting back a scream, and Elizabeth couldn’t hold back anymore.

“Lizzie, wait,” Diane tried to shout, breathless, but with no luck in stopping her.

“Jack, where are you? Jack,” she called again, running through the second set of clinic doors to see him breathless, pale, and sweaty, leaning again a counter.

“H-here,” he forced out, wincing.

“Fontaine used a command, one I need Lot 192 to reverse,” Tenenbaum explained from her lab area. “Ryan hasn’t delivered, so we would have to go and get the supplies ourselves. But he can’t go anywhere.”

“I can–” Jack cut off in a horrid gasp, gripping the edge of the counter he was against. “I can go. I’ve had worse.”

“You aren’t convincing anyone, Jack,” Elizabeth said, tempted to be gentler but knowing she had to be honest first.

“I need the dose, or I’ll die waiting here for it. My heart is stopping every–” He cringed, eyes shut tight for a few seconds. “It’s stopping too often. I won’t make it unless I go too.”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

– – –

Suggestions from last chapter:

bioquest choices.jpg


To see more content like this regularly, please leave me a tip on Ko-Fi.

A Hero’s Burden: KH3 Spoilers

So I was doing some thinking on Luxu and Sora, and the parallels between them as protagonists of their own stories (though Luxu doesn’t have a game at the moment, of course)… And how much I’d love to analyze that like the nerd I am. And here we are!

Luxu

Sadly, there’s not much on Luxu himself before he returns as Xigbar. But I can glean some information from The Case of Luxu!

And yeah, he’s not exactly a hero, per se, but he’s got a quest and a mentor and bear with me here

The Gazing Eye

kingdom hearts back cover luxu.jpg

The Keyblade he was given didn’t have a name, but Luxu assumed this was its name. It’s something both literal and philosophical— there is literally an eye in it and it gives MoM the ability to see into the future.

And once he’s told it has no name, he repeats “No Name” with a breathless interest, giving the Keyblade a closer look. It’s safe for us to assume, then, that he’s a philosophical person who looks for deeper meaning in things and that he also reveres the Master of Masters like all the Foretellers do.

Whatever he told Luxu, the seventh member would have been interested and sought depth in the message he was given— whether it was there or not.

EWWW

But when he’s told that it’s the Master’s eye, he recoils and says “ew” immediately. From his voice here in particular, we can assume Luxu was young. Perhaps Sora’s age at Kingdom Hearts 1, but likely a little bit older.

Here’s where it gets interesting, though. When MoM asks him accusingly if he thinks that’s gross, Luxu hesitantly answers, “N-no.” He holds his hand out towards MoM in a disarming gesture, looking a little crestfallen.

So even though he just said Ew and clearly thinks it’s gross, he said he didn’t. Why lie? Based on his body language, he either didn’t want to disappoint MoM or didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Later in life, I would call that a manipulation, but Luxu’s overall sincerity and inability to hold back his emotional responses here (such as recoiling and saying ew), I think it’s truly a little bit of both.

His Role

kingdom hearts back cover luxu box.png

When he’s told his role, he makes the connections quickly— his role is what allows the Book of Prophecies to exist. Luxu is smart, but for now, he tends to think in linear patterns. As most people do.

MoM tries to congratulate him on a job well done, but Luxu only said, “But I haven’t done anything yet.” This is a far cry from his actions as Xigbar, who sits on ceilings and casually warps space regularly while also helping out with some heart science and time travel.

The first step of his role was the most brutal, which I’ll expand on in this next section.

Luxu’s Disposition

Given how jumpy he can be, he’s likely kept to himself for the most part in his youth, possibly even being distrusting.

At one point, MoM says bingo and points in Luxu’s face and the younger man jumps and draws back to get some distance between them. This tells me Luxu dislikes sudden movements and people being in his space.

That said, all the Foretellers knew who he was even when he was Xigbar and presumably didn’t look like himself. So they knew him well enough to recognize his heart regardless of its vessel, at least.

His isolation during his role that took literally hundreds of years to see to fruition did not do him any favors in this regard. Especially considering he didn’t want to go alone and asked if he really had to, even wondering aloud what the other Foretellers would be doing.

With that and his eagerness to help MoM when pulling out the box, I think it’s a fair claim that Luxu doesn’t necessarily like people, but he’s loyal to those who are close to him. He dismissed his Keyblade the second he realized MoM was struggling with the box, running over to help him even though the job was mostly done.

And his promise to not open the box if he was told what was inside was softly spoken, but sincere, further cementing the notion that he’s devoted to those he already holds close.

But he’s also very curious and loves to push boundaries. If he’s told no, it just makes him want to do whatever it is more. Like not knowing what was in the box paired with not being able to open it made him really want to know what was inside.

And even when MoM told him what was in the box, he wanted to know why. This driven curiosity carried over to his time as Xigbar in the most destructive of ways, where learning secrets was worth nearly any cost.

His Descent

When he was told to just stand by and watch “as things unfold between the others”, the direct instructions from MoM, it was probably actually difficult to do. See them turning on one another, these people that he cared about and trusted, and worse yet— they were bringing the whole world down with them.

It’s no wonder that he grew to value emotional ties so little. It was those ties, their hearts, that led them so wrong. This affirmed that Luxu was right to distrust people, even friends, and that was the start of his descent down a slippery slope.

And now I draw my parallel.

With Sora!

sora riku soriku kingdom hearts

He’s curious, competitive, thoughtful, and loyal. Sora values his friends above all else and there’s nothing he won’t do for them.

To someone like Luxu, who started his journey by watching his friends destroy each other and the lives of those around him, it must be hard to see someone with a good deal in common with his younger self.

Sora also watched one of his friends turn on him, even going so far as to make him feel worthless.

But he was able to act. He wasn’t confined to a role. Sora stepped in and didn’t lose faith in his friends. Whether Luxu thinks he’s a fool who only put off the inevitable betrayal or resents him for being able to save the people he cared about (or a third option I can’t see yet), Sora is a reminder of how Luxu used to be.

Worse, how he could have been.

Then you get into meta narrative bits, like Kairi and Riku either expressly telling Sora or implying that he should never change.

As Sora battles with his insecurities, especially in KH3, it’s possible for him to go down a similar path as Luxu and lose his hope and optimism. For someone like Sora, that would make him change completely.

I can’t say that Kairi and Riku knew that was a risk or if Nomura is teasing that option with Sora. But I personally find it interesting that Luxu can be paralleled with Sora, at least with how they began their journeys, and I hope it is highlighted in some future game or DLC.

But most of all, I hope you had fun reading this!

Hearts’ Reunion: Zemyx

“I’m sorry you had to see me that way, Demyx,” Ienzo explained. It wasn’t much of a greeting for their agreed upon “chat” in the labs, but it had to be said sooner rather than later. Demyx seemed uncomfortable in the moment between Ienzo and Ansem the Wise, and it took Demyx speaking up for him to even realize that. Ienzo shook his head at such a serious oversight. And to think he believed he’d improved so much in understanding social cues since recompletion. He was proud of it, even.

“Nah, it’s no big deal,” Demyx dismissed with a wave, or as much of one as he could manage with two cups in his hands. Thick straws jutted out of the plastic film covering them and dark spheres sat at the bottom inch or two. Ienzo eyed the drinks, glancing up to Demyx questioningly. This was not part of their plans for this reunion and he couldn’t resist his curiosity.

A trait Demyx knew well from his regular visits to see him in the castle labs. He avoided his missions at all costs, but Demyx certainly always found time for social calls… Which led to their friendship and eventually evolved into something quite a bit more despite their lack of hearts. Pushing that thought away for now, Ienzo drew himself back to the present and willed his mind to stay on track.

“I just wasn’t really sure how to handle it. And, uhh, the others might’ve caught on if I dragged my feet.” After a thoughtful pause and a pout, he laughed. “Eventually. And Vexen, man, he is a terrible liar! He’d probably get me into more trouble with whatever story he cooked up.”

Ienzo chuckled at the thought. Even could keep his fair share of secrets, but it’s true that he had insufficient skills in impromptu lies. Given time to plan, at least, Even could deceive as well as any of them. But he had another question to address. “Demyx, what are those…?” He pointed to the cups and Demyx started as if he had completely forgotten they were there. Perhaps he had.

“Oh! Right!” He offered one to Ienzo, smiling from ear to ear. “You gotta try this! There’s a world out there with this stuff called bubble tea,” he answered with a shake of the cup he held out. The black orbs in the bottom jostled about to demonstrate his point that they were the reason for the name. Rather, Ienzo presumed that was the case. “I wanted to surprise ya, so I went with something I thought you’d like.”

“Thank you, but,” he trailed off, folding his arms as he examined the drink. “What is it, exactly? You’ve brought me a fair share of tea, but never anything like this.”

“I found it out—” Demyx cut himself off with a grumble, frowning. “Doing stuff.” Ienzo raised an eyebrow at that. Had Demyx taken up pretending his missions with the Organization didn’t exist? They were both well aware that he’d been deceived back into their ranks, so there was nothing to benefit from acting as though that wasn’t the case.

“It’s tea with some flavored milk, sugar, and they let you put a buncha stuff in it. I stuck with the classic chewy tapioca because the popping boba has this little flim that gets stuck in your teeth, and it’s just kinda weird. Still fun, though, you gotta try that next,” he ended through a giggle.

“Well, thank you,” Ienzo accepted, taking the cup from Demyx. “And now that we’re… getting to chat, I have some questions for you.”

“Huh?” Demyx fiddled with the straw in his cup, angling for the tapioca. “Umm, sure. Shoot.”

“The time at the castle… When we were both with the Organization, I…” Ienzo idly moved the cup around in his hands, busying himself to steady his mind. “Did it mean something to you?” It came out harsher than he meant it to. But what other way was there to ask and get an honest answer?

“You mean dating?” Demyx had a sip of his drink at the single worst time for Ienzo’s nerves, meeting his distressed gaze over the tea. “Aaah. I mean, sure. Even if it was in secret and all, like you wanted, I really lo— Sorry, sorry. I really like you.”

Ienzo sighed in relief, but it seemed there were more problems to resolve. “You can say love, Demyx. And I’m sorry I told you that you couldn’t before. Without believing I had a heart, I…” He shook his head, staring down at his untouched tea. “That was in the past, I suppose.”

Demyx watched him hopefully, brow furrowed but his smile intact. “Right, gotcha. I, uhh, I love you, so yeah, it, umm, it meant a lot to me, Zexion.”

“Please, call me Ienzo,” he diverted, not prepared for his confession even though he had prompted it. “I acknowledge that I am responsible for my actions as a Nobody, but I am using my human name now, and I… I love you as well.” To preoccupy himself, Ienzo finally had a sip of the tea. “Oh, this is delicious.”

“Ha! Called it!”

BioQuest: Meet the Family

Read how to join this choose your own adventure story here.
Read the previous chapter.

Like what you see? Leave me a tip on Ko-Fi!


Hearing Booker out about the plan to save McDonough, Elizabeth planted her hands on her hips thoughtfully. “Can you do that on your own?”

And Booker scoffed, wrapping up his work on his gun. “Of course. I take plenty of jobs like this.”

She couldn’t stop a smile at how proud he was of it. A far cry from when they first met and he talked like a ruffian who went about killing people for sport. …Which was not as far from the truth then, Elizabeth supposed, and pushed that thought aside. “Just… Please be careful, Booker.”

booker dewitt bioshock.jpg

“I should say that to you,” he shot back matter-of-factly, holstering his weapon and turning to her. “The Rapture Family was unhinged before Lamb was imprisoned in Persephone. Now?” He shook his head. “They’ll be in a rage the second you even ask about making peace with Ryan.”

“Which is why I’ll strike a deal, and I won’t go alone.” Her smile took on a smug edge, which Booker answered with a sigh. Elizabeth hoped he’d finally come to accept or at least resign himself to the fact that her mind was made up. “I’ll take Diane with me.”

bioshock diane mcclintock.jpg

“Diane?” His skepticism was clear as day, of course, and he evidently wasn’t alone in it. Diane fumbled with what she had been doing, managing to avoid dropping anything– narrowly.

“Me? Oh, Lizzy, I’m flattered, but I don’t know,” she started, worry taking over her expression in a pout. “Jack taught me to shoot and all, but do you really think I’m the right one for this?”

“Yes, I do.” Elizabeth insisted, sure and correcting. “You’re like them, Diane. Ryan promised everyone on the surface that they’d have a better life in Rapture, and now they’re trapped down here. They’ll listen to you because you understand what they’ve been through like no one else can.”

“If you say so, it must be the case,” Booker agreed, his cynical frown softened by a hint of trust.

“Well,” Diane thought out loud. A smile snuck up on her and she drew herself up. “Well, alright then. I’ll just be a second.”

— Outside The Limbo Room —

“It’s closed,” Diane whispered as Elizabeth put her hand against the door. She’d never been to the Limbo Room, but she heard of it from plenty of their patients back at the clinic. It provided a lot of solace in these dark days– and now it had closed its doors.

“Well now,” a woman’s voice cut through the stale air, and Diane stood beside Elizabeth with her hand on her holster. “What’ve we got here, gents?” A few men, sickly with splicing, trailed after her. They either had wrenches or pistols, but all of it was bad news. It was four against two.

“Brunette looks like the pretty one Atlas tol’us about,” one of the men said through a dark laugh. And shortly after, a gunshot took him down.

The reaction was immediate. Atlas’ people went on alert to find out who attacked them, conveniently forgetting about their original targets. Diane shot one and Elizabeth, the other, but the woman escaped in the scuffle.

“She’ll be telling Atlas, no doubt.” Elizabeth turned to the voice to see Grace reloading. “I can’t stand all this violence, but these brutes give us no choice.” She gave Diane a skeptical glance, but in the end, she settled on smiling at Elizabeth. “Have you considered my offer, then?”

Gradually, Elizabeth became aware of people from the Family also standing guard with Grace. They nodded or didn’t acknowledge them at all, but… Elizabeth had received far less friendly invitations.


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

– – –

Suggestions from last chapter:


To see more content like this regularly, please leave me a tip on Ko-Fi.

BioQuest: Coming Storm

Read how to join this choose your own adventure story here.
Read the previous chapter.

Like what you see? Leave me a tip on Ko-Fi!


Relief washed over the clinic collectively once Ryan and Sullivan left. And as much as Elizabeth knew that she had to see Grace and the Rapture Family as soon as possible, she wanted to take this opportunity to check in with those she considered family.

Who knew when that would happen again?

She pushed aside the nagging thought, walking over to Jack by the doorway leading out of the clinic. His expression softened as her hand rested on his arm, and she revelled again in the good that came of all this– they were dating.

And by pure circumstance, Booker already knew about it (saving her the anxiety of that discussion even if she knew he’d approve). It hardly seemed real, which was almost comedic given everything else that had happened.

“Jack,” she asked the unspoken question. So much changed in a matter of hours and most of it impacted him directly.

Art by Neon Bairon on dA

“I’m alright.” He smiled, putting his hand on hers. “Better than alright. I’ve reconnected with my mother, and now we have the chance to unite Rapture and end the bloodshed. Plus, I have you at my side,” he rushed, his nerves winning over his confidence. Elizabeth chuckled, glad for the attempt regardless.

“You’re sweet,” she consoled him from his embarrassment. “And I know we can see this through together.” Feeling bold, Elizabeth kissed him on the cheek and earned a bright smile from him– and Diane over his shoulder– before she made her way to Booker.

He was working on his gun with his back turned to the group, a sure sign he didn’t want to be bothered. Which was too bad for him because Elizabeth wasn’t taking no for an answer at the moment. There simply wasn’t time for that now.

“Elizabeth,” he sighed in begrudging acceptance. “Congratulations on finally moving forward with Jack.” He set part of his gun aside, though she wasn’t sure which part it was.

“Seems you didn’t inherit your mother’s nature to take the first step. Unless it comes to hitting me with a wrench,” he tacked on sarcastically, though without malice. “That, you can do with no trouble.”

“Har har,” Elizabeth deflected, crossing her arms with a teasing smile. “You know that’s not why I’m over here.”

“I imagine not,” he answered, letting her take the floor from there.

“With Sullivan… What were you two whispering about?”

Booker set the gun down on a nearby desk, turning to her with a grimace. “Nothing pleasant.” It was a warning rather than avoidance for a change, and her silence was his go-ahead.

“Ryan’s gone mad with power, everyone knows it.” Booker stared off in the direction they left in as if his disdain could still reach him. “He had Sullivan murder an artist, for Christ’s sake.”

Booker had no love or respect of artists, especially those in Rapture, but at least he wasn’t behind their arbitrary murder. Well– he’d probably allow the murder of Cohen. Elizabeth waited silently for Booker to continue, and he obliged.

“This Culpepper woman was supposedly in league with Atlas,” he explained, obviously skeptical. “Not that Ryan has any proof but a random conversation they had over a year ago that could’ve been with any Anna in Rapture.”

In that instant, she remembered– when they had made their stand against Fontaine that let him fake his death and she spoke to Ryan on the radio, giving her name as Anna. Unable to fight the habit, her hand went to her short pinky and she ran her fingers over the metal cap.

Bless him, Booker badly pretended not to notice and dropped the subject. “It’s weighing on him because, like every soul trapped down here, this isn’t what he signed up for. The next target from Ryan is Bill McDonough, one of the few truly good men on Earth.”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows at that. It wasn’t easy praise from Booker, who generally assumed everyone was terrible.

“He’s got it in his head to kill Ryan, and of course Ryan knows it. There’s not a damn thing Sullivan can do,” he sighed, picking up the pieces of the gun again to do something with his hands. “But if a third party were to step in before Sullivan’s men got to him, and if that party had an agreement with Ryan, well… That’d change things.”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

– – –

Suggestions from last chapter:


To see more content like this regularly, please leave me a tip on Ko-Fi.

BioQuest: Contract

Read how to join this choose your own adventure story here.
Read the previous chapter.

Like what you see? Leave me a tip on Ko-Fi!


Tenenbaum pushed her way forward, crossing her arms once she was in front of Sullivan and Ryan. “Jack may care only for the people of Rapture, but we don’t work for free. Our price for this bargain is all the chemical supplies and equipment given to Suchong, or there is no deal.”

Jack’s gaze went to the new desk to replace the one she found Suchong on– and his eyes were faraway. Elizabeth wanted to reach out to him, but with the present company… She stepped towards them as well, drawing herself up.

“And as Sullivan himself knows, we are worth any price. I’ll be your liaison to the Rapture Family,” she explained, firm but calm. “It’s a pleasure to work with you, Mr. Ryan.” And Elizabeth offered her hand with a small smile.

“But it doesn’t have to be,” Booker tacked on, making his point known. Sullivan pointed a half-hearted glare at him, at any rate.

And yet… Ryan smiled, taking Elizabeth’s hand. “I enjoy your proud, entrepreneurial spirit. Let’s see you make good on your word.”

BioShock_Infinite_Burial_at_Sea_-_Episode_1_Trailer

The next few moments passed quickly but awkwardly as Ryan stepped out of the clinic while Sullivan and Booker exchanged harsh whispers and the rest of them comforted the patients at the clinic.

Elizabeth hadn’t expected his agreement to be so easily acquired, though she expected the skeptical comment at the end… Ryan really had latched onto Jack. It was a miracle he was letting him remain here instead of moving him elsewhere. As if Jack would allow that, of course.


What do you want to do, Elizabeth / Tenenbaum?

– – –

Suggestions from last chapter:


To see more content like this regularly, please leave me a tip on Ko-Fi.

Cloud Strife Analysis

Happy birthday, Cloud!

To celebrate his existence, I figured I’d do my thing and analyze his personality.

Of course, please be aware…
Spoilers Ahead

cloud-strife-advent-children-anime-cloud-ffvii-strife.jpg

A lot of strange wibbly wobbly science/magic things happen to Cloud at the end of Crisis Core and through FFVII, so the best place to begin is naturally the start.

Nibelheim
His friendship with Tifa sheds a lot of light onto who Cloud was growing up and how he differs from the larger personalities found in the FFVII cast.

His father died when he was young and aside from Tifa, he didn’t have any friends. In a discussion Cloud has with her about his childhood, he said, “Later, I began to think I was different… That I was different from those immature kids [her friends]”.

There is a crossroads here for his thoughts behind this sentence – either he really believed them to be immature or he rationalized that he was better than them to cope with his difficulty making friends.

Based on the loss of his father at a young age and his continuing desire to be better throughout the series, I’m inclined to believe it was a rationalization to help himself adjust to his struggles in making friends.

The issue with that being that instead of trying to make friends in his own way, as he did with Tifa, he convinced himself he didn’t need them – that he was better than the rest. This further increased the divide between him and other people, and his ability to socialize and connect to other people took a fairly serious hit.

But it also put greater value in the friendships he did have. So when Tifa’s mother died and she tried to see her by crossing Mt. Nibel, Cloud followed her to keep an eye on her.

This was another formative moment for him because when she misstepped and he tried to catch her, they both fell. He was unharmed and she was in critical condition.

The village believed it was Cloud’s idea to go up the mountain and as a result, her father wouldn’t even let Cloud go near her. The only friend he had.

He tried to be the hero and do the better thing, and it all fell apart. For someone who suffered loss at a young age and coped by thinking he was better than others his age, this was even more devastating.

The harsh realization that he wasn’t as good as he thought (with such severe consequences) combined with the rejection from everyone in the village was sure to wreak havoc on 10-year-old Cloud’s psyche. And so he developed a temper problem and began picking fights with little to no provocation.

SOLDIER
Four years later, word of Sephiroth’s reputation reaches Nibelheim and 14-year-old Cloud, who is still in the throes of self-blame and puberty.

Hearing about such a legend re-inspired Cloud to become the superior person he used to think he was, in my opinion, and with so few personal ties to Nibelheim – of course he left for glory in SOLDIER.

To reinforce that theory, Cloud arranged to meet Tifa at the village’s water tower to say he was leaving and promised to save her if she ever found herself in trouble.

It’s strong evidence that he still blamed himself for her injury and that drove his need to be better – so he’d never fail someone he cared about like that again.

Taking a step back and viewing this as a writer, that’s what I love most about Cloud. He’s relatable. Zack is insanely charming, Angeal is dad-wise, Genesis is extra fab, and Sephiroth is actually superhumanly powerful. Cloud is there to aspire to greatness as a Shinra Infantryman.

His honest ambition to improve humanizes the story and makes it more accessible than having the top tier people of Midgar alone.

Return to Nibelheim
After befriending Zack, Cloud sees him about once a year for missions – one of which was when he was 16 and involved an investigation of a reactor on Mt. Nibel.

Cloud still feels ashamed of not being SOLDIER, not being better, and he hides his identity from everyone but his mother… But the most important aspect of this mission is his confrontations with an unstable Sephiroth.

The first time, he’s knocked out by Genesis and becomes angry that he failed again. Everything he wants to be is escaping him, and since he holds himself to such a high standard, he’s bound to frustrate himself.

Cloud is steeped in that bitter anger when Sephiroth burns down his home town, killing his mother, and Cloud finds him with a heavily injured Tifa and barely conscious Zack…

It’s the worst moment of his life that he can’t forgive himself for, only worse, and this is a chance to finally do it right, be the hero he wants to be.

He ambushed Sephiroth, stabbing him with the Buster Sword, and going back for his two friends. This is a proud moment for him, what he’s aspired to be was finally within his grasp. His friends were in danger and he saved them from Sephiroth. The Sephiroth.

So when Sephiroth returns and lifts Cloud up on his sword, ready to kill him, this stepped on years of rage at failure, inadequacy, and a powerful need to protect the ones he cares about.

That’s where the strength came from for Cloud to use the katana as leverage to throw Sephiroth into the Mako pit… Before falling unconscious, of course, because he’s got his limits.

After that point, he spends about a year as a Mako poisoned vegetable, so that’s the end of this analysis… Although I hope you enjoyed the read! Questions, comments, etc., go for it!