Combat Diary Epilogue & Author's Rambles
Cloud put down the Combat Diary. He stretched out his neck by tilting his head from side-to-side, with an almost empty look on his face. His Mother's name was Raine. His father, what he remembers, had hair like Dio described... Kamen WAS his father's NAME... It all came together, in a chaotic storm of emotion....
Tifa looked at him, concern etched in her face.
"..y-y Y'know..." Cloud started, "My mom... she, she never really... I..."
"heh.. I-imagine that... Sephiroth... he... ha ha.." Cloud started breathing sporadically.
"Cloud, stop! Please, stop!"
"He... He played a part in destroying my life... even... Even since.. the VERY beginning!" Cloud said, angrily. He was fumbling with so many emotions, and he was unable to find the words to express himself.
Tifa held Cloud in her arms, and he just sank his head into her shoulder, trembling. Yet, he did not cry. He did not have the urge to. In fact, the initial shock started to wear off quickly in lieu of the facts...
"You know... My mom... she had always said he died... But, but that was because she thought he ran off with another woman in Midgar, and I could tell. But... I-i-i I guess he really did die..." Cloud trailed off. The pair were silent for a moment...
"But yeah, he... He died... a HERO..." Cloud began to understand. And just as he did, he raised his head, his eyes starting to get a look Tifa had never really seen in him before...
"He... he helped Aeris and her mom... escape the Shinra..." Cloud looked Tifa right in her crimson-brown eyes. He had stopped shaking and was beginning to smile.
He let out a sigh of relief and plopped against the basement wall, a look of euphoria on his face.
"My father... Died a hero. Because of him, Aeris... heh... ha ha! Sephiroth let Aeris go! ha ha, then, years later, she foils his plans for godhood and destroying all life!" Cloud said excitedly, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
"And... And all because of... My dad!" Cloud looked up, the look in his eyes getting brighter and clearer. Tifa finally recognized it. She had seen it in Nanaki's eye when he found out HIS dad was a hero. She had seen it in Barret after the people of Corel forgave him. She had seen it in Cid's eyes when he finally got to go into outer space.
That look was one of closure.
She gave Cloud a big smile. Cloud returned it. "You know..." Tifa began "I guess heroism runs in the Strife bloodline!"
"Yeah..." Cloud said in a daze-like state. "You know what?"
"Let's... let's forget about this cleaning up thing today. I've got an idea."
Dio looked down on himself. He was pushing 50 and still had the physique of a God. He had money, the adoration of the masses, but something still bugged him slightly. He was unable to pinpoint it though. It had to of been more than just his receding hairline.
He sat in a well-furnished office at the top of the Gold saucer. Trophies and treasures adorned the walls. A stuffed Cactaur stood on display next to a Zolem head hung on the wall. A rusted-out Hyper-lance stood hung above the door, which is where the knocking sound came from.
Dio blinked for a moment, then said "Come in..."
A familiar face walked in. It was the "boy" with the Spiky yellow hair who Dio thought had shot up his employees once, then another time borrowed the Keystone. Sssaayyy, did I ever get that back?
"What can I do for ya, boy?"
"Uhm... This is kind of weird..." Cloud scratched the back of his head. Tifa stood behind him. "Uh, can you tell me where Kamen Strife is buried?"
"Ka... Kamen? Oh, OH! Kamen!" Dio stood up, "Heh, heh, my boy, and why would you want to know that?"
"Because... I'm his son."
Cloud raised an eyebrow. Dio lowered his eyelids, rolled his eyes then smacked himself on the head.
"I shoulda known..."
The trio traveled via Cloud's Gold Chocobo, Ultima, to a patch of land to the east just outside of where Midgar once stood. Dio searched around a bit, then finally cam across a small yellow rock about the size of his head. Cloud walked over, with Tifa a few steps behind. The rock was inscribed with the words:
"I know it's kinda clichéd and sappy..." Dio commented, "But Byran and I couldn't think of anything better... well, that we could agree on."
Cloud smiled, and looked down at the stone. "No, no. It... It's perfect." He took another step over. He looked at Dio for a moment, who nodded, understanding Cloud wanted some time alone.
Cloud just stood there for a while, saying this and that, getting things off his chest while Tifa and Dio observed from afar.
"Hey, Dio..." Cloud walked up to the aging fighter, "Thank you. For everything."
"Aww, don't mention it..." Dio said. He wanted to say something about getting his Keystone back, but he knew it was inappropriate.
"uhm... I know that I lost the keystone on you and all..." Cloud started, as if reading the larger man's mind, "But I think you might like these better..."
Cloud fished in his pockets for three large materia orbs. A master Spell, master Summon, and master Command materia. "These... I got from Byran... I think it was him, anyway. Only guy in Kalm who has Master Materia and a Gold Chocobo, after all! Anyway, I got some special items for him a while ago, and he gave these to me. But, now that the world doesn't need saving... I thought you might want to have them."
Dio smiled and accepted Cloud's offer. He took the young man in his arm and spoke; "So.. You read my Combat diary. You like old war stories, do ya? Ha ha ha..."
"Uh, yeah, kinda..." Cloud replied, not knowing if he would end up regretting his answer.
"Heh, wanna hear about the time Byran and me paid a visit to Zanga-guy during the war?"
"ZanGAN" Tifa corrected him. She did not appreciate her former master's name being messed up.
Dio looked at the young busty woman wide-eyed. "Oops! Heh, I'll have to revise that in the, uh, revision!" The trio started walking, as the sun started coming down past the ocean... "So anyways, this one time Byran and me were hanging around, and his wife was giving me flak... so we decided to take Zelda out for a ride... well, with Byran's crappy sense of direction, we ended up in Wutai..."
AUTHOR'S NOTES (and stuff like that): Well, that's it from me. Hope you enjoyed this re-re-revised version of what I consider my best fanfic. Right now, I'm gonna babble on about the creative process and crap like that, so if you're interested in that kinda thing, read on!
For a long time, I was a fan of, ah, fanfiction. On a whim, I decided to engage myself in this wonderful world of creativity and expression. And let me say, doing things on whims is a VERY VERY VERY bad idea! Especially if you're me (and if you are me, who the hell am I?! AH! PARADOX! ahem, anyway...). I wrote several of the standard "Cloud and avalanche meet new bad guy or resurected bad guy and fight fight fight" deals... but they seemed very shallow, uninspired... and there were (and still are) tons of fanfics being written like that. I wanted to stand out, I wanted to be different.
But first I had to decide if I really had the heart to do this fanfiction-thing. I would post a chapter at a time in forums and yeah, I got the usual "C&C" and got attention and adoration and slams... and I just ended up stopping out of boredom. So one day I'm playing FF7 and I'm in the battle-arena, and for the millionth time I get "Dio's Combat Diary". Something started to click... not quite yet, but I started to wonder why this otherwise insignificant character has two books available for public consideration. I figured he had to of done a lot of fighting, at the very least. I shoved that thought into the back of my mind.
So a month later, I'm replaying the game... AGAIN... and I'm watching the flashback where Elmyra tells about how Ifalna left Aeris in her care... and I started to wonder... How the hell did these two escape from Shinra and get on a train? Why was Ifalna dying? Why wasn't Shinra in hot pursuit? Later in that game, I start to wonder about other characters, like the mighty Zangan and the obviously very worldy "Kalm Traveler" who seeks seemingly worthless items and gives up the most powerful things in the land in exchange for them: A gold chocobo and master materia.
It all started coming to me... all these people must of had great adventures in their life-times...
...maybe they even KNEW each other...?
It was a hellish 3 months that I tried to figure people's personalities, friendships, rivalries, reactions to one another.. all while tying in the escape of Ifalna and Aeris. That's what I wanted to write about. Then in my decision to cast Dio, it hit me, the perfect way to present the story: Dios Combat Diary. Cloud finds it and reads it... but there had to be more. That's where Kamen, uh, (oh crap) came in (d'oh, bad puns evil!). Cloud's never-seen father. BRILLIANT!
Of course, i still had to get the characters together. I didn't want everyone starting off as friends... so I borrowed an idea from Frank Verderosa in that Zangan served on the side of the Wutians during the Midgar/Wutai war, which was my nod to his story "Shards", my second-favorite fanfic of his. So Dio and "Kalm Traveler" could be friends, that'd be okay. The names "Byran" and "Noel" I grabbed out of nowhere... I just wanted to make sure that the names were consistent with others on this world (Cloud? Tifa? Nanaki? No Toms, Dicks, or Harrys here!).
So i had it clenched... Byran and Dio (and later Zangan) against the Shinra... but finding motivation was tough. I just kept typing and let the story write itself, and things turned out okay (give or take spelling, grammar, and minor plot points).
My biggest challenge was to NOT contradict continuity, but expand on it. Yeah, i messed up a bit. Dio is a world-renowned adventurer, but he helped bust up the Shinra, and yet he's alive and well in the game... doesn't make a lot of sense that they'd let him off the hook! Also, Zangan and Sephiroth now know each other... so how come when Sephiroth, Zack and Cloud go to Nibelhiem (in the game), the Inn doesn't become a war-zone? My only BS reasoning might be that they have no further fight with each other, and when Sephiroth goes to Nibelhiem, he's there to serve and protect. Plus at that point, Sephiroth could kill Zangan in an instant and they both know it, and that's enough. But then it DOES explain that Zangan felt compelled to convince the citizens of Nibelhiem to not trust Sephiroth and block the gates of the mansion...
Maybe, just maybe I'll write these characters again someday (well, not all of them... RIP Kamen & Ifalna...). Afterall, I'm sure Dio's diary is more than just 8 chapters.......
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic