Where I left off, the party had just remembered that they were supposed to be looking for Sephiroth, who is supposedly heading for a place called the Temple of the Ancients. Questioning random members of the citizenry reveals that this temple is ‘way down south’ and cannot be entered without a special keystone – and, as luck would have it, we also happen to bump into the random weaponsmith who just sold this thing to, of all people, the owner of the exorbitantly pricey Golden Saucer amusement park, who even agrees to loan it to Cloud in exchange for a brief stint in his arena. Everything’s going according to plan! Now all we have to do is keep Sephiroth from getting his grubby mitts on this thing- and I guess maybe check out the temple too, just to be safe. The party chills for a while at the Golden Saucer’s haunted house, which doubles as a hotel, and Tifa drags Cloud out on a date, although I don’t think he ever quite realises that it is a date. He’s just… not a subtle person (as his taste in mêlée weaponry makes abundantly clear).
At this point, Cait Sith steals the keystone, hands it over to the Turkish police, and reveals that he’s been working for the evil power company all along, and GOD DAMN IT I knew it was a bad idea to trust a fortune-telling robot cat with a pet marshmallow demon but I just had to let myself be won over by his… his… I don’t know, I guess his blatant disregard for reality? And after pulling that $#!t, he then has the gall to ask that Cloud let him stick around like nothing had ever happened! Unfortunately, he has apparently taken Barrett’s daughter prisoner somehow (damnit, you had ONE JOB, Elmyria!), and his body is only a remote-controlled toy anyway (he’s really a power company employee, plugged into some sort of remote interface at their headquarters), so Cloud and Tifa reluctantly agree to let him stay rather than just filleting him on the spot as any reasonable person would.
Okay. New plan. We’re going to the Temple of the Ancients to fight the Turkish police. Cait Sith, for his part, is totally okay with this and even gives us the co-ordinates to the temple. Once we get there, it turns out that the Turkish police not only stole the keystone, they also failed to keep Sephiroth out of the temple after opening the damn thing. Nice going, boys. Good job. It’s not even like he’s that tough; one good stab and he just turns into a twenty-foot-tall alien angel monster, and we all know how to deal with those, right? Anyway. The moment Aeris gets near the temple, she starts hearing the voices of a group of Cetra who refused to rejoin the lifestream when they died, who give her pointers on getting through the temple, and also show us a vision of Sephiroth in a room with a striking mural of a large group of people watching a meteor fall from the sky. When we find the room, Sephiroth isn’t there, but it doesn’t take him long to put in an appearance and, like all good supervillains should, explain his diabolical plan: acquire the ultimate destruction spell, Meteor (a ‘calamity from the skies’… hmm…), from the Black Materia inside the temple, then use Meteor to cause such massive, horrific trauma to the planet that it will divert a significant portion of the lifestream to the epicentre of the blast in order to heal itself. Sephiroth will then use the knowledge he has already gained from the temple to absorb all that power and become, for all intents and purposes, a god. Honestly this sounds like a terrible plan and, if not for the part about “massive, horrific trauma to the planet,” I’d buy a truckload of popcorn, tell him to follow his dreams, and settle in to watch the show, ’cause I figure there’s better than even odds the lifestream will either take control of him somehow or just blow him up. It’s almost a shame we can’t afford to let him try. Oh well.
Anyway, Sephiroth messes with Cloud’s brain briefly and then vanishes. Aeris learns from the Cetra spirits that, actually, the Black Materia Sephiroth is looking for is the temple itself, which can be magically shrunk down to a nice convenient size by solving a puzzle model – but this can only be done from the inside, crushing whoever gets stuck with that job. Luckily, Cait Sith has a suggestion – he’ll do it! His body’s only a toy anyway. Before the others leave, he says farewell to the party by offering to read someone’s fortune, and Aeris asks him to check her romantic compatibility with Cloud (apparently, they’re astonishingly perfect for each other) – while Tifa is standing right there. Dick move, Aeris. Seriously, dick move. Cait Sith gets a nice scene in the temple core where he talks about how he’s happy that he gets to be a hero, and how there are lots of toys like him, but there’s only one of him, and anyway even if he’s going to die it was worth it to make Aeris smile, and y’know what? This would be really touching if not for the fact that the bastard comes straight back in an identical new body about five minutes later.
So we get the Black Materia… and Sephiroth shows up again, mind-rapes Cloud into handing it over, and leaves.
…y’know, I’m starting to think everyone in this party is going to betray everyone else at least once by the end of the game.
Cloud has a total breakdown and goes to sleep for about a week, waking up with a profound sense of total worthlessness, and contemplating abandoning the whole fight, since he clearly can’t let his teammates rely on him against Sephiroth. Tifa and Barrett convince him that it’s no biggie; they can always smack him upside the head and sort him out later if he flips again. There are bigger problems, though. While Cloud is sleeping, he sees Aeris in a dream, explaining to him something she has evidently told the party as well: Sephiroth is going to a place on the northern continent called the City of the Ancients to cast Meteor, and Aeris wants Cloud to just sit back, take some Cloud-time, and let her handle Sephiroth. Alone.
Wait, what? No. Aeris, no; that is a terrible idea. Do you remember what happened the last time you left the party without taking any materia, Miss Quarterstaff-and-a-pink-dress? I can understand wanting to leave Cloud behind; he’s just not in a good place at the moment, even if he is the best fighter in the group. You don’t need to leave everyone else behind to guard him,though! Even if you don’t want anyone else to get hurt, what did we just learn about Cait Sith? It’s okay if he dies. He doesn’t mind. By the way, as long as we’re on this train of thought, it’s also okay if Yuffie dies. She f#$%ing deserves it. I’m pretty sure with Cloud out of commission you’re pretty much the de facto protagonist anyway; no-one’s going to question you if you just want to lead the whole party in there. There’s no reason this has to be a…
…c^@p I just figured out how Aeris dies LET’S HAUL ASS, PEOPLE!