AVALANCHE, always in all capital letters, is the name of two eco-terrorist insurgent groups in the Final Fantasy VII universe, both seeking to save the Planet from the misuse of Mako energy and opposing the actions of the Shinra Electric Power Company. Members of the first group are the main antagonists of Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, while the second is a group the main heroes of Final Fantasy VII belong to in the beginning of the game. AVALANCHE fights two separate wars: the AVALANCHE Insurgency against Shinra, lasting from εγλ 0001 to εγλ 0007, and the Jenova War against Sephiroth between December εγλ 0007 and 21 January εγλ 0008.
The ideology of both organizations of AVALANCHE derives from the Cosmo Canyon-based teachings of Planet Life, arguing that the Planet is a living organism with all living creatures being part of it, all life deriving from the Lifestream. They believe Shinra's actions are harmful and that continued harvest of Mako energy will destroy the world. By sucking out the Lifestream, the Planet is being eaten away until the world will be incapable of sustaining life. To this end, they believe Shinra must be stopped by force.
Being unable to confront the Shinra Army directly, the first incarnation of AVALANCHE fights an asymmetric war where their main opponent is the Turks, Shinra's intelligence agency that engages in reconnaissance and espionage, or even black ops, including kidnappings and assassinations, on behalf of the corporation. AVALANCHE's main tactic is to take out specific targets (such as the Mt. Corel reactor) in hit-and-run operations, and have no ambitions of capturing territory. The first incarnation of AVALANCHE shuns no means of achieving their goals, eventually seeking a total genocide of mankind for environmental reasons, leading to causing civilian losses becoming a strategy in itself.
The second AVALANCHE is far less ruthless, and sees civilian casualties as an inevitable yet unfortunate consequence of their struggle, and its members usually explain it away when confronted. The second incarnation of AVALANCHE fights Shinra by staging terrorist attacks against the company's Mako Reactors in the city of Midgar by forging ID cards to board the trains that stop at the reactors, then infiltrating the facility and setting a bomb near the core. Anti-Shinra graffiti on the streets of Midgar attributed to AVALANCHE might be the organization's propagandizing to garner public support for their actions.
AVALANCHE was founded in Cosmo Canyon by a man who learned of the Study of Planet Life and realized the harm Shinra Company's Mako Reactors would have on the Planet. The movement became to be led by Elfé with support from a scientist named Fuhito.
AVALANCHE confronts the Shinra army and the Turks all across the world, but are unable to gain decisive victory. Eventually, AVALANCHE's support figures and leaders depart the organization for various reasons, leaving only Fuhito. Under his command, the group disintegrates from within and in a last ditch effort, Fuhito summons Zirconiade, an ultimate summon monster to eradicate all life on the Planet, but is killed in battle by the Turks, and what remains of this AVALANCHE group collapses.
Barret Wallace met a former member of AVALANCHE in Cosmo Canyon and learned of the movement's goals before Fuhito took it over. Barret is inspired to form a second incarnation of AVALANCHE to stop the use of Mako energy and help the people of the Midgar slums. The second AVALANCHE has only a handful of members, and is less ruthless than the first.
After the group bombs the Sector 1 and Sector 5 Reactors, Shinra launches an assault on the pillar supporting the plate above Sector 7 slums, destroying all of Sector 7 to wipe out the organization and put the blame on AVALANCHE for the attack. The surviving members continue to fight Shinra to save the Planet, and the movement can be said to live on in Cloud Strife's party, although the group is rarely referred to as "AVALANCHE" following their departure from Midgar. When visiting Cosmo Canyon, Barret proclaims the rebirth of AVALANCHE, which would focus on stopping Sephiroth, a rogue former SOLDIER member who wants revenge on the world, rather than fighting Shinra. They try to prevent Shinra from obtaining the Huge Materias, colossal Materia pieces that crystallize at the reactor cores, leading to confrontations with the corporation at Mt. Corel and Fort Condor. When the Weapons—ancient creatures created by the Planet itself as its guardians—awake, AVALANCHE is forced to deal with them as well.
AVALANCHE presumably disbands after Sephiroth has been felled, Shinra Company has fallen apart and Midgar has been ravaged in the Meteorfall. Its former members are forced to deal with the Remnants of Sephiroth, a trio of physical manifestations of Sephiroth (whose influence remains in the Lifestream), who unknowingly try to resurrect him. The former members of the second AVALANCHE are also heavily involved in the Battle of Midgar alongside the World Regenesis Organization, an organization working to protect the Planet and doing their best to keep what Cloud and the others worked so hard to bring.
Three types of AVALANCHE soldiers are fought in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-: the AVALANCHE (Gun), AVALANCHE (Grapple) and AVALANCHE (Magic). The Ravens is a squad of genetically engineered super soldiers created under the supervision of Fuhito, but even if they are part of AVALANCHE, they are little more than zombies to Fuhito's will.
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- In Cosmo Canyon Barret mentions he had promised the AVALANCHE members working under him (Jessie, Biggs and Wedge) they would go there to celebrate one day. The original script for Final Fantasy VII included a scene where Barret and the other members of AVALANCHE would talk about going to Cosmo Canyon, but this scene was cut from the game's final version.
- AVALANCHE symbol of skull and bones resembles the pirate flag Jolly Rogers. Although the traditional skull and crossbones pirate flag prevalent in popular culture is usually depicted as black, many historians agree the original pirate flag was red: red flags were common in naval warfare to signal that no quarter would be given. The red flag was called Joli Rouge (pretty red) by the French, and may have been corrupted into English as Jolly Roger.
- Though the timeline of Before Crisis overlaps with that of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, AVALANCHE receives only a single mention in the other spin-off, in Mission 1-4-3 when they steal a shipment of experimental new Shinra weapons.