Ladies and gentlemen, presented for your consideration: a "Cloud goes back in time" story...done the only way I know how.

THE CHOCOBO EFFECT

The theory of the "butterfly effect" is defined as a phenomenon in which a small change at one place can have larger effects somewhere else. The butterfly effect falls in line with the chaos theory—commonly explained through use of a metaphor in which butterflies are believed to be able to create storms, hurricanes, and drastic weather changes on the other side of the world with a simple movement of their wings.

What the metaphor fails to explain is that for all their world-changing abilities, butterflies are simply amateurs in utilizing the powers of the chaos theory.

The results of what happens when a MASTER makes such an attempt is a whole different story...


Cloud knew something was up when he woke up at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps the fact that this gas station was supposed to have been destroyed during the Meteor incident a few years back was a clue.

That he could see Midgar off in the distance—whole and looking as though it HADN'T been decimated by a giant Meteor summoned by an emotionally-stunted mamma's boy with the power and insanity to attempt to destroy the world was probably an even bigger indicator.

So Cloud quickly came to the realization that he was in the past.

Or that he was hallucinating again.

He pinched his arm.

Nothing happened to change the scenery around him and he now sported a bruise on his arm, so he was fairly certain that what he was seeing was quite real. Somehow or other, he had ended up in the past.

He just didn't know why...or how. The last thing he remembered was a green light, sinister cackling, and the phrase "submit story" that for some reason made him shudder, though he didn't understand why—but wisely chose not to think about it.

All the same, there was no real explanation for what he was doing there a decade earlier than he was supposed to be.

Maybe it was the effects of a materia gone wrong? Maybe Aerith was trying to help him get over his survivor's guilt and cornucopia of other issues and deep-rooted emotional problems by giving him a chance to work things out in an interactive environment? Maybe the Planet itself was too damaged from the whole fiasco with Sephiroth and Jenova and the giant flaming Meteor of total destruction and annihilation, and sent him back in order to defend itself before it was put in danger of death by summoned falling rock? Or maybe someone up there just felt like screwing with him? A lot of people did—Sephiroth, Rufus, some Japanese video game company in another reality—so it really wouldn't be that out of the ordinary.

And to be honest, that last one seemed to be the most likely in this case.

But all the same, whatever the reason—and there was no clear reason as far as Cloud could discern—he just suddenly woke up one morning and found himself in the past, at the point where he's first heading for Midgar. Back before he ever met Zack, became part of the regular army, or even joined Shinra in the first place.

That meant none of it ever happened. None of it—even the "weakling Cloud" reputation he had in the ranks. He had a fresh start and a chance to do things differently!

He could change it!

He could change EVERYTHING!

...

Cloud smiled and began walking towards the rising sun. Yes, he decided. This would be a great chance.

The kindly driver who had helped bring Cloud this far paused in the middle of gassing up his truck, frowning in confusion when he realized Cloud was walking in the complete opposite direction of where he had originally asked to go.

"Hey, Cloud? Where are you going? Midgar's the other way. Cloud? CLOUD!"

Cloud ignored him and continued on.


Some may consider Cloud's reasoning to be selfish. Others would think him crazy. Many would probably see this entire thing as a great waste of time, which begs the question as to why they are reading fanfiction in the first place?

All the same, Cloud had no intention of going to Midgar. Sure, seeing Aerith and Zack and the others alive would be nice, but he had no desire to go to Shinra and enlist in the army. There was just no way he was going through all THAT again.

He had a second chance. And as the now less angsty and no longer emo hero who had worked so hard to save the world previously in what was now an alternate timeline, Cloud felt that he should take advantage of this opportunity to do what he's always wanted to do.

That begged a very important question, though...

What DID he want to do?

Preferably something that had as little to do with Shinra, SOLDIER, mad scientists, mind-controlling aliens, and psychotic ex-generals as possible.

Sure, being a super badass fighter who totally confused the heck out of everyone he previously knew—or in most cases only vaguely heard of—would be fun and hilarious to watch. And kicking Sephiroth's ass was always enjoyable—though likely wouldn't be as emotionally fulfilling this time given that this is PRE-Oedipus-complex Sephiroth, meaning he's currently a good guy and Cloud—as the saviour of the Planet and all—still has that one little something that the Turks got rid of upon first attaining their suits, Rufus strangled years ago, and Hojo never had to begin with: a conscience.

Damn annoying little thing. Not letting him go around and kill people for the fun of it.

But all the same, he certainly didn't want to go to Shinra and try to join SOLDIER. Or risk doing anything else to gain their attention as a possible specimen for the Science Department. And sure, killing Hojo would be fun—and very, very satisfying—but then what? Spend the rest of his life on the run?

...Again?

Yeah, he had enough of that the first time around, thank you very much. And while Zack wouldn't be there this time to possibly die in another deeply-moving, tragic last stand—for which Cloud was quite grateful, even if it meant it was only because his 'doomed moral victor' friend was not currently his friend at this point in time and would have no reason to perform such a heroic sacrifice for his sake—he still didn't like the idea of having to dodge bullets everywhere he went, so that option was out. But still, that begged the question as to what else he could do? He was a fighter. Fighting was what he knew. It was what he was good at.

Was there anything else he was good at?

He paused for a moment to consider this.


Much unlike the aforementioned butterflies, some scientists have come to believe that Chocobos have a method of affecting the world around them in quite important and drastic—though rather strange and unusual—ways, oftentimes without even having to make much effort to bring about such change. The hypothesis here is that not only can Chocobos create vastly different effects from simple and seemingly insignificant initial conditions in a manner much like their butterfly compatriots, but unlike the butterflies, Chocobos can actually control for all the unknown variables and determine the outcome they wish to occur. They're just that good at what they do.

It is probably for this very reason that it should be considered fortunate for everyone involved that Cloud Strife has been believed by most to be at least part Chocobo.

Granted, that is mostly because of his hair, but the point remains valid all the same.


Bill was a portly, middle-aged man who had seen his fair share of strange things. But as he stared at the blond kid standing calmly and patiently in front of him...honestly, he didn't know what to think. "You want a job?" He clarified.

"Yes, sir." The boy replied with a resolute nod.

This was unusual. Not many people actually came by asking to work on a lowly farm when Midgar—home of Shinra and all the "great opportunities" was not that far into the distance. He scratched his head in bewilderment, but wisely decided not to press the issue. Help was help, after all.

"Well," Bill hesitated, "have you ever worked with Chocobos before?"

Cloud grinned.

ChocoBill would never know what hit him.

Neither would the world.


AN: Yes, I invoked the knowledge of the tropes. All hail the tropes!

So, as a bit of a parody of the whole "time travel" plotline because, lets face it, there are quite a lot of them, and they all seem to involve Cloud going back to working for Shinra and usually—though not always—trying to get into SOLDIER and somehow meeting up with/befriending/becoming the love interest of various people he did and/or did not know previously. So there's the question of how different things would be if he tried something completely off the wall.

And thus came the concept of "Chocobo Farmer Cloud". One wouldn't think he'd change much of anything in the past from such a position, but then again, this IS Cloud and these ARE Chocobos involved in this situation.

So obviously, this WILL be crack. Delicious, nutritious crack.

Posted: September 19, 2010