Standard disclaimers apply.
Crisis Core ate my brains, chewed it up, and spat this out. Please tread carefully. There is crack everywhere here.--------------------
WHEN YOU WISH UPON A MATERIA
"Vincent!" Cloud all but shrieked.
"Yes, Cloud?" Was Vincent's amused reply.
"Do you know where this place is?!" Cloud growled.
"I believe it is the Shinra Military Training Centre," Vincent nodded gravely.
"Why am I here?!" Cloud attempted to reach out to throttle his calm friend, but alas, his friend was merely a projected image on an empty wall.
"The correct explanation to that would be: You have just been sent back in time."
"I KNOW that!" Cloud threw his hands up into the air. "Why Shinra, why at this era, and how in the world did this happen?!" He paused. "And do you have any idea how many times this 'Let's Shove Cloud Back In Time' setting has been abused to date already?!"
Vincent tilted his head to a side. "One more wouldn't kill anybody."
There proceeded to occur ten seconds of silence.
"What were we just talking about?" Cloud blinked.
"Anyway," Cloud sighed, "I would like to hear an explanation, please. This wasn't what I signed up for."
Vincent nodded to that. "I suppose it is only fair."
Every story has a beginning.
And this one begins somewhere... in the future.
In the future, in a certain laboratory, there were three men and one flying snake gathered around a table, looking sombre.
"Let us run this through again..." said the tiniest man among the three around the table. "So far, we have completed a few phases of our experiment codenamed Summon Creatures. Phase One, we tested if it was possible to call upon summon creatures without the aid of summon materia. The experiment proved that it is possible - by using a large amount of MP as bait while standing near a location close to the flow of Lifestream, we can lure the summon creature from their dimension into ours."
As if on cue, Leviathan the summon creature floated forward and spurted some water at the trio, wetting the paper on the table.
"Professor Odine, is there any way we can get rid of this thing?" One of the other men pointed at the affronted-looking flying snake and sighed.
Odine eyed the man wearily. "Shut up and let me finish explaining, Cloud Strife," he said, then continued, "Phase Two tested how long the summon creature could appear under such a summoning. The experiment proved that the summon creature will remain in this dimension... as long as the summoner still has MP..." He looked pointedly at Cloud.
"This thing has been around for the past two weeks!" Cloud said, slamming the table with both hands for dramatic effect. "And it follows me everywhere! Do you have any idea how weird it is to be walking around in broad daylight with a summon creature hot on your heels, lashing out at anything that even comes near?!"
Leviathan hissed in approval. Beside Cloud, the third of the men chuckled politely.
"It's not funny, Vincent!"
The man who had chuckled - Vincent, merely quirked his lips upwards in reply.
"That would be Phase Three," Odine sighed, "where we tested how the summon creature reacted to its summoner and the people around him. Apparently, anybody whom the creature is not familiar with will be attacked until told otherwise. Like a very faithful guard dog... very very interesting..." The tiny man scribbled something on the notes he had in front of him.
"Go away, you stupid snake!" Cloud, however, was not paying attention already. He pointed at a random corner of the laboratory while he shouted, as the snake had started spurting water at his hair. Upon hearing that, Leviathan roused itself slightly, glided over to the corner, and coiled up obediently.
"Phase Four, we tested if the creature could understand human language," Odine continued, ignoring Cloud's loud sighing in the background. "It does." He scribbled something else on the notes. "Only listens to its summoner, though," he added, as an afterthought.
"You're in a bit of a hysterical fit today, Cloud," Vincent observed.
Cloud blinked at his friend. "Sorry," he scratched his head absentmindedly. "I haven't had a good night's rest for a while. Leviathan just keeps squirting water at me when I'm trying to sleep."
At the mention of its name, Leviathan rose into the air again and glided towards Cloud, hissing happily.
"Maybe you should try to tell it to stop," Vincent said with the air of an amused sage.
Cloud stared at the flying snake for a while. "Okay, Leviathan, listen very carefully..." The snake hissed in reply. "I want you to stop squirting water at anything and anybody, including me, unless I tell you to, do I make myself clear?"
Leviathan paused for a second. Then it squirted a stream of water at Cloud and started to twirl and dance in the air.
The wet Cloud reached out with one hand and had the thing in a death-grip around the neck in an instant. "Are you listening to me!!" He shouted at the struggling snake, who started turning bluer in the face than it already was. Oblivious, Cloud shook it around a bit. "I have half a mind to just start a fire here and roast you for dinner..."
"And finally Phase Five, where we tested how to send the creature back to its dimension..." Odine droned on, ignoring the scene going on in the background, which he was more or less accustomed to by now. He peered at the notes he had picked up from the table. "Reducing the MP of the summoner by artificial means did not work." He shook his head. "Cloud Strife has way too much MP for any machine we have currently to completely artificially reduce it, and there is no spell that he can cast to completely deplete his MP either."
"In short, it is entirely your fault that we haven't been able to send Leviathan back for a while now," Vincent stated. Rather smugly, too.
Cloud whipped around and flung the by-now comatose Leviathan at Vincent. The snake smacked Vincent squarely in the face.
"I know you have lived a very long time, Cloud Strife," Professor Odine narrowed his eyes at the fuming mercenary, "but this is getting quite ridiculous. At this rate, you will have the creature with you all the rest of your life."
Cloud actually turned pale in the face at that. "Please tell me that's not true."
"I wish I could, young man," Odine turned and walked towards a contraption that was tucked away in a corner of the laboratory. "Wait... you are technically older than me... and that would mean..." He paused, shaking his head. "...nevermind. Come here, gentlemen." He gestured for Cloud and Vincent to join him. "Now, what do you think we've got here?" He said with slight glee in his voice, patting the machine beside him happily.
"A machine," Cloud answered, in all seriousness.
Odine thwapped him upside the head. And it was a funny thing to watch, Vincent observed, as Odine had to actually climb up a nearby stool to do it. He was much shorter than Cloud, and that was saying something.
After clambering down from the stool, Odine pat the machine again and explained, "This, my immortal friends, is a time machine."
"A time machine," Cloud parroted, while rubbing his head.
"A time machine," Vincent blinked, as all the possibilities suddenly flooded his mind.
"A time machine," Odine said triumphantly.
"What's that got to do with the experiment, though?" Cloud tilted his head to a side and asked.
"Well, my boy," Odine started to pace. "What do you think time machines do?"
"Umm..." Cloud put two fingers to his chin. "They do things to time?"
"Something like that," Odine's head bobbed up and down with agreement. "To be specific, this machine is a special apparatus that can send someone back to any particular moment of their life while maintaining a link to the present - or, the future, for the person being sent back."
"Okay..." Cloud said slowly, "...but what has that got to do with the experiment?" He repeated his question, still confused.
"Do you not see, Cloud?" It was Vincent who chose to spoke up this time. "Do you remember what Phase Five of the experiment is supposed to be?"
Cloud looked at the floor for a while, then snapped up. "We're supposed to send Leviathan back!" He exclaimed, as if it had suddenly struck him. "And because Leviathan is leeching my MP to stay in this realm, if you send me back in time, my MP will decrease exponentially, and Leviathan will be forced to return!"
Leviathan had awoken from its comatose state and glided over yet again, upon hearing its name. It curled up around Cloud's shoulders and flicked a forked tongue out at its audience, much to Cloud's displeasure, but the blond decided against doing anything for now.
Beside him, Vincent was nodding away in approval. "MP capacity increases over time, and having lived rather long, your MP is frankly quite monstrous at the moment. The only way we can suppress it now, will probably be... to send you back to a period in time, when you didn't have so much MP yet." He looked towards Professor Odine. "Is that right, Professor?"
"That is correct," Odine looked pleased. His face then darkened. "However, this apparatus sends you back wholesale - physical body and all - meaning it is entirely possible that you might still maintain your current MP even if you get sent back. As we have never fully tested how MP limits stretch over the course of time travelling, that is something we will have to observe for future reference," he muttered the last line quietly and hurriedly.
Fortunately for him, Cloud's mind stopped paying attention by the first sentence. "If it's not written in stone that I can reduce my MP by being sent back in time, why should we go through with this notion at all?" Cloud frowned. "I don't get it."
"Think of it this way, Cloud," Vincent spoke up. "There are still many untested theories to time travelling, and one of it could involve a factor that might help you be rid of the creature you do not seem to like having around." He nodded towards Leviathan. "Perhaps your MP might not go down at all. However, your being sent back in time means that Leviathan will most probably be unable to follow. How long can a summon creature last in this realm without being able to feed on your MP when you are gone? There are other unknown things that may free you from your bind to the creature, as well. All in all, I feel that it is not a bad thing to stake on."
Cloud lowered his head in contemplation, obviously thinking about what Vincent had just said.
The silence was a good sign, Odine decided. He quickly spoke up, "The apparatus operates like this - it will find a period of time in your lifespan and then switch your current self with your past self. That is convenient for our current experiment, as you will retain all your memories. We will be communicating with you via a time-portal communicator, which will broadcast images from the future back to you and vice versa. Here, wear this," Odine handed Cloud a necklace with a green materia on it. "This materia will act like an eye for us when you go back. If you wish to communicate with us, you only need to activate it like you would any other materia. We will observe you for maybe one to two days to monitor the situation and see what can be done about sending Leviathan back."
Cloud put the necklace over his head, stroking the materia absently. He closed his eyes in slight concentration, as if thinking about something. Then, opening his eyes, Cloud asked, "What will happen to my past self?"
"Like I mentioned," Odine said," you will trade places with your past self. However, in order not to confuse your past self, we will keep him in an induced unconscious state for as long as he dwells in this era."
"Will the past Cloud be damaged in any way?" Vincent cut in, slightly concerned.
"Perhaps he will be very groggy after he wakes at the end of experiment, but that will be all," Odine reassured. "After all, he will just be sleeping. The apparatus will see to it that his body is well maintained while he rests."
"Okay," Cloud frowned. He could see nothing imminently dangerous about the setting. They had worked with Odine for many years and the man was trustworthy, if a little eccentric. At the very least, they knew that this man had no ambition and knew where to draw the lines when it came to experiments. "What about me? I'll be there for only a day or two, right?"
At that, Odine gave him a pained look. "Ideally you will. However, we might not be able to retrieve you until we figure out how to deplete your MP completely or find another way to force Leviathan back into its proper dimension. Also, the time machine will need to be reprogrammed to be able to engineer your return. Give and take, I will say you might need to stay there for at least one week. But as far as observation goes, I am confident we will be able to come up with a solution to send Leviathan back by two days, if nothing major crops up."
"I see," Cloud muttered. He turned and looked at Vincent, as if asking for his opinion.
Vincent tilted his head to a side and gave a small shrug. There was no hint of disapproval in his features.
Cloud brooded for a bit, then turned to Odine. "Which part of my life are you going to swap me with?" He asked.
"Which part of your life would it be convenient for us to swap you with?" Odine countered with a raised eyebrow. "Do choose a time period where your MP can actually be depleted and when nobody in particular will notice you missing for a week or so."
Cloud frowned and considered his choices. "Maybe right after Meteor then," he eventually said. "My MP wasn't that uncontrollable at that time, and my job then often required me to be away for long periods of time, so..."
"Meteor?" Odine was perplexed. "What time period is that?"
Vincent laughed softly and walked over to the table with the spread out experiment notes. He gestured for Odine to go over. Once Odine was there, Vincent began to explain something to the scientist. Cloud assumed it was the calculations for the time period Cloud had referred to as 'after Meteor'. Deciding he would leave the complicated computation to Vincent, who had developed a sometimes more-than-healthy interest in science over the long years, he turned his attention instead to the machine that woud purportedly send him back in time and hopefully end his contract with Leviathan.
Speaking of Leviathan, Cloud glanced forlornly downwards at the king of the waters, who was now having a nice nap around his shoulders. He had not had much experience with summon creatures, besides the occasional call for them to help with a monster or two, and thus his understanding of them and how a summon spell actually worked bordered on miniscule. They worked and that was all he needed, right? Wrong, apparently. That was part of the reason why they had approached Odine. They knew him to be the most knowledgeable scientist on the matter of materia in the current world and he had principles, to boot. The professor had helped them solve much of the mystery surrounding normal materia in the past, and they had hoped that he could assist them with the mystery of the summons as well.
Simply put, Cloud and Vincent were curious about the technical details of a summon. How it happened, why it happened, what made it happen and nitty gritty things like that. They had had quite a lot of summons backfire on them before, and the results were almost always disastrous. Once or twice in a long while could be written off as bizarre accidents, but the rate at which they were backfiring recently was just too high to be ignored. At the very least, if they could experiment on how to terminate the summon before the creature lashed out at anything, they would have a trump card on their hands. And frankly, it was getting difficult to survive without summons. Some of the monsters in the current world had grown so strong against normal spells that nothing short of a summon could put them in their place.
Cloud snapped out of his thoughts when he noticed Vincent and Odine walking towards him.
"Well," Odine gestured towards the machine. "With your permission and cooperation, I would like to send you back to this time period 'after Meteor' in order to carry out the final phase of our experiment which will, hopefully, free you from your bond to Leviathan."
Something kept gnawing on the back of Cloud's mind, trying to tell him that this was not a good idea at all, but he gently brushed the feeling aside. It was either this, or he would have Leviathan stuck with him for the rest of his life.
And his life was endless, so that was going to be a bit of a problem.
Exchanging one last look with Vincent, who actually smiled encouragingly, Cloud sighed. He carefully set the stirring Leviathan aside on a table, and walked towards the machine.
Nothing had ever gone wrong before in Odine's lab.
Why would it now?
"And so while you were in the machine, Leviathan was rampaging all around the lab, trying to get to you, disrupting all the processes and messing up the calculations," Vincent finally reached the end of his tale. "And that was how you got sent back in time further than we originally intended for you to go."
Cloud stared at Vincent in disbelief.
"The creature is still here," Odine's voice could be heard from the background.
"What?" Cloud managed.
"Leviathan," Vincent explained. "It's still in the future. It didn't follow you back." He pointed at a spot where Cloud could not see from the projection. "In fact, it is keeping your unconscious younger self company at the moment."
Cloud quickly glanced around himself to confirm that the summon creature had truly not followed him back in time. All around him were the white-washed walls of the barracks, and he stood alone in the middle. He sighed in relief. "At least coming back in time was good for something."
Vincent's mouth twisted into something like a bitter smile. "Now we need to find out how to send Leviathan away before you come back."
Cloud shrugged. "That's your job now, not mine," he said, silently gleeful. He was about to say something else, when a series of loud bangs interrupted him.
"CLOUD! HOW LONG'RE YOU GONNA STAY IN THERE TALKIN' TO YOURSELF UNTIL?!" The voice of the person banging on the door roared. "YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO NEEDS TO GO IN THIS BUNK, OKAY?!"
"And your job," Vincent almost cackled, "is to try to stay alive and inconspicuous in the indomitable Shinra Military Training Centre until we can reprogram the machine to bring you back. I wish you godspeed, Cloud."
Cloud tried to swat the projected image of Vincent, but the amused man had long since cut off the connection.
11 nov 2007
tougenkyou . net / xd
a/n: oh gosh, i started another time travelling fic. somebody kill me now.