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COI - the continuing evolution of the Great Nibelheim Plotbunny! (i.e., yet more retconning) - Convolutions of an Evil Mind
madamhydra
madamhydra
COI - the continuing evolution of the Great Nibelheim Plotbunny! (i.e., yet more retconning)
Damn, "In the End" by Linkin Park always seems to rev my plotbunnies into overdrive. -_-

For those who don't remember, my Great Nibelheim Plotbunnny (aka the COI version of the Nibelheim incident) basically goes as follows:

1 - At Nibelheim, insane!Sephiroth, far from turning on Zack, turns possessive and wants to keep Zack with him.
2 - Under insane!Sephiroth's control, Zack unknowingly destroys most of Nibelheim and kills most of its inhabitants.
3 - After insane!Sephiroth's departure for the Nibel Reactor, Zack wakes up from his trance. Unaware of what he's done, he goes chasing after insane!Sephiroth.
4 - In the Nibel Reactor, Sephiroth isn't angry or trying to kill Zack, but is merely attempting to subdue Zack so he can 'fix' Zack's mind.

Now, this works just fine if there were no witnesses to Zack's unwitting participation in the Nibelheim massacre (and if the few survivors only see insane!Sephiroth)....

....however, it seems that the Great Nibelheim Plotbunny has mutated! ::evil cackle::

There WAS one person, who sees what happens between insane!Sephiroth and Zack, but more importantly understands it (i.e., Zack unwittingly acting under insane!Sephiroth's control).

And who is this lone witness, may you ask? ::long drumroll::


Poor Cloud, of course!

One of the niggling issues I had with the "possessive insane!Seph" scenerio was why did insane!Seph did not immediately recognize Zack floating around in Cloud's psyche after their escape from the Shinra Mansion and during the game events. My previous theory was that Cloud's mind was just too fragmented and chaotic to allow recognition.

But what about this? What if Cloud, despite his mind being in near total ruins, was hiding Zack from insane!Seph's mental probing?

Let's do some slight (or maybe not so slight ::sweatdrop::) retconning to the COI plot and say that trooper Cloud did know Zack prior to Nibelheim. They were not close, but casual friends/acquaintances. And while trooper Cloud was too emotionally damaged to be saved by this friendship, this relationship meant a lot to him. Trooper Cloud is almost painfully grateful for Zack's little kindnesses, which naturally makes Strife even more embittered and envious.

After the Nibelheim incident, while stuck in the labs in the Shinra Mansion, Cloud becomes locked in a vicious war with Strife over control of his own body, due in no small part to all the various experiments he's subjected to. Unfortunately, Cloud is losing this fight and he knows it, so he clings even tighter to Zack because Zack is his only emotional anchor or mental refuge.

After their escape from Nibelheim, Strife takes control of Cloud's body and brutally kills an already severely wounded Zack. Cloud, utterly distraught and griefstricken over this horrific act, basically destroys what's left of his own mind in an attempt to eradicate Strife.

The shock of Zack's death awakens the slumbering insane!Sephiroth. Mentally scanning the Planet, he finds Cloud whose personality is now irreparably shattered. Insane!Seph senses something ususual about Cloud's broken mind and starts poking around.

Despite his fragmented mental state, there was enough left of Cloud to want to protect the one person whom Cloud had not only deeply cared about, but whom he also so terribly failed/betrayed, from Sephiroth's mental probings, especially because Cloud -knows- what insane!Sephiroth did to Zack (i.e., turning him into a puppet) back in Nibelheim.

So partially out of love, partially out of guilt, and perhaps partially out of an abnormal possessiveness of his own, Cloud hides/cloaks the traces of Zack's persona the best he can from Sephiroth's probing.

Unfortunately, this backfires horribly for Cloud because insane!Seph becomes intrigued and obsessed with the broken mind of this particular puppet (Cloud). And so insane!Seph keeps digging deeper into and playing around with Cloud's broken psyche (insert gratuitious mental rape/torture/bondage scenes) while Cloud frantically struggles to keep Zack's presence hidden from insane!Seph.

Naturally, all this absolutely infuriates Strife beyond belief, who blames Cloud, but more importantly Zack, for all this additional pain and suffering.

So in the process of Cloud's desperate mental struggle to shield Zack from insane!Sephiroth, the tattered remnants of Cloud's psyche and Zack's psyche begin to fuse. Also, this explains why Cloud's present day persona is much more Cloud-ish, while Zack's persona (while strongly influencing Cloud's behavior, especially his subconscious behavior) remains buried/hidden in the background.

After insane!Sephiroth's defeat (as in the game), there was no longer a need to hide Zack's persona, so Cloud slowly starts exhibiting more Zack-traits. And now with sane!Seph on the scene, the Zack-aspect in Cloud becomes more and more obvious.

Whew!

::lone cricket chirps::

Ummm... so what do you guys think? Make sense? Or have I created a monster? ^_^;;;;

Tags: , ,
Current Mood: crazy crazy
Current Music: Linkin Park - "In the End"

30 hisses or Hiss in my ear....
Comments
icedark_elf From: icedark_elf Date: April 14th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Interesting.

So, now that leaves the idea of how much of Cloud is really him, how much is Zack, and how much of the difference can Strife tell?

And how much will Sephiroth be able to tell?

*is being poked by insanepossessiveSephiroth from fic* Ack! He woke up. *blames you*

This is an interesting idea, and it will make the fighting in Cloud's head even more interesting later on.
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: April 14th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)
So, now that leaves the idea of how much of Cloud is really him, how much is Zack, and how much of the difference can Strife tell?

Well, Strife doesn't really care because at this point, he probably hates both equally. He's just that way. -_-

And how much will Sephiroth be able to tell?

Well, he definitely senses Zack's presence (now that Cloud isn't trying to suppress it (unconsciously, of course), and he senses a difference, but he's unsure what to make of it at the moment. ^_-

*is being poked by insanepossessiveSephiroth from fic* Ack! He woke up. *blames you*

But insane!possessive!Sephiroth is so much fun! ::innocent whistle::

This is an interesting idea, and it will make the fighting in Cloud's head even more interesting later on.

Well, this plotbunny mutation is partially YOUR fault. After reading about the Cloud in your fics and ciceqi's fics, I became increasing dissatisfied with trooper-COI-Cloud being so... meh and wimpy. I wanted to give him a little more strength of character, despite the overwhelming psychological damage. So this change will hopefully allow him to display his innate protective instincts (however stunted and stifled).
mimi_sardinia From: mimi_sardinia Date: April 14th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC) (Link)
That actually comes closer to one of my early theories on the eventual solution to the fight going on in Cloud's head might come about - basically, that Cloud would have to suport Zack against Strife.
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: April 14th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, that's probably fairly accurate, given that by the point Strife comes into play, Cloud and Zack have become pretty throughly fused. ^_^
salmastryon From: salmastryon Date: April 14th, 2007 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
*delurking* Your discussions of your universe just get to me. Part of what I love about stories and story telling is figuring out how everything and everyone fits together. I just eat up your brainstorm posts like candy. So I just couldn't resist commenting on this one.

First off:
Let's do some slight (or maybe not so slight ::sweatdrop::) retconning to the COI plot and say that trooper Cloud did know Zack prior to Nibelheim. They were not close, but casual friends/acquaintances. And while trooper Cloud was too emotionally damaged to be saved by this friendship, this "relationship meant a lot to him. Trooper Cloud is almost painfully grateful for Zack's little kindnesses, which naturally makes Strife even more embittered and envious.

Not that I don't like this idea I'm fine with it, but I thought I would point out that I don't think you really need to change them not being friends before hand if you don't want them to be. Obviously you'd still need to tweak it some, but with how much Cloud wants to be a Solider, he couldn't of not become aware of Zack. It is possible to deeply admire, respect someone and even want to protect someone with out really knowing them. Especially someone like the Zack in your stories. Let's face it Zack is very charismatic and a representation of what Cloud asperations and dreams.

One of the themes that really stuck out in FFVII is that Cloud wanted to be like Zack and handle things as good as he imagined Zack handling them. So it makes sense, that he clings to him as an anchor in the mental nightmare that was Nibelheim. So then you have Zack dying at Cloud's(Strifes's) own hands which pretty much put the final nail in the coffin of Cloud's hopes and dreams if he had any left.

Combine that with all that is left of Zack being in his head and Strife on one side with Sephiroth on the other side, I could see him easily doing any and everything to try to preserve Zack. With personality like Strife living in his head Cloud has got to have a lot of self hatred, so while he might of never faced up to or taken action on his own behalf due to self destructive tendencies, he could definitely step up to the plate for Zack. I can even see that in his mind he's protecting Zack from everything that's happened in his life.

The whole friend/acquaintances things works as well for me, but I thought I'd throw this twist on the problem out for you to chew on as well. Sorry if it seems a bit disjointed and wordy.

Second:
My mind hit me on the side of the head as I was typing this out with the whole question of spirit or personality. Are Cloud and Strife the splintered aspects of a single spirits personality? Or did they split into two separate spirits. When you throw Zack in is he his own Seperate spirit or is he absorbed into the whole spirit that inhabit Cloud's body so that he's another personality in Cloud's head. If there is in fact two spirits in Cloud Zack and Cloud/Strife then is it really Zack taking on aspects of Cloud?

Any rate, I do like where you are going with this with possessive!Sephiroth. I like that the characters have ugly splotches in their personalities that they have to deal with successfully or not so successfully. And that sanity is relative. Dunno if anything I said was useful and I hope I didn't offend, but if nothing else you can chalk this down as a "Yeah! You're cool and OMG I love your story!" comment. ;)

*goes back to lurking*
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: April 14th, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your discussions of your universe just get to me. Part of what I love about stories and story telling is figuring out how everything and everyone fits together. I just eat up your brainstorm posts like candy. So I just couldn't resist commenting on this one.

Thanks for saying something. Although it's a bit scary how obsessive I get about COIverse world-building. ::massive sweatdrop::

I mean, here I'm doing research on inheritance law because COI-Cloud's situation as President Shinra's bastard child, especially since Rufus is presumed dead. Depending on how Present Shinra wrote his will, Cloud actually could get a substantial portion of President Shinra's personal wealth (even if he doesn't get the corporation-related assets).

Not that I don't like this idea I'm fine with it, but I thought I would point out that I don't think you really need to change them not being friends before hand if you don't want them to be. Obviously you'd still need to tweak it some, but with how much Cloud wants to be a Solider, he couldn't of not become aware of Zack. It is possible to deeply admire, respect someone and even want to protect someone with out really knowing them. Especially someone like the Zack in your stories. Let's face it Zack is very charismatic and a representation of what Cloud asperations and dreams.

Sorry if I confused you when I mentioned revamping Zack and Cloud's relationship. You see, in the original version of COI, Zack didn't know Cloud at all prior to Nibelheim. The retconning comes in by having Zack and Cloud run into each other on several occasions prior to Nibelheim.

I'm probably going to make them into casual acquaintances and not really friends. However, even the relatively trival consideration of being recognized and greeted, of being thanked, etc. on Zack's part makes a tremendous impression on Cloud, given the pretty horrible way he's been treated up to this point.

So then you have Zack dying at Cloud's(Strifes's) own hands which pretty much put the final nail in the coffin of Cloud's hopes and dreams if he had any left.

So true. Cloud failed once with Tifa when they were children. But this time is infinitely worse because he's the threat and causing the harm.

he could definitely step up to the plate for Zack. I can even see that in his mind he's protecting Zack from everything that's happened in his life.

That's quite true. At this point, Cloud is really not capable of coherent thought so he's operating on pure instinct. Deeply buried under all those emotional scars is a person with very strong protective instincts. Growing up, Cloud probably desperately wanted to be a hero who protects, but those dreams were brutally crushed.

So now he's trying to find redemption by protecting Zack from insane!Sephiroth, regardless of the cost to himself. ::sniffle::

The whole friend/acquaintances things works as well for me, but I thought I'd throw this twist on the problem out for you to chew on as well. Sorry if it seems a bit disjointed and wordy.

No, it makes perfect sense. As I mentioned before, Cloud is so emotionally deprived and socially harassed, just being treated with mere common courtesy has a huge impact on Cloud. As for Zack, he's just being Zack -- friendly, outgoing, and personable. Unfortunately, Cloud's past makes him almost impossibly skittish, insecure, and difficult to befriend. And Zack has his hands full with other concerns (i.e., Sephiroth, the SOLDIERs, Hojo, and possibly even Aeris).
keji_eternal From: keji_eternal Date: April 14th, 2007 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
MAKES PERFECT SENSE!! That Zack personality starts showing more after Cloud doesn't see a reason to hide him anymore.

Your plot bunnies are surely enjoying biting you senseless these days, which personally, I'm not complaining.

This new twists fits perfectly with the whole story, and explains much too.

er... one more thing H... Is chapter 8 even close to be posted yet?

PLEASE PLEASE tell me some good news!
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: April 14th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
MAKES PERFECT SENSE!! That Zack personality starts showing more after Cloud doesn't see a reason to hide him anymore.

And the interesting thing is that Cloud's increasing Zack-ness doesn't really bother anyone except Tifa, poor girl.

Your plot bunnies are surely enjoying biting you senseless these days, which personally, I'm not complaining.

They're eating my brain. ::whimper::

This new twists fits perfectly with the whole story, and explains much too.

Yup!

er... one more thing H... Is chapter 8 even close to be posted yet?

PLEASE PLEASE tell me some good news!


::shifty-eyed guilty look::

Still working on it. Cid and Cait Sith are being stubborn and Vincent is SO uncooperative. ::slithers hastily for cover::
kittychan1986 From: kittychan1986 Date: April 14th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like this idea, it allows for Cloud, who's inate proticve instick stunded or not is very easily directiable by the fact that Zack was kind to him, fusing weith Zack's own rather selctive proective streak, menas that anyone who comes uner their joint protection had better not be touched, or ELSE. It's really intresting. I can't wiat to see how this ends up working out. It makes Cloud's fading even sader, to me, though. Poor kid tried to do the riht thing, it just ended up backfireing on him royaly...
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: April 14th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like this idea, it allows for Cloud, who's inate proticve instick stunded or not is very easily directiable by the fact that Zack was kind to him, fusing weith Zack's own rather selctive proective streak, menas that anyone who comes uner their joint protection had better not be touched, or ELSE.

True, but it's not going to be easy for Cloud/Zack, because the best interests of the AVALANCHE crew, the Planet, and Sephiroth are not necessarily the same. So how is Cloud/Zack supposed to prioritize? Will he be able to, if that becomes necessary? ::evil grin::

It's really intresting. I can't wiat to see how this ends up working out. It makes Cloud's fading even sader, to me, though. Poor kid tried to do the riht thing, it just ended up backfireing on him royaly...

Yes, poor kid. Dreamed of being a hero and protector, got those dreams totally crushed by harsh reality, and when he tries to do the right thing yet again, it only makes things horribly worse (for himself, at least).
bard_linn From: bard_linn Date: April 14th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
...I just think I fell in love with your universe all over again.

One of the things I never really liked about COI is how /weak/ Cloud is. I like to think everyone has some strength of some sort. Here Cloud has some strength of his own, even if its just a bit. *loves*

I hope Cloud and Zack's personalities continue to merge, personally. I think there are good things about Cloud that Zack doesn't have too. (Though I'd like to see some of your Zack's flaws. That would be fun too!)

And Strife needs smacked. Badly. Can I drop a grand piano on him, please?
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: April 15th, 2007 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
...I just think I fell in love with your universe all over again.

Hurrah!

One of the things I never really liked about COI is how /weak/ Cloud is. I like to think everyone has some strength of some sort. Here Cloud has some strength of his own, even if its just a bit. *loves*

Well, trooper-Cloud's passivity and weakness was a bit of an issue with me, too, but I couldn't quite figure out how to fix it because I couldn't quite identify what trooper-Cloud's... spark... or distinguishing characteristic was. But after the Great Nibelheim Plotbunny spawned (aka insane!possessive!Seph), so many plot points began to fall into place in the COIverse.

So original-Cloud basically uses himself as a sacrificial shield to hide and protect the last remains of the person he truly cares about (and unfortunately killed) from insane!Sephiroth.

I hope Cloud and Zack's personalities continue to merge, personally. I think there are good things about Cloud that Zack doesn't have too.

I think Cloud does have something that Zack doesn't have. Zack never had that much of an idealistic streak -- his world tended to break down into HIS people and other people. Cloud, on the other hand, does have this idealistic, romantic streak. Somewhere deep in Cloud's psyche was the desire to make the world better.

(Though I'd like to see some of your Zack's flaws. That would be fun too!)

Zack's flaws are somewhat hard to articulate because unlike Cloud's, they're rather subtle. I suppose his strong sociopathic streak could be considered a flaw. Weirdly, I tend to think of COI-Zack as being, at his core, a very feral, animalistic sort of personality. ^_^;;;

You see, here's a scary thought. If Sephiroth hadn't gone blatantly insane in Nibelheim due to outside influences, but instead wanted to take over the world on his own initiative, I think Zack would have pretty much gone along with it of his own free will without too many qualms (e.g., because it was the best or most feasible way to ensure Sephiroth's safety and freedom, etc.). Because for Zack, Sephiroth's well-being trumps everything else.

And Strife needs smacked. Badly.

Yes, Strife is a pissy nasty bastard who needs a good whacking. Fortunately, Sephiroth will be more than happy to oblige. ^_-

Can I drop a grand piano on him, please?

Unfortunately, being a super-SOLDIER, I don't think it'll do much. Pooh.
soloyuymaxwell From: soloyuymaxwell Date: April 15th, 2007 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)
It made very good sense. ^^ -Pets the Nibelheim plotbunny- Well, to me, anyway. I surprise myself on how intellegent I actually am to understand all that... ^^;

Question: What about Tifa, though? I rmember her being the guide to the reactor, and then I remember her running her father and then trying for Sephiroth's life. The game, nor Crisis Core(or is it Last Order?) doesn't say, but what does the COI-verse say? ^^ Was she hiding in her house?
madamhydra From: madamhydra Date: April 15th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
It made very good sense. ^^ -Pets the Nibelheim plotbunny-

It's a nice plotbunny, even though it mutates more readily than a Resident Evil boss creature. -_-

Well, to me, anyway. I surprise myself on how intellegent I actually am to understand all that... ^^;</b>

::offers Zack-cookie::

Question: What about Tifa, though? I rmember her being the guide to the reactor, and then I remember her running her father and then trying for Sephiroth's life. The game, nor Crisis Core(or is it Last Order?) doesn't say, but what does the COI-verse say? ^^ Was she hiding in her house?

No, with respec to Tifa's actions during the Nibelheim incident, nothing's really changed from the game events (i.e., she goes to the Reactor to confront Sephiroth and gets sliced/stabbed for her efforts).
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 20th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I decided to read all of COI today, including rummaging through your LJ and I like it a lot. While it was disconcerting to realize that you must have started writing it back when I was 10 years old, the amount of detail and thought you've put into this universe is appreciatively incredible. Not only that, but your grasp of characterization and personality and handling of all the scars and trauma and fuckedupdedness of all the characters is...gosh, I wish I could even dream of matching that level of writing and world-building, maybe someday in the distant future.

However, there is one tiny grammatical/vocabulary thing that's been constantly bothering me, probably because I read everything in one big chunk - it's the difference between "discrete" and "discreet." Discreet is describing something low-profile and unnoticeable, discrete is describing particles or segments that are completely separated from each other.
lazaefair From: lazaefair Date: August 20th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Crap, that was me. I forgot to log in.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 15th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have loved this story for so long and I adore that you are still writing this. Just one thing I wanted to throw out there is that Seph liked (and maybe loved) Gast. Are you going to let him know he killed the daughter of the only person who was kind to him as a child? I would think that would affect him, especially knowing she was dear to Zack as well.

And Strife should get bitten by Leviathan for hurting Yuffie. Call me weird but I always liked her. Most likely because I always saw her as a poor girl who was expected to restore Wutai without any help from her people dispite her age.
30 hisses or Hiss in my ear....