We've finally released samples into town. They walk all around town, but do not seem to want to leave it. Furthermore, two of them are still in their pods. Again, no explanation is provided to me. Could the procedure have failed? No, impossible! Professor Hojo's experiments don't fail!
- —Researcher's Diary #4 in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-
The Sephiroth-clones (セフィロス・コピー, Sefirosu Kopii?) are a group of test subjects used in the Project S portion of the Jenova Project in Final Fantasy VII. The test subjects were injected with Jenova's cells by Professor Hojo to test Jenova's ability to recall her scattered cells into a "Reunion", in what he called the "Jenova Reunion Theory". There are at least fourteen known test subjects, but Hojo rejected many as failures, leading the exact number of people mutilated by this experiment to be unknown.
In the original Japanese script, the clones are known as Sephiroth Copies. "Clone" is a misnomer; subjects were infected with Jenova cells to reproduce a similar effect to that of Sephiroth—who eventually exerts control of the subjects as his puppets—rather than being genetic copies.
After the events of the Nibelheim Incident, Professor Hojo rounded up the survivors of Sephiroth's rampage. He injected them with Jenova cells and exposed them to Mako energy, similar, if not identical, to the creation of a SOLDIER. Those people who were not the finest in physical and mental health, and thus could not retain their personalities, became shades of Jenova. Since Jenova was a puppet of Sephiroth, the Clones also became fanatics who would do anything for their master.
Those who turned into mindless slaves were engraved with a number somewhere on their body, but those who failed and kept some shred of their ego were left to die. Cloud Strife's status, had Zack Fair not intervened and rescued him from the Shinra Manor, is debatable. Zack, also a Sephiroth Clone, was a complete failure: he was not mentally affected by the experiment due to previously being unaffected by the identical SOLDIER procedure.
The twelve successful Sephiroth Clones become the group of fanatics that follows Sephiroth around in Final Fantasy VII. The Sephiroth Clones do not migrate to Jenova as Hojo has predicted, rather, the twelve head into North Crater and hunt for the Black Materia for Sephiroth. Jenova herself breaks out of the Shinra Headquarters and moves towards Sephiroth in his form and under his complete control. Cloud is influenced by both the unconscious need for the Reunion, and his drive to avenge Nibelheim. After arriving at the North Crater, Sephiroth, using Jenova's body to shapeshift into his form, kills several of them before fighting Cloud and AVALANCHE as Jenova∙DEATH.
Only Cloud survives the journey to the North Crater, and thus becomes the only "success" of the Sephiroth Clone experiment; Cloud has his own mind and ego, but Sephiroth can still take control of him at will, although at times Cloud manages to resist Sephiroth's influence. At the North Crater, when Sephiroth reveals Cloud is a slave and claims his past is an illusion, Cloud breaks down and hands Sephiroth the Black Materia before falling into the Lifestream.
Later, with the help of Tifa Lockhart inside his subconscious, Cloud rebuilds his psyche and is restored to normal humanity. After the battle with Safer Sephiroth, Sephiroth tries one last chance to take over Cloud's mind, but is easily defeated thanks to Cloud's strengthened will power. Sephiroth can no longer exert his power over him, and the Sephiroth Clones are finished.
In the novel Final Fantasy VII Lateral Biography Turks -The Kids Are Alright-, it's revealed that Annette Townshend had been assigned to recover the missing test subjects. Her dead body, along with those of the copies, is discovered by her son, Evan Townshend, in a mako cavern beneath the Great Glacier to the north of Icicle Inn. Among the possessions found on her body is a small piece of Jenova's still-living flesh wrapped in a handkerchief, which was being pursued by Kadaj; Evan kicks it into the Lifestream and Kadaj leaps in after it, dissolving.
In the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the children infected with Geostigma each carry a small portion of Jenova's cells. Kadaj tells Rufus Shinra that "[his] brothers and sisters who share Mother's cells will all assemble" as part of the Reunion he and the other Remnants of Sephiroth are planning. Thus, while those infected with Geostigma are different from, and are never referred to as, Sephiroth Clones, their role is roughly the same.
List of Known Sephiroth ClonesEdit
Below is a list of every Sephiroth Clone revealed in Final Fantasy VII. This list is missing several Clones, for the fate of many numbered Clones is never revealed.
- I: A young man around Cloud's age. Went from North Corel to Gold Saucer. Had a tattoo on the palm of his hand. Asked Dio if he had the Black Materia, as Dio later tells Cloud in the Speed Square.
- II: The man suffering from Mako poisoning in Sector 5. Upon returning to Sector 5 after receiving the Sector 5 Key from Bone Village, residents report seeing him leave "mumbling something about a reunion".
- IV: One of the incoherent people found in Nibelheim. Gives an item to the party like all the Clones in Nibelheim.
- V: One of the people found in Nibelheim.
- VI: One of the people found in Nibelheim's inn.
- IX: Exited from the Temple of the Ancients before dying. Had a tattoo on the back of his neck.
- XI: One of the people found in Nibelheim.
- XII: One of the people found in Nibelheim.
- Others: Four other Clones appear in Nibelheim, but their numbers (if they had any) are not revealed. They include two Clones found outside the Shinra Mansion and two tiny Clones found in an attic (probably the children seen in Cloud's flashback, given the younger one's propensity to repeat his sister's words). These may have been given the numbers missing from the list above (III, VII, VIII, and X).
- Cloud Strife: The main character of Final Fantasy VII. Went into a vegetative state after being injected with Jenova cells and exposed to Mako, and was labeled a failure. This assumption proved false, as he regained consciousness and was controlled by Sephiroth to an extent. One of the only Clones to make it to the North Crater, but later threw off Sephiroth's control. Does not have a number.
- Zack Fair: The main character of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. Was not affected by the Jenova cells, and was therefore labeled a failure. Died fighting the Shinra Peacekeeping Troops in the Midgar Wasteland. Does not have a number.
The Ex-SOLDIER who runs a weapon shop in Junon begins to wear a robe like the other Sephiroth Clones when visited after disc 1. He states that a while ago, he felt the urge to dress like this, indicating the procedure that produced the Sephiroth Clones is the same treatment given to the members of SOLDIER.
In an early version of the game script, the Sephiroth Clones were not people, but, rather, parts of Jenova floating in the air covered by their cloaks. During important plot points they would reveal themselves to be pieces of Jenova's body: her right arm, heart, etc. They also replaced Sephiroth in several scenes, such as the pivotal one in the Forgotten Capital.
- At one point, Red XIII fears he might be a Sephiroth Clone due to being given a number by Professor Hojo. This is untrue as the number was given to him in an unrelated experiment. In actuality, he was captured by Hojo more than three years after the Sephiroth Clones were created, confirmed by the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega.