Final Fantasy VII (PSone) – Part 05 – Attack on Shinra HQ

-Attack on Shinra HQ-

Barret, Cloud, and Tifa managed to survive the plate crashing down, but many were not so lucky. Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie were on the tower, or nearby. There were plenty of people still in their homes. And as far as Barret knows, Marlene was still at the bar. All of them killed in an instant by the heartless Shinra Corporation. So overwhelmed with emotions, Barret can think of nothing else to do but to open fire in vain at the lifeless rubble.

It takes some time and effort, but Cloud and Tifa finally pull Barret away from the wreckage and set him down on the slide. She’s not positive, but Tifa tries to reassure Barret that Marlene is safe. They’ve both lost a lot of people, but at least Marlene might still be safe.

Hearing this, Barret manages to pull himself together. But that doesn’t make any part of this situation right. Shinra destroyed an entire section of the city just to kill a few people. That’s completely inexcusable.

Not only that, but Shinra didn’t even manage to kill everyone they wanted to. Rather than destroy a minor pest, they have simply renewed Barret’s hatred of the company and made the whole fight personal. He’s completely fired up now and ready to take the whole company down. Cloud, however, clearly has a lot of things on his mind and quietly walks away from the group.

Tifa and Barret catch up to Cloud pretty quickly, he didn’t make it far before they noticed he was gone. Barret is pretty sure Cloud knows where he daughter is and wants him to take him there. Tifa on the other hand has a feeling Cloud wants to rescue Aerith.

Obviously Cloud plans to rescue Aerith. He feels responsible for not keeping her out of danger. But there is something else that is weighing pretty heavily on his mind. And that is the fact that the Turks referred to Aerith as an “Ancient”. He needs to know what they meant by that.

Cloud then has another one of his episodes and remembers something Sephiroth once said. “In my veins courses the blood of the Ancients. I am one of the rightful heirs to this planet!”

Standing here in the middle of the road isn’t going to get us any answers, so Tifa and Barret snap Cloud out of it and they head off towards Aerith’s house. But before that, I want to detour a moment back to the park and pick up the Materia I saw on the ground. Turns out this is the “Sense” Materia, and I am so happy to have it.

Using the Sense ability, we can scan the enemies to find out how much health they have. What’s great about this, is that after we scan them, we can see how much HP they have left for the remainder of the battle and plan our attacks accordingly. If I remember right, it will also display any elemental weaknesses if the enemy has any. I’m sure some people think it’s useless, but I like knowing that information during battle.

Anyway, our group heads back to Aerith’s house like we originally planned. No sooner do we step inside does Elmyra know something happened to Aerith. It’s pretty obvious seeing as Cloud returned without her.

Turns out, Aerith actually made it home before the Turks got her. In fact, she went with them willingly. It’s what she wanted.

Cloud asks why Shinra wanted Aerith in the first place. According to Elmyra, Aerith is the last surviving Ancient. Which seems odd, isn’t Elmyra her mother, so she should also be an Ancient.

Truth is, Elmyra isn’t Aerith’s real mother. They only first met about 15 years ago. At the time, Elmyra’s husband was off fighting in the war. One day she got a letter saying he would be returning home. She went to the train station to meet him, but sadly, he never returned.

After that, she started going to the station every day, hoping that her husband would return. Instead, she found a young Aerith, crying beside a woman who was dying on the station steps. The woman’s dying words to Elmyra were “Please take Aerith somewhere safe.” So she took Aerith home with her to raise as her own daughter.

Aerith and Elmyra quickly became close. It helped that Aerith loved to talk about all kinds of things. She talked about how she escaped from a research lab and how she wasn’t lonely because her mother had already returned to the planet. It was an odd choice of words that confused Elmyra a bit, but Aerith was a mysterious child like that.

It was also clear that she had strange powers. Elmyra remembers when one day Aerith came up to her out of nowhere and told her not to cry, but that someone close to her had died. At the time, she didn’t think anything of it. However, a few days later she was informed that her husband had in fact died in battle.

Even if it was just the two of them, they were generally happy together. That changed when Tseng of the Turks showed up one day. They had been searching for Aerith since she escaped and they wanted her back.

Shinra knew that Aerith was an Ancient, and therefore a very special child. According to Tseng, the Ancients will lead them to “A land of supreme happiness.” Which, to me, sounds like a cult meeting right before everyone drinks the Kool-Aid.

Aerith tried to deny these claims as best she could, but Tseng knew it, and Elmyra knew it too. She was indeed a very special child with mysterious powers. Even so, Aerith is her daughter now, and if she wants to hide her powers, she wasn’t going to say otherwise. She certainly wasn’t going to just hand her daughter over to Shinra either.

As Elmyra brings her story to a close, Cloud voices the thought that had also been running through my mind as well. If Shinra knew this whole time where she was, it’s amazing that they hadn’t taken her sooner. Elmyra’s only explanation is that they simply didn’t want to hurt her. I guess knowing her location was just as good as having her. At least at the time.

Today, however, was different. She had a little girl with her when she got home and unfortunately Tseng was right behind them. She chose to go with him willingly this time in exchange for the little girl’s safety.

Hearing this, Barret takes full responsibility for what happened. Aerith got caught because she was trying to save Marlene. But Elmyra doesn’t accept the apology, and tears into him instead. Not because of Aerith, but because Barret was an irresponsibly father to leave Marlene alone in the first place.

Again, Barret takes full responsibility. It’s something he has thought about every day. What will happen to her if something happens to him. But he still feels he has to fight for what he believes in. If he doesn’t fight, the planet will die.

Even with Barret talking in circles, Elmyra understands what he’s getting at. After everything, he should go be with his daughter, she’s sleeping upstairs. Hearing that, Barret doesn’t waste another word and heads up to see her.

As Barret climbs the stairs to see his daughter, Tifa becomes the latest party member to take responsibility for Aerith being captured. But Elmyra stops her before she has a chance to get started. Aerith doesn’t feel like it was anyone’s fault. This is what she chose to do.

We end up following Barret upstairs and see his happy reunion with Marlene. Upon seeing us, he instantly offers to help us save Aerith. She has done so much for him by saving Marlene, and he’s not going to let Shinra have her.

Marlene also seems to have bonded with Aerith in the short time they were together. They apparently talked about all kinds of things, but especially things about Cloud. So much so that Marlene got the strong impression that Aerith really likes Cloud.

Returning downstairs, Tifa also offers to help save Aerith. We’re planning to go up against the Shinra Headquarters, so we need to prepare for the worst.

Barret joins us shortly after, and asks Elmyra to look after Marlene for just a little while longer. He also warns her that it isn’t safe in Midgar anymore and that they should probably go somewhere safer. Elmyra agrees, but under the condition that he doesn’t do anything stupid like getting himself killed.

On that note, we head off, but there is a problem. Following the Sector 7 Plate collapse, the trains are no longer running from the slums up to the city, so we’re going to have to find some other way up. None of them have an immediate plan for how to get around this, but Tifa suggests they head to the Wall Market and hope to find a solution there. Because even in a fantasy world, Wal-Mart has everything you need for any occasions.

Together, we return to the Wall Market and hope for the best. No one is really telling us anything useful, but we do overhear someone talk about how the Weapon Shop Owner scavenged a lot of things from the wreckage. When we go to talk to him about what he found, he offers to sell us some batteries. Not sure why we need batteries, but we buy them anyway when he assures us we’ll need them to get up to the main plate.

Unfortunately, having batteries doesn’t really tell us how to get up to the plate. We continue talking to everyone, but no one seems to have anything useful to tell us. What’s worse, news seems to have spread about Cloud’s cross dressing episode as well as everything that happened between him and Don Corneo. Now the people by the Honey Bee Inn are refusing to let Cloud inside. Not that we really wanted to go back inside. It just hurts to be called uncultured by a bunch of perverts.

It seems as if we’ve talked to everyone now, and no one has any advice for us. That’s when we start talking to people a second and third time in case we missed something. Sure enough we did. The same pair that hinted towards talking to the weapon shop owner also mentioned the plate cross section next to the Don’s Mansion. Following their lead, we find a group of kids also ready to explore the area next to the Mansion.

Turns out a rather large cable has come to rest against the wall following the plate collapse. The kids are climbing a short way up the cable so they can see what remains of the Sector 7 Slums. Cloud, however, seems pessimistic about the idea of climbing it all the way to the top. After all, he does have firsthand experience with how long of a drop it is from the plate to the ground. Quite surprisingly, Barret is the one that sees this as the perfect way to get up there. I say this is surprising because Barret technically only has one hand. That would make climbing a cable rather difficult to say the least.

We climb the cable and get a nice view of the smoldering remains of Sector 7. We also hear from one of the children that some people already believe Shinra was responsible for what happened, despite the story they’re trying to sell to the masses. But we’re not here to sightsee, we need to keep climbing higher. Right away, we find out what the Weapon Shop Owner meant when he said we’d need the batteries. We need them to activate a few obstacles in our way. First of which is this large fan blade that is blocking our path (Top right corner of the right screenshot).

The battery doesn’t have much juice left in it, but it does have enough to spin the blade a few times. When it settles down, we’re lucky enough for it to stop in the perfect position for it to create a new path for us. However, we are quickly stopped by another device that needs another battery. Good thing he sold us 3.

Installing one of the other batteries give enough power for the security arm to raise and create another path for us. Now we come to the most annoying part of the climb up. We need to jump down to this swinging bar in order to swing to the next area.

However, the window of opportunity is so small that it takes several tries before we grab onto it. It does make a small sound to indicate the right time to jump, which is something at least. But we still need PERFECT timing to grab onto the stupid thing.

Climbing higher, we discover the terminal for the last battery the shop keeper sold us. This one is optional, since it doesn’t prevent us from progressing if we ignore it. And all we get for our troubles is a single Ether. What’s worse is that we can’t get back up from this platform. We have to climb down and make that stupid jump ALL OVER AGAIN!

Thankfully, once we swing across the bar the second time, it is a straight shot to the top of the plate. We arrive in time to see the helicopter flying around the top of the building, and we get a nice action shot of our party as they stand before their target.

As we gather together before making our entrance, Barret assumes Cloud is familiar with the building, since he was a member of SOLDIER. However, Cloud admits he’s never been to the main office before.

Thankfully, Barret has some intel of his own. Apparently all the floors above the 60th floor have extra tight security. It’s hard even for employees to move around up there if they don’t have the security clearance. By that logic, it would be the perfect place for them to be holding Aerith captive.

Since security is light right now at the main entrance, Barret starts to rush inside. Tifa however stops from blowing our cover. If we get caught now, the whole mission will be pointless. We need to find a different way inside. As much fun as it would be to rush inside guns a-blazing, I have to agree with Tifa, we need to sneak in if we want to save Aerith.

With that in mind, we end up heading around to the emergency stairway and start climbing up all 60 flights of stairs. Needless to say, no one is particularly happy with this choice.

The floors aren’t marked in any way, so it’s hard to tell how far we’ve even gone. Eventually everyone starts complaining about the climb. Barret and Tifa even have to take the occasional stop before they fall over from exhaustion. At this rate, even if we do make it to the top, they’ll be too tired to fight when we need them…

Eventually Barret and Tifa have a small argument. Barret is complaining that it’s too much, he’s only human, except for his arm. It’s not like he was trained in SOLDIER or something. But of course, Tifa doesn’t have any special training either, and she isn’t complaining.

Then out of nowhere, Tifa is suddenly all embarrassed like the guys are going to be looking up her skirt. This hasn’t been an issue the whole way up so far, and the dialogue before this didn’t imply anything about looking up her skirt. I can only assume something was lost in translation here.

But we STILL haven’t made it to the 60th Floor, and we have no idea how much farther it is. We’ve been climbing so long at this point that Barret has given up hope. He is fully embracing the fact that he is going to drop dead before he makes it to the top.

FINALLY we make it to the top of the stairs. And like I said before, they are completely exhausted from the climb. A light breeze could probably topple them over now, yet alone any security guards we might encounter.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens. As soon as we exit the stairwell we walk right into a group of three security guards blocking the elevators to the higher floors.

Amazingly, everyone was still able to fight after that long climb. Then our luck continues when we find a Keycard to the 60th floor that one of the guards must have dropped during our fight. Now we can actually access the 60th floor.

Keycard in hand, we enter the elevators and head up. Turns out we probably could have taken the elevator from the first floor had we simply rushed in like Barret suggested. Also we’re apparently only on the 59th floor right now, not the 60th floor like we previously thought.

If nothing else, we need to be thankful that our party is so lucky with this mission. Not only did we manage to secure a keycard for the 60th floor, but the security guard watching the monitors has fallen asleep in his chair. If not for these strokes of luck, this mission would have ended before it even started.

It also helps that no one really seems to care about their job. As soon as we step off the elevator on the 60th floor, two guards are there informing us that we don’t belong here. Which is true. Anyone can see that we’re not Shinra employees. But they don’t actually do anything about it. Their job is to tell people they shouldn’t be here. Nowhere in their job description does is say they actually have to STOP people from wandering around.

So, if no one is actually going to stop us, we might as well just walk into the monitoring station and make our way to the next floor. However, there is one more obstacle in the way. Past the guards that clearly don’t care, there are 4 more guards patrolling that clearly care too much. These ones we’re actually going to have to sneak past if we want to keep climbing the building.

As expected, this isn’t a particularly difficult challenge. All we have to do is hide behind the statues and cross between them when the guards change positions. Then we signal for Barret and Tifa to do the same. The execution, however, can be a little tricky, particularly with cloud. The statues are just really small, so sometimes we overshot our mark by a hair and end up exposed.

Thankfully, there isn’t a whole lot of punishment for failure. We have to fight the guards that spot us, but then we’re simply transported back to the monitoring room and have to attempt it again. There is no building wide alarm, no instant game over, no anything, just try again.

It takes me a pathetically long time to actually make it through this section. Not that I’m really complaining, it was good experience. But still, pathetic. We came here to save Aerith, not play around with the security guards all day.

We continue up to the 61th floor, and it turns out this is a lounge floor. Also, everyone is completely fine with strangers just wandering around the building. Some of them even go so far as to give us advice on how to get into the higher floors.

And then there’s this moron walking around the lounge. If we talk to him and ask where Aerith is, he mistakenly thinks we’re talking about the new receptionist. Not only that, but he apparently already has a crush on this new receptionist clearly without even knowing her name. Because of this he’ll stops talking to us, seeing us as a romantic rival. However, if we remain silent, he assumes we’re part of the Shinra Repair Division and simply hands over his keycard to the 62nd floor so we can fix things. Further proof that the greatest security in the world can be taken down by simply human stupidity.

To our surprise, the 62nd floor is actually the Mayor’s office. However, the mayor is fully aware of how powerless he is within the company. In fact, his only real job is to look after the Shinra documents. He’s basically a librarian at this point.

Knowing this, he offers to help us. If we can guess his password, he will give us his keycard to the upper floors. To make it even sweeter, if we manage to guess it right on the first try, he’ll throw in a special item as a reward.

He gives us a choice of 6 different passwords to choose from, but we currently have no clues towards what the code could be. I know it has something to do with all the books, and the mayor put some books in the wrong place or something, but I don’t remember the details of how that helps solve the puzzle. Thankfully, the mayor’s assistant is willing to give us hints.

Unfortunately, it’s going to cost us. The first hint costs 500 gil. “On this floor are four research libraries for four different sections of Shinra, Inc. Parts of the password are hidden in each of the libraries. Pay careful attention to the files in each room. The name of each library is written on the plaque outside the door.” Which is basically what I already remembered. There are misplaced books in each room that somehow make up the password.

For an additional 1000 gil we get the next hint. “Now, in each library will be one file mixed in from another library. Look carefully at the numbers on each file.” That’s more than I remembered, but still not entirely helpful.

At this point, we’re out of money and can’t afford to buy the last hint. So we head back down to the 60th floor and plan to fight some of the guards again to make some more. Unfortunately, it looks like everyone is being yelled at in the monitoring room for letting us through earlier, and there is no one left for us to fight.

Thankfully, we can have some random encounters back down on the first floor. There also seems to be a car exhibit set up down here showing off some of Shinra Motors latest models.

On top of that, there’s actually a store on the 2nd floor as well. This is really going to speed things up for us. We can sell off some of the random items Tifa keeps stealing. That is, if we can convince the cashier we aren’t here to rob her.

Once we have the money, we head back upstairs and pay the 2000 gil for the last clue. “There is a number at the beginning of each file name. Of course there’s a number even on the files that don’t belong in that library. Match the number with the letters in the title of the file. If the file starts with a 4, then check the fourth letter and well, you get the idea.” Finally it spells out the solution pretty clearly.

So, with this new information, we start checking every book on all the library shelves to find the files that don’t belong.

Shinra, Inc. Peace Preservation/Weapon Dev. Research Library

  • 2 – Mako Energy and the Rise in Life Forms = A

Shinra, Inc. Space Dev. Research Library

  • 10 – New Plans for Urban Planning = O

Shinra, Inc. Urban Dev. Research Library

  • 16 – Modern History of Midgar Space Program Vol. 1 = M

Shinra, Inc. Scientific Research Library

  • 4 – Ranks and Extended Use of Mako Weaponry = K

Putting these clues together, we can safely guess that the Mayor’s Password is MAKO! As a reward for guessing it right, he hands over his Keycard 65 which will grant us access to the upper floors. Also, because we guessed it right on the first try, he further rewards us with an Elemental Materia. (Note: This puzzle is actually randomized every play through, so your password might be different from mine)

With the Keycard 65 in hand, we head up to the 63rd floor where we find what looks like a storage room. What’s odd, is that there are a TON of doors in this room, but we’re only allowed to open 3 of them at a time. On top of that, the storage rooms don’t actually have items stored in them, they have coupons which can be exchanged for items at the computer. So it looks like we have another puzzle on our hands.

After taking a good look around, we think we have an idea of what three doors we want to open. First, we head up and open the first door blocking our path along the back wall. Then we follow that back wall to the end and head down through the last door to the middle. From here, we can enter the left most storage room and pick up the “A Coupon.”

Next, we can then enter the air ducts and crawl over to the right most room. In this room, we are able to pick up the “B Coupon”

Finally, we open our third door to gain access to the middle room and the “C Coupon”. We then use the air ducts one more time to get back to the room with the computer to trade everything in. In exchange for the A, B, and C Coupons, we get a Star Pendant (Accessory that prevents Poison), Four Slots (Armor with 4 Materia slots), and an All Materia. Nothing great, but we’re still happy to have it.

Continuing up the building, we arrive on the 64th floor to see it is an entire floor dedicated to a gym and napping area. Can someone explain to me why these floors are extra high security restricted that even employees have a hard time wandering around them? So far not one of these floors has had any actual work being done on them! Oh well, at least we can rest and save here…

Moving on, we find that the 65th floor only has a model of Midgar sitting in the center of it. Unfortunately, it seems to be in quite a rough state right now, with several large chunks of it missing.

Luckily, the missing pieces can be found quite easily in treasure chests scattered around the floor. Sadly, all of them are locked except for one. Returning this missing piece to the model will then unlock the next piece to be found. Personally, this part isn’t very fun. It’s not a puzzle, I wouldn’t even call it a fetch quest. It’s just a time sink to pad out this section of the game.

Once all the parts are returned to the model, the final chest by the stairs will unlock and give us Keycard 66. With that, we are done with this stupid floor.

Heading up again, we find a large conference room filled with some of the higher ups in the company. FINALLY the first floor where we can argue any actual work is taking place. It’s hard to tell with how tiny everyone is, but it looks like we can identify the Shinra President, Heidegger, and Reeve siting at the table. Not sure who the other two are at the moment.

It would be stupid of us to simply rush into the room, so we’re going to have to find some other way to hear what they’re talking about. Good thing it’s a small floor, and we’re given a couple hints where to check. First, we’re informed that there is a funny smell in the conference room. Likewise, people can apparently hear whispering when they’re in the bathroom.

Putting these clues together, we figure there must be an air duct above the bathroom that also connects to the conference room. Sure enough we are able to climb through the ducts and get a bird’s eye view of the whole meeting. Not only that, but the air duct appears to be so massive that all three of us can circle around the vent with plenty of leg room to spare.

As we listen in, Reeve is discussing how much destroying the Sector 7 Platform actually cost the company. Considering everything they had already built on it, they’re estimating around a 10 Billion gil loss. He goes on to discuss options to rebuild the plate, but President Shinra quickly cuts him off. There is to be no plan to rebuild Sector 7.

Instead of rebuilding, he wants to put all efforts into restarting the Neo-Midgar plans, whatever that is. Now that they have Aerith, his sights are set at getting to the “Promised Land”.

To achieve this, President Shinra demands a 15% rate hike on Mako Energy in every area of Midgar. Hearing this, Palmer starts jumping around with excitement like a little kid and starts asking for some of the new income to be directed towards his Space Program budget.

However, President Shinra ignores his requests and states that Reeve and Scarlet will be the ones to divide up the money. Reeve’s begins to protest the whole idea, suggesting citizens will lose confidence in the company is they start charging more. But President Shinra clearly doesn’t care what any of the average citizens think about the company.

Soon after this conversation, a researcher named Hojo joins the meeting and starts talking about Aerith. This is the information we were after. He starts by stating that they’re currently in the process of comparing Aerith to her mother. She is apparently inferior, but only by about 18%. Unfortunately, even with the best projections, they won’t be able to finish their research for about 120 years. Far too long for any of the researchers to finish in their lifetimes, or Aerith herself for that matter.

That’s why Hojo has the plan to use Aerith to breed more specimen. Ones that would be strong enough to withstand years of research being done on them. With that, the meeting ends, and we decide to follow Hojo back to Aerith.

We follow Hojo up to the 67th floor. As he turns a corner, Barret suddenly remembers who he is. He is the head researcher of Shinra’s Science Department. Cloud had apparently heard of him, but this is the first time he’s actually seen him. Either way, we’re lucky that the door on the 67th floor appears to be broken, since it never closed behind Hojo when he walked through it. This is good for us, because we don’t have a keycard for this floor.

Sneaking up on Hojo, we get to see him examining one of his “Precious Specimen”. From this angle, it clearly doesn’t look like Aerith, it looks more like it’s a lion. Also from this angle, Hojo 100% should have seen us when he walked away. We’re standing right out in the open.

As Tifa takes a look at the specimen, wondering if it’s going to be used in some kind of experiments, and mocking Hojo’s actions, Cloud sees another container with the name Jenova on it. Looking inside he sees… well I don’t really know what that is. It’s a vaguely female looking thing, except it’s purple and veiny, appears to be missing its head, and for some reason has an eyeball growing out of its right tit.

Seeing this, Cloud has another one of his episodes and collapses to the ground. Somehow, this has a connection to Sephiroth. Even more surprising, it appears to still be alive and moving. Barret looks inside, and confirms it is missing its $#&*&@ head, but otherwise thinks it’s stupid looking.

Interesting as it may be, we’re not here for Jenova, so we continue up the building using the service elevator nearby. Upstairs, we finally find Aerith, thought she is hardly safe. She is currently trapped in a glass chamber directly above that lion creature we saw, and under the careful observation of Hojo.

We make no attempt to hide our presence anymore, and naturally Hojo sees us right away. He pays us little attention, however. We are simply a minor annoyance in his mind.

Cloud and Barret start to approach Hojo, who calmly tells them it would be a foolish plan to kill him. The equipment here is very delicate and only he knows how to operate it. As unfortunate as it is, he has a point.

Having frozen our party in their tracks, Hojo continues the experiment as planned, ordering the introduction of the second specimen. At his instruction, the lion creature is raised up into the chamber and immediately takes up an aggressive stance towards Aerith. I’m no scientist, but feeding your one and only rare specimen to a lion doesn’t seem to have much scientific merit…

Apparently, Hojo had planned for Aerith and the lion to breed since they’re both the last of their kind. Again, I’m no scientist, but I’m 99.99% sure that wouldn’t work. Genetics generally aren’t very happy when you try to cross breed completely different species like that.

While there are many things to be outraged about in Hojo’s explanation, Tifa takes extra exception to Hojo referring to Aerith as an “Animal”. Barret on the other hand has simply heard enough and opens fire on the container in an attempt to break it open.

The container didn’t break open, but something seems to have malfunctioned as the chamber is flooded with light. Hojo rushes to the chamber door and opens it up in an attempt to save his specimen. Unfortunately for him, the lion creature lunges for his throat the moment the door opens. It’s very lucky for us though. Now we can save Aerith without having to worry about the lion.

Rushing inside the chamber, Cloud finds Aerith unharmed and escorts her out to the rest of the group. But before he can exit the chamber himself, the elevator starts to move on its own, bringing up another specimen.

Hearing this, Hojo chooses to stop being mauled by the lion so he can explain that this new specimen is very ferocious. More surprisingly, the lion speaks, and offers to help us fight it. So I guess maybe the lion let go of Hojo on its own.

Tifa is shocked, but there’s no time for that right now. First things first, we need to get Aerith out of here to safety. So we sends her with Barret while Cloud, Tifa, and the lion fight whatever is coming up the elevator.

If we’re going to be fighting with this lion, we had better know its name. However, it offers no name of its own. Hojo has been referring to him as “Red XIII”, but it doesn’t care what we call it. I also don’t care, so we will also call it Red XIII (Or occasionally just “Red” for short).

With names and introductions out of the way, we jump straight into battle with Sample: H0512 and three smaller Sample: H0512-opts guarding it. While the small ones provide a minimal threat, the main body should be our primary target. Its Shady Breath attack is capable of poisoning the entire party, and we don’t have enough antidotes to survive a drawn out battle.

Because of the poison, we do end up having to heal quite a bit during battle. Also, because Sample: H0512 is in the back row, physical attacks don’t do as much damage. However, Magic attacks are still just as powerful, and it only has 1000 hp to chip away at.

Even more helpful is the fact that when the main body is defeated, the smaller ones die along with it. So now it looks we’re on our way to completing our mission. We broke in, got Aerith, and all we have to do now is get out safely.

We did, however, pick up one extra companion we weren’t expecting. While I’m sure everyone has their own questions about him, Barret is the only one to voice them, asking quite simply “What are you?” Unfortunately, Red XIII doesn’t have a simple answer to give him. Especially not now, when they should be escaping.

Before that though, Red does apologizes to Aerith for what happened in the chamber. He was merely acting to throw Hojo off guard. I’m sure Aerith accepts the apology, but more importantly, they really should be escaping about now…

Seeing as there are now 5 people in the party, Cloud suggests we split up into two groups. While we have had a small rotation of party members so far, I believe this is the first time it is actually player’s choice who is going to be in the party. So if it’s my choice, I’m going to keep Tifa and Aerith close by… To make sure they’re safe… Barret and Red XIII will be fine on their own, just look at them…

With the parties set, Barret of Red XIII run off ahead, and instruct us to meet up again by the 66th floor elevators. An oddly specific choice, but very well. Before we follow them, we do want to take a moment to grab the Materia dropped by Sample: H0512. It’s the Enemy Skill Materia. On its own, it’s basically worthless. However, it has the ability to learn select enemy skills that we can use ourselves. We have to be attacked by those enemies first, so it will be a while before we learn them all, if we ever do. But when we do learn them, this one Materia alone will provide a very wide range of attacks for us.

Following Barret’s plan, we quickly make our way to the 66th floor elevators. Unfortunately, as soon as we step onto it, Rude from the Turks steps on with us. So maybe picking the elevator DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE CONFERENCE ROOM wasn’t the best choice.

Rude doesn’t give away the fact that he knows who Cloud is, and simply asks Cloud to press the button for the upper floors. But Cloud knows it’s a trap. Not that it matters. Tseng soon enters the elevator and makes it quite clear that we are cornered.

Moments later, the whole group is in handcuffs and being marched in front of President Shinra. Well, except for Red XIII. Since he walks on 4 legs, they couldn’t really handcuff him. So I guess he’s just being polite and agreeing not to fight back. Also, we don’t see Aerith anywhere. So I guess that was a very short lived rescue.

Now that we’re a captive audience, President Shinra starts monologuing, as evil villains do. He starts talking about how Aerith is the last of the Ancients, or the Cetra as they called themselves. Curiously, Red XIII chimes in periodically, displaying that he has at least some knowledge of the Cetra.

Apparently, it is said the Cetra will lead people to the Promised Land. Red dismisses this claim as simply a legend, but President Shinra doesn’t care. If by chance the legend is true, the Promise Land is said to be incredibly fertile.

Of course, he doesn’t have any genuine altruistic reasons for doing this. He’s not trying to save the human race or anything like that. No. He is a greedy corporate businessman that only cares about money. If the land is fertile, it must have a lot of Mako energy. And if there is a lot of Mako energy, they can suck it all out with their Mako Reactors and make a fortune.

To that end, President Shinra plans to completely abandon Midgar in place of Neo-Midgar which will be built in the Promised Land. That’s why he had no problems letting the plate fall and crush the slums.

 

After finishing his story, he is done with us, and orders the Turks to take us away. Hearing this, Barret tries to rush him. Unfortunately Rude intercepts him and manages to drag him away with the rest of us. With that, it looks as if we have failed. Not only did we fail to properly rescue Aerith, but every one of us has been captured by Shinra. I guess this is the end for our heroes…