Final Fantasy VII (PSone) – Part 09 – Junon Military Parade

– Junon Military Parade-

Following the directions we were given what feels like ages ago now, we head north along the shore until we find Junon. Just as we were told, it is hidden behind a cliff, and we probably wouldn’t have seen it if we didn’t know it was there. But now that we’ve found it, I can’t help but notice the MASSIVE cannon facing out to sea. I don’t know what they’re defending themselves against, but I hope it’s already dead if they need a city size cannon to fight it.

Upon entering Junon, we discover that the city is divided in two, with an upper and lower city. The upper city was built by Shinra during the war, which is why it has the massive cannon. Down below where we entered is the original little fishing village that Junon once was. Unfortunately, the pollution from the upper city has been spilling into the water and killing off all the fish. Without fish to catch, the people living below are struggling to survive.

As bad as the town is, everyone seems pleasant enough. And as luck would have it, there appears to be an elderly psychic wandering around town. She tells us that she knows we want to get to the Western Continent, and the only way to do that is aboard a Shinra Ship. This is very helpful information. Mostly because we didn’t know we even wanted to do that, and yet she provides us with the problem and the solution at the same time. Now we just need to figure out how to get to a Shinra ship without anyone noticing.

Having explored the small town and found no method to board a Shinra Ship, we head down to the waterfront to see if we can find a solution there. To our surprise, we find a young girl by the name of Priscilla playing with her friend Mr. Dolphin. It’s impressive that somehow this dolphin has managed to survive in the polluted water. Upon seeing our group, Priscilla immediately asks if we’re with Shinra. We assure her we aren’t, but she doesn’t believe us. Ideally, the encounter would have ended there, no point fighting with a child. But just our luck, a monster seems to have shown up from out in the water.

As soon as the massive creature is within range, Mr. Dolphin swims away as fast as he possible can, because he is a smart dolphin. Priscilla, unfortunately, is a very stupid child. Instead of running away, she rushes straight into the water in an effort to protect Mr. Dolphin from the monster. Predictably, she is immediately attacked by the monster, and it is now up to our group to rescue her.

And so we rush into battle against the monster Bottomswell. From the looks of it, Bottomswell is clearly a product of the pollution from the upper city. He seems to resemble a massive eel, but there are parts of its body that are clearly decayed and showing exposed bones. However, what truly makes Bottomswell terrifying is the fact that he can encase our party members in water prisons, slowly draining their health and drowning them. In the heat of battle I couldn’t find a way to break them free, since attacking it didn’t do anything like with the other prisons. However, upon watching the replay to get these pictures, I noticed that I was making a mistake. I was attacking the party member inside the prison rather than the prison itself. In the other battles, this wasn’t an option, and I simply assumed that to still be the case.

Because of this oversight, Bottomswell ends up trapping both Red XIII and Yuffie in these water prisons. Thankfully, Cloud remained safe and was able to defeat the monster with the help of some powerful magic attacks. With the monster gone, we quickly rescue little Priscilla. Unfortunately, she has been in the water for a while now and isn’t responding. We may have been too late to save her.

Surprisingly, no one in the party knows what to do in a situation like this, as we all simply stand around looking at her waiting for her to get up. Thankfully and older man from the village rushes down to the beach and takes charge of the situation, instructing Cloud to perform CPR. Cloud however seems to not understand the lifesaving mechanics of CPR and protests claiming “She’s just a girl…”

The old man takes Cloud aside for a moment and gives him the basic run down of how CPR works. Just take a big breath and blow it into her. Simple enough. With that explanation we are given a simple prompt to press square to take in a breath and press it again to actually perform the CPR.

As simple as those instruction are, I have no idea what we are expected to do. I don’t know if there is a sweet spot we’re supposed to be hitting, or if we just need to keep doing it a couple of times. It seems no matter what level we fill Cloud’s lungs to before doing CPR, she simple doesn’t get better. By some miracle one of the attempts actually did what it was supposed to and she starts coughing up all the water she inhaled.

Little Priscilla is very lucky to have this old man looking out for her. After being revived, he rushed to her side, and carried her back into town where she can rest and recover. Judging by the fact that our whole party is STILL just standing around staring at her, I give a roughly 99% chance she would have died if left in our care alone.

Eventually, our party gets the idea that we should probably continue making sure she’s ok. We head back into town and find the old man standing in front of one of the buildings, but he won’t let us in to see her. Which is probably for the best. Instead, we head over to the old lady’s house by the town entrance. As a thank you for our small part in saving Priscilla, she has offered us her home for the night.

Everyone tries to get some sleep, but for some reason Cloud keeps hearing a voice in his head. It reminds him of the Nibelheim incident from 5 years ago. Specifically the fact that Tifa was their tour guide. It would have been a great chance for the two of them to spend time together, yet they never did. What was Tifa doing the whole time Cloud was in town that they never got to spend any time together? Maybe Cloud should ask her what she remembers of that day.

As luck would have it, Tifa ends up being the one to wake Cloud up. Barely out of bed, Cloud wastes no time asking her where she was that day. I would consider Cloud a jealous boyfriend at this point, but they were never actually dating, so really he’s just being crazy.

Almost as expected, Tifa doesn’t really remember it too well. It was 5 years ago, and there were a couple other things going on in those few days that left much more vivid memories. You know, things like her father dying in her arms, and the whole village being burned down. How she spent her afternoon the day before her life went to hell isn’t really as important of a memory. Besides, there’s more important things going on in the present, and Cloud needs to come outside and see it for himself.

Outside, the whole group is gathered in the center of town. There is a lot of loud, festive music playing in the distance, and we’re trying to figure out why. As we do that, Priscilla comes out of her house and thanks us for saving her.

She feels bad for accusing us of being members of Shinra, and she’s grateful for us saving her life, so she offers us a reward. According to her, it’s am amulet. However, as soon as we get a look at it, it’s actually a Summon Materia for Shiva. I do love my summons, so we are happy to receive it.

Anyway, back to the brainstorming, which is apparently very hard for this group, even with the number of brains involved. Knowing this, Barret does the smartest thing and asks the little girl what is going on. According to her, this is probably the band rehearsing the reception for the new Shinra President, Rufus.

As soon as Barret hears Rufus’s name, he instantly gets into attack mode. He hates Shinra and any chance to take out the president is one worth taking. Apparently this resonates well with little Priscilla, as she tells us how the beach used to be beautiful before Shinra showed up and ruined it. Having grown up knowing that, she also has a deep hatred for everything Shinra.

Aerith, being clearly the smartest one in the group, puts all these pieces of information together for everyone else to understand. If Rufus is coming here to Junon, it must be because he wants to cross the ocean on one of the ships. And following that logic, the only reason he would want to cross the ocean is if he was still following Sephiroth, who must have somehow already crossed the ocean already.

Unfortunately, this information goes virtually unnoticed by the rest of the group. Barret in particular suggests climbing the tower in an attempt to get to the upper city and kill Rufus himself. Thankfully Priscilla warns him that this would be a bad idea. Having actually paid attention to the warning signs, she knows that the tower is incredibly high voltage and it’s dangerous to get too close to it.

Luckily, Priscilla seems to have a plan. Perhaps Mr. Dolphin can somehow help us get up the tower without having to climb all over it. With that thought, she runs off towards the beach. Our party however is still about 3 sentences behind her and still trying to figure out what high voltage means.

Clearly failing to understand the situation, Tifa simply claims they should leave it all to Cloud. Everyone else seems to agree and the party disperses before Cloud can make any kind of objection.

Heading down to the water, we quickly find out what Priscilla’s plan is. Mr. Dolphin can apparently jump REALLY high out of the water. If we swim out into the water with him when he jumps, he might be able to throw us all the way up to the top of the tower and avoid being electrocuted. Because of the camera angle, it’s a little tricky to position ourselves just right so we land on the ledge, but this spot just above that black pipe seems to be the perfect position.

Now that we’ve avoided being electrocuted, Cloud continues to climb up to the upper part of the city. As he reaches the top and peaks his head over the edge, he catches sight of one of Shinra’s massive airships. Airships have long been a staple of the Final Fantasy series, but they are usually wooden sail ships with helicopter propellers instead of sails. This beauty, on the other hand, looks to have been modeled after a dirigible instead. The body of it looks to me like it would be too heavy to actually fly, but it’s still pretty to look at.

As the camera pulls out, we see that it’s even larger than it looked at first sight. I can’t even tell where Cloud is anymore. As much as I would love to ride on this thing, we have a mission to tend to, so Cloud slips inside the building and starts looking around for Rufus. Thankfully, all of the guards are in too much of a panic over Rufus’s arrival to pay any attention to Cloud as he just casually walks through the halls.

Even luckier, one of the higher commanding officers mistakes Cloud for a rookie out of uniform. He yells at Cloud and forces him into the changing room where he can change into the perfect disguise of a Shinra Grunt.

Seeing how confused Cloud is, the commanding officer automatically assumes he forgot the routine for today’s parade and makes us practice it quick before we leave. Hearing this, 2 other Grunts rush into the room to help us learn. It sounds simple enough, just stand in line, march in time with the other soldiers, and hold the circle button to shoulder the gun. Easy.

Now that we know what to do, it should be easy to blend into the crowd of soldier and look for an opening to attach Rufus. Unfortunately, while we were inside practicing, the parade seems to have started without us… oops.

Naturally, Cloud gets blamed for our small group being late. Thankfully, the parade route seems to loop around the block, so we are able to sneak through an alley and get right back in line with everyone else. All we have to do is wait for an opening and sneak into the back row without drawing too much attention to ourselves.

The one random grunt that went before us made it look so easy. But Cloud isn’t nearly as graceful trying to get in line with everyone else. He’s also out of sync with everyone else as they march. Of course, this being broadcast over live TV, the Producers notice right away and are not happy with us.

They are so upset with how we ruined the parade that they actually comment that someone should send us a bomb. Hilariously, we actually are awarded with a Grenade shortly after this comment.

With the festivities over, Rufus is ready to board the ship and cross the ocean. Much to his displeasure, he questions why he has to ride on a normal boat instead of that beautiful airship we saw earlier. According to Heidegger, the airship is still under repair and won’t be ready for another 3 days.

Already upset, Rufus gets right up in Heidegger’s face and tells him to stop his “Horse Laughing”. Hearing Rufus’s tone, Heidegger quickly gets in line and informs him that the ship will be ready soon.

As soon as Rufus is aboard the ship and out of sight, Heidegger starts unleashing his anger on Cloud’s face. It was his fault the parade didn’t go well, and that’s why he was called out in front of everyone like that. With the way everyone else reacts, he doesn’t actually know it’s Cloud he’s punching, this is just his normal behavior.

Curiously, one of the random grunts brings up the fact that a man in a black cape has been seen in the city. He apparently showed up a couple days ago, killed a few soldiers, and then left just as quickly as he appeared. No one has been able to confirm it, but it is believed to be Sephiroth. That’s why Rufus and Heidegger are so agitated right now.

Because Cloud performed so poorly during the parade, the commanding officer pulls him aside and forces him to be part of the presidential sendoff group. While everyone else gets to enjoy some free time, Cloud is forced to learn the routine for the president’s performance, once again with the assistance of those two random grunts.

After practicing a few times, we are dismissed, and told to meet up at the docks. I had originally intended to follow those instructions. However, a familiar bald head caught my attention, and I couldn’t help but follow. Maybe we can gather some more information from them while we’re here.

Unfortunately, we don’t get so lucky. It looks like he’s just having a drink with some random guys. In fact, his dialog when we talk to him leaves me with more questions than answers. “Mm…? You too? Then, take your mask off and come here. That’s our rule.” I don’t know what he’s implying by “You too?” but it looks like he’s just relaxing right now, so it doesn’t seem worth it to stick around.

Following him did get me interested in the various buildings though. Apparently this whole strip is almost nothing but shops, and there are quite a few of them. There is quite the variety of weapons, armor, items, and even Materia for sale inside the different shops lining this strip. Since I have a feeling we’re heading towards trouble any second now, it’s probably best to stock up while we can.

We do come across a few funny events as we explore as well. The first one I want to share is this random person complaining that no one woke him up. On top of that, he can’t find his uniform which should be in his locker. Putting these together, I can only assume this is the real soldier who Cloud is currently being mistaken for. Looks like there’s no id or anything on the uniform, otherwise someone might notice Cloud right now.

Inside one of the other buildings, we also stumble across the rest of the Turks standing at a bar. In this uniform, none of them notice Cloud at all. Instead, they just keep talking to each other. Reno, bragging that the president is safe because of them, while Elena comments on how they start messing around whenever things get boring. Sadly, the chairs are blocking Tseng, so we couldn’t find out what he had to say about anything.

Having spent all the money I had, we finally make our way to the docks where we see President Rufus onto the ship. For the special occasion, Cloud and 2 other soldiers line up to perform a special military sendoff routine. You can probably guess which one Cloud is from the picture above. Needless to say, I didn’t follow directions well. I missed the first call because I was expecting it in the order we practiced, then trying to get back in sync with everyone just wasted more time.

Eventually I get it together and am able to finish relatively strong with a score of 80. I’m not sure what the max score is, so maybe that isn’t very good, but Rufus seemed pleased either way, not that we care what he thinks.

Afterwards, Heidegger congratulates us and gives out special bonuses for our hard work. My score apparently was good enough to get an HP Plus Materia. I probably won’t get much use out of it, but it’s nice to have.

As Rufus boards the ship, we manage to overhear his conversation with Heidegger. He knows that Sephiroth is in town, and is planning for us to follow shortly after. Clearly we have him worried, but Heidegger assures him that everything is under control. Of course it isn’t under control at all. Cloud is standing right here under their noses and they have no idea. Also, you might have noticed Red XIII’s head sticking out from his hiding place aboard the ship, so I can only imagine the rest of the party is already aboard as well.

With that, the sendoff is complete, and we are dismissed. However, before leaving, the other soldiers freely offer up some juicy news. Apparently the reason Heidegger is so angry lately is because Hojo resigned as head scientist and simply disappeared. Considering he was the one really pushing forward with their quest to the Promised Land, I can only imagine that has ruined most of their current plans.

As soon as it’s clear, Cloud rushes aboard the ship hoping everyone else made it aboard as well. Within seconds the ship is sealed up and ready to head into open waters. Below deck, it doesn’t take Cloud long to run into one of his companions. It looks like Yuffie managed to get her hands on a sailor’s outfit, which is good, she’ll blend in with the rest of the crew that way. Unfortunately, she seems to be getting a little sea sick. Not the best thing when you’re disguised as a sailor.

One by one we find the rest of the group. Aerith and Tifa both seems to have picked up Shinra Soldier outfits, even if they don’t like the thought of wearing them. Red XIII also managed to get a Soldier Outfit and is doing his best to stand upright like a human. All things considered, he’s doing very well blending in. Barret, however, manages to stand out quite a bit. Not only is he a rather large black man, but he’s also blatantly snooping around the windows looking in at Rufus and Heidegger.

Just looking at the two of them make his blood boil. Thinking about all the terrible things they’ve done to people, and all the things they still plan on doing. It quickly becomes too much for him to stand and he gets ready to attack them right here and now. Unfortunately, before he can act on this rage, the alarms on the ship start going off. A suspicious character has been spotted on the ship and everyone is instructed to find them. Has someone in the party been found out? Perhaps the mountain of a man staring in at the new Shinra president?

No guards show up to arrest the two of us, so that must mean one of the others has been spotted. Without wasting any time, we all gather on the main deck and do a headcount. But it looks like everyone is here. If the alarm wasn’t for us, who else could be on the ship?

The only other person we can think of that could cause the whole ship to go on high alert like this would have to be Sephiroth. If he’s on the ship, it’s in our best interest to search for him ourselves, which is exactly what we do. Well, everyone except Yuffie. She’s scared of Sephiroth and is still suffering from her sea sickness.

Anyway, Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith form a team to search below deck while everyone else keeps an eye out up here. As soon as they descend the stairs to the cargo hold, we begin to see the carnage in Sephiroth’s wake. All of the other crew members are down on the floor barely left alive. The guard that was originally blocking the engine room can barely even make a full sentence with what strength he has left.

Unfortunately, the few Marines that are still conscious have adapted a shoot on sight mentality in this time of crisis. What’s worse, they seem to be equipped with strange gas guns at the moment as well as their usual machine guns. While these gas guns are essentially harmless, they do cause the target to become blind and fall asleep. Neither of which are ideal conditions to have in battle. You can’t exactly avoid machine gun fire if you’re sleeping on the floor.

One good thing about these Marines though is that they are very well equipped, by which I mean we are capable of stealing Shinra Beta armor off of them. This is a very hard item to steal, made even harder by the fact they keep blinding everyone. However, it is SIGNIFICANTLY stronger than any of the armor we have found so far. On top of that, it has 4 Materia Slots, making it a great piece of armor and well worth the time and effort needed to steal a few before moving on, in my opinion at least.

After stealing a full set of Shinra Betas, we finally head into the Engine Room where we suspect to find Sephiroth. Inside, we see several more crew members dead on the ground, with only a single person standing ominously in the corner. Cloud approaches him slowly, cautious that it might be Sephiroth in disguise. However, this person simply turns around and drops dead on the floor in front of us before blinking out of existence entirely.

Suddenly we hear a voice talking, but see no one around. Then right before our eyes, Sephiroth himself morphs up through the floor. Cloud approaches him trying to get answers, but something is very off about Sephiroth. He doesn’t seem fully aware of what’s going on around him. He doesn’t even seem to remember who Cloud is. He’s barely even talking in full sentences at the moment. It’s almost like he’s in a trance.

Cloud is getting increasingly aggravated with Sephiroth’s refusal to answer any questions. But before Cloud can actually take any action against him, Sephiroth suddenly bolts through the air past all three of us. He flew at such speed that he knocked our entire party over and flew up through the roof and off the ship.

Before he flew away, it seems Sephiroth left a little present behind for us in the form of Jenova BIRTH, a piece of his mother. Jenova Birth does have a few powerful attacks, like the Tail Laser, which hits the whole party. But the most annoying ability she has is her ability to cast Stop, which freezes time for the target. However, we are well equipped with powerful magic and good armor, so she doesn’t last long against us.

Defeated, Jenova Birth shrivels up into its original form. That being the tentacle looking arm of Jenova. That alone pretty much confirms that we were seeing the real Sephiroth. Only he would have the body of Jenova. Why he would be chopping off pieces of her, however, remains a mystery.

He was also saying some weird things about “The time is now”. Cloud does his best to explain what he meant by that, but he so over simplified his explanation that if you couldn’t follow along with the story so far, you probably shouldn’t be playing this game. Sephiroth disappeared 5 years ago in search of the Promised Land, then he killed the Shinra President the other day, and now we saw him here today. And that’s his whole life story as far as we’re concerned.

Oh, also he was carrying his mother Jenova with him to the Promised Land… That’s all we know. Thanks Cloud, you really helped to clear that up for us.

Shortly after this, we hear an announcement over the loud speakers. Apparently not everyone on board was killed, particularly the captain. As it turns out, we’ll be docking soon and everyone still alive is advised to be ready for it. If we’re that close, we might as well all get ready to get off the ship as well. Before we leave, we do want to remember to pick up that summon Materia Jenova Birth left behind, otherwise it would be lost forever and we’d never be able to summon Ifrit, since it is a one of a kind Materia.