CLOUD STRIFE
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue
DOB: August 19
Age: 21 at start of FFVII
History: Cloud was born and raised in Nibelheim. An only child, his father left his mother soon after he was born. Shy and withdraw as a child, Cloud was strickly a loner. His last name was aptly given, for most of his life was spent in strife. He got into trouble often, and had his share of fights. Because of this he became pretty handy with his fists, even at a young age, and the bullies soon learned to leave him well enough alone. His mother loved him dearly, but she did not understand him, and was often at a loss as to how best to handle him.
Tifa was the closest thing he had to a real friend in Nibelheim, but even that relationship was not all that close. Tifa was quite popular, and Cloud resented the time she spent with her other friends, who did not like Cloud and often ridiculed him in front of her.
So it came as no suprise when Cloud left Nibelheim at the earliest opportunity. Young men were being recruited by Shinra for their SOLDIER program as early as thirteen years old. When they came to Nibelheim he jumped at the chance to sign up. Not only did it give him the chance to leave Nibelheim, but he thought it might also make an impression on Tifa. Perhaps he would get her attention if he returned to Nibelheim as an elite member of SOLDIER.
His mother was reluctant to let him go, but eventually she gave in, thinking perhaps it would instill in him the disipline she thought he sorely needed.
Cloud left Nibelheim and entered the SOLDIER program. It was at this time that he first met Sephiroth, who made an instant impression on him. Here at last was the strong father figure that up to now had been absent from his life. He idolized the man.
At first, the training went very well, and Cloud progressed quickly. His physical skills were excellent, and he was soon passed into the accelerated program and infusions of Jenova cells began.
But Cloud's rebellious nature eventurally betrayed him (or perhaps, saved him). Although his fighting skills were excellent, his lack of diplomacy and tact often had him fighting with his peers, or even superiors. When he failed a psychological evaluation, he was dropped from the program.
This must have marked the low point in the young man's life. It seemed that he had failed not only himself, but everyone else he had ever known. Not knowing what else to do, and not really caring, he took a job as an ordinary Shinra guard, determined to forget his past. Whatever else happened to him, he knew he could never face the shame he would suffer if he ever went back to  Nibelheim.
Cloud had started to emerge from his shell during his SOLDIER training, but now he became more withdrawn and sullen than ever. The only person he had any time for at all was another young recruit he had met in the SOLDIER program named Zack.
Zack continued with his training and eventually became a full fledged member of SOLDIER. Whenever he was sent out on a mission and Shinra guards were sent along, he always made sure Cloud was among them.
So it happened that Cloud was with Zack and Sephiroth on one fateful mission to investigate some mysterious occurances at the reactor on Mt. Nibel, just outside of Nibelheim.
Cloud probably would have refused to go along if he had known, but he didn't find out their destination until they were already well on their way. Whatever happened, Cloud was determined that no one there recognize him.
When they reached Nibelheim Tifa was recruited as a guide to take them  to the reactor, but Cloud had his mask on and she did not recognize him.
Once they reached the reactor Zack and Sephiroth went in, while Cloud stayed outside to keep and eye on Tifa. It was then that things started to go wrong in a major way. Sephiroth saw how the monsters were being created and began to think that maybe he had been created the same way. He started to flip out, and then ran off.
Cloud found him later in the library of the old Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim. Sephiroth had investigated the Jenova experiments and come to the conclusion that he was not human at all, but just the results of some twisted Shinra experiment. This was too much for him to bear, and consumed by a blind fury, he burned Nibelheim to the ground, slaying with his sword all those he  could find who managed to avoid the flames. Cloud's mother perished in this way.
Returning to the reactor, Sephiroth slew Tifa's father at the entrance.
Tifa, Zack and Cloud all realized that Sephiroth had gone mad and tried to stop him. Tifa and Zack were both nearly killed. But when Sephiroth confronted Cloud he underestimated him. Although horribly wounded, Cloud managed to send Sephiroth plummeting into the depths of the reactor.
Zack had enough strength left to drag his friend away from Nibelheim and together they slowly recovered from their wounds.
But now their lives took yet another twist as Shinra blamed them both for the massacre at Nibelheim and the apparent death of Sephiroth. They were now fugitives from the most powerful organization on the planet.
They decided to head to Midgar, which was a large city where they could easily lose themselves. They would support themselves by taking jobs as hired mecenaries to whoever paid the best price.
Unfortunately, their plans were never realized. Shinra discovered them and laid a trap. Cloud managed to escape but Zack was killed. Taking Zack's sword in honor of his friend, Cloud continued to Midgar, vowing to someday get revenge on Shinra for all that had befallen him.
For five long years Cloud remained in Midgar, taking whatever jobs he could find that paid well, or even those that didn't pay that well as long as they did any damage to Shinra. And then one day fate intervened one more time, and Cloud found himself walking into a bar hidden deep in the slums of sector seven. He had heard that a job against Shinra was available here. A job with some group called AVALANCHE
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