-Sector 5 Slums-
Having fallen from the plate above, the light has faded from Cloud’s eyes. In the darkness, a voice calls out to him. It talks to him about how he used to be. Perhaps his life is flashing before his eyes as he drifts off to heaven.
Gradually, the voice brings him back to the present. Can he still move in the state he’s in? Somehow Cloud summons enough strength to register movement.
As his senses return to him, Cloud begins to wonder who this voice is who has been keeping him company. Finally managing to open his eyes, he finds himself flat on his back with the Flower Girl by his head. By some miracle the fall did not kill him, though it looks like he may have taken out part of the roof of this building when he landed.
It takes him a minute, but Cloud eventually manages to sit up. While Cloud gets his bearings, the Flower Girl starts telling him where he is, and what happened to him. They are currently in a church located in the Sector 5 Slums. Like I suggested, Cloud did in fact crash down through the roof, which gave the Flower Girl quite the scare.
According to her, the church roof and the flower bed must have broken his fall. Because nothing says soft landing like a church roof. Hearing this, Cloud finally manages to stand up, and immediately apologize for the damages he caused.
Luckily, she’s quite accepting of Cloud’s apology. The flowers here are apparently quite resilient because the church is a sacred place. Despite all the pollution, they somehow manage to grow just fine here.
As she tends to the flowers that were damaged when Cloud landed on them, she asks if he remembers her from before. Of course Cloud remembers her, she was the one selling flowers after he blew up the first reactor.
She’s happy to hear that Cloud remembers her, and sets back to work tending to the flowers. Suddenly, she asks us a random question, wondering if we have any Materia.
Of course we have Materia, it’s incredibly common in this universe. In fact we bought some at the last store we were at. It seems like a stupid question to ask, but it was simply an ice breaker so she could comment about her own Materia. Apparently, the Materia she has is special because it doesn’t have a function.
Naturally, Cloud just assumes she doesn’t know how to use it right. After all, Barret didn’t know how to use Materia either until we taught him. But the Flower Girl insists that she knows how to use it, it simply doesn’t do anything. Even if it is useless, she holds onto it anyway because it’s a keepsake from her mother.
With that, she goes back to tending to her flowers. Just as suddenly she realizes that they haven’t even introduced themselves yet. At this point we can name her whatever we want. This is the one character in the game that I will change her name. The default name for her is “Aeris”. However, that is another mistranslation. In all later Final Fantasy VII material, her name is correctly translated as “Aerith”, and so that is the name I’m giving her.
Cloud likewise gives his name to Aerith and introduces himself as basically a Jack of All Trades, doing whatever is needed of him. For some reason, Aerith finds this funny, and the two have a nice little moment. Unfortunately, a mysterious figure seems to have walked into the Church during their conversation.
As soon as Aerith notices the uninvited guest, her tone changes dramatically. She clearly knows who he is, and asks Cloud if he has ever done any bodyguard work. He said he will do anything, and right now she needs someone to get her home safely.
Cloud accepts, for a cost, it’s his job after all. As a flower girl in the slums, Aerith doesn’t have much money. Instead, she offers to go on a date with Cloud if he’ll just get her home.
Turns out, that’s a deal Cloud can live with, and he goes to confront the stranger. Cloud clearly isn’t used to being a bodyguard, because he goes through a handful of tough guy talk before he settles on something he thinks sounds cool. This isn’t just some random stranger though. Just as Cloud is starting to tough talk him, he is flanked by a small group on Shinra Soldiers. Seeing Cloud blocking their path, they ask the stranger, whose name is apparently Reno, if they should just take him out.
Even with the reinforcements, Cloud could probably take them, but Aerith doesn’t know that. Even if she did, she’s worried that a fight here would ruin her flowers. Instead she makes her way to the back exit and calls for Cloud to follow her.
Reno is slow to chase after them. He may have been instructed to collect Aerith, but he saw the look in Cloud’s eyes, and he knows what danger that means for him. He also knows not to step on the flowers, and tells his grunts to be careful around them. Unfortunately, he had already walked straight through the flowerbed and they were all quick to call him out on this fact.
Cloud and Aerith manage to make it to the second floor of the church by the time Reno and his grunts come after them. But that’s still too close for comfort and they try to rush out of the building as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the grunts are equipped with machine guns and open fire on the two of them. Because of this, Aerith fails to clear a gap in the walkway and ends up sliding down whatever that structure is in the middle of the room all the way down to the basement.
Luckily, Aerith seems unharmed from the whole ordeal. But now that she has been separated from Cloud, there is no one there to defend her. It would take too long for Cloud to rush down there to help, Instead he gets the idea to push over a barrel that is resting up in the rafters, hoping it will help in some way.
Sadly, Cloud’s aim was off, and he nearly hits Aerith in his efforts to help. Now there really aren’t any other options, Aerith is going to have to defend herself for now.
Aerith manages to fight off her attacker, but is quickly cornered again. Hoping to redeem himself, Cloud once again pushes over a barrel from up in the rafters. This time, his attack hits its mark and rolls right over the attacking grunt blocking the stairs.
Once more, Cloud pushes a barrel over to protect Aerith from her attackers. With that, all 3 of the grunts have been defeated. Now, Aerith can reunite with Cloud and the two of them can escape as originally planned.
It looks like it was a lucky thing for Aerith that Cloud fell through her roof. Not only was he there to protect her (to a degree), but the hole he put in the roof was the perfect escape route for them. Now outside, Aerith admits that this isn’t the first time they have come after her.
Cloud also shares his knowledge of who her attackers are. They are apparently a group known as the Turks, an organization working for Shinra. On the surface, they’re responsible for recruiting people that might be good candidates for SOLDIER. However, it’s common knowledge that they also do some dirty things on the side that Shinra doesn’t want made public.
That brings us to the big question. Why would the Turks be after Aerith in the first place. Clearly there is a reason, but Aerith seems to want Cloud to believe it’s because she might be fit to be in SOLDIER.
Whatever the reason might be, it really doesn’t matter right now. What does matter is that they aren’t done escaping yet, and she doesn’t want to get caught by them. So the two of them start running rooftop to rooftop in an attempt to get away.
Cloud makes it look easy, but Aerith is having a little trouble and needs to tell Cloud to slow down. He jokes about her suggesting earlier she was cut out to be in SOLDIER, but really, he’s just being a jerk again. As a bodyguard, he shouldn’t have run ahead like that. But that’s my opinion, they both actually found the comment funny and had a small laugh over it.
Aerith then starts asking Cloud if he was ever a member of SOLDIER. Of course, she already knows the answer. Just like several other characters already, she points out that his eyes have an odd glow to them. It’s the sign of someone who have been infused with Mako energy.
However, this is the first time that Cloud hints to the fact that this is not common public knowledge. How does a Flower Girl from the slums know government secrets like that? I guess we’ll never know because Aerith refuses to comment on it.
The two continue escaping after this short break, and eventually run out of rooftops to jump across. Returning to the ground, we are pleased to find that we have made it almost the whole way back to Aerith’s house. It’s just around the corner now.
Naturally, we choose to do the stupid thing first and return to the church before we head home. Surprisingly, all the Turks are gone and instead we find two kids tending to the flowers in Aerith’s absence. They seem unusually nervous at the sight of us, but I’m going to trust that they’re good kids and let them keep taking care of the flowers.
Anyway, we head back towards Aerith’s house like we should have done originally. We need to pass through the Sector 5 slums to get there. There isn’t much of note here, just a couple little shops. But there is a strange guy in a pipe that the game gives unusual attention to. “This guy are sick.” What terrible translation.
Apparently the guy passed out nearby and someone must have set him up in this pipe just to get him out of the street. We try to talk to him, but as the other guy suggested, he doesn’t say anything coherent.
Aerith suggests Cloud should do something to help him. Unfortunately, Cloud is a fighter, not a doctor. There really isn’t anything either of them could do to help right now. With that, the two are ready to leave, but Aerith notices the man has a tattoo of the number 2 on him. This doesn’t help us in any way, but the fact that the game went out of its way to create this whole scene makes me wonder if there is some bigger mystery we are walking into.
After this, we do finally make it to Aerith’s house like we had intended. To our surprise, there is a rather large yard with lots of flowers just to the side of it. Didn’t everyone say flowers were rare because nothing would grow in this soil? Anyway, we head inside and Aerith introduces Cloud to her mother. She’s happy she got home safe, but she is obviously upset that she was followed again.
Now that she’s finally home, Cloud has his own problems to deal with. Top of the list, informing everyone that he’s still alive. With that in mind, he asks Aerith how far it is to Sector 7. He needs to meet up with everyone at Tifa’s Bar.
Aerith, however, seems to have grown quite attached to Cloud in this short time, and cherry pick’s Tifa’s name from Cloud’s question. Is Tifa a girl? Perhaps even a girlfriend? Obviously, Tifa is a girl, but Cloud greatly denies her being his girlfriend. Which is true, but Aerith thinks it’s funny how serious he got about the question.
Either way, Sector 7 isn’t too far from here, and Aerith agrees to show us the way. It was enough trouble getting her home, so Cloud points out that having her SHOW us the way would just be putting her in more unnecessary danger.
If Cloud were smart, he might have been able to talk her out of coming. But Cloud isn’t smart. Instead he voices his displeasure at the thought of being helped by a girl. And as every sane man knows, that is a one way ticket to her getting upset and doing whatever she wants no matter what anyone think about it.
Aerith then calls up to her mother and tells her she’s taking Cloud over to Sector 7. Her mom tries to protest this, but she seems to already know it’s a pointless argument. Instead she simply suggests we wait until tomorrow. It’s getting too late today to be going out again.
Aerith gets sent upstairs to make the beds, and her mother has a quick chat alone with Cloud. She also notices Clouds eyes right away, and knows he must have been a member of SOLDIER. She’s grateful that Cloud kept Aerith safe today, but she must ask that Cloud leave in the middle of the night without telling Aerith, she doesn’t want her feelings hurt again. That right there just opens up more questions. What happened to Aerith in the past that she got her feelings hurt by a SOLDIER member?
As Cloud drifts off to sleep, he reflects on how long it has been since he’s slept in a bed like this. He then dreams of what I believe to be the last time he was home. As he rests in his bed, his mother is doting over him, worried about the temptations of the big city, and suggesting he settle down with a nice girlfriend.
Cloud wakes up early in the morning, but still having slept longer than he intended, and goes to leave like Aerith’s mother asked him to. We can see Aerith is already awake as well, so we have to do our best not to make a sound as we leave. However, no matter how quiet we are, Aerith is already 2 steps ahead of us, cutting us off by the path to Sector 6. She must have teleported to make it here before us.
It’s going to be dangerous, and Cloud makes one last effort to convince Aerith to stay behind, but she’s not hearing it. Instead she just tells Cloud that they’ll need to pass through Sector 6 first if we want to get to Tifa’s bar. She then runs off ahead of Cloud, leaving him with no choice but to follow her lead.