She knew what she would find before she reached the door. It
was quiet inside, and cold. The screens all around flickered with static, the
recordings played out, the sad story told.
And Sephiroth stood in the middle of it all, back turned,
head bowed, stone still. Aeris said nothing. She reached out to him, but drew
her hand back as his chest heaved. There was no sound. No sound from him at
all. Aeris closed her eyes and exhaled. She wrapped her arms around herself
against the invading cold.
She waited till her feet felt grounded on the floor again,
when her weight did not shift off-center of its own accord. When she opened her
eyes Sephiroth still stood where he had been. His head tilted back, as if
answers lay on the ceiling. Aeris sighed and stepped over to the console. Her
fingers went over the controls she had learned too well. One by one the lights
and screens turned off.
When she turned around Sephiroth was looking right at her,
or through her. It was hard to tell. The glow in his eyes had dimmed. He raised
his chin. “You knew?”
She nodded. “My mother told me,” she said, looking around at
the equipment that dominated the room. “And then I saw these.”
Sephiroth’s chest moved as he took a deep breath. He turned
away, spinning on one heel to give her his back again. It was snowing outside
again, Aeris thought, studying his tall frame against the far window. They
would have to walk back in the cold.
As if he thought the same, Sephiroth shivered. His shoulders
drooped and he seemed to curl in on himself. “They told me he died,” he said,
arms hanging limp at his sides. “They told me he died, but they never said how.”
Aeris felt the threat of tears she thought had been all
cried out. “I’m sorry.”
Sephiroth shook his head. “It’s not like you did it,” he
said, and they both ignored the way his voice cracked. He looked back over his
shoulder, nose a little red. From the cold.
Aeris swallowed against the lump in her throat and almost
choked. “It wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t stepped in to protect us.” She
closed her eyes against the burn. “They wouldn’t have come for him at all if my
mother hadn’t- hadn’t had me.”
She crumpled and fell. She hit something large and warm
instead of the cold, hard floor. He didn’t say anything. She didn’t either. They stayed inside all night, and afterwards blamed it on the snow.
I think Professor Gast is a fascinating character. Gast Faremis is a major character in FFVII’s backstory, he used to be the head of Shinra’s Science Department and is Aerith’s father.
The only scenes Gast is shown in are the home videos that are viewable in his house in Icicle Inn as well as a flashback of Vincent’s and he’s mentioned multiple times by Sephiroth, Vincent and Hojo. He’s also mentioned by Elder Bughe in Cosmo Canyon that can only be triggered after visiting Bugenhagen’s planetarium
for the first time but before reuniting with the rest of the group around Cosmo Candle.
I was disappointed that there’s no flashbacks of Gast in Dirge of Cerberus (nor was he mentioned) and in Crisis Core he’s mentioned by Sephiroth when Sephiroth is reading the Jenova Project reports in the Shinra Mansion/Manor in Nibelheim (but it’s the same scene that’s shown in the original FFVII) and Hojo references Gast in this quote; “A memento from an unenlightened era, when men could deem any unclassified life form an Ancient.’’ It almost feels like to me that Square Enix like to forget about Gast whenever possible.
I hope that in the FFVII Remake Gast’s character is more explored, I would love to see more flashbacks of him, but I shouldn’t expect too much. Even if SE add things like journals and audio recordings by Gast that can be found in his house, Shinra Mansion/Manor, etc. about his thoughts and feelings regarding the Jenova Project, Sephiroth, Hojo, Lucrecia, Ifalna, Aerith, his time working for Shinra, etc. would be something.
I just hope SE doesn’t think that Gast has become irrelevent due to the fact he died 22 years before the start of FFVII and not to expand more on his story and character, it would be such a wasted opportunity if they do for such an important character.
Some things from Professor Gast’s photo collection:
1. Late forties - with Shinra Snr at one of the first official meetings of ‘Shinra Inc’, a foundling organisation branching out from weapons development into energy production. Young Robert Shinra was just about the most handsome, charismatic businessman alive, and nobody, least of all Gast, had any doubt that his would become a household name in time (for better or worse).
2. Mid fifties - with Isabella, Gast’s second child to his first wife, and fourteen-year-old Hojo. After being displaced from Wutai, Hojo gained the necessary references to apply to university in Junon by doing a summer internship with Gast. Hojo lived with Gast’s family during those three months, though never did win the children’s affection.
3. Early sixties - visiting Bugenhagen at Cosmo Canyon and seeing Seto’s first child, Nanaki.
There are a lot of questions about Lucrecia’s culpability for the part she played in the Jenova project and all of them seem to be frustrated by a mandate that she come across as a reasonably sympathetic or tragic character, probably thanks to her connections to Vincent. Even if I were so inclined to pay attention to it, I think Dirge kind of skimmed over the point entirely by situating her life’s work in something completely unrelated.
I think it’s the extent to which she’s shown as a suffering, penitent figure that leads to the impression that she somehow isn’t as responsible for what happened as Hojo is - that she was coerced, that her relationship with Hojo was terrible, and that she might have been saved if she’d just left to be with Vincent earlier.
I tend to find that the least interesting interpretation, probably because it affords her the least agency, and relegates her most to a figure in Vincent’s tragic backstory. I don’t think it’s nearly as interesting that she so strongly regrets her complacency rather than the choices she made.
The other two scientists on the Jenova Project unquestionably made their choices consciously. One of them, Professor Gast, never demonstrates any regret aside from implicitly through his involvement with Ifalna, and is still afforded sympathy and humanity from the story, to the point that the project is often thought of as mostly Hojo’s responsibility.
In some ways I think Lucrecia’s denied the same complexity. They want her to be sympathetic and her guilt to be believable, and so they skirt her feelings on her participation altogether, thus creating this ambiguity. I think it’s absolutely a gender thing - Lucrecia making the same choices as her peers will somehow be read as different, particularly as she carried the baby, and I don’t think the writers knew that of the fans so much as felt that way themselves.
At the end of the day, Lucrecia does not spend a lot of time rubbing elbows with good people; Vincent might be better than Hojo, but he was still a corporate assassin. I think it’s really only fair to assume that she was at least as morally dubious as the company she kept.
There’s a tendency in environmentalist stories to treat technology, industry, and the products of human ingenuity and curiosity as inherently oppositional. It’s a message I’m glad this game veers away from.
Nature can be a destructive force; science can produce marvels, romantic and beautiful as anything. More importantly, the two can harmonize. It’s a false dichotomy and you don’t really need to choose between one or the other. The problem is exploitation, a selfish and short-sighted attitude, and that can be expressed with a meteor as much as with a mako reactor.
Professor Gast: “So, Weapon no longer exists on this Planet?”
Ifalna: “Weapon cannot vanish. It remains asleep somewhere on the Planet. Even though Jenova is confined, it could come back to life at some time..The planet has not fully healed itself yet. It’s keeping watch on Jenova.”
Professor Gast: “Where is Weapon?”
Ifalna: “I don’t know.. I can’t hear the voice of the Planet well…Times…have changed. The Planet…is probably watching this situation closely”
Professor Gast: “…Thankyou, Ifalna, that will be all for today”
Coming back to the old Soulmate AU Tour. This time you have dreams about what your Soulmates see until you dream of yourself in them.
Sephiroth always suspected his dreams were strangely vivid, like if he dared to reach out or speak he could change them. The idea never came to him when it was happening. He did notice patterns though.
One night, after asking Professor Gast about his mother once again. He realized whenever he felt that lonely emotion, he dreamed about a woman.
She had messy blonde hair, but a kind smile that softened her icy blue eyes. He didn’t understand everything she said to him and sometimes her accent was a little too thick for him. But it was always said in a kind and loving way.
Realistically, he knew there was no way in Hel this woman could be his mother. She was too young, and looked nothing at all like him.
He still dreamed though and took comfort in the way she made him feel.
Sephiroth knew what kind of dream he was going to have. He’d had a long day of nonstop training and he felt exhausted. He could hardly hold Masamune when he was done.
He collapsed and fell asleep in moments.
He was running through the trees a laugh echoing around him. The air smelled of sweetly rotting fruit and apple blossoms. He felt exhilerated as he chased a redhead around a tree, tagging him and sprinting off in the opposite direction.
He practically jumped up a tree, ignoring the protests of his playmate.
Sephiroth was still admiring the sunset off in the distance when the lights in the lab flicked on and woke him up.
He felt bored, his mind numb from examining troop movements, case studies, new scenarios and trying to build his own somehow better one. Hojo seemed disappointed, but Sephiroth honestly felt like he was going to throw up if he had to work anymore.
He didn’t mean to fall asleep during his lunch break, but it was so easy.
He was being rocked, a sensation he wasn’t sure had ever actually happened to him. Wrinkled and gnarled hands were covering his, wrapping them gently in gauze. The skin on his hands was scraped and bleeding.
“There’s always a smarter way,” an old woman’s voice told him, “and next time you won’t hurt yourself in a stupid way.” A child giggled and Sephiroth snuggled back into the old woman cradling him.
He saw a much younger woman walk into the house and start scolding him before he jerked awake. He scarfed down the meal, hardly tasting it and rushed back to his scribbled and scratched sheets.
He was in Wutai when he had the surreal experience of seeing himself while he slept. His SiC gave an order to him, to find Sephiroth and wake him because they saw Wutai scouts in the treeline and needed to move.
When the tent flap, his tent’s flap, opened and showed him dozing face down on his cot he jerked awake. A young, black-haired man staring at him.
“Scouts in the trees,” Sephiroth muttered, “start packing?” The man cocked his head.
“How did you know?”
Sephiroth stared at him for a long moment, still tired. He realized he was actually awake.
“I…that wasn’t a dream was it?” Sephiroth was confused.
Angeal, and Genesis were patient with him, helping put the pieces together, but confessed that they weren’t the only source of his dreams. They had seen the grandmother and the blonde woman too, and had no clue who they were.
It took a month for Sephiroth to accept that they were soulmates. After that it made a little more sense.
It was nice being able to see that they were okay when he slept.
Genesis was the one that dragged Zack, whom he had caught sleeping in the middle of his punishment KP duty, and fit him into where he belonged.
“You…you guys saw Grams?” Zack asked tearfully.
Sephiroth cried a little too when he found out the old woman died six months prior. He had gotten attached to her.
Sephiroth spent most of the mission to Nibelhiem confused. He swore he had been here before, but couldn’t place it. Zack made him feel a little better when he said the same thing.
It was really bizarre. The only one who should feel that way was the trooper who actually was from here. The one…not taking his helmet off.
Zack managed to invite both of them over for a home-cooked meal at the trooper’s old home. Both of them were struck silent when a familiar woman opened the door.
“Storm Cloud!” she greeted warmly. Sephiroth fought hard not to call her “Ma” like he had hundreds of times in his dreams. She stared at the two silent SOLDIERs before brushing it off.
“Whatcha wearin’ the helmet fer?” she drawled out, already taking it off his head.
“Well that makes more sense,” Zack blurted out when it came off. Sephiroth had the mind to nudge him.
Mrs. Strife understood very well when both men explained their initial shock and confusion. Cloud could not stop blushing during the entire conversation. She teased him mercilessly, but all of them expected nothing less.
“An’ you kin call me Ma,” she assured Sephiroth, wrapping him in a warm half hug that made him feel happily nostalgic.
“I should have figured there was more than one,” Cloud said when he finished trying to bury his head in his scarf.
“Uh, I have more news,” Zack said, “you have two more soulmates.”
Genesis swore when they made their first video call with Cloud. He recovered quickly though.
“I can’t wait to cuddle you,” Genesis said, “all of us in a big cuddle pile, so we can all see each other when we sleep.”
“That’s sappy,” Angeal noted as Angeal laughed and Sephiroth and Cloud blushed.
Imagine how hearing about Sephiroth must have felt to Aeris. She leaves Midgar in search of answers about herself and what it means to be an Ancient and the first and only person she learns of who shares her experience is a mass murderer with delusions of grandeur, seeking the very same Promised Land. The Nibelheim sequence must carry an entirely different sort of horror for her.
Suppose as well that she knows her father was Professor Gast, the man who put the wheels to all this in motion. The only thing to suggest that she doesn’t know is that she never mentions it to the party - but then, there is a lot that Aeris never tells us.
Despite what Hojo says, I’m not convinced that Sephiroth didn’t know the truth of who his father was.
It’s entirely possible that he is completely ignorant, that his open disdain for his father is reserved only for an empty space in his life. Hojo himself has also probably done enough to earn his disapproval, even aside from any paternal issues.
But I can’t help but consider the way he talks about Hojo and Gast next to every other lie he’s told about himself. There’s no one is this game so unwilling and incapable of facing the hard truth as Sephiroth. I don’t think it’s so far fetched that the reality of his relationship with Hojo is just another thing he’ll never bring himself to admit.