Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy, Green Lantern, or any of the characters or concepts from such. This is a work of fan fiction.
Introductory Author's Notes:
This is a prequel to my one-shot story "Stranger Highways." It conveys the story of 'Christian's' first journey to Gaia, his trip from Midgar to the Forgotten Capitol with the Avalanche team, and the growth of his relationship with Aeris, including how she learned the truth of where he came from.
Please note that this story is very slightly AU to the original game, primarily in regard to the dynamics of a couple of interpersonal relationships. The story is almost totally AU to Crisis Core, the only aspect of CC's story I've included is the idea that Aeris met Zach in exactly the same way she met Cloud, i.e. falling through the church roof.
Fair warning to Clerith fans, you will probably be disappointed here. The AU dynamic mentioned above includes the idea that in this world the two are fast becoming friends but she has no romantic attraction to him at all. The explanation for this difference will be given in chapter three.
Finally, the mention of Green Lantern in the disclaimer comes from a single GL related character, the Guardian Ganthet, who plays a small but important role in the story. There will be no other Guardians, and no ring-bearers in this tale.
"Courage To Change The Things You Can"
Chapter One: 'Hurry Boy, She's Waiting There For You'
Many of you may have read my previous journal, which I titled 'Stranger Highways.' For those of you who haven't, I will only say here that in order to keep my family safe I will not be using my real name in this or any other journal. For the purposes of these records, I'll be using the pseudonym "Christian." Before you can ask the obvious question of why I'm even bothering to write these records out if I'm concerned, well, the story needs to be told. It's that simple.
Anyway, when I sat down at my computer today to start writing I had originally intended to write about the next chapter, that is to say the events which occurred in the weeks following my own little miracle. I realized, though, that my tale wouldn't be complete unless I first went back and told you about how it had all started. Of course, as those who've read 'Highways' will recall, that's problematic since my memory of those events is very fragmented for some reason.
So, here's what I'm going to do: The majority of this tale will be told from my own point of view, as based on what little I remember myself, augmented with what Aeris has reminded me of. She's actually been a godsend in recovering my memory. More often than not, I do remember again after she's reminded me. For things I don't recall myself, and a few events I wasn't present for, I'll switch to a third-person perspective of Aeris or whoever told me about it. These breaks will be clearly marked, so I shouldn't cause too much confusion.
So, whereas my first journal started with me on my way to work one evening, this one starts early one morning when I was getting ready to go home. It was mid-winter in the Midwest, still dark out, and a thin layer of snow covered the ground. I climbed into the driver's seat of my car, started the engine, and cranked the defroster up to full-blast. "This is gonna take awhile." I thought to myself, so I switched on the radio.
Now, the funny thing was, I had left the radio tuned to a local news channel. But instead of the expected gloom and doom I hear music. The tuner was now aligned on an eighties music station, and the song playing was Toto's 'Africa.' Specifically, the portion of the song where the lyrics say "He grinned at me as if to say; 'Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you…'"
I sighed. Having never been in any serious relationship despite my strong desire for such, that was kind of depressing. I wished there was someone waiting. I shook my head and pressed 'seek.' Half a second later "Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you…" Odd. This is the classic jazz station. Seek. "Hurry boy…" Seek. "She's waiting…" Seek. "There…" Seek. Seek. Seek. "For you…"
"The hell?" I switched off the radio, looked and saw that the windshield still wasn't clear. I plugged in my I-pod and started it up. "Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you…"
"Oh come on! I don't even have that song on this thing!" I exclaimed, quickly unplugging the device and tossing it in the back seat. I waited in silence for the defroster to finish it's work, then drove home without further incident. Once there, I considered fixing something to eat, but found that I was unusually tired. Upstairs in my bedroom, I looked at the small television, then decided NOT to turn it on. Though I knew good and well I had left it tuned to the Discovery Channel after watching 'Mythbusters,' I also knew, deep down, that if I pushed power it would be set to VH1 Classic, with a very specific song playing.
"Oh well," I thought, "I'm too tired anyway." I fell into bed without changing clothes or even removing my boots, and was asleep in seconds…
I'm very fuzzy on what happened next, so this is somewhat conjecture. I don't remember clearly myself, and no one else I know was around to fill me in. What I do remember, is 'waking up' in what felt like a dream, but in retrospect I'm not sure it was. I think I was floating in empty space, but I was able to breathe and hear just fine. I was not alone. Also present, floating in front of me, was an odd little man. He was maybe three feet tall, balding but with a long ponytail, and dressed in a white toga. I seem to remember features suggesting extreme age, and his skin was a light blue color.
"Welcome Christian." The man said. "My name is Ganthet. We have much to discuss."
"I've got to be dreaming. This is a dream right?" I replied.
"The answer to that question depends on how far down the rabbit hole you wish to go." Ganthet said. "The short answer is yes. You are indeed still physically on your own world, in your own home and your own bed, engaged in r.e.m. sleep. So yes, it could be accurately stated that you are dreaming. But there is much more to the reality of the situation, for I am not a part of the dream. I am real, and I am contacting you with a purpose: I would make you an offer."
"What would you say if I were to tell you that there are other realities, an entire multiverse of possibilities, that actually exist running in parallel with your own?"
I think I thought for a moment before answering "I'm fine with that. They've been theorizing about the possibility for a long time you know."
Ganthet nodded. "Good. Now let me add a wrinkle your earthly scientists haven't caught onto yet: Many of these realities are known about in your world, in the form of fiction. You see, there's a lot of psionic leakage across dimensional barriers, so certain people get images of other places, mistake those for their imaginations, and create 'fiction' based upon them."
"That's… interesting." I said. "So, how far does this go? I mean, are you telling me that somewhere out there is a real world where Italian plumbers do battle with overgrown mushroom-tossing monkeys?"
"Not at all. Not all of your fiction is real. People do have genuine imagination after all. The worlds that are real are the ones that require no changes from the logical and physical laws you know, or only very slight changes from such."
"Okay, I follow you so far. But why are you telling me about this? What do you want?"
"As I said, I am here to make you an offer: There is a planet called Gaia. You will recognize it from your reality's fiction as the world which the seventh Final Fantasy game takes place on. I propose to send you there."
"That's certainly tempting." I nodded. "As I suspect you already know, I'm kind of fixated on that game. But, why are you doing this? And what good will it do? It's an old game. Even if the events from the game really happened, it's been over for years." I thought of Aeris. "It's too late for me to… well… It's too late."
"Not at all." Ganthet said. "For one thing, the psionic leakage that enabled some people here a glimpse of the events in question isn't just cross-dimensional. It is also cross-temporal. In other words, the game's makers saw the events before they actually started to happen. Of course, even with that the storyline would still be over by now, if not for my own interference…"
"You lost me." I admitted.
"Apologies. I'll try to be more straightforward, but when you get to be my age you tend to ramble."
"How old are you anyway?"
"Measured in earth-years, just short of five billion."
I stared. "You don't look it."
"Thank you. But to be straightforward as promised: Jenova is a terrible threat. Quite possibly the most powerful and dangerous corporeal entity in the entire multiverse. Aware of this, and concerned, I used my powers as a Guardian to create a time-viewer and study all potential futures. What I discovered was not encouraging… Avalanche's defeat of Sephiroth is not enough. It will buy time, but Jenova yet lives and becomes a threat once more, devastating worlds throughout the multiverse, including eventually your own."
"Okay, now you're talking on a level I can follow. Where do I come into this?"
"I need your help. As I said, I studied all potential futures, and in the near infinity of possibilities I saw one, and only one, future which if it comes to pass, will eliminate the threat of Jenova once and for all. In order to bring that future into existence, you must go to Gaia, join with Avalanche… And save her life."
I was struck silent. I knew whose life Ganthet was asking me to save, there was only one possibility after all. "Wait. You said that even with the cross-time-whatsis the story would already be over by now…?"
"I said it would be so if not for my interference. I am a Guardian, and I have used my power to slow the passage of time in Gaia's dimension as opposed to it's passage everywhere else. As we speak, Avalanche is just leaving Midgar, in route to Kalm." He was silent for a moment, then concluded "I need your help in this. But I cannot force you to go…"
"There's no need to force it." I said. "There's no way I'm turning down a chance like this. When do we start?"
"Right now." Ganthet answered. "I have restored the passage of time in Gaia to normal. Prepare yourself…" He raised both hands, palms towards me. Globes of glowing blue energy flowed out of Ganthet and all around me. I think I blanked out, for how long I'm not sure. All I know is that I came to somewhere else…
The next thing I knew, I was high in the air, unsupported, and falling rapidly. I let out a short scream as I realized what was happening. Half a second later, I heard the sound of a commotion and a woman's voice shouting "Watch out!" I struck the ground hard but somehow didn't entirely pass out.
All I could see at first was blackness, but I could still hear just fine. There were two female voices that sounded young talking back and forth, with an occasional comment from a male voice with a strange gurgle to it.
"Wow." The first woman's voice said. "Third time."
"This has happened before?" the male voice asked.
"Yeah, both times in my church. First Zach, then Cloud."
The second woman spoke. "Girl, if I were you I wouldn't complain about having men raining down on me."
"Oh be nice. You've got Cloud. And besides, I wasn't actually complaining, I just wish they'd miss me by a few more feet. All three of them have come within six inches of landing directly on top of my head."
"That would most likely have broken your neck."
"Thank you Red. My point exactly."
"Whatever." The second woman said. "Do you think maybe we should be casting cure on him? That was a nasty hit."
Vision began to return, though at first it was a narrow tunnel-vision effect, showing me only a tiny circle of the sky directly above. Then the tunnel opened up and I could see clearly. The first thing I saw was her. Aeris. She was apparently kneeling over me, and I liked the fact that even though she didn't know me at all she was clearly concerned. "Are you okay?"
"A…" I stopped myself short of calling her by name. "I'm fine miss. I don't suppose you could tell me what just happened?"
"I was hoping you could tell me." She said.
Being dropped into the situation in this manner, I wasn't really prepared. I didn't know what I should and shouldn't do, and needed time to think it through. Something told me, though, that I had best not actually lie. So I told the truth in a vague way. "All I know is, I was at home in bed asleep, had a funky dream about a blue midget in space, and woke up falling."
"Blue midget?" the male voice asked. I shifted my eyes towards the sound and saw why the voice had a strange quality: it was Nanaki. No, Red. I had to remember to just call him Red until Cosmo Canyon. Beside him stood the third person I had heard. Tifa.
I dimly wondered where Cloud and Barrett were, then recalled that the group had split in two for the trip to Kalm.
"Are you okay to move?" Tifa asked. "I'm not willing to leave you here alone, but we need to keep going."
"I'll be fine." I answered, and attempted to prove it by getting up. This was a mistake. The moment I actually tried to move, my head began to swim and I felt confused. "Then again…"
"I think you hit your head harder than you thought." Aeris said. "Lay still."
I wasn't in any position to argue. In fact, though I had managed to stay awake after the initial impact, moving had made things bad enough that I was fading out in a hurry. The last thing I remember is saying to Aeris "I won't let you down this time…"