Bittersweet Synthesis is inspired by one of the great authors of Final Fantasy fanfiction, Darren "Edge" Shier (aka Daz Shier of ). I've long been a fan of his work and style, and Darren in fact inspired me to begin writing fanfiction based on Final Fantasy VIII.

At one point I was perusing , and I entered Darren's name in an effort to see if he had any fanfics on the site, and I was surprised to find he did. One of his fanfics caught my eye, an interesting and unique work with a tantalizing concept. It was titled "The Best of Both Worlds," and it offered up an intriguing question: what would happen if Final Fantasy VIII's characters were transplanted into Final Fantasy VII? Indeed, this fic was one that began to answer that question, with Squall replacing Cloud, Tifa replaced by Rinoa, and so on, combining elements of both of the great Fantasies to create something truly unique. Every character and group was changed, the backstories were transformed, yet the spirit of both games was, miraculously, preserved.

The truly sad part is that Darren never has finished this work, ending it shortly after the escape from Midgar. Thus, the question has remained unanswered.

Until now.

Darren never answered this question or forged this completely into the concept of transplanting characters from different Fantasies, which is, in the fanfiction world, a true tragedy and dissappointment. This I intend to mend. Darren has inspired me to do this work, an idea that has been bouncing around in my head for ages, ever since I read through "The Best of Both Worlds."

This fic is for Edge, and anyone else who has ever asked the question "what if?" A story celebrating possibilities and at the same time, differences, for indeed, the storyline will be inherently different with a seventeen- year-old loner with cold emotions as the lead instead of a twenty-one-year- old confused warrior who knows nothing about his past but lies.

There will be differences in this retelling and the stories of both games, but that is part of the magic, I believe. Some of Final Fantasy VII's characters will be returning and appearing throughout the game, as, despite the brilliance of FFVIII, it doesn't have enough playable characters in the proper roles, and some of FFVII's characters are priceless and irreplacable. The general plotline of FFVII and the characters of FFVIII will be preserved, and I will do my damndest to keep the spirit of both games alive and vibrant throught this fanfic, maintaining both the dark, yet tragically hopeful tale of FFVII and the beautiful tale of love and rivalry of FFVIII. Some characters are different, and the exact storylines are impossible to completely mimic (some events will, obviously, have occurred at different times) but I will try to remain faithful to both fans of FFVII and FFVIII. However, make no mistake; there will be some changes in FFVII's progression of events, though the storyline will follow the FFVII progression fairly closely.

Note that if you've read my FFVIII novelization, "The Gunblade Saga," then this intro will be very familiar, but will have some changes. Some aspects of "The Gunblade Saga" will find their way into this work as well in the first few chapters. The storyline will bear some similarities to Daz's work at first, but will steadily divert from what he wrote in what occurs and who fills in what roles. Trust me when I say that it will all work out in the end.

So, without further ado, I present to you an answer to that great, elusive question: What if?

Standard Issue Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII and VIII are the property of Squaresoft. All characters, locations, and concepts except for original creations belong to them.

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Bittersweet Synthesis: Two Fantasies, Fused Into One Epic Tale

Book One: Reunion

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Prologue: Scars

"I'll be here . . ."


"I'll be 'waiting' here."

"For what?"

"I'll be waiting . . . for you . . . so . . . if you come here . . . you'll find me.

"I promise."


Sparks flew as the two blades intersected, the slender, black-bladed Hyperion being turned aside by the parry of the heavier, silver blade of the Revolver. Their wielders backed off slightly, eyeing each other with deadly intensity.

A cold wind rippled through their battlefield, playing with one's long coat and the other's long hair. They stood atop a roof, towering over the streets below, which were filled with fast-moving cars and pedestrians moving with purpose. The cityscape stretched around them, tall skyscrapers, dreary apartment complexes, and homes dwarfed by the mighty surroundings. Pollution-filled skies stretching above them, creating a drab brown pall over the city. Stars that managed to shine through the pollution glinted above the two warriors, and to the east, just beyond the distant mountains, a sliver of silvery light heralded the sun's future rise on this day. Lights blazed in the city's structures, filling the skyline with burning yellow lights, like fireflies frozen in the night by dirty brown ice. The scents of gasoline and the faint odor of leaking Mako floated along with that cold breeze.

"Not bad," said Hyperion's wielder with a smirk. He was tall, over six feet, with short, slicked-back blonde hair, except for a small lock that hung stylishly down over his face. He possessed a regal bearing, like some ancient knight from ages hence, that belied his seventeen years. He was clad in a long white trenchcoat, immaculate and spotless, emblazoned with blood-red sword-crosses on the sleeves. Underneath his white coat he wore a sleeveless blue vest, also featuring a cross, this one sliver. His black pants matched his boots and gloves, and around his throat hung a silver necklace. The blonde warrior arced his head back slightly, his shimmering blue eyes regarding his foe with a combination of respect and determination. He raised his blade up again, pointing it at his foe and putting his right foot forward, his free left hand held out to the side, a modified fencing pose.

His foe stood ten feet away, and also regarded the blonde man with the same determined, respectful expression, his eyes faintly glowing a deep blue as well. He was much shorter, a couple of inches above five and a half feet tall, with long, messy brown hair, hanging down around his face, a few strands in his eyes. He was only a year behind his opponent in age. He wore a short black leather jacket with thick, soft white fur around the collar, underneath which there was a plain white muscle shirt. He wore a trio of belts, one around his waist, the other two lower down, crossing diagonally over his groin. One held several small pouches, for items and equipment. The other seemed to be like a combination of a swordbelt and gunbelt, featuring a hybrid of a holster and a scabbard. The hybrid weapon holder was angled forward, as if its weapon was to be drawn like a sword, yet was shaped like a gun's holster, except it was longer, like a sword's sheath. Around the man's right leg was a trio of small bandoleers, each containing many small cylinders, like ammunition for a revolver. Like his foe, this man had black pants, though these were leather. Also, like his foe, his boots and gloves matched his pants. Around his neck was a chain, leading down to a crafted lion's head at the end.

The two opponents stood still for a few seconds, each watching the other, waiting for their foe to make the first move.

They broke as one, both advancing, blades clashing with the solid ring of metal on metal. Hyperion's wielder came across in a slash, to which the Revolver rose to block. Hyperion deftly rose over the blocking blade and knocked it down. Even as the Revolver's wielder began to bring his weapon back up, Hyperion weaved underneath the blade and slammed up. The Revolver, already with the momentum of rising up, went flying high out of its wielder's hands at the strike. The weapon spiraled up into the air, turning end over end. Its wielder quickly leaped back out of the blonde man's range, but his foe didn't advance. He simply stood there, Hyperion at his side, as he waited for the Revolver to drop back down.

"You need to learn to tighten your grip," he remarked to his foe with a superior smirk. The brown-haired man took a step to the side, observing the Revolver and where it would land. The weapon reached the apex of its flight and came down, end over end. It drove down into the rooftop, standing straight, handle up. The chain on the end clinked slightly as it waved back and forth.

The brown haired man glanced back up at his foe and then reached down for his weapon. His hands closed around the custom-made grip, and with one deft movement he wrenched the unique hybrid weapon out of the ceramic roof.

The Revolver was a gunblade, a strange and exotic crossbreed of gun and sword. The Revolver, as its name would suggest, had the handle of a six- shooter magnum. Where the barrel would be on a magnum, however, there was instead a long, broad blade, marked with an engraving of a crouching lion, with powerful wings sprouting from its back. The blade tapered until the last few inches, where the tip was shaped like the end of a scimitar, the curved edge excellent for slicing, yet straight enough for a powerful thrust. On the end of the handle of the Revolver was a short chain, at the end of which was a small sliver lion's head.

Drawing the Revolver and feeling the solid weight of the gunblade in his hands, its wielder turned to his foe. Hyperion still waited by his side, the smug smirk still plastered on his face as he waited for the duel to resume. Hyperion, like the Revolver, was a gunblade, although this weapon had the handle of handgun as opposed to a magnum revolver. Hyperion was long and slender, like a fencing blade or saber, and was straight, with a shining, silver edge.

"Come on, let's get this over with," the blonde man said. The brown- haired man nodded, then raised the Revolver and charged. The blonde warrior grinned and his own weapon rose to point at his foe.

The two dueled ferociously, blades clanging and scraping in the cold, polluted air. Hyperion and Revolver met repeatedly, sparks rising and falling at each intersection. Hyperion's wielder backed away quickly, and came back in, pulling a dazzlingly fast spin. Hyperion came around fast and hard, aided by the momentum of the spin, but was met by the Revolver. The Revolver came in behind the slash, striking at Hyperion's blonde wielder, but the man spun back and around, away from the slash. Hyperion came out of the spin striking down on the Revolver, knocking it down and away. The Revolver's wielder came back in, his gunblade slicing down at the blonde man, who stepped forward and unexpectedly ducked under the blow, ending up behind the Revolver's brown-haired wielder. The brown-haired man spun around quickly to face his opponent, who stood calmly at the edge of the roof. He held Hyperion straight up at shoulder level, smirked again, and then raised his left hand, beckoning with his fingers.

Revolver's wielder accepted the offer to come on. He charged, only to see Hyperion come down from its perch by the blonde man's shoulder and thrust out. The brown-haired warrior ducked aside from the first thrust and sent the Revolver across to prevent a slash down into his skull, then blocked a follow-up thrust, and then a third thrust. The Revolver came overhead in a cleaving stroke, only to be met by Hyperion. The blonde warrior bent his knees slightly at the blow, absorbing the power behind that strike, but didn't fall. He smiled as he pushed up and forward, forcing his brown-haired opponent off.

"Good," the blonde warrior said. "This is fun." The smirk on his face and a dangerous glint in his eyes told the brown-haired warrior that despite the "fun" his foe was having, he did not at all consider it to be a game.

"Well, are you just going to stand there!" Hyperion's wielder shouted. "Come on!"

Revolver responded to the challenge with an overhead cleave, to which Hyperion blocked. The blonde-haired warrior disengaged his blade from the Revolver, then smacked the weapon across into the Revolver, forcing the other gunblade aside. The brown-haired warrior backed away as Hyperion came up in a rising slash, and then another rising strike, both aimed for his head.

The brown-haired warrior came right back in after dodging the slashes, his gunblade swinging in rapid succession. The first swing missed as the blonde fighter backed away, but the following slice didn't. Hyperion swung up vertically to block the slice, its wielder putting his free hand across the gunblade's flat side to help absorb the shock of the hit, and the subsequent trio of strikes that shuddered his weapon. A sixth slash came in, but he parried it aside, and followed up the parry with a slash that forced his foe back.

"Enough of this bullshit!" Hyperion's wielder hissed as his enemy backed away. "Time to end this."

Revolver's wielder came back in again, gunblade behind him and ready for another powerful slash.

"Dodge this!" Hyperion's wielder shouted as his hand shot forward. Beneath his sleeve, there was a faint flare of green, and a ball of fire formed in his open palm. The brown-haired warrior barely had any time to respond before the magic spell went off, the incandescent ball of flame erupting from his foe's hand. He brought the Revolver up in time to absorb the brunt of the magic attack, but was hurled back onto his rear by the shock of the blast.

Shit, Revolver's wielder thought. He had materia! He should have seen that coming . . . Even as this thought went through his mind, training kicked in, telling him to get up and on his feet before his opponent took advantage of the moment of weakness. The brown-haired warrior began to rise, only to see his foe towering above him, Hyperion raised high.

A curse sounded in his mind as he saw the look of insane glee in his foe's shining eyes.

Then, Hyperion slashed down across the warrior's face. Pain erupted along a line running from his forehead down to the left side of his nose. Blood streamed out of the wound and stained the ground. Droplets of the red liquid flowed into his left eye, blinding him there.

The warrior turned his attention back up to his blonde enemy, who stood still, smiling. Rage twisted its way onto the brown-haired warrior's features, and he rose suddenly, the blood-stained eye shining strangely, blue through the thick red liquid. His fingers tightened around the gunblade's handle, and then he stood straight. The blade of his weapon dragged along the rooftop, kicking up sparks and shards of ceramic, and then the weapon rose up into his opponent's surprised and satisfyingly shocked face, slicing the man from the right side of his nose all the way up to the left side of his forehead. Blood spurted forth, and the brown- haired warrior stumbled back, looking at his stunned, bloodied opponent.

Then, his world began to go hazy, and darkness engulfed the Revolver's wielder as he fell back to the roof. His gunblade clattered down beside him, the reverberation of metal on ceramic being the last sound he heard before he blacked out.

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Yes, many of you may notice that this intro is remarkably similar the The Gunblade Saga's introduction. (except, of course, it was placed in Midgar) It seemed the best way to introduce the storyline, after all. And since it isn't exactly new, I've also posted the actual first chapter at the same time.

Before anyone comments, I know Seifer is eighteen and Squall seventeen. I intentionally made them both a year younger. It matters to the plotline, more than you likely realize.

Also, if anyone's already seen this and wonder why it was reposted...well, 's really buggy, and this wasn't showing up on the first page of the FFVIII page, which was really bothering me. So I reposted it, and hopefully it'll show up this time.