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What We Know for Sure

II.Holy and Meteor

- a.“Why Holy Failed”

When Cloud and his friends escape from the Northern Crater in the jet pod that Cid releases when he pulls the “emergency” lever in the Highwind, Holy races towards Meteor to, presumably, block it out. It appears to be doing this because it cuts off Meteor from Midgar and the red cyclones stop. Unfortunately (for Midgar) Holy doesn’t stop Meteor at all. In fact, after only a brief moment, it opens up and lets Meteor through, even going so far as to actively assist in its destructive goal.

Red: “It's too late for Holy. Meteor is approaching the Planet. Holy is having the opposite effect. Forget Midgar, we've gotta worry about the Planet.”

Notice how Red (XIII) says that Meteor is having the OPPOSITE effect. This is the only spoken proof to the claim that Holy is actually helping Meteor, but it is more than enough. Since the party believed that Holy was going to stop Meteor, when Red states it is having the opposite effect it is, instead, helping Meteor. To stop or to go, not to stop or not to stop. If it were just failing Red would not have said it was having the “opposite effect.” To fail would the neutral equivalent to stopping Meteor. Instead, it is helping Meteor, or having an “opposite effect.”

When people finish FF7 a common point of confusion is that very line Red speaks; why was Holy helping Meteor? Throughout the entirety of the game it seems to the player that Holy would be the answer that AVALANCHE was looking for. They would release it and it would stop Meteor and its destructive ways. This was, obviously, not the case. Why then does this occur?

The answer is quite simple and was actually hinted at during the game on a few occasions. Holy may have interpreted the real threat to the Planet not as Meteor but as humanity itself. The game makes a huge elusion to this fact when Bugenhagen examines the crystal in the Ancient City (the part right when they replay Aeris’ death sequence).

Bugenhagen: “Holy... the ultimate White Magic. Magic that might stand against Meteor. Perhaps our last hope to save the Planet from Meteor. If a soul seeking Holy reaches the planet, it will appear. Ho Ho Hoooo. Meteor, WEAPON, everything will disappear. Perhaps, even ourselves.”

Cloud: “Even us!?”

Bugenhagen: “It is up to the planet to decide. What is best for the Planet. What is bad for the Planet. All that is bad will disappear. That is all. Ho Ho Hoooo. I wonder which we humans are?”

This exchange of dialogue between Bugenhagen and Cloud clearly cannot be overlooked or ignored. This is perhaps the single most persuasive argument to support the theory that Holy’s “opposite effect” wasn’t an error but intentional, and that Holy was targeting Humanity all along.

One glaring argument against this is that Bugenhagen said “ALL that is bad will disappear.” So why then would Holy assist Meteor if Meteor too was bad? Couldn’t it have just as easily targeted both Humanity and Meteor?

Perhaps we are overstating the power of Holy. When it emerges from the Northern crater and moves underneath Meteor it seems to resemble a shield, rather than some kind of magical force. Indeed, I would wager that Holy isn’t as powerful as Bugenhagen made it appear to be. Holy’s purpose was essentially a Meteor counter, not a giant reset button for the Planet. In this way, the Cetra fashioned it as a shield that would envelop the Planet, keeping all foreign objects off of its surface for a certain period of time (probably until a sufficient blast occurred which it would interpret as Meteor’s dissolution).

We also know that Meteor has hit before. This of course isn’t really touched on in the game but that’s irrelevant - it doesn’t have to be. Anybody who knows anything about FF7 knows what I mean when I say “Northern Crater.” Northern Crater was created by Meteor’s summoning, and we know this is true for two facts. One, what else could have created such an impact? JENOVA falling to the Planet couldn’t have created such a gaping wound because her mass is simply not large enough, especially as compared to Meteor. Two, in the Temple of the Ancients we see a mural depicting past events in an Egyptian style art form. Painted by the Cetra (who else?), it clearly shows somebody using the Black Materia (JENOVA, perhaps?) and then Meteor striking the Planet.

If Holy had existed already the Cetra would have used it. Therefore, we know Holy was fashioned in response to the existence of the Black Materia, once the Cetra learned about it. As a result it would make sense that since it was targeting Meteor only it would only have that purpose - hence the shield idea. And of course we know Holy cannot be the metaphorical reset button Bugenhagen makes it out to be, because, once again, of the Northern Crater’s existence. Not only this, but the WEAPONs exist still. Bugenhagen specifically states they will be erased if Holy is activated. If Holy could cure all the harm, why not summon it to heal the Northern Crater? Don’t say it’s because all the Cetra were dying out because we know some lived (or else Ifalna could not have) and we know it only takes one to summon Holy (Aeris summoned it, for example). And why not summon it for the added advantage of defeating JENOVA, instead of just imprisoning her in the “geological stratum,” knowing full well she might one day come back? Or of curing the Cetra of their virus (the one JENOVA gave them)? It doesn’t make any sense that the Cetra would sit on their hands and do nothing if they had the ability to push reset and solve all their problems at once.

Therefore, it can be deduced that Holy’s only ability was to envelop Planet in a shield. As a shield, it would need physical form, so the “opposite effect” would be to envelop Meteor in Holy (instead of Planet) to increase the strength of Meteor. So the theory stands.

As to why it targeted Humanity over Meteor, the answer is simple. We have already proven that Meteor hit once before. Did the Planet die? No. In fact, it is slowly healing itself (we see this for ourselves as the Lifestream swirls around the wound on Disc 2). But Humanity’s damage cannot be healed. Humanity is like AIDS - it is directly affecting the immune system of the Planet, or its Lifestream. It’s sucking Lifestream and there is no way Planet can heal it because to heal itself it needs, yes, Lifestream!

There is also one more point to support this whole interpretation that Holy made (that Humanity is the greater evil and that the only way to stop it was to team up with Meteor). It concerns the very nature of the Planet’s life forms themselves (this is a much wider spectrum, and it states that not just Humanity but ALL life on the Planet was targeted). It is covered below in section E-II-a-ii (The Great Variable Debate, Mankind, Possibility One…, Parasites). Go and read it for more clarification on this subject.

- b.“Aeris’ Sacrifice”

In Final Fantasy 7, the main heroine, Aeris, is martyred right before the player’s very eyes. How could something so terrible befall such an innocent girl? She was, of course, praying for Holy only moments before she was slaughtered by Sephiroth and his deadly Masamune companion blade - a fact we don’t learn until very much later in the game. At the time it seemed like a pointless waste to kill off such a great character without any real justification barring “Sephiroth is a jerk.”

As the game progressed, however, it did reveal to us that she wasn’t just arbitrarily murdered. The reason, while not apparent, was because Sephiroth was trying to silence her and ability to summon Holy.

Aeris was a half-Cetra, half-Human young woman who was one year older than the hero of the game, Cloud Strife (which makes her, therefore 22). Pursued all her life by Shinra, she always knew she was somehow different than the other children, much like how Cloud felt when he grow up in Nibelheim. His differences were more human and were therefore easier to identify with. Cloud was a violent kid because he was inherently shy, especially around a young Tifa Lockheart, whom he had a crush on. Unbeknownst to him she had the very same feelings towards him - however, their two differentiating personas kept them from sharing their true feelings with each other. Tifa was a popular girl, the model leader of the social group in Nibelheim. Cloud, however, was on the opposite end of the social strata. Preferring the “lone wolf” approach to problems, he grew up arrogant and as a result became violent. He always had a huge ego; in fact, when he failed to make SOLDIER he refused to show his face in his home town because he did not want to lose what little pride he had left.

Aeris, however, had problems of a radically different kind. While inherently nice and somewhat outgoing, she had already experienced deeply tragic events, even as a child. Her mother, Ifalna, was killed as she tried to help Aeris escape the clutches of Shinra scientists. Taken in by Elmyra, Aeris grew up amidst terrible moans from the Planet as it died. She heard her mother’s voice at times but, not knowing she was a Cetra, believed herself crazy and hoped they would eventually go away. This of course did not happen because they were not figments of her imagination. Knowing full well her powers set her apart from everyone else, she did her best to hide them while she grew up.

Aeris was also forced to deal with the Shinra, who were not happy about losing her in the first place. Already having killed her mother, Ifalna, and father, Professor Gast, an ex-Shinra scientist, they had little knowledge of the Cetra race. They knew, however, that Aeris was the last Cetra and that she could potentially lead them to the Promised Land; either that, or serve as a brilliant test subject for further JENOVA Project-like creations.

In any case, Aeris soon escaped Shinra for what would be the last time with the help of Cloud Strife and his cohorts. Choosing to stay with him despite the dangers he warned her would lie ahead, Aeris slowly developed both an increasing understanding of her background and culture, but feelings for Cloud as well.

Unfortunately, she was unable to truly realize her powers before she learned she had to summon Holy. She was the bearer of the White Materia, which was the only way to summon the shield to stop Meteor and Sephiroth’s evil plans. As a result she quickly left Cloud’s party to head to the City of the Ancients to pray for the release of Holy. When Cloud finally reaches her he is unable to do anything as Sephiroth slides the cold steel blade of the Masamune through her back, killing her.

For the rest of the game Aeris is unplayable. There is no way to revive her or any way to get her back in your party (short of using a gameshark, but this is pointless because it doesn’t revive her; it simply lets you fight with her and, for all intensive purposes, everyone thinks she is still dead - including her). For many gamely hours after this stirring event, the player is left wonder why exactly Aeris was where she was and what she was doing. Why did Sephiroth kill her, and was it really all that necessary?

-- i. Pointless

Aeris’ death is being viewed with increasing distaste by many in the FF7 community. Once people really understood what happened at the end, Aeris’ death seemed like a waste of time and a stupid, unnecessarily sad point in the game that could have been avoided. This especially applied to C/A fans who still argue that somewhere along the line Aeris and Cloud should have gotten together and that she should never have died, Squaresoft be damned for doing what they did.

The main point here is that Holy failed. Plain and simple.

Red: “It's too late for Holy. Meteor is approaching the Planet. Holy is having the opposite effect. Forget Midgar, we've gotta worry about the Planet.”

Why the hell do we have to watch Aeris be killed over something that in the end was proven an irrelevant move? Holy did not stop Meteor - the Lifestream is what saved the day. Aeris was not killed because she prayed to activate the Lifestream, but because she prayed to activate Holy. Therefore, it’s only logical to construe from this that Aeris’ death was an idiotic waste and that she should have stayed alive to be with Cloud or whatever else could have happened to her. Knowing this doesn’t even make her death seem as tragic as you might think, it’s now reduced to being just sad (and sad meaning both disheartening and pathetic). After all, the idea here was supposed to be that she died saving the Planet. But, in the end, her death did little to save the Planet because Holy seemingly backstabbed the very thing it was meant to protect. Had Aeris known that Holy would turn on her friends I can guarantee you she would not have gone to pray for it in the first place. It’s irrational to think that her death was a requirement for the salvation of Humanity and/or the other life forms on the Planet because of this fact.

This is, of course, a very good point. In fact, it’s so good that I myself believe her death (at least story wise) pointless. And, as far as this point goes, it can’t be refuted directly. I will have to see what I can show you in part ii. Necessary, and as a result will not post an answer to that point here.

Assuming you want to throw that point out the window for some reason (such as you felt like arbitrarily ignoring the fact that Holy indeed failed, despite all the evidence pointing to it and Red XIII specifically stating that it did), you’ll want to have more than one reason as to why her death was pointless.

We know Holy hit before, as I proved above in D-II-a, “Why Holy Failed.” As a result, there was never any real need to stop its collision so long as AVALANCHE could successfully destroy Sephiroth. A proper contingency plan could easily have prevented this entire fiasco, especially since there is no evidence whatsoever that states Aeris had to pray from that specific place in that specific city. She could have, for example, brought the Materia with her and, if the fight with Sephiroth seemed to be a lost cause, then she could have prayed for Holy. This, however, mandates that everyone in Midgar is killed solely for the purpose of justifying Aeris’ salvation and as a result is both immoral but irrational. Aeris, after all, wouldn’t stand for that.

Therefore, we arrive at the softer version of that same theory. Aeris could just as easily pray for Holy in Gongaga next to Cloud’s bed. Again, there is no person, place, or thing that says at any point and/or time during the game that Aeris specifically had to be at that altar in the Ancient City. To run off alone lead to her death because, had she stayed with Cloud and company, she’d have had all the protection she needed (and there’d be no convenient ledges for Sephiroth to fall from).

You can argue that this is minor because after all how does the fact her death could have been prevented make it pointless? Well it does. Squaresoft’s intention to kill Aeris’ off was that of theme. They intended to relay self-sacrifice for the good of all. This of course is not only not achieved (because Holy failed in the end) but unrealistic. If there is no need for somebody to die then they shouldn’t die. By all means Aeris can be a martyr if she has to, but the fact remains she didn’t. There was no point in her being a martyr because she could just as easily waited until everybody got better. As a result, the only thing that Squaresoft manages to achieve is complete and total annihilation of whatever scraps of worth Aeris’ death had, and they did this the moment Red opened his mouth during the final FMV. Since they missed the point of her death (self-sacrifice) it becomes, inherently, without point or, yes that’s right, pointless.

Of course you can always make the argument that even though it wasn’t specifically stated she had to be at that altar it could very well have been so. To this I’ll consent.

Aeris: “This forest leads to the City of the Ancients... and is called the Sleeping Forest. It's only a matter of time before Sephiroth uses Meteor. That's why I’m going to protect it. Only a survivor of the Cetra, like me, can do it. This secret is just up here. At least it should be. ...I feel it. It feels like I'm being led by something.”

Aeris being a Cetra may matter, but then again you can never be sure because Humans are Cetra too, just without the ability to speak with the Planet and with limited magical ability (more on this in section E-II: “Humanity”). She also makes a remark saying she is being “led” by something to the Ancient City. Still, this doesn’t mean she absolutely must be there to do the summoning. Still, I will concede that there is evidence pointing towards the fact she needed to be at the Ancient City.

However, it makes no sense as to why she wouldn’t wait until Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Cid, Red, Cait Sith, and whomever other characters you had at that point (Vincent and/or Yuffie) could join her and protect her. If her mission was so important you’d think she’d have the foresight to ask for at least one body guard (why didn’t she ask Barret to come with her, for example). She’s asked for body guards before, why stop now? The Planet certainly wouldn’t mandate she go alone because to do so risks its own death. It’s horribly unrealistic to assume that she would go alone had this been real-life.

Thus, Aeris’ death is not only pointless but unrealistic. I feel that she shouldn’t have had to die, especially considering the fact that she was such a great character and was arguably one of the only reasons I played FF7 to begin with. Her story was more interesting than Cloud’s, albeit not nearly as elaborated upon, but then again that could be my own personal bias stepping in. Whatever the case, nobody can deny that she didn’t have to die because no sane person can say to himself that Holy was a requirement in the Planet’s salvation. Rather or not you believe realism is necessary, that fact still stands and always will.

-- ii.Necessary

There are arguments that say Aeris’ death was necessary. Aeris’ death was necessary in some degree, but rather or not it was necessary in the board scheme of things is what’s truly debatable. None the less, if we are to assume, for whatever reason, that Red was a liar and that the Lifestream didn’t stop Meteor but that Holy did, we therefore have a much stronger reason as to why Aeris’ was required to die.

The problem with this debate as a whole is that you can’t have a middle ground. If you say that Aeris’ had to die you have to say Holy was required. Similarly, one can’t argue that Aeris’ didn’t need to die if Holy was required. Holy’s requirement is the main premise of the above arguments; although not just it’s failure was used to support her death’s wasteful nature, it was certainly the strongest argument. The same goes here, except the entire idea is inversed. Above, Holy was a failure and as a result the entire point of summoning it was not ridiculous, let alone dying for it’s summoning. Conversely, if Holy was somehow connected with saving the Planet at the end, Aeris’ had to die for it.

This significantly weakens the body guard and non-realism points from the above (D-II-b-I, “Pointless”) subsection. The only way to prove that Aeris’ death was necessary would be to also prove two things: One, Holy needs to be proven as good. Two, Aeris’ death needs to be shown as a requirement, not a side-affect, of the summoning. Part one is almost impossible to do considering the overwhelming arguments against that viewpoint (we will, however, attempt in just a moment), but part two is significantly easier to show.

Bugenhagen: “Holy... the ultimate White Magic. Magic that might stand against Meteor. Perhaps our last hope to save the Planet from Meteor. If a soul seeking Holy reaches the planet, it will appear. Ho Ho Hoooo. Meteor, WEAPON, everything will disappear. Perhaps, even ourselves.”

The entirety of proof in support of Aeris’ death being a requirement and not a side-affect is shown in this quote. Pay special attention to the fact Bugenhagen states “if a souls seeking Holy reaches the planet, it will appear.” Now, we don’t know rather or not to take Bugenhagen’s word on everything, especially since he has most likely been wrong on a multitude of things in the past including Holy’s strength, but you must not deny that what he says is almost conclusive in its support of Aeris’ needing to die. In order for Holy’s activation, Bugenhagen essentially hints, it cannot simply be prayed for. It needs a sacrifice.

Cloud: “Only the Ancients, only Aeris can save us from the Meteor...”

It is somewhat suggested by the above phrase and the following phrase (after this paragraph) that a Cetra must be sacrificed, although this does not have to be so. It is somewhat ambiguous as to rather or not the Ancients are indeed the only ones who can cast Holy, especially considering that Humans are Cetra too (just devolved and without the ability to speak with the Planet - more on this in section E-II: “Humanity”).

Aeris: “This forest leads to the City of the Ancients... and is called the Sleeping Forest. It’s only a matter of time before Sephiroth uses Meteor. That’s why I'm going to protect it. Only a survivor of the Cetra, like me, can do it.”

This seems to lend further proof to the argument that a Cetra had to specifically be sacrificed, and that nothing else would do. But rather or not this sacrifice needs to be Cetra isn’t relevant here; however, what is relevant is that it needed someone who was “seeking Holy,” and the only person on the Planet at that time that fit that description was obviously Aeris. Therefore the only feasible sacrifice could have been Aeris, no matter if it needed to be Cetra or not.

There are some huge counterpoints to this idea however. First off, Aeris would not have died had Sephiroth not swooped in. Sephiroth’s Masamune is what solved the second half of the puzzle, apparently, and this of course raises some suspicions.

Aeris: “Then, I’ll be going now. I’ll come back when it’s all over.”

Obviously Aeris had no intention to kill her self (although she may have, and therefore we will continue on this subject further in E-V-a: “Possibility One: Finding Aeris”), else she probably would not have told cloud she’d be returning to him. She’s honest to a fault and therefore wouldn’t lie to Cloud. And, if she had been planning on suicide after praying for Holy she’d certainly have said a lot more to Cloud. It’s obvious she loved him, so therefore why did she not give a more meaningful and heartfelt goodbye?

Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that Aeris was not going to kill herself. This is further stressed by a brief dialogue between Cloud and Tifa onboard the Highwind after the Mideel sequence.

Tifa: “I wonder what Aeris felt... when she was on that altar...?”

Cloud: “I'm sure she wanted to give her life for the Planet...”

Tifa: “Really? I wonder? I don’t think that's it at all. I think she didn’t think she would die at all, but that she planned on coming back all along. She always used to talk about the ‘next time’. She talked about the future more that any of us...”

Aeris’ ability to speak with the Planet would not have allowed her to think this way or speak how she did had she had to die. The Planet would have known that she had to die to release Holy so, as a result, would have informed her that she had to kill herself. Otherwise it would have been forced to rely on an outside intervention; namingly, Sephiroth.

This of course is fundamentally flawed. Sephiroth traversed the Lifestream himself. He knew how Holy operated and killed Aeris’ because he was trying to prevent it. Sephiroth wasn’t stupid, and obviously knew how both Holy and Meteor worked. He wouldn’t have killed Aeris’ if her death meant completing Holy’s activation.

Aeris: “Sephiroth is different. He's not an Ancient.

Cloud: “He shouldn't be able to find the Promised Land.

Sephiroth: “...Ah, but I have. I'm far superior to the Ancients. I became a traveler of the Lifestream and gained the knowledge and wisdom of the Ancients.”

The only possible counterargument to this would be to say that either of the following occurred: One, Sephiroth didn’t know that Holy needed a sacrifice or, Two, Sephiroth assumed Aeris’ hadn’t completed the prayer section of the summoning yet. Both of these arguments, however, are excruciatingly weak and have no support for them whatsoever. In fact, Sephiroth would have obviously known about the fact Holy needed a sacrifice if this was indeed true. As he said before, he had “gained the knowledge and wisdom of the Ancients.” And, since they created Holy, they would have known it needed a sacrifice.

And even if all of that doesn’t hold ground against Bugenhagen’s claim for some reason, we still have to prove that Holy was good in the end for Aeris’ death to have a point to it. First, we’d have to bar Red’s comment about it having the “opposite” effect. We’d also have to bar all the things that Bugenhagen himself said as well, which presents an inherent credibility gap if done for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, for the purpose of argument, let us satisfy those two preconditions.

Holy would protect the Planet, no matter what. Although Aeris’ didn’t know that this meant killing off Humanity and/or all life on the Planet, she did want to save the Planet. As a result, summoning Holy did have a point - it would save the Planet. But as the player, Cloud’s party, and most likely Aeris would agree, the ends certainly aren’t going to justify the means. How unfair would it be that the very people who released Holy would become it’s target? It seems very unjust, but in order to support Holy as a good thing you must not only accept this as so but you must also accept it as just. Such is the closest one can come to saying Holy had a point to being summoned. However, this is a weak argument indeed, and certainly is no grounds for Aeris dying because it would create an inherent contradiction. Aeris would die only to be the cause of more death. In a way, Holy would be more destructive than Meteor because, while Meteor’s affect would be huge it would only create a huge crater and kill Midgar’s inhabitants (and possibly Kalm’s as well, due to the proximity). Holy, however, would try and find a way to kill all humanity and/or life forms. This seems inherently contradictory to the game’s entire point, and would seem to argue in favor of Sephiroth using Holy instead of Meteor to attain his goals. This of course is not what happens and as a result cannot be the case. In this way, Holy can never be construed as good or required and, therefore, Aeris dying for it would be pointless.

If you couple all that I said above with the surprised look on Aeris’ face (as well as her ghost in the church, which for some reason seems to indicate that she didn’t meld with the Lifestream or “reach planet seeking Holy”) we have a very convincing argument in favor of a pointless death once again. I am aware that this is entitled “ii. Necessary,” as a subsection but in the end it was just a misnomer I purposely left in there. The entire fact of the matter is that Aeris didn’t need to die. And, of course, this will help a great deal in E-V-a-I “Possibility One: Finding Aeris.”


Final Fantasy 7 Index

- Introduction
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--- Main
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--- List: Magic
--- List: Command
--- List: Summon
--- List: Support
--- List: Indep..
--- List: Unique
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- World Map
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- Ending Script
- Official Artwork
--- Amano Artwork
--- Nomura Artwork
--- Nomura Sketches
--- Location Sketches
- Commercials
--- US Pics #1
--- US Pics #2
--- US Pics #3
--- JP Pics #1
- Sampler Disc
- Poster Scans
- FMV Pictures
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