Bugenhagen most definitely had advice. Before anything was done, Cloud stored the huge materia in his planetarium. Then Bugenhagen decided the most prudent course of action would be to take him to the ruined city of the Cetra, to the north.
Once there, they entered the chamber containing a large central pillar with a device on top of it. Bugenhagen managed to decipher a crucial piece of the writing there. To contain and defend against Meteor, Holy is needed. Holy is the ultimate white materia, the exact opposite of the black materia. At the time of need, Holy is activated and sent to the crucial location to focus the lifestream and repel Meteor.
Cloud realized, that small piece of materia that Aeries carried on her hair, the one that she claimed didn’t do anything but was an heirloom to her; that was Holy. It needs to be activated, though, just like Meteor was, and there are no living Cetra now to do it. Sephiroth made sure of that.
The central device suddenly activated and displayed the events around Aeris’ death. As she fell, the white materia detached and dropped in the water. Before it sunk, though, it began to glow. This is what Aeris was doing at the ancient city. This is why she was praying. Her prayer managed to activate the materia. Sephiroth tried to stop her, but he was too late. She bought them a window; a chance.
Holy is active, but it isn’t moving towards the crater as it should. There’s something blocking it. That something is Sephiroth and it was time to destroy him. The group left the city and returned back to the airship. During all this, Cloud got a call from Cait Sith. Since the Junon reactor was inactive now, Rufus decided to move the Mako cannon, Sister Ray, to Midgar to make use of it. The consequences of this were immediately apparent.
Another Weapon emerged from the sea northwest of Midgar and started moving towards it while preparing to attack. The group didn’t care for Shinra, but Midgar had innocent people in it so they decided to attack, at least to hold it off until the cannon is ready. The fight was difficult, but successful and the cannon fired in time. All of Midgars reactors gave it enough power to pierce through the Weapon and continue on towards the barrier at the northern crater, destroying it. As the monster was falling, it managed to fire off a salvo of projectiles, though, one of them hitting Rufus’ office floor at the Shinra building. This was the last time he was seen.
In any case, the way to Sephiroth was open now. They couldn’t get to him yet, though. Hojo made sure of that. Cait Stih, or as it turns out, Reeve of the Turks informed Cloud of what was going on. With Rufus gone, Hojo took control of the cannon and decided to “send Sephiroth all the Mako he needs”. Since Mako is basically lifestream, a shot from the cannon would make Sephiroth invincible so this had to be stopped.
The party dropped from the airship via parachutes towards the cannon. They landed not too far from it and fought their way to the top, defeating a new weapon controlled by Heidegger and Scarlet on the way. As expected, Hojo was there, preparing the cannon to fire. As a last desperate act to defeat Cloud and the group, he infused himself with Jenova cells, changing his form several times during the fight. In the end, he fell and it was time to defeat Sephiroth.
It was time, but the group wasn’t ready. They need to get stringer first. They need to train, find equipment and materia. They need to prepare.
This concludes the first two disks of the game and all of the main story line before the final confrontation at the northern crater. At this point, the game provides the player with an airship and complete freedom on where to go. There are several side quests to complete, items to collect and places to train at, so this is what I’ll be doing for a while. For this reason, my next several articles will not be written in the style of a story, since there will be no story. Next up, I think I’ll go and collect the ultimate weapons for the entire group, or at least for those that don’t have them yet.