Waves of panic rushed over Gaia last week when scientists at Midgar University discovered the existence of a Meteor, roughly the size of our moon, estimated to impact the Plant sometime around early 2012. "Grandfather" Bugenhagen, Director of the Center for Ancients Studies in Cosmo Canyon, warns that the people of Gaia face their own "Calamity from the Skies," referring to the legend of the destruction of the Cetra (more commonly known as "Ancients") civilization.
Professor Hojo, head of the Shinra Science Research Division, described the developments as "fantastic news." Asked what plans the Research Division has for dealing with the coming crisis, the Professor responded "Plans? My dear, feeble-witted friend, why would we try to prevent something of such vast importance to science: the death of a Planet! Not that a third-rate mind like yours could appreciate such things... But if it's any comfort, I hear that overgrown toy-soldier Heidegger is planning to shoot a rocket at it or something. Ask him about the details; I'm far too busy with my experiments to concern myself with the pet undertakings of some boorish little ingrate." When asked what kind of experiments, the Professor responded, "The kind you wouldn't understand. Now leave; your inane questions have ceased to interest me." Shinra would neither confirm nor deny Hojo's claim - which analysts have speculated would involve the Shinra No. 26 rocket, constructed for the now-defunct Space Exploration Program - stating only that they were "closely monitoring the situation, and are currently exploring a number of options to deal with the crisis."
More nerdy goodness after the jump!
Much attention has been given to Sephiroth, the famous SOLDIER who disappeared years ago. While he has been presumed dead, dozens have reported seeing a man in a black cape carrying a sword reminiscent of his iconic "Masamune" around the area of Nibelheim. Rumors of his inexplicable return have inspired hundreds of "doomsday cultists" to flock to Shinra Manor. Their motives are unclear; the only clues they gave were "Sephiroth" and "Reunion," which they answered to every question we asked. Little is known about Sephiroth himself. Rising quickly to the top ranks of SOLDIER, he proved himself to be a remarkably gifted and intelligent warrior with a unique style and commanding presence that inspired thousands of youths to strive to become part of the elite military force. But the months before his disappearance with marred with psychological decline. "It got to us after a while," said one ex-SOLDIER. "Truth be told, we all kind of hoped he would just leave. One moment he'd be good ol' Sephiroth, the next he'd be laughing and calling us 'inferiors,' and scolding us for 'failing to show proper respect to one who will become a god.' Most of the time, though, he just moped and whined about how much he missed his mother -- kind of sad, actually." Shinra would not comment on the rumors of Sephiroth's return, but Bugenhagen believes that the timing of the sightings is more than mere coincidence, fearing that Sephiroth may have obtained the fabled Black Materia which, according to Cetra artifacts, can be used to call the "Ultimate Destructive Magic." Bugenhagen states that "if Sephiroth has used the Black Materia to cast Meteor, then we find ourselves in the midst of a very grave situation indeed! What surprises does fate have in store for us, I wonder? Ho Ho Hooo!" Calls to Shinra headquarters regarding Bugenhagen's comments were not returned.
Meanwhile, construction of the "Freedom Plate," a two-mile wide replacement for the Sector 7 plate destroyed by AVALANCHE on January 31st, 2008, has been delayed in the wake of the coming crisis - an especially disheartening setback for President Rufus, who had made the construction of the plate his foremost priority. Standing atop the ruins of Sector 7, a defiant then-Vice President Rufus declared that AVALANCHE had "awoken a sleeping Zolom," and promised swift and decisive action against the perpetrators of the attacks. Recent years have seen an upsurge in 1/31 conspiracy theories. We met with a member of AVALANCHE, who spoke to us only on the condition of anonymity. "Those Shinra brought down the goddamn plate themselves!!! S##@!, AVALANCHE didn't have nothin' to do with it! I'll kill every last one of those B%@## for what they done!!" he said, and beat his chest violently. When asked about the personal impact of the 1/31 collapse, our source began shouting incoherently and shooting at random, causing our crew to flee for their lives. Much of the recording equipment was destroyed, but snippets of audio recovered from the tapes recall the source yelling the name "Marlene" over the gunfire. President Rufus could not be reached for comment, but his office released a statement reading "These are wild and baseless accusations. Those who perpetuate this kind of nonsense only aid those who wish to destroy our way of life."
The aftermath of 1/31 threatened to undermine Shinra's relations with Wutai. The two sides have had a tenuous ceasefire since 2000, which observers fear may be in jeopardy in light of the Meteor crisis. Shinra has repeatedly accused Wutai's leader, Godo Kisaragi, of harboring AVALANCHE terrorists, operating a lucrative black market for materia and, most chillingly, seeking to obtain the incredibly destructive Huge materia -- charges Kisaragi has repeatedly denied. But recent reports implicating his daughter, Yuffie Kisaragi, as the mastermind of a materia theft ring have sown doubt among even his most ardent supporters. The Wutai leader has sought to downplay the charges, claiming that his daughter acted alone and that his regime has consistently acted in accordance with the terms of the 2000 ceasefire agreement, which permanently banned the use or possession of materia by Wutai. The region is home to the Planet's third largest Mako reserves, raising suspicions that the potential for energy development is the driving force for Shinra's increasingly confrontational attitude toward the Kisaragi regime. Shinra has dismissed such criticisms as "ludicrous," and stated that anti-war activists "denigrate the service of our brave SOLDIERs who risk their lives every day to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. Midgar does not seek conflict. However, if we allow Godo to acquire Huge, we risk an attack even greater than that we suffered on 1/31." But anti-war activists insist Shinra's intentions to be imperial, citing the 1992 Wutai War, a prolonged and bloody conflict that began after Kisaragi refused a Shinra proposal for the construction of a Mako Reactor in the region. While Shinra has expressed regret for the loss of life during the eight-year war, it has always insisted that action was justified, describing Kisaragi as a "savage despot," and calling his opposition to Mako energy "a crass, cynical ploy to maintain his stranglehold over the people of Wutai."
Still, there are signs, if only temporary, of an end to the standoff. President Rufus announced in a speech yesterday that he would halt the recent buildup of Shinra troops along the border, and said that he will be recalling all Turk operatives to Midgar by the end of the month, despite protests from hawks in the Shinra leadership. Rufus has declared that until the Meteor situation is resolved, he will be pouring all available resources into preventing a catastrophe of global scale. "Here on this day," said the President, "We Gaians stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the face of a danger the likes of which we have never seen. I say to you that whatever our differences, be they political, social, or economic, we cast aside the old ways of division, embracing all denizens of this Planet as brothers and sisters. And even if this moment is but a fleeting one, it will serve as a glimpse to the people of Gaia of a future sown not by strife and distrust, but by the universal bond of our common humanity."