An extraterrestrial life-form or parasite from an unknown world, Jenova serves as one of the primary antagonists in the world of Final Fantasy VII. Experiments on its cells have produced many of Shin-Ra's most beneficial martial forces, including Sephiroth and SOLDIER.
Jenova's true form is that of a gray-skinned woman, appearing blue through its container in the Mako Reactor on Mt. Nibel. Although Jenova appears feminine its gender is ambiguous at best, as it is an extra-terrestrial lifeform. Even the Cetra don't appear to ever refer to Jenova with a feminine pronoun: Jenova is known as "Calamity from the Skies" in the legends, and Ifalna in Final Fantasy VII refers to Jenova with either "it" or "he" depending on version of the game.
Jenova appears bare, other than what appears to be an external biological system, with something resembling a heart at its feet. Connected to the heart-like thing are a number of tubes that reach to different parts of its body, the largest of which, pinker in color, inserts into its stomach. On its back are similarly colored appendages, at its left what appears to resemble a wing, and on its right, a stub of a wing.
Jenova has long silver hair which covers its right eye. Its left eye appears to glow red. Jenova's headgear links to its container and bears an inscription which has had a different message depending on the version of the scene observed.
Since it appears with the female anatomy, it has two breasts, the right of them having what looks like a nipple resembling an eye. Jenova's pubic area is covered by the tube from its stomach.
Whilst stored at Mt. Nibel, Jenova's container is covered by what has been referred to as the "Jenova Doll." The Jenova doll is a, presumably man-made, metal construct. It resembles the top-half of an angel. The doll obscures vision of Jenova, while its wings cover the side of the container, and what appears to resemble golden hair linking the roof, offering to cover the higher-areas of the container. Its wings are blue.
A tube links from the ground to the doll's mid-point, possibly meant to appear similar to Jenova who has a similar tube; while Jenova's tube leads to a heart-like organ, the area the doll's pipe leads to has tubes that could appear to resemble ventricles. The tube linking to the doll is also used as a path to reach the container. At the base is a sign that says "Jenova". It could be suggested that the angel was meant to trick people to believing that the doll itself was Jenova. It has also been suggested that, due to the implied semi-biological nature of the Jenova Doll based on the tubes connecting it to Jenova's actual container and the fact that it 'bleeds', that the doll itself is perhaps used to collect and store samples of Jenova's genetic material for transport to the Shin-Ra Science Department. It is likely that the Turks periodically make collections, and that the Jenova Doll was created and emplaced to minimize exposure to the actual Jenova's visage during these proceedings.
Jenova's genetic structure is a two-way conduit. It can both take in the traits of its prey, and also insert its own genes to turn other organisms into violent monsters. Once Jenova lands upon a new planet, it will instinctively begin to destroy every form of life it finds. Jenova is able to absorb its prey's memories and form, hiding as their loved ones to destroy them.
As stated in Professor Hojo's Jenova Reunion Theory, once Jenova's cells have been separated from the main body, they will eventually reunite into one again. If they are inside a host body, they can influence its mind and body to join the Reunion — sometimes so extremely that the host organism can be killed in the process. For an unknown reason, organisms greatly affected by Jenova often grow a single wing which is capable of flight. The pupils of the affected can also change into a cat-like slit, though the rest of the eye remains unchanged.
Once Jenova has completely destroyed a planet, it uses it as a vessel to travel through the cosmos to the next unfortunate planet. This constant destruction may have been going for millions of years before its arrival. Jenova's age is unknown, but since it can lay dormant for millennia if necessary, it very well might be older than the Planet itself.
Approximately two thousand years ago, Jenova landed on the Planet, having traveled through space on a meteor. The impact created a giant wound on the Planet's surface that would later come to be known as the "North Crater". After its arrival, Jenova emerged from the crater and approached the Cetra, using its mimic abilities to destroy them using their memories and emotions. Those who were taken victim were infected with Jenova's cells and mutated into monsters. Jenova would then take the form of the fallen Cetra, and so get close enough to destroy their loved ones. Ifalna calls this process as Jenova giving the Cetra "the virus".
Quickly, Jenova was able to destroy most of the Cetra civilization. Their daughter race, the humans, hid from Jenova while the Cetra were nearly wiped out. The few Cetra who had survived banded together to defeat Jenova and quarantined it inside the North Crater, where it would lie dormant for thousands of years. Despite their victory over the "Calamity from the Skies", the Cetra civilization was lost, and their numbers dwindled down to almost nothing while humans spread over the Planet. As time wore on, humanity forgot about Jenova and the Cetra fell into legend.
Two thousand years after Jenova's first fall onto the Planet, all memory of Jenova has faded. The Shinra Electric Power Company ruled the Planet with Mako energy, but was ever looking for a more efficient way to harvest it. The Cetra legend of the Promised Land piqued their interest, and the company delved into research into the race that was thought long extinct.
Approximately 30 years before ago Professor Gast Faremis excavated Jenova's remains and mistakenly identified it as a Cetra. Thus began the Jenova Project — an effort by a number of Shinra scientists to take Jenova's cells and create a human hybrid to produce a Cetra who would lead them to the legendary Promised Land. Shinra was, of course, unsuccessful at creating a Cetra with Jenova's cells, but the humans treated with Jenova's cells proved to be able super-soldiers, which led to the members of SOLDIER, Shinra's elite military force, to be injected with Jenova's cells. Sephiroth, Genesis Rhapsodos, and Angeal Hewley were all born from the project during its first stages, when Shinra was still trying to create a Cetra. Most of the early research took place in Nibelheim's Shinra Mansion, and Jenova was kept inside the Mako Reactor at Mt. Nibel.
Sephiroth, the ultimate SOLDIER who was directly infused with Jenova's cells in the fetal stage, was not told of his role in the Jenova Project. His biological father, Professor Hojo, told the young Sephiroth his mother's name was "Jenova" and that she died giving birth to him. His real mother being Lucrecia Crescent, it is unknown why Hojo chose to fabricate Sephiroth's parentage.
Many years later, Sephiroth was sent to the Nibelheim reactor along with Zack Fair and Cloud Strife, only to find it filled with Mako-infused mutants, ordinary humans infused with such high levels of Mako they had mutated. Suspecting his origins may be similar, Sephiroth's suspicions are confirmed when Genesis (who had deserted and rebelled against Shinra at that time) appears and tells him the nature of the Jenova project and how he (Sephiroth) was the "perfect monster" to come out of it. Wanting to learn more, Sephiroth ventured into the Shinra Mansion's basement to read about the Jenova Project. The strain of these discoveries pushed him into insanity.
Believing himself a descendant of the Cetra whom the humans had "betrayed" Sephiroth went on a killing spree. Nibelheim was burned to the ground, and Sephiroth returned to the reactor to collect his "mother". Due to being mortally wounded by Cloud, Sephiroth could only take Jenova's head and fell into the Lifestream below the reactor.
Shinra forces took over the reactor and gathered the survivors of the massacre (sparing Tifa, who had been saved by Zangan) for Professor Hojo who would inject them with Jenova cells to test his 'Jenova Reunion Theory', thus creating the Sephiroth Clones. Sephiroth was declared dead, and Jenova's headless remains were taken to Midgar and placed in Hojo's lab in Shinra Headquarters.
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