For current and prospective patrons, just a reminder that there’s one day left to vote in this month’s poll.
Details on the original works listed:
For current and prospective patrons, just a reminder that there’s one day left to vote in this month’s poll.
Details on the original works listed:
To celebrate his existence, I figured I’d do my thing and analyze his personality.
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.
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.
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!
Vincent frequented the forest that Kadaj and his kind ran their operations in — first, for the solitude. Eventually, it became for the victims out there who caught themselves in their net with no one else looking for them. There could be no redemption for him. Nothing would change what was. But there was a future for those suffering from the stigma and if he knew Cloud, there was someone else out there making a stand as well. How could he do any less?
He did not sign up for this, however.
“Tseng, is he—” How Elena dragged herself and Tseng to his hideout, or even knew where to find him, was a mystery. She teetered, half-dead and somehow still conscious, catching herself on a pile of crates. Who knew what was even in them. “—I’m okay, I’m okay.”
Vincent lifted Tseng, unconscious and pale but alive, and carried him to a bench in the abandoned stone church he’d made into his quarters. Elena trailed after him, guiding herself on whatever was near her path to Vincent and Tseng. Her stubbornness and sheer determination… They often reminded him of someone he would never forget. Dangerous waters. “We are both aware that you’re not. What’s happened to you two?”
She eyed the neighboring bench, deciding against having a seat and instead leaning against the back of another bench to prop herself up. “Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. We were caught.” She tore off a tattered piece of her own sleeve, holding it against one of her graver injuries with a small wince. Even in the low light Valentine preferred, Elena had an unhealthy sheen on her skin. “They wanted it. Jenova’s head. They tortured us both. Is he…?”
“Unconscious, but he has a pulse.” Vincent went to the stock of potions and other restorative supplies he had, taking back a collection for Tseng and Elena alike. He held out one of the blue bottles to Elena, meeting her weary gaze from the corner of his eyes. “For you.”
“So generous,” she teased, even now, and put the scrap of fabric in her pocket while she took the bottle from him. For Tseng, it would not be so simple since he was not awake. Vincent would need to heal him with salves and materia instead. She downed her potion quickly, punctuating it with a sigh. “An X-potion,” she observed with a note of surprise.
“Hm,” Vincent acknowledged, treating Tseng’s wounds and seeing a flicker of pain that pierced through his unconsciousness. “You should rest.”
Elena laughed, a delicate brightness in this dark place. Few could muster the strength to laugh after all she’d been through today alone. Vincent glanced to her again and she settled in close to him and Tseng. “Thanks, by the way. I really had no idea where to go.”
“How did you even find me?” Vincent hadn’t planned on asking, but the alternative was to let Elena choose the subject. Silence was not an option with her present.
“Turk instincts,” she remarked, tapping her temple and smirking. Her hair hung partly in her face as always, though it was now matted with sweat and dried blood. No potion could fix that. She was certainly a sight.
He breathed something akin to a laugh.
“What do you know,” she teased, resting back against the bench and placing the empty potion bottle an arm’s length away. “He can laugh.”
The stillness of night imbued the church with a peace even with the company and conversation it was so unused to housing. Or perhaps that was his concern alone. Elena’s wounds had closed, though the ones she first incurred in her torture still remained — either as they were or as scars. One raw injury traced along the soft curve of her cheek, jagged and dark red. He could see a redness around its edges that suggested the cut had been even worse before the potion. What could possibly cause such an injury… Vincent was certain he did not want to know. Even if he had, he wouldn’t put Elena through an explanation. Part of him considered offering her comfort. Mercifully, the impulse passed quickly.
“Did they mention why they wanted the head? To torture you both so brutally,” he thought aloud and stood. He wasn’t sensitive to the cold as much as he had been before the experiments conducted on him, but he assumed the two of them would prefer blankets. Among the supplies he held here for other victims, Vincent was certain there were at least two they could use until they recovered enough. Being Turks, they would of course be on their way the moment they could stand unassisted. Given where his thoughts were taking him today, it would be best for him that they did.
“I’ve seen your record. You still have clearance, so…” She sighed, leaning forward once more. Her movements were stiff, but they were steadier than they had been prior. At least any other terrible decision she made that day would be done in mostly working condition. “I guess I can tell you. They want Jenova’s legacy, the Sephiroth gene.”
Lucrecia, growing with child, but sickly from experiments. The argument with Hojo concluded with a gunshot; how was Vincent outdrawn by such a man? Pain blossomed in fragments across his chest. Consciousness came and went as the experiments on his body continued and ultimately failed — he was not dead, but neither was alive.
She saved him. He woke up on an operating table in her lab, tormented and enraged, from all of it. Her suffering. The experiments she had been subjected to. His powerlessness to stop any of it. This was his punishment for being unable to protect her and her unborn baby from their fate at the hands of Hojo.
He tensed, drawing himself to the present with a bitter and familiar taste of regret in his mouth. If Elena noticed, she wasn’t letting it on.
“I figure they want to re-create Sephiroth, but with all the talk of their ‘mother’,” she muttered, staring off into the shadows of his shelter. Having found the blankets as she spoke, Vincent returned to the sudden patients taking shelter with him. “Who knows anymore?”
“You had it coming, then,” Vincent deadpanned and laid a blanket over Tseng while she attempted to break up the mats in her hair. “You knew the danger when you took the head.”
“Of course we did,” she answered matter-of-factly as if it were nothing more serious than the weather. She tucked her hair behind her ear, evidently successful in detangling it enough for that. It was as if she wasn’t at the gates of death mere minutes ago. He could hardly be surprised. There was very little that Elena could not accomplish through her tremendous force of will. “We’re Turks. That is our actual job, Vincent. And we get paid well for it.”
Her gaze turned to Tseng as he shifted, settling in under the blanket. If nothing else, he had relaxed and gotten some of his color back. A regular person would take days to recover, but a twenty-minute nap ought to suffice in his case.
“I’ve done what I can for him.” Vincent held out a blanket to her, which she took with a smile. A familiar feeling rised to the surface… One he would not pursue — a final transgression he could spare himself and Lucrecia from. “We’ll just have to see.”
Days passed unremarkably. The situation had quieted, though who could say how long that peace would last. With Cloud and company, it was never a permanent state. He was only disrupted by a package brought by a teenager with a messenger bag and a jagged scar on her face.
Inside the battered package, a phone with a default set-up screen displaying was waiting for him. The protective case was a dark red with black accents, certainly not a mistake on her part. He didn’t even need to read the note to know the sender.
I heard from a little bird that you don’t have a phone yet. I programmed my number in already. Don’t worry, it’s private — not Turk-issued. And don’t be a stranger!
She had no idea how long the three men had kept her and Tseng there. An hour, maybe. They had only just delivered Jenova’s head to a secure location, and already they were captured and tortured to find it.
She stopped for a moment, breathless and exhausted but — she couldn’t stop now. Elena slammed her foot against the rusted hinge of her cell door for the millionth time, getting a shout that wasn’t Tseng’s for a change.
“Would you just shut her up!” It must have been the other skinny one with longer hair, not the one in charge. Yazoo, based on reports.
Taking a few shaky breaths, she yelled back. “Come in here and make me!” She’d broken the chair in there hours ago trying to make a weapon, and it worked.
They wouldn’t expect her to have a sharp chair leg when they came in. Hopefully it was Loz, the big quiet one. A surprise attack was her best bet in taking him down.
Loz hovered by the barred window in the doorway, grunting in acknowledgement. Elena hid the makeshift weapon behind her, unwilling to put it down. She’d need every second.
“What’s the matter?” Her muscles screamed, pain signalling everywhere from her first round of torture. She wasn’t foolish enough to think it was the last. “Scared of an opponent who isn’t restrained?”
Just open the door. A few seconds passed and he stepped back, walking away. “Coward! Get back here!” With each word, she beat against the door again, looking for any weak point.
They would get out of here. She rested her forehead against the cool metal of the door, just catching her breath. Only for a second. Tseng needed her.
They would get out of here. No matter what it took.
The holidays. A time for ones you love to gather and celebrate their time together. Vincent reached out to the window he sat beside, opening it and letting in the cold with the songs, laughter, and smell of feasts for families large and small.
It was the closest he would come to the festivities.
“Lucrecia,” he broke the silence of his latest retreat. Somehow, Cloud convinced him to move closer to the others after the geostigma was cured. Maybe a sign of the blond’s close call with the disease which lead him to be closer to those he cared for… In theory, that was Vincent too.
But Vincent had a memory to keep safe. Of her. “I’m sorry.” She was the reason he lived at all. If she couldn’t be there, smiling, laughing, accepting a dance… Vincent couldn’t go. The hand-drawn invite from Marlene laid flat on the table next to an empty wine glass.
Hours passed that way, the cold pervading the room. He never felt it that much, not after what he’d become.
“–cent!” He sat up slightly at the woman’s voice, looking just over his cloak’s collar and the sill to a blond bundled up with some sort of gift in her hands. It’s not as though he shoveled a path, so it was a feat in itself that she was even there. “Vincent!”
He watched, waiting for Elena to leave. She lifted the metal knocker, banging it down a few times.
“I know you’re there, Vincent!” She shifted from foot to foot, presumably for warmth. The wind was probably harsh for her. “Stop brooding long enough to let me in, it’s for–” She looked over the lumpy package in her hands, poorly wrapped even at this distance. “Turk business. You are still a Turk on record, you know.”
He sighed, resigning himself that she wouldn’t give up. It was part of what made her who she was, that much he knew for certain. When he went down and opened the door, she came inside with it– the knocker in hand as she stumbled in.
“Oh, hey,” she greeted him. Perhaps this was normal for her.
“I’m not accepting guests,” he deadpanned. She may very well accept that command. Outside of helping her and Tseng after Kadaj and his crew tortured and left them, Vincent had limited knowledge of the new Turks… Although she seemed the type to follow orders. As much as a Turk could be expected to.
“But you’re accepting gifts?” She held out the box, or what was probably a box under the uneven wrapping paper. Some of which was different from the rest. “Reno and Rude found out I got you something and… Helped,” she explained.
He stared at it in silence and blinked. A gift. He wasn’t expecting even one. “Is this what passes for Turk business now?”
“Oh, just take it,” she teased, pushing the box against him and he reflexively held it once she let go. “Should be easy for you to open with that gauntlet hand.”
Vincent glanced up to her scratching gesture that he supposed was a reference the ‘gauntlet hand’. Peeling back the wrapping, he saw the dull outline of several wine bottle corks and he almost smiled.
“I’ve still got contacts on Wall Market, from my bartending days, so these are the best red wines– you’ve got your smooth, toasty flavors, a bold blackberry and dark apple wine,” she counted out on her fingers, continuing, “A polished spice wine, you name it. There’s a wine here for every sulk.”
Vincent only watched her ramble, her breath still showing even though she was inside now. “So it’s saying something that they got here at all.”
“I’m way too disciplined to even think of sampling a gift!” She stood tall at that, brushing her longer bangs aside for emphasis. “But if you were going to share, I, well, I wouldn’t… It’s not polite to refuse.”
He chuckled drily, turning away and leading upstairs. She only stopped to close the door behind her and followed him up.
…she did bring wine.