The settings on this site really don't do this story justice, and I don't have an AO3 account yet. RWBY makes appearance at the very end but I am not able to include them in the list of crossovers, so I chose only FF9 and FF13 since these two make up the bigger chunk of the story. Sorry, May. Sorry, Robyn.
Twenty years ago, Freya Crescent dropped into the void. She did not know how she got here. One minute she was reunited with Fratley some time after defeating Necron, excitedly looking forward to visiting Queen Dagger in Alexandria, the next minute she was here. She looked around her. She had on her dragon knight armor, and the Kain's Lance she did not remember carrying was just an arm's length away from her person.
All around her was space, and yet she was not falling.
"Hello?" Freya called out to the void. It responded with echoes.
Was this part of the game? If so, shouldn't Zidane be here? He was the main character after all, whereas she was just a side character, easily forgotten after her arc ended.
While she was figuring things out, light sparked and shone from behind her. Freya turned around and squinted. Before her was a giant building bigger than any inn she had stepped foot in. How did that get here?
Oh, well. Guess this was her next stop. She had no choice in the matter anyway. Freya hoisted her baggage and grabbed her Kain's Lance, using it as a walking stick and she slowly approached the building.
The doors opened on its own, to a red carpet walkway and a service counter at the very end. A human-sized moogle was stationed at the front desk, bidding her to enter.
And that she did. The doors shut behind her.
"We've been expecting you, kupo," the moogle greeted.
"Oh, um, thank you?" Freya hesitated, half unsure of the right response and half worried she had walked into a trap. "Where exactly am I?"
"You have been chosen as this person's favorite character, kupo. You are now living in this person's head," the moogle explained. "Do you have a key?"
Confusion hit Freya like a truck. Whatever she heard was definitely stranger than fiction. And she came from a video game, for Gaia's sake!
Seconds later, she recalled that staring was rude and looked away, still processing her current situation. Apparently, this was some sort of inn and she had ranked high on this person's list of favorites.
The moogle mentioned a key.
"I apologize. There must be a mistake. I don't have a key," Freya did not remember being given one such item, nor did she believe her short and tragic arc could compete with the other characters' long and bountiful ones for favoritism.
Zidane was the main character. Dagger was pretty. Vivi had magic. Steiner stuck around since the very beginning.
The moogle pointed at her suit. She traced its finger-not sure if that was the right word. Do moogles have fingers?-and her eyes landed one of her pockets. She slid a hand in, her nails felt around the space, eventually touched something metallic, and fished the item out.
It was a golden room key branded with a large, unmistakable, number '1'.
"That's the one," said the moogle, then it pointed at the lift on another side of the room. It looked exactly like the elevator in Lindblum castle. "Your room is right at the very top, with the best view and unlimited room service."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait. Wha-? I'm not the only one here, am I? Where are the others? My comrades?"
Not intending to respond, the moogle faded out of existence.
The only lead was the key in her hand. With nowhere to go but up, Freya entered the lift and it brought her all the way up to the highest tower and the biggest suite in the fortress.
Time worked differently in that realm. Months and years could have passed in the real world when it only felt like days and weeks in the fortress.
It was only much later that she found Dagger and Beatrix residing in the same building too. Difference being, while Freya had a walk-in closet, a bathtub, and a jacuzzi in her suite, her two comrades shared bunk beds in a dorm room with six other occupants. It seemed that, over time, while they were living rent-free in this person's headspace, several others had dropped into the void, none of whom made it to become Freya's neighbors. Dagger and Beatrix also introduced Freya to Yuna and Rikku, neither of whom were familiar with Dresspheres because this particular player had no intention of exploring the sequel to their game but liked them enough to get them bunk beds in this imaginary fortress.
For a long time, Freya was the only occupant with the highest honor of possessing a key to the suites on the top floor, where nine other rooms remained empty.
Five years ago, Oerba Yun Fang dropped into the void. After a heck load of confusion in the lobby and threats to take down the hotel with her spear, the Oerban native knocked on the door of the suite.
Freya did not recall ordering room service. She opened it nonetheless and came face-to-face with a strikingly sexy woman in a revealing sari. Strapped to said woman was a weapon Freya was all too familiar with. She later found out that the lance shared the same name with her most prized possession, the one she picked up in Memoria.
"Can I help you?" Freya greeted the new resident. Perhaps this was the day she would finally welcome a tenant sharing the same floor. She had been lonely for so long, though because of the extravagance and luxury this person had provided her for being the 'favorite', she had no complaints. She studied this absurdly stunning character, wondering which game this woman had come from, which room out of the other nine she was staying in (she was guessing No.2, cuz shouldn't these things go in numerical order?), and if this woman came to make friends or ask for directions.
Freya's heart began to sink as a quick observation made it very clear that this woman had… assets she greatly lacked. The stranger had a remarkably beautiful human face, the beauty mark under her left eye only served to add points, the red highlights in her hair reflected her wild side, and the scorched tattoo on her right upper arm must have come with an epic tale.
"Hey, there. Hate to break it to ya, but I believe you are in my room."
Oh my, even her voice sounded so… out of this world!
Freya stared at the woman, not breaking eye contact, mesmerized by the exotic beauty that had no doubt captured this person's attention. For a moment she felt honored to meet her next door neighbor, until she registered what the woman just said.
"What?" she blurted, perplexed.
"I don't make the rules, hon," said Fang, fishing out her key from... who knows where. She was not wearing any pockets!
It was then that Dagger shyly peeked in, looking apologetic. "Hey, Freya. Sorry to interrupt but Fang just got here, and like she said she got bumped into your room. So... um... maybe you can check your key?"
This doesn't make sense! Freya thought. My key is... She skipped to her study and fumbled through the desk of books, finding her key under a pile of papers. It had a number 2 carved on its surface.
Instantly, Freya's face went pale. She turned to face Fang, who had already begun to admire the interior of her future stay.
Just then, she felt a wind blow, but the windows were closed. Out of nowhere, a whirlwind emerged and slowly grew into size in that private space. Freya shielded her eyes with one hand, the other grabbing hold of a pillar to stay grounded. It went away just as fast as it appeared, and when Freya reopened her eyes the visitors at the doorway did the same.
To her shock, all her possessions were gone. Outside, the door in the next room slammed open, evoking a scream and a grunt from two other strangers.
"Wow, this has been a lovely meeting. Didn't expect my first day to turn out like this," Fang commented dryly, checking behind her. "You alright, Vanille?"
Perhaps this was Freya's cue to leave. The room had no desire to accommodate her anyway. She walked towards the door and looked at Fang in the eye, holding her breath, but not for long. Eventually, she relented. Fang was just doing what she was assigned to do, just like she had been at the beginning.
"Sorry 'bout that," said the taller woman. "No hard feelings?"
"It was good while it lasted," Freya sighed. She looked to her left and was met with two more women blocking the corridor. The shorter woman had cheerful red hair tied in two pigtails, which did a great job masking her age, while the other woman with pink hair was wearing what looked like a military uniform and was standing with her arms folded, looking utterly unimpressed with the location.
Vanille gasped when she saw Freya for the first time. Lightning casually slapped her on the shoulder, muttering, "Rude."
Freya thought nothing of it. Having a tail and the physical resemblance of a rat would do that to people. She had not missed the fact that they obviously came from different games.
"Burmecia," she explained in one word.
"Cocoon," Lightning spoke, pointing at herself. "Pulse," she pointed at her companions.
"GRAN Pulse," Fang corrected her from inside her new room.
"So... 3 and 4?" Freya asked, assuming Lightning and Vanille were also selected as top favorites. She would sleep better knowing she had at least retained second place in spite of all the media this person had consumed during all that time that slipped away.
"Nah-uh," Vanille said. "We're only here because we're related to Fang. Lightning and I are sharing a room at Number 11."
Freya raised a brow, confused.
"What she means is," Lightning cut in. "Individually, we'd be sleeping in bunk beds just like Dagger and the other girls. But, luckily for us, we get some privileges because this person likes to ship us with Fang. So, I guess I can't complain."
"Me neither!" Fang called out.
Lightning smacked herself on the forehead.
"We're just one floor below if you need us. Like, if Fang is too noisy or something," Vanille added. "Or, well, if she's asking you for favors." Then she waved goodbye to the dragon knight and left the premise with Lightning before Freya could ask her to elaborate more on said favors.
Demoted to second place. Well, not too bad. Her game is old, after all. Resigned to her fate, Freya looked into her new room, where all her belongings had been magically set in place.
Ah, damn. The jacuzzi's gone.
Three months ago, May Marigold dropped into the void.
"Ow..." she said as she picked herself up. Her crossbow-staff dropped not far away from her. The last thing she remembered was that she and the interns had just returned from a mission at the Atlas military.
An enormous fortress lay directly in her line of sight.
"Where is this place?" she said, creaking her neck. Shouldn't she be fighting in a war right now? Is she even in Atlas anymore?
"Um, hi there," a young lady in an orange jumpsuit came up to her. "I don't know why I'm doing most of the introductions but you've just entered this person's headspace and are now entitled to a room in their imagination."
"A what now?"
"Oh, you can call me Dagger. Where exactly are you from? I'm from Alexandria and some of my comrades are staying with me."
May needed directions. She supposed Dagger could be trusted. "Rem... nant? I don't suppose you have heard of that place."
"Can't say I do..." she said after giving it some thought. The fortress mostly housed video game characters. Not many TV or animated characters made it through. "Oh wait, I think the Belladonna girl is in room 12."
"Huh," May recalled the Faunus intern with cat ears. "Figures. She's come a long way since episode 1."
"What's an... episode?"
May could tell they were operating on two different wavelengths but she would rather not get into detail. "Never mind that. So, what do you say this place is?"
"It's a gathering of this person's favorite characters over the years. It's rather odd, but we now have enough information to confirm that this person shows greater preference towards female characters."
That caught May's attention. "Say that again?"
"Well, as you can see, there are no other buildings around here. So we don't know where the guys go. The current residents are all women."
"Women only. Is that right?" May was hearing lots of good things. May believed she would like it here.
"Righty-o. Congratulations on making it!"
May blushed. She might not understand exactly what was going on here, but it felt great to be included.
"Let's get you checked in. Are you a side character, by any chance?"
"By all definition I suppose I am."
"Fantastic! I'm the main character in my story but I'm sharing a bunk bed with my general. Side characters on the other hand, more likely than not, get to stay in the suites!"
Later, May would check her coat pockets to find a silver key. She would also get acquainted to the warrior in room No.1. and the two would eventually grow fascinated by the other's backstory. With three characters living in suites at the moment, May Marigold had an inkling of what it takes to be a favorite character in this person's head.
Two weeks ago, Robyn Hill dropped into the void. This person took their time to become politically interested in her.