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The Fifth Act, Chapter 31

Title: The Fifth Act

Rating:
T for violence.

Summary: FFVII Time-travel. Gen. Cloud has an accident with a Time Materia.

Author's Note:  Kind of an awkward but necessary chapter this one.  Yeah, we're not finishing this in 35 chapters as first predicted, certain scenes have kind of run away on me.  :|  Also!  Next week's chapter might be a little late, as I shall be returning from travels that day.  I'm hoping to still get it out Sunday, but just to be safe, expect Monday.

Previous Chapter     

 

__________________

The Fifth Act
Chapter 31


__________________

 

He might have known where Jenova was now, but trapped as they were, he still couldn’t do anything about it. It was even worse than when he’d been at ShinRa, knowing every day that his worst enemy lurked under the same roof, yet he had to restrain himself for the sake of the plan.

 

For now, though, he had more immediate concerns.

 

Cloud bit his lip, watching with concern as Kunsel continued retching, as he had been for the past five minutes. Only the third jump, and the Second Class looked worse than Cloud felt after a dozen of them in succession.

 

He didn’t pay any attention to the scientists observing from the other room, aside from noting that it looked like they were going to follow their new pattern of leaving them be to analyse the results again. Hojo’s voice held an excited note Cloud had learned to dread. It meant the scientist had ideas. 

 

A few minutes later, the room plunged into darkness again, confirming his suspicions. The blond let out a breath of relief. Just as well. No matter what Hojo might have planned for them later, Kunsel needed the time to recover.

 

“You okay?” he asked quietly.

 

Kunsel groaned and rolled over. “Feels like I was run over by a herd of stampeding behemoths.” Nevertheless, he pushed himself into a sitting position and took off his helmet. The cell grew a little brighter briefly, as Kunsel’s eyes added their glow, but as soon as he’d splashed some water on his face from the pitcher, the helmet went back on. “Sorry about the vomit.” He gestured vaguely towards where he’d been sick earlier.

 

“Don’t worry about it.”

 

“Maybe when they come to clean it up-”

 

Cloud dismissed the idea before the Second could get his hopes up. Disappointment would only break him faster. “They’ll gas the room to knock us out first.”

 

“You’re kidding. Isn’t that kind of extreme?” Even with his voice still weak, the incredulity came through loud and clear.

 

“I caused some trouble, before. They’re not taking chances anymore.” He flexed his hands. Hojo had been right there, in his grasp-

 

“I guess the Professor knows better than anyone what a SOLDIER is capable of,” Kunsel grumbled. “Unlucky for us.”

 

“Hn,” Cloud agreed, preoccupied with his comrade’s lingering discomfort. If he listened carefully, he could still hear the Second’s heart racing as though he’d sprinted halfway around Midgar. It wasn’t a good sign, but he couldn’t do anything about it.

 

He slid around so they sat back to back, giving Kunsel something more forgiving than bars to lean against. Consumed with their thoughts, neither of them spoke for some time.

 

Eventually, Kunsel let out a heavy sigh. "Hey Cloud?”

 

“What?”

 

“You're from the future, aren't you."

 

He announced it, just like that. Not even a question.

 

Cloud remained silent. No response he could think up seemed adequate.

 

“Guess that answers that.”

 

“…How?” he murmured.

 

“-Did I guess? Well, it's not exactly the first thing that springs to mind when you're trying to figure someone out," Kunsel admitted.  "But this stuff with the Time materia, and your whole vendetta with the General…" He felt the Second shrug at his back.  “And some of the other things you’ve said in the past. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but sometimes you talk about Rufus ShinRa as though he’s the President. It never made any sense, but if materia is capable of throwing you forward in time, then…”

 

Kunsel was smart.  Nobody gave him enough credit. Of course he connected the dots, the very instant he discovered the nature of these experiments.

 

“You’re right,” he confessed. Then, after a brief pause, added, “It was an accident. Broke a Time Materia.”

 

“Time-travelling by accident? Scientists dream about that stuff, and you just trip over it? Sometimes I can’t figure out if you’re incredibly lucky or incredibly unlucky.”

 

Cloud ducked his head.

 

The Second sighed. “So why didn’t you ever say anything?” A beat, then he chuckled. It sounded faintly strained. “Sorry. Stupid question. Probably wouldn’t have believed you before this- whatever this is.” He shook his head. “This is all so insane.”

 

Silence. Cloud didn’t really know what to say next, and it didn’t sound like Kunsel knew, either.

 

It didn’t last. Eventually, Kunsel broke the stalemate and said, “You sounded so sure when you said ShinRa would let this happen. Is that why? Has it happened before?” His voice grew rough.

 

The question didn’t need an answer. They’d already gone through several variations of that conversation.

 

“What the hell happens next, then? Come on, Cloud. Talk to me here.”

 

“Next?” he echoed, and frowned, though Kunsel wouldn’t have been able to see it. “I guess… if I don’t get out…” His words trailed off in hopelessness. He couldn’t predict what might happen from here. Would Sephiroth still come to Nibelheim and discover the truth of his heritage? Probably. Hojo would make certain Reunion happened, if Cloud didn’t find a way to stop it.

 

“…Was it bad? The future?”

 

Inwardly, he warred with himself. Should he tell? How much could he tell?

 

Was there any point in hiding it? By the tone of his voice, Kunsel had probably figured a lot of it out already.

 

“It’s kind of a long story,” he murmured.

 

Kunsel shrugged a shoulder, in mockery of his earlier response. Cloud tried to smile, and couldn’t quite manage it.

 

"…After the materia broke, I suddenly found myself in the wastes, around the start of the Wutai War."  He hung his head, staring blankly into the inky darkness.  "Thought I could make a difference.  Make it better.  But I couldn't even stop that."

 

He never expected to have this conversation with Kunsel of all people.  Never planned on having it at all, but figured that if he ever wound up being found out, it would be by Zack, through virtue of persistence, or Sephiroth, through virtue of his uncanny ability to guess his thought processes.  Or even Genesis, who was probably the only one fanciful enough to consider the notion seriously.

 

“You tried to stop the Wutai War?” The Second sounded disbelieving.

 

Rightly so. Cloud had experienced the futility of that effort first hand, after all.

 

“…I tried, but the Wutai War wasn’t what I was really worried about,” he said softly.

 

He could feel Kunsel nodding. “Sephiroth, right?”

 

Cloud let out a long breath. 

 

“What happened?”

 

He spent a moment collecting his thoughts. Where could someone really begin, when talking about Sephiroth and all he’d done? “…Sephiroth isn’t like the other SOLDIERs. He’s… he was made differently. The enhancements started even before he was born. With cells from a alien organism called Jenova.” He paused, then added, “I’m pretty sure she’s what you transported to the reactor.”

 

Cloud drew his legs to his chest. The mako glow from his eyes coloured the outline of his knees a faint blue. “When he found out the truth of his origins, he started to hate ShinRa. And then after a while… he started to hate everything.”

 

Kunsel remained respectfully silent.

 

“He burned down my village.” His voice sounded dead even to his own ears. “Zack and I killed him then, but… he was a monster. He kept coming back. He went insane. He killed President ShinRa. He killed-” His breath hitched, and he changed tact. “…He tried to destroy the Planet. He nearly succeeded. In my time, Midgar’s nothing but a ruin.”

 

The silence grew thick enough to choke on.


"After he burned down my village, I joined an anti-ShinRa group. We fought back.” He closed his eyes, voices echoing in his ears. 

 

“ShinRa’s finished.”

 

“Meteor’s gonna fall in about… seven more days.”

 

“This is our last battle. Our target is the Northern Caves. Our enemy is… Sephiroth!”

 

“This is definitely not good! He's way outta our league!”

 

“…Isn’t the rest up to the Planet?”

 

He took a deep, shuddering breath. “We won in the end.  But so many people died."

 

They sat there in the darkness for a long time, neither saying anything. Cloud felt strange. It had been a relief to say it, really, and not have to worry about being accused of insanity. But it always brought up bad memories.

 

Nothing but bad memories, in this place. And Hojo kept creating new ones.

 

“So what happened to Zack?”

 

Cloud tensed. How-?

 

“Sometimes you give him this look… like he’d gone away to war, and you never expected to see him again, or something. I could never figure it out. Thought maybe he resembled someone you lost. But that’s not quite right, is it?”

 

He’d been worried about Tseng or Sephiroth or even Zack discovering his secrets, and all the while Kunsel had noticed that much?

 

Shouldn’t have been so surprised. The man really was a master of gossip. He always hung out in the hallways, watching people. You learned a lot, doing that.

 

“…He died.” He swallowed, and continued in a strained voice, “We were on the run, after ShinRa betrayed us to hide what Sephiroth had done. A platoon gunned him down in the wastes.”

 

“The price of freedom sure is steep.”

 

“The hell?!” Kunsel jerked at that. “Why didn’t you do something?”

 

Cloud squeezed his eyes shut. “I was weak! I was just a trooper then. I failed the SOLDIER exam!”

 

“Then how-”

 

“I didn’t exactly lie about the mako poisoning. When Zack- I was practically comatose. I was useless.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “I couldn’t do anything, and he…”

 

“Damn,” Kunsel swore, and slumped again. “Sorry. I didn’t mean-” He let out a shaky breath. “I never would have guessed, you know.  You rose to First Class so quickly, I thought… well, you know. Shouldn’t have assumed.”

 

“I was weak,” Cloud repeated in a mumble. “But I should have-”

 

“What about the Commanders?” Kunsel interrupted. “Angeal and Genesis?” The accusation was implied. Where were they? Why didn’t they do anything to stop it?

 

“Angeal died. Genesis betrayed ShinRa before Sephiroth went insane. I’m not sure what happened to him in the end.” He held some vague memory of Zack fighting him, and knew he’d become involved in Deep Ground, but nobody had seen any sign of him during or after the Omega incident.

 

“How long do we have until that happens?”

 

Cloud shifted. “Genesis probably won’t betray ShinRa anymore. I think I changed that much. As for Angeal… I don’t know. Depends on how quickly his… illness progresses this time.” If he didn’t go rampaging around the countryside with his friend, he’d probably last longer. He held some notion that Genesis had managed to cling on for a couple of years before being cured.

 

“That’s something, then.” The Second was taking it all rather well, considering. But then, SOLDIERs were trained to run with whatever surprises their duties threw them. He could recognise mission-mode when he heard it by now. “So, what was your plan? There had to be more to it than ‘kill Sephiroth’ if you joined ShinRa after all that.”

 

Cloud nodded, though Kunsel wouldn’t have been able to see the gesture. “If I only kill Sephiroth, Hojo will just clone him again, and he’ll keep coming back. And if I don’t destroy Jenova, there’s a risk some other scientist will pick up where Hojo left off.”

 

“So it has to be those three, then,” Kunsel murmured, thoughtful. “The General would be hard to take down, though. I mean, I’ve seen you two fight before, but if it was to the death-”

 

“I’d win,” Cloud said, firm. 

 

“You’re so sure? They say not even Angeal and Genesis together can beat him.”

 

“I’ve stopped him before. I know what it takes.” And those Sephiroths had been stronger.

 

“If you say so.” He sighed. “I feel kinda bad, though. Are you sure you really have to? The General’s been turning Midgar upside-down looking for you and Angeal. Would probably be stalking the rest of the Continent too if the higher-ups would let him get away with it.”

 

He didn’t want to think about it. Tseng’s words haunted him. Just because he didn’t consider Sephiroth a friend…

 

“You ignorant traitor.”

 

“I guess we should find some way to take care of Hojo and this ‘Jenova’ first, though, right?”

 

Cloud froze. Did he hear that right?

 

“It’s all pretty crazy, I have to admit. But I don’t think you’re lying.” In a softer voice, Kunsel added, “I don’t see the point in defending the company if it’s going to wind up in Midgar being destroyed. And Zack’s a real idiot. It’d probably take both of us to make sure he doesn’t get himself killed.”

 

His voice had deserted him. What could he say to that? Even Vincent hadn’t agreed to help him so easily. 

 

“You shouldn’t,” he eventually muttered. “Don’t- It’s got nothing to do with you. There’s no need to get involved.”

 

“I’m already involved.”

 

Cloud just kept shaking his head.

 

“What is it then? What happens to me? Do I get killed too? Or become a monster?” The words were uncharacteristically sharp for the usually calm SOLDIER.

 

“I don’t know,” he mumbled. “I never met you in my original timeline.” Didn’t know how to help his friend. Didn’t even know if he would need help.

 

As quickly as Kunsel’s annoyance came, it fled, and he slouched. “Oh,” he said. Then, “I guess that’s kind of a relief. I was worried for a moment that maybe you’d only become friends with me and agreed to teach me all that stuff about materia because of some history you were trying to change.”

 

Cloud’s gut twisted. “No. It was… just a good break.”  What else could he really say to all of that? It had been such a relief to have a friend in this time without baggage – whether they were aware of the baggage or not. He didn’t have to constantly worry about Kunsel betraying ShinRa or hauling him off to the Science Department or getting killed by Sephiroth. 

 

Yet in the end, his weakness had resulted in an innocent person being dragged into his whole mess. If he’d never befriended Kunsel, the Second never would have taken the mission to Nibelheim to look for him. Would never have been captured by the Turks and brought into the lab. 

 

His guilt grew until it felt like a lead weight in stomach.

 

Most of Hojo’s specimens died under his experimentation. Those that lived often weren’t much better off.

 

How could he help, though? He didn’t understand why the jumps affected him differently. Unless…

 

Struck with a thought, his fingers drifted across the Ribbon tied around his arm.

 

It still felt faintly warm.

 

Could Ribbon be the difference? He remembered it practically burning on some jumps – normally the ones that left Hojo berating his underlings and cancelling the rest of the experiments for the day so he could ‘fix the numbers’ or ‘recalibrate the equipment’.

 

His indecision lasted only a moment – the same resolve that had driven him when he led Avalanche to the Northern Crater took hold, and in one swift gesture, he pulled Ribbon from his arm. 

 

“Here,” he said, reaching back to grab one of Kunsel’s hands, and shoving the thin piece of fabric into it. “Put that on. On your leg or something. Somewhere Hojo won’t see it.”

 

The Second fumbled with it in the darkness. “What is it? It’s fabric, but it’s weird. Sort of feels a bit like materia.”

 

“It might help, with the jumps.” He rubbed his bare arm self-consciously. He’d been wearing it for so long he felt naked without it.

 

The rustling of cloth paused. “Hey, Cloud, are you sure…” He sounded uncertain.

 

Kunsel was sharp. Artefacts that were resistant to the effects of materia were beyond rare and often priceless. He knew without being told what Cloud was offering. “I’ll be fine. I’ve been through worse.” His voice came out gruffer than he would have liked.

 

“But-”

 

“Take care of it,” he interrupted. “I want it back when we get out.”

 

The promise worked. Kunsel didn’t protest any further.

 

This time, he was the SOLDIER First Class. He’d do Zack’s legacy proud, and protect his friends, new and old.

 

 

………………..

 

 

“Tseng. Welcome back to Headquarters,” Cissnei greeted.

 

Tseng stepped out of the helicopter and smoothed the wrinkles from his suit. “Any problems while I was gone?”

 

“Formal request from SOLDIER for a meeting with the leader of the Turks,” she reported. “It came in two days ago. We’ve been stalling.”

 

Tseng nodded. He’d expected it, though perhaps not so soon. At times like this, he really didn’t enjoy his job. The Turks dealt with unpleasant business as a matter of course, but some missions challenged his admittedly thin moral fibre more than others. Especially missions concerning the Science Department.

 

He didn’t know the details of Hojo’s new project, and that concerned him. Compared to Hollander, the new head of the Science Department guarded his research jealously, hiding it even from the Turks. Especially from the Turks. His most precious projects were for the President’s ears only.

 

Tseng normally wouldn’t question it – direct orders from the President were to be followed swiftly and without fail, after all. But his concern lay in what Hojo might hide from the President. 

 

No other department escaped scrutiny quite as thoroughly as the Science Department. Even Scarlet got audited occasionally. But never Hojo. 

 

“Tseng?” Cissnei prodded.

 

“I’m sorry, I was lost in thought.” The situation was delicate. Very delicate. Hojo held the sway of power with the President, but Sephiroth and Genesis combined could destroy ShinRa, a fact that few among upper management seemed to appreciate. To make matters worse, Sephiroth and Genesis were rather fond of Cloud, whose worth to the Science Department apparently outweighed the not inconsiderable risk involved in holding him against his will.

 

Quite frankly, Tseng had his hands full in simply preventing the problem from escalating to a civil war.

 

“Should I set up an appointment?”

 

“No need. I have a feeling they’ll want to hear from me immediately.” They headed towards the waiting elevator. It closed with a soft whoosh, and the air grew suddenly still, even though the doors still whistled under the buffeting winds.

 

“Where to?” Cissnei asked.

 

A request from SOLDIER. That meant he had a choice. Deal with Lazard or Sephiroth.

 

“The Director’s office,” he instructed. Cissnei pressed the button for him.

 

Lazard was safer. He had leverage against the Director of SOLDIER. Not leverage he could use, unfortunately, without deposing the Director from his office, but he anticipated the bluff would be enough. They needed Lazard leading SOLDIER. Currently, he was the only thing keeping Sephiroth and Genesis in check.

 

He also couldn’t forget the matter of Zack and Kunsel. 

 

“You’re nearly two weeks late back. Were there problems?” Cissnei asked quietly, eyes fixed on the doors as the elevator lurched downwards.

 

“Not exactly. I took the opportunity to do some investigation into some old confidential matters. Our plans will have to change to accommodate this new development.”

 

The brunette Turk nodded, and didn’t say anything more.

 

A shame that the mission to Nibelheim had slipped through the cracks. Lazard wouldn’t have been aware of the mission’s relation to the missing SOLDIER, and the Turks had been too slow to intercept it – Sergeant Kunsel had snapped it up before they could act. They’d underestimated the Second Class’s information network. He could have made a decent Turk.

 

Ideally, a completely unrelated Second or Third Class SOLDIER would have taken the mission. As it stood, they’d been lucky Kunsel snatched it instead of Zack. That could have complicated things further. Tseng liked Zack. And more importantly, the cheerful Second Class had stronger connections with the three top-ranking SOLDIERs. Including the wildcard currently on ‘leave’.

 

Kunsel bought time. Time he desperately needed for investigation. Zack would have robbed him of it.

 

Not that he had forever. Zack had a perfectly functional brain, but anybody who’d spent any time around the SOLDIER knew that he preferred to use Kunsel’s. 

 

The elevator dinged. “Good luck,” Cissnei offered.

 

Tseng stepped out into the carpeted hallway, and inclined his head in response. Right now, he could certainly use a good dose of Cissnei’s uncanny luck.

 

He knocked twice on the executive’s door.

 

“It’s open,” came the quick response.

 

Then again, he didn’t need luck for this part. Lazard had been clever, but he didn’t have resources anymore. By now, he had to be aware that his link to the Science Department had vanished. He was also being forced to work around his most valuable SOLDIERs. And in the breast pocket of his suit, Tseng held some curious reports from accounting that didn’t quite match up…

 

“Director,” he greeted sombrely. “Before we begin, I have some terrible news.”

 

 

………………..

 

 

Something was different. The sounds and sensations weren’t the same. He couldn’t feel the cool metal of the cage beneath him, couldn’t hear the low rumble of air flowing from the ducts, and the light burning through his eyelids was completely wrong.

 

Cloud struggled to drag himself to consciousness. His body didn’t want to cooperate – his limbs were leaden, and his senses felt as though they’d been clogged with cotton. Sedatives at work. They must have gassed the cell again. He couldn’t remember falling asleep.

 

Even through the drug-addled haze, though, he felt as though he recognised this place. The way the sound of his own breath bounced back to his ears, the cloying humidity, the stench of mako as strong as the inside of a reactor.

 

Cloud opened his eyes, and was filled with horror.

 

It was the lab again, the one hidden behind the accursed library. With its grey table adorned with metal restraints, its mako-stained tiles, its concave ceiling lit by the harsh light from a naked bulb. His own private hell.

 

That wasn’t the disturbing part. It was the view of it. Everything blurred, the lines bending as though viewed through a lens. A view he knew far too well.

 

The mako tanks.

 

Frantic, he glanced to the right. For a moment, the sight of the purple uniform and standard-issue helmet disoriented him. Kunsel, not Zack. The Second was slumped against the wall of the tank, still unconscious. 

 

A blurry figure in a white lab coat passed in front of him, image distorting in the curve of the glass. The sounds were faintly stifled and nearly buried under the echo of his own breathing. 

 

Gasping as the tank filled, thrashing, beating on the glass walls, begging for a release that would never came. Zack yelling abuse from the next tank over, the overpowering stench burning in his nostrils, the poisonous green filling his mouth and his lungs-

 

“No, you imbecile! It needs to be the diluted compound! The temperature is too low – crystallisation would set in immediately!”

 

A muffled response. 

 

“Three hours to begin with, and if there’s a measurable difference in the jump readings we’ll proceed with longer treatments.” Hojo returned to the front of the tanks, peering through the glass at him. “Ah, it appears Specimen C is awake. Hurry it up, then, you fools. We’re losing precious time!”

 

Precious time.

 

Cloud shivered, and the burning green began to pool around his feet.




Next chapter

 


Comments

( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:23 am (UTC)
Not coherent at the moment, but...

Damn, what IS Hojo trying to do? Is the bastard trying to speed up his JENOVA experimentation? Improve his specimens so they can withstand the time experiments better?

CLOUD, not the mako tanks again ;______; why are there no therapists in Midgar? And he just gave Kunsel his Ribbon, too.... AGJHSGHSG woman, what a place to end...
basilton
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:26 am (UTC)
I certainly don't mind if it lasts longer, at least then there's more fic to go around! :D

But poor Kunsel! He's such a smart cookie, of course he figured it all out. Obviously you're deviating from Crisis Core canon here, otherwise Zack would have 10 texts from him explaining everything that was going on, in simple terms for the hedgehog brain!
sinnatious
Mar. 14th, 2010 09:04 am (UTC)
XD

From: Kunsel
Subject: Stuck in Nibelheim
'Kunsel here, how's it going? I'm chilling in captivity here in Nibelheim. Turns out Cloud's here too. That mission was a total setup. What does ShinRa think it's doing, treating its SOLDIERs like this? Better watch your back, man. I'll keep you posted.'

From: Kunsel
Subject: Hojo's a creep
'So it looks like the Science Deparment is running the show here. Hojo's here in person, performing these weird experiments on us. Did you know about the rumour that he's Sephiroth's father? They don't look anything alike, though. I'm gonna look into that some more.'

From: Kunsel
Subject: What do you think about time travel?
'Hey Zack, you made First yet? Still in Nibelheim, I've been thinking about these experiments. Can you imagine, they're using Time Materia to jump us forward in time! It's still really unpleasant and unstable, I hope we get out of here soon. The Science Department sure has some weird projects. Anyhow, I was wondering, what if this explains where Cloud came from? I bet he was a SOLDIER in the future. Do you think he might have known us? I think I'll ask.'

Zack: O_o?

Edited at 2010-03-14 09:16 am (UTC)
rafira
May. 1st, 2014 09:39 am (UTC)
these made me giggle a lot :P
daemoninwhite
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
I need an insane!smile icon for this fic
I've been refreshing this constantly since about 5ish, and OH MY GOD IT'S FINALLY PAID OFF.

Kunsel and Cloud make a surprisingly intriguing duo, which I had not expected. As someone who’s only ever watched Advent Children and the compilation of FF7 that was an extra on that disk, Kunsel is pretty much an unknown character for me. Because of this, I really ‘read’ scenes that he’s in, because with most characters I don’t have to go too deeply into it because I know them, but I don’t know Kunsel. I must say, he holds up very weel under pressure and he’s quite trusting, isn’t he?

:has mental image of drunken!Zack doing a dance through ShinRa while singing ‘If I only had a braaaaiiiiin~’ from Wizard of Oz:

OH GOD NO NOT AGAIN.

But anyway, I agree when you say that this is a bit of an awkward chapter. It’s very wordy, which makes it seem longer than the others, for me at least. There is a sense of you moving the plot along in this chapter – but it’s needed, and I don’t think that it could have been written any other way.

The fact that my heart stopped at the end makes it all better anyway.

WHY ARE YOU SO ADDICTED TO CLIFFHANGERS? DDDD:

What really makes me sad is the fact that I’m going on exchange on the 24th for ten months, and Internet access is very firmly regulated. WHERE WILL I GET MY FIX?????

Another chapter of SS will be coming as soon as I finish editing it and beat m,y Zack!Muse back into submission.
sinnatious
Mar. 14th, 2010 09:13 am (UTC)
Re: I need an insane!smile icon for this fic
Heee, best not to try that refreshing trick next week, I won't be nearly so punctual.

Yeah, Kunsel's interesting. Square has introduced this side character in Crisis Core that we know almost nothing about and interact with almost entirely through PHS mail and the occasional text conversation. But you still got a really strong sense of his friendship with Zack. I mean, he even went to check on Aeris when Zack went missing! :( So he's been a fun factor to include in the time travelling scenario.

Yeah, an unfortunate amount of internal exposition in this chapter, I tried to cut it down where I could, but can't have action scenes every chapter. Or CAN I?.

Going on exchange! Cool. Except for the lack of internet thing. D: My readers are dropping like flies! Oh dear, that means you will be left with quite a cliffhanger too. I should apologise in advance.

New chapter of crackficthatisnolongercrack!fic! *__* I've been looking forward to it.
daemoninwhite
Mar. 14th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
Re: I need an insane!smile icon for this fic
It takes them so long to wake up. So, so long, and all Cloud can do is huddle into himself in a vain attempt to retain whatever body heat he produces. He sits, and he waits, and he can't do anything else.

That's all he seems to do these days. This whole mission, he's been waiting for Zack to come and protect him. He always seems to be waiting for Zack. He does nothing but wait. First he was waiting for a sign, any sign, anything to say that his dreams of leaving Nibleheim and getting out were okay. And when he got that sign, he waited to be old enough to be a SOLIDER – to meet the great, brilliant, icy, beautiful General. He waits for trains, for training time, for guard duty, for Materia class, for the clock to strike midnight.

He always waits.

He doesn't want to, not any more. He wants to be like Zack, bright and bold and laughing in the face of danger. Zack doesn't wait for anything – not trains, not time, nothing. Zack doesn't wait for something to get him – Zack meets it head on, grin in his eyes and sword in his hands. Zack meets life.

Zack doesn't wait hopefully on the sidelines, heart breaking over and over again when he's passed over.

Zack doesn't.

Cloud thinks that he must have sobbed, or sighed, or made some infinitesimal sound at that thought, because that's when the glowing water that had been surrounding the General drains away. Cloud yelps, softly and almost silently, jumping to his feet. But he doesn’t move beyond that – he's warring within himself, his mini, mini-skirted Zackvoice pouting him into going over to the General, shaking him awake and asking him if he's okay. Of course, Zackvoice is also asking if Cloud thinks that his boxers are cute, and if the skirt makes his thighs look fat, so the quite Trooper Cloudvoice is winning with his suggestion that they simply wait.

But Cloud … Cloud doesn't want to wait. Not anymore. Especially seeing as he knows from personal experience that the miniskirts are awfully thin, and really, in that position Cloud cannot help but notice that the General has found the ultimate solution to panty-lines, so maybe he should go over there anyway, even if it's just to adjust Sephiroth's leather miniskirt.

(I blame The Loss, by Hollywood Undead for this doozy. REMEMBER WHEN THIS WAS CRACK?)
sinnatious
Mar. 14th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Re: I need an insane!smile icon for this fic
YES. YESYESYES. XD You've got the trifecta of undergarments! *cracks up*

But oh, the start with all the talk about waiting and the comparison to Zack was kind of wistful and beautiful. *___; LOL at the transformation to serious fic. They're running around in mini-skirts, and it's somehow still serious.

Zackvoice! XD Even in Cloud's imagination, he can't stay on topic.
ixtey
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:42 am (UTC)
Aww, I feel so sorry for Kunsel. ): At least Cloud's already used to it, and tries to comfort him~ And oh dear lawd I love how Kunsel finally figures it out. In Ouranverse, we have two lit-up lightbulbs already! \o/ Their talk and Kunsel's being understanding and symphatizing and everything makes me love his character more and and and omg Cloud/Kunsel's starting to invade my brain! XD

Cloud nodded, though Kunsel wouldn’t have been able to see the gesture. “If I only kill Sephiroth, Hojo will just clone him again, and he’ll keep coming back. And if I don’t destroy Jenova, there’s a risk some other scientist will pick up where Hojo left off.”
> Even just killing/destroying Hojo, Jenova and the files in the Nibelheim mansion would be good already. Then Sephiroth won't have anything to make him crazy and you two can have a lifetime of eternal love and smexings just like some OOC badfic! And I thought Cloud already considered that idea as the chapters went on after his meeting with vincent ~_~

D'AWW Kunsel offering to join Cloud so quickly ♥______♥ *Cloud/Kunsel like meter increases* And Cloud angst! If he knew his life were made into a game, I'll bet he'd keep on replaying it until he gets perfect on all achievements etc etc. :PP

This time, he was the SOLDIER First Class. He’d do Zack’s legacy proud, and protect his friends, new and old.
>kjasdhashdk this like made me go ;____;

Oh god oh god oh god. The last scene really scares me. Will Cloud get stuck in the mansions earlier, not being able to stop Sephiroth from destroying the whole world, and with Kunsel instead of Zack? oh dear, I hope not.

Anyway, it's awesome that we get to read more than 35 chapters! I'm looking forward to the next one. :)
sinnatious
Mar. 14th, 2010 09:23 am (UTC)
XD Your slash goggles are indeed powerful. I have to say, that pairing would be even rarer than Genesis/Cloud.

Ahaha, the Ouran High imagery! That first episode was pure brilliance. And treating time travel like a second game playthrough! XD *This time, I have to get ALL of the strongest materia and weapons!*

Well, Cloud was of the opinion that 'Sephiroth would always be just one psychotic breakdown away from destroying the world'. :|

<3
shewhoflies
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:46 am (UTC)
Oh God. Your fic was making me so jittery that I promised myself I'd stop reading it till the end so I could read it all in one go... Obviously the promise didn't hold up. But damn, you're cruel.
sinnatious
Mar. 14th, 2010 09:24 am (UTC)
Sorry. Not really.
mickeytheblue
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
CLIFF HANGER!!! WHY!?!?! WHY NOW???

(Dang, I was supposed to study for my final exams right now but I just HAD to check for an update >__< discipline fail)

I have to say, I really adore your characterization of Kunsel. Just like the other readers, I didn't really know him (Well Actually, I played Crisis core, but in Japanese. I cud understand a bit of Japanese, but I fail in reading So I couldn't really read the texts he sent Zack. boohoo.) So, yeah... I treat your characterization of Kunsel as canon now XD

...and the nightmare becomes reality for Cloud once again >___< Man, I won't be able to sleep well until you update again so you better update on Monday if you can't on Sunday!!!

Enjoy your travels! :D
sinnatious
Mar. 14th, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
Thanks! \o/ The benefits of being first? I actually don't think I've read any fics where Kunsel's had anything more than a passing mention. It's kind of made him both trickier and easier to write at the same time. Tricky in the respect that I have to make a lot of inferences with very little information, and easier in the respect that there's no predetermined fanon to please. :D

Good luck on exams!
searisme
Mar. 14th, 2010 10:22 am (UTC)
Waaah! *curls up*

Cloud-torture is really triggering for me, so might actually not see much of me for as long as it continues! Poor, poor Cloud!

*runs off to read fluff and H/C*
ixtey
Mar. 14th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)
lol, I thought for a split-second there that H/C was Harry/Cloud. :))
daemoninwhite
Mar. 15th, 2010 07:00 am (UTC)
....

:goes off to find such a fic:

Dear gods above, why do I want to read that?
ixtey
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
*goes fic-hunting with you*

Uhh, because it might just be totally awesome 8D?
sinnatious
Mar. 15th, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC)
XD How obscure! What on earth made you leap to that conclusion?
ixtey
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
idek. Random thought processes are random, I guess. :PP
ashoakandthorn
Mar. 14th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
*Twitch* *Twitch*

I'd thought they'd avoided the mako tubes...

Hojo assassinated the ethics board while he was studying to be a scientist didn't he?
sinnatious
Mar. 15th, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC)
And spirited them all away to be experimented upon. :|
(Anonymous)
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
I was just playing crisis core and I was at the part where Kunsel sent a message to Zack about Hojo being in the equipment room! And I joined Genesis's fanclubs xD
Oh Kunsel. Oh Cloud, you're so sweet :<
Cloud should have recruited Kunsel into the Hojo search earlier, I'm sure Kunsel could have helped with his great and powerful info network.

Huh, usually I can make a pretty good guess as to what's going on with the experiments from the small hints in the chapter. Maybe I'm just tired from my convention. Is Hojo trying to use mako to help make longer time jumps?
And I'm glad Cloud gave Kunsel ribbon, I think he would have much more trouble with longer time jumps and I don't want anyone to die D:
...except Hojo...and Jenova >w>;;
sinnatious
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:54 am (UTC)
I think Kunsel could have solved a lot of problems if people roped him in earlier! I think that calls for fic. I will write one presently.

Your guess is pretty close on the money! He's testing if mako levels contribute to the stability of the jumps. Because Cloud has more mako than Kunsel, and appears to handle the jumps better. Maybe I'm too subtle with some of that stuff, but since it's faux science, I kind of don't like focusing on it. Something to consider in future chapters I guess.
lunarfirefox
Mar. 20th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
Kunsel fic *w*
You know, since that message in Crisis Core and until this chapter, my pet theory was that Kunsel worked for Hojo as a spy in Soldier. xD

I like faux science and your subtlety! It gives me something to ponder on besides flailing over every character :D
(Anonymous)
Mar. 15th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
I don't think they have four years...
I mean, with Sephiroth and Zack and even Genesis, I really don't think they have four years to wait before they get out, but still I can see Cloud totally freaking and waking up with a destroyed lab around him...and maybe a wing. Of course, that would just be torturous. *shrug* Eh, I like speculating, and I like what-if's. :D

Loved the chapter. Slightly filler, but for the most part I still found it highly necessary and uberly freaky. Can't wait for more!

Obi-
sinnatious
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:50 am (UTC)
XD Well, not exactly filler because filler isn't necessary. While I may be a tad more verbose than I need to be in parts, everything in these chapters is absolutely vital, though it might not seem so yet.

Good speculation! :D I like reading it. Sometimes you guys have incredibly awesome ideas I wish I'd thought of first.
demon_vampirate
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC)
godDAMN that was sad ;_;
Yay yay yay Cloud figured it out! (I bet he feels kinda dumb, though. One of those "D'OH!" moments.)

......Kunsel...... Christ.
...Kunsel has just joined the ranks of awesome. It never occurred to me that he'd be so god-damned smart! (But it SO fits!)

Aw ;u;
Cloud's being all 'I can fix something.'
I still need to hug him. (That's it, my next project after Anime Boston is a Cloud plushie. Hm, or I could buy one... especially at the con, I'd love that... *ponder ponder*)

Yay Cissnei! I love her, she's awesome. (I love most of the Turks. I have to wonder if Reno's ever gonna come up aside from 'no I don't know a Cloud Strife stop calling me dammit'.)

I cried at the beginning and made half the library give me funny looks. Particularly once I laughed at "Zack had a perfectly functional brain, but anybody who’d spent any time around the SOLDIER knew that he preferred to use Kunsel’s." Almost died of laughter there (though I can think of much, much worse ways to die. The Science Department leaps to mind.)

Cissnei does have some pretty uncanny luck, doesn't she? ♥

AND MAKO-TANK!CLOUD ALSKJFASKLJDFKUHJUUUUUUUUH! ,>___<,
("Zack yelling abuse": I can hear him cussing up a storm, though, slightly amusing. Less so, though, because of O-HOO-HOOOOOOH CLOOOOOOOOOUD DX )
Poor baby T_T
*needtohugneedtohugNEEDTOHUG*
sinnatious
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:23 am (UTC)
Re: godDAMN that was sad ;_;
Why the surprise? He's semi-omniscient. He sends you the game tutorial, after all. XD

Awww, a Cloud plushie! Then you can finally deliver the hugs he so badly needs. *__*

Reno's probably not going to come up aside from that, sorry. (XD Though you write him so well) The cast is already pretty full. Any new people at this stage would only be distractions.

<3 The brain sentence was my personal favourite this chapter, I'm glad you got a kick out of it. :D

Cissnei does! I guess that's why her DMV wheels is called 'Lucky Stars'. XD I wish I could play Before Crisis. :( It's awfully hard to get a comprehensive grasp of the FFVII universe with it spread across so many different formats.
demon_vampirate
Mar. 16th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
Re: godDAMN that was sad ;_;
I know, it really does fit! It just... never occurred to me. I never even thought about it.

YES. (And the hugs I so badly need to give him... ;_; )

Oh noes! (Very true though.)
I "write him so well"? XD I love that one unpunctuated sentence is suddenly writing Reno well!

Yes. Made of love. And much win.♥

This is true. (OMG I KNOOOOOOWWWW DX I can't even get my hands back on the original FFVII... I played it like once and then the friend I borrowed it from SOLD IT WITHOUT TELLING ME... *cry*)
(Anonymous)
Mar. 16th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
OMG, NOOOOOOOO!!!! NOT THE TANKS!!! T_T
Poor Cloud! And Kunsel! I hope he doesn't end up in a coma! (how horrible is it that my first thought wasn't 'poor Kunsel', but rather, 'Oh no, if they put Kunsel in mako it might burn ribbon or something! Those things are rare!' XD I'm so mean.)
When (if! D:) Cloud gets out of that tank, Zack should GRAB HIM AND GIVE HIM MOUTH TO MOUTH!!! Y'know, just in case. >.> <.< Can never be too careful around mako!
I'm so glad I watch Lizeth, otherwise I never would of found this! This is turning out to be one of my favorie FFVII stories EVER!!! Thank you so much for being such an amazing writer!!!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 18th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
*twitch*twitch*
*is scribbling madly on a scrap of paper*

I am now compiling a list of ways to kill Hojo. And then illustrating them. As a result, I'm not very far.

Is he ever going to die? Also, message for you:

Zack and Cloud from vertually every FFVII universe: WHAT THE HELL MAN!? SNAP THE NECK! SNAP THE NECK! YOU CAN FIND JENOVA LATER!! YOU CAN KILL SEPHIROTH LATER! HOJO NEEDS TO DIE!!

Just thought you might like to know. After all, they wouldn't stop yelling at me.

Anyway, the HHWD (How Hojo Will Die) list is being updated and I wate with extreame agitation for the next update.
lunarfirefox
Mar. 20th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
Re: *twitch*twitch*
You totally stole my idea \o/
I'll help with illustrations :D
teekoness
Mar. 21st, 2010 08:08 am (UTC)
Sorry for the late review.

Once again another good chapter. Yes, it's filler but it's enjoyable filler. There's enjoyable filler. Nice character moments between Kunsel and Cloud.

Eep! So Hojo's going to experiment with mako levels in our boys? Honestly, this is an experiment where I'd be more worried if it DIDN'T work. Since if it didn't, the next reasonable assumption on Hojo's part would be to assume that the difference between Cloud and Kunsel's time-traveling has to do with S/J-cells. I keep on worrying about Jenova-slave!Kunsel.
swyrel
Mar. 27th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
Wow, I'm really behind in chapters, but I've had no time. T_T

I'm glad that Cloud isn't alone in this. I believe that the whole reason Zack stayed sane was that he had Cloud to take care of, so hopefully having Kunsel to watch over will benefit Cloud in the same way. Especially since he's already made the decision himself.

'This time, he was the SOLDIER First Class. He’d do Zack’s legacy proud, and protect his friends, new and old.'

And that line shows that Cloud is going to make sure that Kunsel comes out of this just fine. <3 Well, I hope he does do that, otherwise Cloud will beat himself up for the next ten years. T_T

TSENG YOU ASS! Stop being such a damn Turk. T_T

Still waiting for Hojo to suffer massive bloodloss when Vincent shows up and rips his head off....<3
sinnatious
Mar. 28th, 2010 09:19 am (UTC)
It's so nice of you to comment on each chapter even though you're behind! <3 Most people would only comment on the last one.

I am in agreement with you that a large part of the reason Zack could keep himself together was that he needed to take care of Cloud.

XD VIVID.
swyrel
Mar. 28th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
Well, how each would I tell you how much I love the chapter or how much I'm getting into it? How much I can just feel the characters? And how I have enjoyed reading this fic more than any other FFVII fic out there?

<3
caterfree10
Jan. 11th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
I love that Kunsel figures it out from here and that Cloud finally gets to info dump on someone how he's there and why he's doing what he's doing. I can't help but imagine it's something of a weight lifting off of Cloud's shoulders since he's basically carried the weight of trying to change the timeline on his own since he got dropped into the past, ya know? Having at least someone who knows the whole story has to be a relief.

But uuugggghhhhhh fucking mako tanks rearing their ugly heads again. ;;
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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