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Origin 

Childhood In Nibelheim

Cloud Strife was born in Nibelheim, a village in the mountains. His only friend while growing up was Tifa. Tifa and Cloud grow closer as friends while growing up, especially when Tifa and the other children decided to climb Mount Nibel. Tifa fell off a bridge, Cloud tried to save Tifa, but he was too late and both of them fell off the bridge. Cloud was able to survive with just a few scratches, but Tifa fell into a coma. When Tifa’s father discovers what had transpired, he blamed Cloud for almost killing his daughter. Afterwards, Cloud decided he wanted to become one of Shin-Ra’s best SOLDIER, just like Sephiroth. One year before Cloud left to train for Shin-Ra and become a SOLDIER, he met up with Tifa at the village water tower. There, Tifa made Cloud promise that he will protect her whenever she was in trouble. Eventually, Cloud would leave Nibelheim for training at Shin-Ra.

 

Training at Shinra

Years of training go by, and Cloud was still unable to become an elite SOLDIER. Instead, he became an ordinary Shin-Ra guard. Eventually, Cloud would be assigned on an assignment that takes him back to his home town Nibelheim. They were to investigate the Mako Reactor at Mount Nibel because it has been having some problems. Cloud was accompanied by the legendary Sephiroth and another first-class SOLDIER named Zack Fair. When Cloud arrived at Nibelheim, Tifa was anxiously waiting to see Cloud. However, he decided to hide himself by keeping his helmet on because he was ashamed to show himself as a low-class soldier to Tifa. They head straight to the Mako Reactor with Tifa as their guide. There, Sephiroth discovers the failed experiments and his mother, Jenova. Sephiroth began to fall into madness after discovering Hojo’s lost experiments and began reading the logs of Professor Gast (A Shinra researcher) at the Shin-Ra Mansion library. Sephiroth would then discover the basement in the Shin-Ra mansion and found more answers. He then proceeded to setting fire and destroying the village. Meanwhile, Cloud was able to just witness the death of his mother in the fire. He then headed to the Reactor to find out who did it. Finally arriving at the Reactor, he discovers Tifa and Zack wounded by Sephiroth. Cloud picks up Zack’s Buster Sword and angrily charges toward Sephiroth. Sephiroth was caught off guard and Cloud was able to stab him in the stomach, while Cloud was stabbed by Sephiroth’s sword too. Cloud was able to push Sephiroth off the cliff and into the Lifestream. After the incident, Shin-Ra created a cover-up for it. They replaced all the townspeople with Shin-Ra employees and imprisoned Cloud and Zack in the Shin-Ra mansion. They used Cloud and Zack in their experiments and injected them with mako and Jenova cells. 
Cloud receiving the Buster Sword


Cloud and Zack

Five years after being experimented on, Zack was eventually able to break Cloud and himself out. Cloud had Mako poisoning from the experiments, so Zack had to help Cloud escape. Zack planned to become a mercenary and offered Cloud to join him, but since Cloud was still poisoned he could not answer. While on their way to Midgar, Zack was finally defeated and shot to death by Shin-Ra agents. Cloud was left alone because he looked like he was going to die anyways.Cloud crawled over to Zack who used his final breathe to tell Cloud to live on as Zack's living legacy. The Jenova cells began to react, and it made him believe that Zack’s life and stories about being a First class SOLDIER were his own. Cloud then dragged the Buster Sword and headed towards Midgar. 

Final Fantasy 7

Cloud would arrive in Midgar and claimed to be an ex-SOLDIER and a mercenary for hire. There he reunited with Tifa and was introduced to Barret. Tifa recommended to Barret that they hire Cloud to join the AVALANCE group, Barret skeptically hires Cloud. Their first job together was to blow up one of the Mako Reactors. They were successful but Cloud was separated during the escape. Eventually Cloud would catch up to them and head back to Tifa’s bar. On the way, Cloud meets a flower girl named Aerith for the first time. He would finally arrive back at the bar and the AVALANCHE would plan their next mission. After they finish preparing and planning, they head to the next Mako Reactor. However, the President of Shinra would set a trap for them, and just as they were going escape after planting the bomb, they were attacked by a robot guard. They successfully defeat the guard but the explosion causes Cloud to fall off the upper levels and down to the slums. Cloud falls through a roof of a church and luckily, cushioned by a bed of flowers. There, he meets Aerith again and they talk for a while, then she tells him about her situation with kidnappers. Cloud agrees to be her bodyguard and escort her home. Just as they were about to leave, Shinra Turks arrive to try and capture Aerith. After Cloud was able to fend off the Turks, he agrees to take her back to Sector 7, her home. On their way back to Aerith's place, she remembers about her boyfriend that was a SOLDIER just like Cloud. After he was able to escort her home, Aerith asks her mother if she could take Cloud back to where he needed to go. They then headed for Tifa’a bar, however on the way the two discover Tifa being taken to an area in Sector 6 called Wall Market, infamous for criminal activities. They follow her but then she enters a building, Cloud and Aerith try to enter too but are rejected because Cloud is a man. Aerith then decides to dress Cloud up as a girl, and with that they were able to enter the crime lord Don Corneo’s place. They find Tifa in the basement and then proceeded to seducing Corneo to find out what Shinra’s plans were. They discover that Shinra already knows the location of AVALANCHE’s hide out and planned to blow up the upper level of Sector 7 to drop it on the slums below. Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa rush back to Sector 7 and battled Shinra to try and stop the explosion. However, they were unsuccessful and Shinra was able to blow up Sector 7 killing the entire population in the slums, including 3 AVALANCHE members, Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie. Shinra was also able to kidnap Aeris finally and took her back to their headquarters. Aerith was also revealed to be a decendant of an ancient race called the “Cetra.” Shinra believes that she is the key to taking them to the “Promised Land.” 

Cloud as he appears in Final Fantasy VII

 

Saving Aerith

Cloud, Tifa, and Barret are the only remaining AVALANCHE members alive. They began planning to infiltrate Shinra’s headquarters and rescue Aerith. The three of them travel back to Sector 6’s Market Wall and towards a giant wall. They climbed up the wall and were on private Shinra territory afterwards. They had to head up all the way to the top of the Shinra tower, and eventually made it to the lab that Aerith was held in. They rescue Aerith from a wolf, however the wolf was then revealed to be from an ancient race, and his name was Red XIII. Now with 5 people in a group, they decide to split into two groups and head for the exit. On the way out, Cloud discovers a headless Jenova and it terrified him. However, all of them would be captured and imprisoned shortly after. Everyone was tired so they all decided to sleep, Cloud would wake up in the middle of the night and discover his door opened. After stepping out of his cell, he discover his guard dead on the floor and horribly slaughtered.

Cloud wakes everyone up and they follow the blood trail to the top floor. They head into the president’s office and discover that he was stabbed in the back with Sephiroth’s sword. Cloud discovers that Sephiroth had said that he will not allow Shinra to find the Promise Land, and that the headless Jenova disappeared from the lab. He then hears a helicopter and head outside to see Rufus Shinra, the son of the president, fleeing the scene. Cloud tries to stop him in a battle, but was unsuccessful. Everyone else had already headed downstairs and Cloud would go after them after the fight with Rufus. Cloud finds a motorcycle while the group rode a truck. On the motorcycle, Cloud protected the group’s truck with his sword until they reached the outskirts of Midgar. 


Leaving Midgar

The group headed towards a nearby town called Kalm, and stayed at the local inn. There, Cloud tells his memories of what happened at Nibelheim, except that he was in Zack’s shoes. Tifa did not say anything because she was confused about Cloud’s memories. The group then decides to pursue after Sephiroth, where ever he is, and put a stop to whatever he is planning. Their first stop was at Junon, on the way to Junon they meet a young ninja named Yuffie. She is a ninja from the Wutai village, and at first she steals all the group’s materia. Eventually the group would get the materia back from Yuffie after they save her from Don Corneo. Yuffie decides to join the group and they finally arrive at Junon. They take the boat across the ocean and decided to travel to Nibelheim to find more answers. When they arrived at Nibelheim, they discover the people act like the Sephiroth incident never happened. They investigate the Shinra Mansion where they discover Vincent in the basement. All Cloud got at the mansion was more questions, as he begins to question his own memories. They then continue to search for Sephiroth, stopping by the Gold Saucer to rest and have a little fun. They then meet Cait Sith, a robot controlled by a Shinra employee. They would stop by Red XIII’s home town at Cosmo Canyon, where they learn more about Aerith’s Cetra race. Their next ally would be Cid Highwind, whom they meet at Rocket Town. With Cid they were able to use his plane for easier travel. They decide to travel to the Temple of the Ancients to find the Black Materia. Cloud was able to obtain the Black Materia, however, Sephiroth manipulated him into giving it to Sephiroth. Sephiroth reveals that his plan was to use the Black Materia to activate the Meteor ability, claiming that if he used the Meteor to injure the planet, it would force the Lifestream to heal the planet and therefore opening the Promise Land to him. 

The Death of Aerith

Afterwards, Aerith decided to leave the party and head over to the Forgotten City to stop Sephiroth’s plan. Cloud and company decide to follow Aerith to the ancient Cetra city. After entering the city, Cloud and the others discover Aerith praying to the planet, Sephiroth was hidden in the shadows and was trying to influence Cloud into killing Aerith himself. However, Could was able to resist Sephiroth’s influence, so Sephiroth decided to swoop down and stabs his sword through Aerith’s heart. As her white material fall into the water, Cloud rushes to her side. Sephiroth continues to taunt Cloud and then leaves him. Cloud takes Aerith into the lake and drops her in there for her burial. Afterwards, the group decides that they must kill Sephiroth to avenge her. 

Cloud's Suffering

While going after Sephirorth, he began playing mind games against Cloud and forced him to believe that he was not really human, but rather one of Professor Hojo’s experiments of Jenova. During this time, it was revealed what Jenova was and why it came to Earth. It also destroyed most of the Cetra race, and was the reason for the creation of the Weapons (The Weapons went into hibernation after Jenova was defeated). Sephiroth would be revealed to be a Cetra made of Jenova cells and is the reason why he went insane. When Cloud and company finally reach the Northern Crater to confront Sephiroth, he tells Cloud that he was not really at Nibelheim, and that his memories are of another 1st Class SOLDIER named Zack. Since Tifa had to confirm this, Cloud mentally breaks down and gives Sephiroth enough time to cast Meteor. The Weapons reawaken and the Lifestream appears. Cloud falls into the Lifestream shortly afterwards. The group would eventually find Cloud washed up onto a tropical island resort. There, they discover that he is in a catatonic state (A mental and physical illness that causes the individual to be mute and unable to move or make eye contact). Tifa stays behind to take care of him in his catatonic state. Meanwhile, the Weapons have declared everything a threat to the planet and began wrecking havoc, that havoc would lead to the island that the group was on, causing the island to split in half. Cloud and Tifa then fall into the Lifestream together, where she was able to help reconstruct Cloud’s memories and restore the missing pieces. Cloud now remembers that he is really human and he was at Nibelheim during the Sephiroth incident, but as a low class soldier. 


Sephiroth's Defeat

After Cloud reawakens, he learns that before Aerith died, she casted a spell called Holy to counter the Meteor. However, Sephiroth was able to focus on it and keep the spell from going into affect. They decided that the planet needs to be saved from the Weapons first, so the group teams up with Shinra to battle the Weapons. They succeed but many Shinra were killed in the process. Hojo is revealed to be Sephiroth’s father as Sephiroth was the unborn baby offered to be a Jenova experiment. However, when Hojo decided to try and take the Lifestream and use it for himself, Cloud and company had no choice but the kill him. Afterwards, the group travels through the mantle of the planet and arriving at the planet’s core. There, the entire group has to fight against a monstrous Sephiroth. After a hard fought battle, Cloud and company defeats a monster Sephiroth. However, Sephiroth was dead in body but his mind remained in the life stream. He called Clouds conciousness into the life stream for a final one on one battle. Cloud unleashes his Omnislash on Sephiroth, killing him which resulted in Holy being unleashed. With the help of the Lifestream, the Meteor was destroyed. Cloud caught Tifa before she could plunge into the abyss and the group escapes via Cid’s Highwind. Afterwords, the planet and its civilization begin the rebuilding process. 


Case of Tifa

After the events of Final Fantasy 7, Cloud has been living with Tifa in a city called Edge. After helping build the new 7th Heaven Cloud goes out in search of supplies. During this time he comes in possession of a new motorcycle. After this with Tifa's help he sets up the  “Strife Delivery Service” . They have also begin raising Marlene (Barret’s adoptive daughter) together.  Some time after setting up his delivery service Cloud gets an order to deliver flowers to Aerith's grave. This leads to him growing distant from Tifa and Marlene over time. Behind these actions are guilt associated with his painful memories of failing to protect those important to him including Zack and Aerith. During this depressions and his seeking forgiveness he finds Denzel and brings him home. Denzel suffers from Geostigma (called “Seikon Shokogun” in Japanese, translate to “Planet Scar Syndrome”). Both Tifa and Cloud feel Denzel was brought to them for a purpose. To absolve guilt for past sins. Tifa by raising him. Cloud by saving him. Thus Denzel Joins Cloud and Tifa's family. Cloud begins to reconnect with his family after the arrival of Denzel but in the course of making deliveries and looking for a cure for Denzel he also contracts Geostigma.  Cloud then disappears.    
 

Advent Children

 While he was out on a delivery, Cloud receives a call from Tifa telling him that Reno has a job for him. Cloud was standing on the outskirts of Midgar, the same place where Zack died and where he left the Buster Sword. Cloud tells Zack that he wanted to live his life for the both of them, then he headed to Reno. Cloud was then attacked by three mysterious strangers named Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. They claimed to be Sephiroth’s remains before he tried to jump into the Lifestream. Cloud was able to fend them off on his motorcycle, and the three would eventually leave. Kenshin finally arrives at the location Reno said. There he meets with Rufus who offers him the job to fight the three mystery men, but Cloud rejects the offer and leaves. Meanwhile, Kadaj and his brothers have been gathering children that are infected with Geostigma, one of which is Denzel. Tifa and Marlene went to the church to see if Cloud was there, however he was not. Tifa would encounter Yazoo and the two began fighting. Yazoo defeats Tifa in the end and takes Marlene and a chest full of materia. Cloud eventually returns back to the church, where he discovers Tifa had been beaten. However, Cloud could not do anything as the Geostigma began hurting him until he passed out. Cloud enters a white area and talks to Aerith, still trying to figure out a way to be forgiven. When he awakens, he realizes that the Turks helped him back to Tifa’s tavern, and learned that the children have been taken by Kadaj’s gang to the City of Ancients.
Cloud as he appears in Advent Children

After an argument with the Turks, then an argument with Tifa about not letting her help, Cloud rushes to the City of Ancients to rescue the children. There, he began battling all three of them, but quickly knew he was outmatched. Eventually, Vincent comes in and saves Cloud from getting killed. Marlene was able to escape and ran to Cloud, asking him to take her home. Cloud tries to get Vincent to take her home, but Marlene wanted Cloud to. Cloud then asks Vincent if it is okay to forgive himself, to which Vincent replies that he has never tried. Cloud then realizes that he should try to forgive himself first, and decides to take Marlene back home. When they arrive back at Edge city, Kadaj had just unleashed Bahamut on the city. Tifa, Cid, Barret, Yuffie, Vincent, Red XIII, and Cait Sith are all fight Bahamut when Cloud arrives. Cloud then takes on Bahamut one on one, the end result was Cloud slicing Bahamut in half, defeating him. After defeating Bahamut, Cloud goes after Kadaj, who just got his hands on the last remains of Jenova. 


Sephiroth's Resurrection and Death

Cloud races after Kadaj and his brothers on a motorcycle. Yazoo and Loz engage against Cloud on a motorcycle, Cloud would eventually hold them off long enough to let the Turks set bombs for them. After losing Yazoo and Loz off his tail, Cloud heads straight for Kadaj. He chases Kadaj to the church, where the Lifestream water was activated and healed his Geostigma. Cloud continues after Kadaj, and the two finally clash swords against each other. Cloud was able to beat Kadaj, but was not able to stop him from drinking the remains of Jenova as he fell off a tall building. Cloud charges at him but it was too late and Sephiroth was reborn. Cloud and Sephiroth have an epic battle against each other, destroy building after building. However, Sephiroth was just toying with Cloud, eventually stabbing him on the shoulder and pinning him to a wall. Sephiroth then asks Cloud what he cherishes most so that he can have the pleasure of taking it away. Angered by his words, Cloud is able to pull Sephiroth’s sword out of his shoulder and replies " I pity you, you just don't get it at all... There's not a thing I don't cherish! " Cloud then unleashes
Cloud performing the Omnislash Version 6
his “Omnislash Version 6” and slashes through Sephiroth. Cloud tells Sephiroth to stay where he belongs, in his memories, but Sephiroth promises that he "will never be a memory". Afterwards, Sephiroth disappears, leaving Kadaj to die. Kadaj hears Aeris’ voice whom he thinks is his mother. Kadaj then diffuses into the Lifestream along with his brothers. As for Cloud, Aerith and Zack does not allow Cloud to enter the Lifestream and he is taken back to the church. Back at the church, Cloud uses the Lifestream water to cure the Geostigma from Denzil and the rest of the children. After sharing a smile with Tifa, Cloud catches Aerith and Zack standing near the entrance, as Aerith walks away, she turns around and smiles at him, then leaves with Zack. Cloud is finally free from the guilty burden he had been carrying and returns home.

Power and Abilities

Due to experiments conducted on him by Shinra, Cloud has superhuman strength, speed, stamina and agility. Cloud strength is such that he is able to expertly wield the enormous Buster Sword, and the even larger First Tsurugi with one hand, and has shown the ability to slice through several metres of stone with one swing of his blade. His speed is slightly above peak human, and can be observed within the swiftness of his combat techniques. His stamina is so great that while infected with Geostigma, he was capable of battling the three Remnants of Sephiroth on equal footing, while it took only one to defeat Tifa Lockhart in hand-to-hand combat. His agility is enhanced to the point where he can perform feats of tremendous acrobatic prowess while fighting and riding a motorcycle simultaneously.
Additionally, Cloud is an expert swordsman, having defeated Sephiroth, arguably the most powerful being to have ever existed in the Final Fantasy VII Universe, twice in single combat. He has battled the three Remnants of Sephiroth at the same time on equal footing, whilst suffering from the debilitating disease known as Geostigma. Once cured of his Geostigma, he easily dispatched the impressive Kadaj.

He also also a superb motorcyclist, being able to combat Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo while driving at extremely fast speeds. Cloud has also shown the ability to use various Magic through the power of Materia. 

Analysis

Cloud's story is largely an Existential Bildungsroman. Cloud begins his life as a cheerful, but lonely youngster wishing to impress his only friend and romantic interest; Tifa Lockhart. He is demonised by his town for something he had no control over, causing him to feel somewhat worthless. Ultimately, this low self-worth caused Cloud to suffer an Existential crisis after the death of his friend Zack, who had asked Cloud to be his "living legacy". Cloud, rather than living his life honoring and remembering Zack, instead suffered a psychological breakdown and lived his life as Zack.

Cloud's personality continued to exist as fragmented pieces of consciousness, usually manifesting itself during dreams or times of great stress. Ultimately, Cloud rejects Zack's personality, and reaffirms his own existence. He is more reserved and retained his self-deprecating attitude, but he loved and protected his friends more fiercely after the ordeal, as it was him loving them not "Zack".

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