Woke up yesterday morning a bit feverish, with a sore throat and a bit of a dry cough. Since my sister came up with strep throat Thurseday and I saw her daughter, who had a juicy cough, that night, I figured that as much as I don't have the sick leave, I'd better stay home and rest it out, or I would miss a lot more than one day. Last year strep throat cost me an Urgent Care visit, IV fluids, and 3 days off from work. :-p
So I spent the day playing FF VII, and the following is some rambling as I try to work out Cloud and what he is, exactly.
Timeline-wise, we know things happen in this order:
1) Sephiroth is born, Lucrecia "dies", Vincent is turned from Turk into Vincent
2) Gast leaves Nibelheim and ends up in the frozen north, where he meets Ifalna, the last Cetra
3) Aerith is born, Hojo kidnaps her and Ifalna, Gast dies
4) Cloud is born
We know Cloud is a real person by the middle of the second disk of the game, when he and Tifa piece together his shattered persona in the Lifestream. But Hojo insists several times that Cloud is a Sephiroth clone, and a failed one at that. This confused the hell out of me for a while, but now I think I can say that the two are not contradictions.
For all that Rufus calls Hojo and second-rate scientist, I think it's pretty obvious that he's not. When Nibelheim happened (and boy, was "Last Order" a retcon or what?), Hojo's biggest experiment, his son Sephiroth, was gone, as well as a chunk of JENOVA. All he had left was the boy who had somehow managed to hurt Sephiroth, and he was in pretty bad shape, and a headless blob of JENOVA, which might or might not have been sentient. Wanting to save the boy so he could figure out how he was able to defeat the undefeatable, he jammed the broken body with JENOVA cells and Mako energy to try to save it.
Unfortunately, Cloud's mind could not handle it, and he was deamed a failure. So we end up with a broken-minded Cloud being rescued by Zack, who is eventually killed by Shin-Ra soldiers. When Tifa finds Cloud in Midgar, it's not until she says his name that he pulls himself together, but what he grabs is some weird combination of himself, Zack, and even Tifa. I have a feeling that the JENOVA cells made him a bit telepathic, and he picked up memories from the two people who cared for him and made them his own, even though that didn't fit, because it helped make him somewhat whole.
Please feel free to debate this with me... I'm sorta tossing this out there so I can get some things straight in my head for a bunch of FF related fan fiction.