A/N: I made this out of boredom awhile back, but I decided to post now because I was cleaning up my doc files. There's only so much time I can spend on tumblr before I go crazy. This is also partly to show you guys that I have a very odd writing process. I consult my head canon of the characters. :D
Some of you may recognize certain versions of the Clouds. I dare you to match them to a specific story.
It was just another ordinary day in Edge.
People were walking around, cars were speeding along, and buildings destroyed during Meteorfall, the Bahamut Sin and Omega attack were being repaired.
Cloud Strife, world hero twice over—or thrice, some tend to argue—was settling into a normal lifestyle of his own when the disaster struck.
He was in the middle of putting his boots on and getting ready for a pricey delivery when a sense of wrongness washed over him and suddenly, he wasn't in his room anymore.
"What the hell?"
Like magic, Cloud was suddenly in a bright field of flowers, like when Aeris wanted to speak to or comfort him, but there was no giggling girl in a pink dress, and the last time he checked, there were not dozens, hundreds, no...thousands of people with his face, but in varying stages of age and dress surrounding him when he'd last talked to Aerith.
His bright blue mako eyes glared daggers at all the impostors before a light cough brought his attention to something behind him.
A toffee skinned woman a shade lighter than Barret stood in front of him in a simple pair of blue jeans and a ridiculous T-shirt that declared, "Buttsex begins as Subtext!" She was about the a few inches taller than him, which made him slightly annoyed, and the light brown eyes that peeked out between straightened brown-black bangs were lit in sadistic amusement.
He scowled at her and her smirk widened; he found himself not liking her very much right now. "Who the hell are you?" He spared the look-alikes behind them a fleeting glance. "Who are they?"
The woman laughed, a short, bray-like outburst of pure mirth as she shook her head in amusement. "Trust you to be so short-sighted, Chocobo-Head."
At his unamused glare, she cleared her throat and finally waved her hand to indicate herself. "Well, Sir. I am known as the authoress, Quiet N Cryptic, aka QNC. And they," she, waved her hand in a sweeping gesture to include all the confused and wary faces watching the exchange, "Are you as you are created or portrayed in alternate or parallel universes."
Cloud paused to absorb the information as he scanned the faces closest to him; some either looked back or away with various expressions running over the owner's face. "...why am I here?"
Here, QNC put her hands on her hips and looked out at the various Clouds with a trace of disappointment on her face for a moment. "...they're not you," she snapped bitterly. "They've all been tainted in some way or another by fangirls; in some cases, fanboys."
Cloud wrinkled his nose in distaste before muttering, "So what? These are bad clones or something?"
"Nooooooo," she whined, childishly stamping her foot. "They're supposed to be you from other worlds and universes! Like you, but with different backgrounds, circumstances, choices, parents, or even fashion sense. They've been…conjured, for lack of a better word, because I imagined them when I was being influenced by something I read, heard, or just randomly thought about. Which means," she barreled on, not pausing for breath, "I need you to help me find some that aren't too broken for me to use in some new stories!"
Cloud's eyes narrowed. "Stories? Broken?" What did she think they were, toys?
She gave a solemn nod before asking, "So? You gonna help me, or not, Bucko?"
Cloud's glare intensified before he ventured, "If I don't?"
The girl smiled sweetly before informing him, "Then I'll keep you here until you agree to help me."
Cloud eyed the demon before him and simply nodded his head in assent.
"Wonderful!" It cheered.
So that was why, five minutes later, Cloud found himself going down a line of Clouds, asking each one their life story, background, history, powers, etc.
Many of the tales were highly disturbing.
Cloud #3: Twenty-seven and never had sex, but constantly shoots down Tifa in favor of lusting after and mourning the dead Sephiroth despite the fact that he had tried to destroy the world.
Cloud #5: Happily married to Tifa with twins named Sora and Roxas.
Cloud #14: A one-winged angel with a white wing and disturbingly, pregnant (Cloud's eye twitched when he saw that one).
Cloud #19: Some crazy guy that had a permanent twitch from drug use, but the singing voice of an angel.
Cloud #28: Some weirdo with commitment issues that fell in love with Zack and Sephiroth and is playing them both while dating Tifa on the side.
Cloud #41: A poor guy that was raised by Sephiroth and screwed over by his three evil "brothers" Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. (Cloud wanted to slap the little pussy for being so weak.)
Cloud #48: A powerful whore owned by Rufus ShinRa himself that controlled the city of Midgar from behind the scenes.
Cloud #49: A fifteen-year-old male escort that's considered the best lay in Midgar (prices ranged from 20,000-100,000 gil a fuck, respectively).
The real Cloud paused in front of the kid and eyed him incredulously. "Didn't your Mom teach you better than that?"
#49 smirked and replied thoughtfully, "You're right, Mother dear did tell me that your body is your temple and that one should make sure every person that could pay enough can properly worship it. I should be charging fifty to one hundred thousand gil."
Okay. Moooooving right along then.
Cloud #56 was a golden-furred wolf with wary blue eyes that tensed whenever someone shifted near him.
Cloud didn't even bother going near it, er, him.
Cloud #62 was a thin, scrawny fellow with enormous blue eyes like dinner plates that seemed to linger on the original Cloud in both awe and fear. When asked what he was good for, he'd merely replied, "Hiding."
"Is there no end to them?" Cloud finally sighed in misery after hearing the blue-skinned, red-eyed #70's tragically depressing tale of living for 500 years as the planet's savior only to fail and witness its destruction...whereupon he became the new Calamity for another world due to the lingering Jenova cells in his system.
QNC appeared at his side like magic before snorting out a half-hearted laugh. "You're not even halfway there, doll." She paused, then a devious smile stole over her dimpled face. "There's girl-yous too."
At the obvious despair settling over his face, the oh-so benevolent authoress, not quite so heartless as she would seem, tapped her lip in an old nervous habit and said, "I guess I could narrow it down for you. Y'know, use the search function and help eliminate the ones I'm positive I don't want here."
Cloud twitched. "There's a search function…and you're only just now thinking of telling me," he stated blandly.
"Well…yeah," the demon he was learning to hate conceded sheepishly. "Do you know how much imagination fans have? If there were no order it'd be chaotic!"
A pale blue eye snuck a glance at some of his odd look alikes. "Right…order."
The authoress had long since chosen to ignore him, muttering to herself and closing her eyes. "Let's see…only winged deformities allowed…no mpreg…no timetravel…no emos…no weaklings…no supermen…no whores—well, I could do something nice with whore!Cloud," she considered, opening her eyes to see that a good portion of the Clouds had disappeared, leaving a few confused or unaffected faces staring back at her.
"No," the real Cloud said, and she huffed before making a few more filter adjustments.
Over a thousand Clouds had dwindled to around 20 or so and again, Cloud found himself going to each and inspecting them. They all seemed relatively normal, save one or two with eyes that seemed old and jaded, or too happy, or just a tad bit wistful for those of a grown man.
"Well?" QNC demanded, peering over his shoulder in interest.
"That one," Cloud suddenly says, and points to a Cloud staring nonchalantly back at them.
At first look it would seem as if the Cloud was merely looking, but the authoress became aware of a muted sense of wariness surrounding this particular creation and snapped her fingers. "Ohhh, I remember this one! It's thoughtful-pre-AC!Cloud," she declared, the mouthful of words easily spouting from her lips.
"Um," was all the clone in question said before the authoress snapped her fingers to dissipate the remaining imaginings.
She proceeded to grin and smack her hands together before lightly rubbing them, an odd gleam to her eye. "Right! I can work with this one! So, who do you prefer to be thinking about for this particular fic? Tifa? Zack? Sephiroth?"
The real Cloud sighed, and cleared his throat, trying his best to capture the authoress's attention. A brown eye glanced his way and he rolled his eyes before folding his arms across his chest.
"Can I go home now?"
"Oh yeah, sure," she muttered distractedly, and waved her hand.
With barely a hitch, the original Cloud disappeared and reappeared in his room, none the wiser that the event had ever even happened in the first place, while the authoress turned sly, gleaming brown eyes back to her newest victim.
"So," she began, slinging her arm around the tense man's shoulder. "How do you feel about threesomes with people who come back from the dead? Or maybe they never really died, you just think they did..."
The one known as thoughtful-pre-AC!Cloud shuddered in fear.