Elsewhere in the city, a train pulls into the entrance of Midgar's Mako Reactor No. 1, one of several such reactors that provide energy to the metropolis. A group of individuals from the terrorist group Avalanche disembark and beat down two members of the city's ruling corporation, Shinra Industries. Immediately afterwards, a young mercenary with spiky hair wielding a massive sword jumps off the train and follows.
The leader of Avalanche, Barrett Wallace, asks for the mercenary's name. The man identifies himself as Cloud Strife. Barrett lays out the details of their mission - they are to infiltrate the reactor and destroy it with a timed bomb in order to sabotage Shinra's control of Mako Energy, which is converted energy taken from the planet's "lifestream". Although Barrett doesn't trust Cloud due to the latter having once worked for Shinra's elite military unit, SOLDIER, he allows the mercenary to aid them in exchange for getting paid.
The group heads inside the reactor, and Cloud follows one of the members, Jessie, as she unlocks several doors in their way. Cloud and Barrett fight their way through Shinra forces and plant the bomb in the reactor's core. Immediately afterwards, Cloud suffers from voices in his head and the group escapes before the reactor is destroyed.
Barrett tells the group to split up and head to the Sector 8 subway station. On his way there, Cloud meets the flower girl and buys one from her before being spotted by Shinra forces and forced to flee. Cloud narrowly escapes by jumping on a moving train before being captured and reunites with the rest of the Avalanche group. They make it back to Sector 8 and head over to Sector 7's "Seventh Heaven" bar, which is owned and operated by Cloud's childhood friend, Tifa.
Once there, Cloud obtains his pay from Barrett, gives the flower to Tifa or Marlene, Barrett's daughter, and goes to leave, but Tifa convinces him to stay by asking him to aid in another of Avalanche's missions. Cloud has a flashback to their childhood, and how he told Tifa that he wanted to enlist in SOLDIER and be like his hero, Sephiroth. In the present, Cloud agrees to help the group assault the Sector 5 Reactor.
Tifa joins them in the assault, but the mission goes awry when they are forced to jump off their train due to an unexpected security scan. They make their way into the Sector 5 core and plant the bomb, but are besieged by Shinra soldiers. The President of the company appears and gloats at their failure before sending a robot to attack them and leaves. Cloud, Barrett, and Tifa destroy the robot, but it activates a self-destruct mechanism, which causes Cloud to plummet to the slum below and Barrett and Tifa to assume he died.
Cloud wakes up in a flower bed in a church, and is met by the flower girl he talked to earlier. She identifies herself as Aeris, and tells him that the flowers broke his fall. After explaining that they are in the Sector 5 slums, Aeris discovers that members of the Turks, Shinra's group of enforcers, has tracked her to the church. She asks Cloud to be her bodyguard in exchange for a date, and together they escape the Turks, led by members Reno and Rude, via exiting the church's roof. They make their way to Aeris' house and Cloud is told by her mother, Elmyra, to leave, but Aeris sneaks out after him and offers to help him get back to Sector 6.
Enroute to the bar, the duo discover that Tifa was captured by a baron named Don Corneo and taken to the nearby Wall Market. They pursue her and take part in a long series of quests so that Cloud can dress up as a girl and infiltrate Corneo's mansion. When he does so, Corneo inexplicably picks Cloud to be his "woman" for the night, and Cloud takes off the disguise and threatens him when they're alone. Tifa escapes her captors and meets with Aeris and Cloud in Corneo's room, but the baron explains that Shinra is going to break the plate above Sector 7 and destroy Avalanche once and for all before dumping the trio into the sewers below via a trapdoor.
The party heads through the sewers and an abandoned transtation and eventually reaches Sector 7, while at Shinra Headquarters, an executive named Reeve Tuesti argues with one of the military leaders, Heidegger, about the plan to destroy Sector 7. In response, Reeve is sent off on a mandatory vacation. Cloud, Tifa and Aeris reach Sector 7 and learn that Barrett and the other members of Avalanche are engaged in a running firefight against the Turks at the base of the sector's plate. Tifa asks Aeris to find Barrett's daughter, Marlene, at Seventh Heaven, while the duo run up the tower. Cloud and Tifa pass the bodies of their fallen comrades and find Barrett still fighting against Shinra at the top.
Reno appears and reveals that he has configured the plate to self-destruct, and the team briefly fight him before he escapes with Aeris, who was captured and brought to the site via helicopter. As the plate begins to crumble and break apart, Barrett grabs a nearby cable and tells Cloud and Tifa to grab onto him. Together, they swing out of the sector before the plate collapses and falls, killing all of the Sector 7 residents and reducing it to rubble.
Outside the sector, Barrett has a breakdown and thinks Marlene is dead. Cloud thinks back to what Sephiroth said to him once - that Sephiroth himself was the rightful heir of the planet and an "Ancient". They head to Aeris' house and find that she delivered Marlene to her mother before being kidnapped. Elmyra reveals to the group that she found Aeris 15 years ago as an orphan at the nearby train station, and raised her as her own. She also expresses the belief that Aeris is one of the "Ancients", who wield a mythical power that can heal individuals.
After much soul-searching, Barrett agrees to help Cloud and Tifa assault Shinra Headquarters. They head back through Wall Market and use a wire to climb up onto the upper plate of Midgar, where they find the sprawling building. They use a frontal assault and mow through several security guards on their way up through the various floors. They eventually find the "Mayor" of the City, who says that he has no power and is a figurehead for the President.
Continuing on, the group eavesdrops on an executive meeting with the upper management. A scientists named Hojo tells the executives and President that he has been running tests on Aeris and plans to breed her to make tougher test subjects. Hearing this, the team trails him up to his laboratory, where they find a red wolf-like creature is being introduced into the same cell as her. When they break open the cell, the creature attacks Hojo and the latter runs off. The creature then reveals himself to the group as Red XIII, a test subject who is the Last of His Kind and a test subject for the mad scientist. Cloud is also aghast to find a pod with a creature named "Jenova" inside it.
When they attempt to escape, the group is captured by the Turks and brought to the President, who tells them that Shinra needs Aeris because she can help them find the "Promised Land", a place where a new Midgar can be built.
The group is imprisoned, and Cloud reaffirms his trust in his teammates. Some time later, Cloud wakes up to discover that the cell doors are open and the guards have been slaughtered. They follow the trail of violence to the President's office, where the leader has been impaled - with Sephiroth's sword. One of the surviving executives, Palmer, tells them that Sephiroth was there and is looking to find the Promised Land for himself. Soon after, a chopper arrives with the President's son, Rufus. Cloud and the others confront him, and he tells them that he will kill them for their insolence. Cloud stays behind to fight him one-on-one while the others go on ahead, save for Tifa, who stays behind to wait for him.
After Cloud defeats him in the duel, Rufus compliments his skill and leaves via helicopter, while Aeris, Barrett, and Red XIII fight a monster while heading down the elevator. They meet back up with Cloud and Tifa in the foyer and realize that the building is surrounded by Shinra troops who are readying an assault. Cloud comes up with an escape plan, and he commandeers a motorcycle and pickup truck from an exhibit in the building. Together, they race out through the front door and drive down the highway, fending off Shinra troops and a robot along the way. They eventually reach the city limits and drop down outside the walls.
The group decides to head to the nearby village of Kalm to get some rest and recuperate. Once there, Cloud begins explaining to the group his involvement with Sephiroth and SOLDIER...
Five years ago, Cloud was a rookie in SOLDIER and idolized Sephiroth. They were dispatched to the town of Nibelheim to investigate strange occurances at the nearby reactor, and Cloud was surprised to discover that a teenage Tifa would be his guide through the mountains. On the way, Sephiroth effortlessly slaughters several enemies and investigates the reactor, and they discover several pods with mindless abominations in them. Sephiroth finds a clue that leads him to the abandoned Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim, and begins pouring through the mansion's library to discover what was happening. He eventually finds out that he was a failed test subject for the Jenova program, and was spawned from a superpowered ancient creature of the same name. When Cloud goes to find him in the library, Sephiroth reveals his heritage and says that he's "going to see his mother" before leaving.
Cloud follows and discovers that Sephiroth has destroyed most of Nibelheim in a blind rage, including most of the residents (including Cloud's mother and Tifa's father). Cloud follows Sephiroth to the reactor, where he finds Tifa attempting to attack Sephiroth. The soldier slashes her with his Masamune sword, and she goes flying down the steps. Cloud carries the wounded Tifa to a safe place and she tells him that she knew he'd come for her, then he goes on his own to confront Sephiroth. Inside the room, the senior operative pulls Jenova (with its lower body missing) from its storage area, but Cloud goes yells at him and prepares to attack...
In the present, Cloud says that the flashback is all he can remember. The group elects to follow Sephiroth and stop him from finding the Promised Land. After a stop at the nearby Chocobo ranch, they follow Sephiroth sightings into a nearby desert, where they find that he has effortlessly slaughtered a sand serpent that guarded the area. The group also spy on the Turks along the way, who (led by their new recruit, Elena) plan to chase Sephiroth and are headed for Junon Harbour.
In Junon, Cloud infiltrates the port alone by posing as a Shinra officer and partakes in the coronation ceremony for Rufus. Afterwards, he discovers that Hojo has resigned from Shinra and left Midgar, while Sephiroth is nowhere to be found. Cloud boards a boat called the Gelnika and discovers the rest of the group, who dressed up as sailors and infiltrated the ship. Soon after, an unseen force attacks the ship and kills most of the crew. Cloud and the others race to the cargo bay, where they defeat a resurrected piece of Jenova. Sephiroth appears and goads the party for following him before disappearing.
The group disembarks in Costa Del Sol, and decide to follow the rumors of the "black-suited man" to the town of North Corel. Once there, they find that Barrett is shunned by the community for seemingly abandoning them during a Shinra attack. The group heads to the nearby Gold Saucer to look for more information, and they meet a strange entity named Cait Sith who forces his way onto the team. Afterwards, Barrett confronts the owner of the plaza, Dio, about the whereabouts of a man named "Dyne". Soon after, they find several murdered employees and are blamed for the murder, which culminates in the group being sent to Corel Prison, which is located in the middle of a desert.
In the prison, the group discovers Dyne, who was Barrett's former friend and was seemingly killed during the Shinra attack in North Corel. Jaded and angered over his past, Dyne reveals that he murdered the employees. When Barrett reveals that Marlene (Dyne's daughter, who Barrett took in and raised as his) is still alive, Dyne has a crisis of consciousness and kills himself out of shame and guilt. Barrett then threatens several occupants at the prison to allow Cloud to have the chance to play for the group's freedom. Cloud wins a round of Chocobo Racing and the group is allowed to go free, with Dio giving them a buggy as an apology.
On their way out, the group also discovers a mysterious ninja in a forest. After knocking her out, Cloud offers to let her join the party. She reveals herself to be a young girl named Yuffie who loves materia, and agrees to help them.
The next stop for the group is the ruined town of Gongaga, which, much like Corel, was decimated by a reactor exploding. While there, the group finds the Turks have had foreknowledge of their arrival, making Cloud realize that there is a spy in their ranks that is reporting to Shinra. Additionally, Aeris and Tifa stumble into the home of former SOLDIER member Zack Fair, leading Aeris to reveal that she and Zack used to date years prior, and Tifa to become uncomfortable at the mention of his name, as well as Cloud not knowing who he is.
The group sets out for Cosmo Canyon. Once there, Red XIII reveals that this is his home and that the man who runs the Observatory, Bugenhagen, is his grandfather. He also reveals that his real name is not Red XIII, but Nanaki. Inside the observatory, Red XIII and "grandpa" are reunited, and the former tells Cloud and the others that his race were the protectors of the Canyon, but his father ran away years ago when they were attacked by a neighbouring tribe.
Bugenhagen reveals a large model of the planet and explains the concept of the Lifeforce to the group. He says that Mako Energy is draining the planet's life and that it will die soon, as well as the concept of dead souls entering a "Lifestream" that is infused with energy. He also reveals that a group of entities called the Cetra once looked after the planet, and reveals to Aeris in private that she is the last Cetra. Aeris is understandably bothered by this, and wonders if she can help save the world. Bugenhagen then reveals to Red XIII the truth about his heritage - his father wasn't a coward, but held off attacking enemy forces until his body literally turned to stone. Red XIII howls at the moon as the stone figure sheds a tear...
Afterwards, the party reflects on what they must do. Bugenhagen tells Red XIII to continue travelling with Cloud, and the group sets out for Nibelheim.
Once they reach Nibelheim, Cloud and Tifa are shocked rsee the town apparently undamaged and its residents denying any such destruction ever took place. They also find several black-cloaked figures who speak of a "Reunion", and are told by one that Sephiroth wants to speak with them in the Shinra Mansion. Inside, Sephiroth once again mocks the group by speaking riddles, then tells Cloud he has "no right to participate" in the Reunion before flying off. The team also finds another of Hojo's test subjects, Vincent Valentine, in a coffin in the basement. He joins the team before they start off again.
The group keeps heading north and eventually finds Rocket Town. They meet an engineer and pilot named Cid, who was once going to fly a shuttle for Shinra but was forced to abandon the launch at the last minute due to his assistant, Shera, refusing to leave an uncertain oxygen tank without testing it, leading to him to stop the launch to save her life. As a result, he now blames her for his lost dream, slinging insults and demands at her, which she accepts. The group discovers one of Cid's inventions, an airplane called the Tiny Bronco, and go to take it, but are waylaid by Rufus and members of the Turks, who show up to confiscate the device. Cloud and the others, along with Cid, defeat the Shinra executive Palmer and fly out with the Bronco, but not before losing aerial capability. With the aircraft now a glorified waterplane, Cid tells the group that Rufus mentioned that he was heading to a place called the Temple of the Ancients for the "ultimate destruction magic", and that an item called the Keystone (found in the Gold Saucer's museum) can help access it.
The group also decides to stop in Yuffie's hometown, Wutai, but on the way they are attacked by Shinra soldiers and Yuffie steals the group's Materia in the confusion. They chase her to Wutai and learn that she is attempting to bring honor back to her hometown by obtaining Materia for the townspeople, but the chase is cut short when Yuffie and Elena of the Turks are kidnapped by Don Corneo, who has set up residence in the town and is hiding out from Cloud and the others. The team reluctantly allies with Reno and Rude to stop Corneo, and after they defeat his "pet", the Turks drop Corneo off a cliff and allow Cloud, Yuffie and the others to leave. Before departing the city, however, Yuffie proves herself to her father, Godo, by defeating him and his disciples in battle.
At the Gold Saucer, Dio lends the Keystone to the group and they rest for the night. Cloud goes on a date with one of the girls or Barret, each of them revealing a vulnerability to Cloud (or in the case of Tifa and Aeris, attempting to reveal their feelings for him). Soon after, Cloud discovers that the Keystone has been taken by Cait Sith, who reveals himself to be a Shinra spy. Sith delivers the item to a Shinra helicopter, but still decides to stay with the group in an effort to "atone" for his actions, and tells them how to find the Temple.
Once there, they discover that the Turks accessed the temple entrance but were attacked by Sephiroth and his black-suited clones. Inside, the leader of the Turks, Tseng, is lying wounded. He tells the group that Sephiroth told him that the Promised Land is not what Shinra thinks it is, and delivers the Keystone back to Cloud and Aeris. The group continues on and Aeris discovers a mystical pond which displays a recording of Sephiroth revealing that he intends to merge with the planet and become a god.
They continue further on inside, and reach a large mural detailing the history of the Cetra. Sephiroth appears and explains that he will inflict a huge wound on the planet before merging with the Lifestream and "healing" it, which will cause a large meteor to strike the planet and destroy it completely. Cloud begins exhibitng symptoms of a different personality, and is compelled to follow Sephiroth's orders. The group discovers that the "Black Materia" which houses the meteor spell is encased in a model that reduces in size each time. Cait Sith offers to solve the puzzles under the model reduces itself to the form of the materia, and everyone escapes the now-crumbling temple.
Outside, Cloud and Aeris retrieve the Black Materia and pledge to keep it away from Sephiroth. However, he appears and mentally forces Cloud to give up the item before disappearing. Clou, not himself, begins to viciously brutalize Aeris as the rest of the party tries to stop him before blacking out.
Cloud has a dream where he envisions Aeris walking through a forest and telling him she is going to face Sephiroth alone. He then wakes up at the inn at Gongaga Village, where the party was watching over him. He tells the group that Aeris must have gone to the City of the Ancients, and they retrieve an artifact called the Lunar Harp to access a secret path in Bone Village that leads to the City.
Inside, the group explores the abandoned city and rests for a time. Cloud senses that Aeris is close and the group goes to find her. They eventually discover her praying in front of an altar, and Cloud is forced by Sephiroth to attack her. Just before he can strike her, their friends snap him out of his daze and he backs down.
Before the group can do anything else, Sephiroth leaps down from the ceiling and impales Aeris with his sword, causing her body to slump over and her beaded hairclip to bounce into the river below. He tells Cloud that the latter is a puppet before disappearing, and the heartbroken group is left to lay Aeris' body to rest in the nearby pool of water...
The Turks arrive in the small village and Elena accuses him of killing Tseng. She knocks him out with a single punch and leaves in frustration, then the group begins to climb the summit to the Glacier.
Along the way, they meet a hermit named Holzoff who tells them that an object crashed in the crater hundreds of years ago, and the team continues to head upwards, finding several of Sephiroth's clones as they do so. As the same time, Rufus and two of his executives, along with Hojo, have arrived at the crater in an airship.
The party once again finds Sephiroth and he messes with Cloud's head, telling him that his "current body" has outlived its usefulness before setting another version of Jenova upon the team. When that's defeated, they find the Black Materia again. Cloud realizes he can't trust himself and hands the Black Materia to Barret and Red XIII for safekeeping.
Cloud and Tifa lead the group into the crater, while Sephiroth attempts to rattle them with a vision of Nibelheim. Sephiroth insinuates that things aren't as they seem and claims that Cloud is a clone of Jenova cells made by Hojo to obey Sephiroth. Cloud refuses to believe it, while Tifa realizes she doesn't remember seeing him five years ago during the supposed incident (and is why she wasn't sure about asking him during their date). Sephiroth claims that Jenova shaped Cloud's personality around Tifa's memories, but the latter sticks to his story and claims that Sephiroth is lying. Cloud passes out after trying to remember how he joined SOLDIER in the first place.
Elsewhere, Rufus and Hojo arrive in the central cave of the crater and discover a large being called WEAPON, which the latter claims is a security guard meant to protect the planet. Sephiroth takes over Cloud and, through him, convinces Barret and Red XIII to give back the Black Materia in front of the Shinra group, and thanks the soldier for being a puppet. Cloud hands the materia over to the cocooned actual body of Sephiroth while Hojo muses about Jenova cells reuniting, and soon after, the cave begins to shake and break apart. The Shinra group, Tifa, Barrett and the others make a break for Rufus' airship and barely escape while the five WEAPO Ns (Ruby, Sapphire, Ultimate, Diamond, and Emerald) rise out of their slumber and seals the crater with an energy barrier.
Tifa wakes up later and discovers that she and Barrett have been imprisoned in Junon for a week. Barrett tells her that the various WEAPO Ns have ben ravaging the world, and that Rufus is going to publicly execute them to make the populace feel better. One of the executives, Scarlett, leads Tifa to a gas chamber, but once she's inside, a disguised Cait Sith knocks out Scarlett and frees Barrett. When they attempt to save Tifa, Scarlett locks them out of the room, forcing them to find another method of rescue. While doing so, they rendezvous with an undercover Yuffie and find their way to Cid's airship (which he'd taken back from Rufus), the Highwind, while Tifa breaks free of her bonds and escapes the gas chair. At the same time, Sapphire WEAPON appears and begins to advance towards Junon Harbour.
Rufus orders Junon's massive artillery cannon to begin firing at WEAPON, which damages it, but not before shooting a round of its own through the harbour, which tears a hole in the chamber Tifa is stuck in. Tifa climbs out of the cell and makes her way to the edge of the main cannon, the Sister Ray. Scarlett confronts her, and they have a brief fight before Tifa leaps off the edge at the insistence of a mysterious voice, only to grab onto a rope lowered from the Highwind. The airship flies off as Scarlett curses at them, and Tifa is relieved to discover that the entire party (sans Cloud) is safe.
The group ponders their next move. Red XIII suggests that Cloud may have been washed into the Lifestream during the crater's collapse, and that is a place where the stream comes up through the ocean floor - Mideel. The group heads there on the airship.
When they arrive, they discover that Cloud did wash up on shore in a comatose state, and is non-responsive to the doctors because he has serious Mako poisoning. Tifa decides to stay with him while Barrett and Cid decide to go back to the Highwind and figure out what to do next.
Afterwards, Cait Sith reveals to the group that he can eavesdrop on Shinra board meetings, and the group listens as Rufus and the executives plan to destroy the massive Meteor now heading towards the planet's surface with several "Huge Materia", which are large pieces of compressed Mako that will be stored in a rocket and shot at the meteor. The group elects Cid as leader and they go to recover the first Huge Materia, which is on a train heading for North Corel. They stop the train and retrieve the Materia, and the townspeople of the village forgive Barrett for wrongly believing he was involved in Shinra's attack years earlier.
The group then heads to the rebel base Fort Condor, where they defend a phoenix who has nested on top of the building from encroaching Shinra soldiers. The Phoenix lays its egg and dies, and it hatches and births a new Phoenix that has the second Huge Materia on it. The party retrieves it and heads back to Mideel.
When they arrive, Ultimate WEAPON attacks the group. Cid and the remaining members of AVALANCHE fight it off, but the battle causes the Lifestream to begin ripping the town apart. Tifa attempts to wheel the comatose Cloud out of the town, but they don't make it in time and both plunge into the Lifestream underneath.
Tifa awakes in a strange dreamstate and finds several versions of Cloud sitting around a strange platform. She realizes that Cloud's memories are fragmented and decides to help piece together what really happened at Nibelheim so that they can escape the Lifestream.
She guides the versions of Cloud back to the village and they discuss the incident in detail. Cloud questions his childhood and asks if everything he knew was a lie, but she realizes those memories and experiences were real and that Cloud was and is a real person. When she presses him on information only the two of them could remember, Cloud brings up the memory of her mother's death and how he wanted to prove to Tifa that he could be someone of importance.
Suddenly, Cloud's true memories of the incident surface. Cloud was not the close friend of Sephiroth, but Zack was. Cloud was an ordinary soldier who came to the village but couldn't bring himself to reveal his lowly rank to Tifa. Zack attacked Sephiroth in the reactor and was incapacitated, but Cloud (using Zack's Buster Sword) ran Sephiroth through after being wounded and threw his body into the Lifestream. Faced with this newfound knowledge, Cloud and Tifa break through the Lifestream and appear at the edge of the ruined Mideel, where they are found by the group.
Onboard the Highwind, Cloud apologizes to the group for his actions and pledges to stop Sephiroth for good. The team travels to Junon to find the third Huge Materia and eventually find Reno supervising its transfer into a submarine, the Gelnika. They defeat Reno and chase after the Gelnika in another submarine they stole before shooting it down and retrieving the Materia from the wreckage. They also take the opportunity to explore the wreckage itself, where they find Reno and Rude attempting to salvage horrific research specimens that were being designed to defeat Sephiroth. After defeating the Turks, the group is set upon by these specimens before they depart. When they arrive back in Junon, they see another Shinra airship heading out and follow it.
They tail Shinra to Rocket Town and learn that the corporation has stowed the last Huge Materia in Cid's failed rocket and is going to launch it soon. The team, at CID's insistence, climbs aboard but the rocket unexpectedly launches after the executive Palmer arrives and activates it remotely. The team pulls out the last Huge Materia and go to escape, while Cid finally realizes that he had been too harsh at Shera (who is also on-board) when the oxygen tank she had been concerned about years earlier malfunctions and traps him under its weight. After she helps him escape, he apologizes to her for his poor treatment.
The team escapes from the rocket using an escape pod and arrives back on the planet. Meanwhile, the rocket impacts Meteor to no effect. They head back to Cosmo Canyon and talk to Bugenhagen, who offers to keep the Huge Materia safe in his observatory.
Taking a break from their journey, the team stops in Nibelheim. Cloud has a flashback what happened after the Nibelheim incident - he was experimented on by Hojo and rescued by fellow test subject (and friend) Zack Fair, who helps him escape the village and hitchhike back towards Midgar. When they neared the city, the duo were attacked by Shinra and Zack held them off. Zack was mortally wounded and executed soon afterwards by Shinra soldiers, who leave the weakened Cloud behind to die. Cloud screams over Zack's body before picking up his Buster Sword and heading towards Midgar, the trauma of all of the incidences causing Cloud to adopt Zack's story as his own.
Vincent also reveals that he was one of Hojo's test subjects and swears revenge against the scientist for corrupting his lost love Lucretia, who is revealed to have been Sephiroth's birth mother. As she was injected with Jenova cells, she is unable to die, and as penance for her actions, she has encased herself in crystal, to Vincent's horror.
They set off once again, and stop on the way to fight two other weapons that emerged from the crater - Ruby and Emerald WEAPO Ns. The group also finds Ultimate WEAPON, which had attacked Mideel, chasing it and preventing it from attacking various locales before finally slaying it in the air over Cosmo Canyon.
The team heads back to Bugenhagen, who reveals that the Holy spell is needed to defeat Meteor. The group finds a magical key at the bottom of the sea that unlocks a secret cave, and when Bugenhagen and the group enter, they discover that Aeris was praying for the Holy spell just before her death. As Sephiroth is actively blocking the Holy spell, Bugenhagen reasons that the only way to activate it is to kill Sephiroth.
Cait Sith interrupts by informing the party that Rufus has moved the Sister Ray to Midgar in an attempt to destroy Sephiroth's energy barrier, which causes Diamond WEAPON to rise out of the city and advance towards the metropolis. The team lands the airship in front of WEAPON and engages it in combat. When they critically injure it, WEAPON is fired on by the cannon, and retaliates by shelling the city. Rufus is seemingly killed during the attack, but the barrier protecting the Northern Crater is now dissolved and Diamond WEAPON is destroyed for good. The team checks it out, and Sith reports back that the cannon is still being fed energy and will eventually overload, destroying Midgar.
At Shinra Headquarters, it is revealed that Reeve Tuesti is the one controlling Cait Sith. He attempts to dissuade Scarlett and Heidegger to help him stop Hojo, who is at the controls of the cannon, but he is detained and kicked out of the building in response. The team flies back to Midgar and airdrop, then assault the city through various tunnels and passages in its transit network.
On the way, they meet the Turks Reno, Rude, and Elena, and have a final bout with them before continuing on into the upper plate. The group climbs up onto Midgar's streets and takes down Scarlett and Heidegger, who attempt to attack them with a Shinra war machine, the Proud Clad, before ascending a nearby tower to the cannon's controls.
There they find a ranting Hojo, who claims that he needs to send more energy to his son, Sephiroth, who he created as a result of parenting him with Lucretia and injecting her with Jenova cells while the baby was still in utero. Vincent angrily pledges to kill him for good, and the team faces off against the scientist as he mutates into an abomination after injecting himself with Jenova. The team dispatches him for good and disables the cannon, finally ending Shinra's reign over the world.
Onboard the Highwind, Cloud tells the rest of the team that they have to infiltrate the Northern Crater and stop Sephiroth's cocooned form once and for all. He advises them to go and see their loved ones, and says that anyone who doesn't want to fight won't be forced to take part.
Cloud and Tifa spend a night together under the Highwind and reflect on their experiences and their growing feelings about each other, the night ultimately culminating in their making love. The next morning, they return to the airship and find that everyone has elected to help them stop Meteor and Sephiroth.They fly to the crater and climb down into the outer caves. After splitting up to take different paths, the group reforms near the edge of the inner crater and gets ready for the battle ahead. The team splits into three and begins leaping across platforms to the very core of the planet, where the final stage of Jenova is waiting. The three parties take out her various defenses before slaying her once and for all. The platforms suddenly break apart beneath them and they fall into blackness.
They eventually land on another platform, and Cloud sees a white light that he believes to be the Holy spell. Sephiroth appears and levitates the party, then attacks them with waves of energy. The group breaks free and fights a mutated form of the soldier, "Bizarro" Sephiroth, then face his One-Winged Angel form, "Safer" Sephiroth.
After defeating both forms, the group climbs back to the lip of the inner crater. Cloud is confused and suddenly is thrust into a Battle in the Center of the Mind with Sephiroth. With all his anger, Cloud unleashes his most powerful attack, Omnislash, against the soldier and slays him in one hit. Sephiroth is seemingly dead for good and disappears. Cloud sees Holy begin to brighten. Aeris reaches out to him from the light and brings him back to Tifa, who pulls him to safety.
Cait Sith arrives to guide both of them back to the ship, and the team pilots the Highwind away from the crater. As they watch to see if Holy will destroy Meteor, Marlene is seen in the town of Kalm praying for Aeris' help.
Meteor nears the surface, and tendrils of energy begin lashing into the surrounding landscape. It appears as though Holy is working on Meteor, but a hole suddenly opens up within the latter and red energy shoots out, destroying much of Midgar.
Suddenly, columns of light begin to shoot out from the planet's surface, which drive Meteor back and begin to dissolve it. When one of Meteor's energy columns strikes the Highwind, Cid triggers an emergency escape ship that breaks away from the main piece and rockets away.
Meteor dissolves as Aeris looks on from the Lifestream, smiling.
A much-older Red XIII, flanked by two cubs, runs through a valley. They eventually run up to the lip of the valley and begin howling, while in the background, Midgar has been reduced to a ruin taken over by nature and filled with flowers.
Children are heard laughing in the background...