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Hoshi o Meguru Otome (星を巡る乙女?), roughly translated as The Girl Who Travels the Planet, and commonly known to fans as The Maiden Who Travels the Planet, is a novella written by Benny Matsuyama of Studio BentStuff that relates the events occurring in the lifestream from Aerith Gainsborough's point of view since the time of her death up to the ending of Final Fantasy VII. It was published in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega.

The novella expands on the meaning of existence in the lifestream and its role within the planet, giving it a dual-role similar to Heaven and Hell based on the actions of those who die–those who led sinful lives must exist with the knowledge of the crimes they committed, while those who led good lives are allowed to be absorbed into the collective consciousness of the planet. The novel takes place from the viewpoint of Aerith and is divided into seven chapters.

Creation[]

The novella was written by Benny Matsuyama of Studio Bentstuff, the same company that releases the Ultimania guides. It became a part of the Ultimania Omega after Akira Yamashita decided to give Matsuyama a short story to write. It was never translated into English, although several popular fan translations exist online.

Story[]

Beginning immediately after her death, Aerith finds herself in the lifestream, but is able to maintain her individuality and consciousness. She does not regret her death, and considers it a necessity to rescue everyone, but she is deeply saddened that she cannot be by Cloud Strife's side, nor experience life alongside everyone else anymore. She wishes that she could help comfort Cloud, and perhaps discuss their relationship with him, but knows that she cannot speak to him directly. She hopes that her attempts to stop Sephiroth have succeeded, and wonders why she has not faded into the lifestream yet. She concludes that she must still have a role to fulfill, and decides to seek it out.

As she travels throughout the lifestream, she encounters the spirits of various dead characters from Final Fantasy VII, including Jessie, Biggs, Wedge, Dyne, President Shinra, Professor Hojo, and Zack Fair. She helps some of these spirits with their regrets and to move on, while others are beyond saving or reject help.

She first encounters the fallen members of Avalanche, and after discussing how she and Cloud joined the group, the trio reveal their regrets for allowing so many people to die during the first mako reactor explosion. Aerith offers some consolation by telling them that many were able to escape the plate collapse, and she was able to rescue Marlene due to Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge's actions in Sector 7. Comforted, the three disappear back into the lifestream.

She comes across Dyne, and despite his attempts to intimidate her, she refuses to back down. Aerith tells him that he's been too cowardly to allow himself to start over, and as he eventually listens to her and admits his faults, she becomes gentler towards him. She tells him that he can start over again if he tries. He asks if he will be able to reunite with Marlene one day, and she assures him he will. As he fades into the lifestream, he is met by the remnant of Eleanor.

Aerith briefly meets President Shinra, who brags about his life's accomplishments and calls her inferior since she lived in the slums. Aerith remains unimpressed, and pities him for not being able to let go of his ambitions or find true happiness even in death. He is dragged away when Sephiroth begins to affect the lifestream. Soon after, Cloud falls into the lifestream, and Aerith is conflicted after realizing the extent to which his real personality had been hidden away. As she thinks about Cloud and what aspects of him were real and fake, the remnant of Zack Fair manifests.

Aerith is shocked to see Zack and realizes he had been dead, and Zack is equally as surprised to see Aerith. They discuss Sephiroth and Cloud, and how Tifa might be able to save Cloud in their absence. When Cloud and Tifa both fall into the lifestream, Aerith guides Tifa to Cloud's soul, facilitating Tifa's rescue of Cloud and watching over them both, and asking Tifa to take care of Cloud. Zack insinuates the two of them could have gotten back together when he returned from Nibelheim, but Aerith suggests that things may have changed in the five years they were apart. Zack merges back into the lifestream, and Aerith is happy she was able to know the real Cloud, even briefly.

Aerith encounters Hojo in a less than pleasant interaction. Hojo raves about how he was always a man in pursuit of science, and how he does not care what means he needs to use to prove his theories about Jenova. He mentions Professor Gast being Aerith's father, and Aerith responds that Gast understood the planet was more important than science, having learned about Gast already through Cloud and Tifa's memories. Hojo allows himself to be absorbed into Jenova.

After Cloud defeats Sephiroth, the Meteor is still too close to the planet for Holy to stop it on its own without massive destruction. Aerith calls forth the spirits in the lifestream to help Holy destroy the Meteor. Jessie, Biggs, Wedge, Dyne, and Zack all manifest once more to lend their strength, and the power of the lifestream pushes the Meteor back with Aerith's guidance. As the planet is saved, Aerith's heart feels unburdened, and from the Highwind, Cloud, Tifa, Barret and everyone see Aerith's smile appear and fade away into the lifestream.

Canonicity[]

It is a matter of debate if the novella is canon. In books which list other Final Fantasy VII media, including the On the Way to a Smile series, Hoshi o Meguru Otome has been consistently omitted. However, several events in the story closely match with mentions in other Compilation of Final Fantasy VII entries.

Aerith is seen with Zack in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, while "Lifestream: White" says that she can retain her individuality in the lifestream and heal spirits by virtue of being a Cetra. Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- reveals that Zack knew a move similar to Omnislash, Chain Slash, before Cloud Strife did. Square Enix has offered no statement one way or the other.

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