Terra: "You want answers, I can't agree with you more. All I'm saying is that, maybe we can help each other."
Shards Of Memory is a Final Fantasy fanfiction written by Drake Clawfang. Set in the world of Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the core of the story is that it follows Terra and Cloud on their quests for their Crystals. While they travel together and come to trust each other, the various Warriors of Chaos are still plotting against their respective heroic counterparts, Sephiroth and Kefka being those chosen to oppose Cloud and Terra. Thus Cloud deals with nightly Mind Rape courtesy of Sephiroth inflicting Laser-Guided Amnesia on him in his sleep to erase his memories of Aerith, with the ultimate intent of seizing control of Cloud's mind. Meanwhile Kefka uses his Crystal to play havoc with Terra's control over her powers. As a result the two are forced to confront their Dark And Troubled Pasts, which they keep hidden from the other. This only causes problems down the road as Sephiroth and Kefka try to turn them against each other.Besides the titular protagonists and their rivals, the story also focuses heavily on Golbez, Jecht, and Emperor Mateus, the latter briefly usurping Garland as The Dragon at the height of his role. It's also a Pragmatic Adaptation—the timeline and events are redone, the backstories for the Crystals, Chaos, and the Warrior of Light are completely different, and several new concepts that have no basis for the actual canon are introduced. While it is intended as a shipping fic, there's not as much romance as good friendship between Cloud and Terra, though deeper feelings are hinted at and remarked on by other characters.At over 250,000 words and 40 chapters with an epilogue, the story is completed and is currently one of the longest Dissidia fanfictions on Fanfiction.net. Can be read here.
This fic contains examples of the following:
Adaptational Heroism: Shinryu was a definite antagonist in Dissidia, but in the fic is relatively benevolent, though in a self-interested way. Since Omega would destroy all existence including him if he wasn't keeping it sealed, he does so because naturally, he wants to live. He also shows genuine gratitude to the heroes for ending the cycle of war, since that means any risk of Omega powering up and breaking the seal is now gone.
A Form You Are Comfortable With: It is revealed by Shinryu that the world of Dissidia makes the chosen warriors a collective Fisher King — the landscape is shifted in patches to fit each character's memories of home, with parts of other worlds thrown in to create the sense of several worlds being merged as one when actually its an entirely separate world.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Omega was programmed with no objective but to destroy. Since it got cast into the Void, the hub of the Final Fantasy multiverse, its objective redefined as the destruction of all those worlds, turning it into an absolute Omnicidal Maniac.
Big Damn Heroes: Jecht intervenes to save Tidus during the battle with Mateus.
The Big Damn Kiss: Chapter 19; Terra kisses Cloud to break Sephiroth's control over him.
Bigger Bad: Shinryu is foreshadowed as such. Turns out he's just so powerful, he's Above Good and Evil and is unconcerned about mortals — the actual Bigger Bad is Omega, who would destroy the multiverse if Shinryu wasn't keeping it sealed in the Void.
Bloodless Carnage: Gradually subverted. Earlier battles use minimal blood, but the characters began getting more and more battered as time went on. The battles Sephiroth is involved in are particularly brutal for Cloud.
Character Rerailment: Invoked. In earlier chapters Mateus was loud and pompous, and was regarded as a joke by the other villains for trying to order them around. After English footage of him was released, he was tweaked to be more in-line with the Smug Snake personality seen in the game, and his earlier characterization was given a Hand Wave as an act to fool Golbez into thinking he was safe to keep scheming undetected. Golbez's role and characterization also began to shift around the same point.
Combination Attack: Terra and Cloud combine their Holy Combo-Ultima and Omnislash Version 5 to defeat Gabranth. The same attack is later upgraded with Cloud's fusion swords to take down Safer Sephiroth.
Counterpart Comparison: In-universe. A major part in Cloud's character arc in the first part of the story is his confusion over recognizing Terra due to her similarities to Aerith.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: In Chapter 28 when he has Cloud at his mercy, the first thing Sephiroth does is get rid of the Buster Sword. The second thing is anticipate Terra's sneak attack and stop her.
Deadpan Snarker: Sephiroth slips into this on occasion when Kefka is the topic of discussion. Cloud and Terra get their turns too.
The group manages to find an airship and an enchanted map that makes travelling between the final destinations a lot quicker compared to the earlier parts of the story.
Several times in the final chapters thanks to Rule of Cool. How does Cloud manifest the Buster Sword out of nothing? How did Golbez and Jecht make it home? How does Aerith use a Materia shard to transport Terra to the Sector 7 Church? Quiet, you're ruining the epic and happy ending!
Dramatic Irony: It's revealed the reason Sephiroth's spirit can survive dissolution in death is because through the Sephiroth cells in Cloud, a part of his original body is still alive. After he kills Cloud, the same connection means a part of Cloud's body is still technically alive, so he's Only Mostly Dead.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: The fic opens with news of Exdeath's death, and Ultimecia is already dead. The deaths of the Cloud of Darkness and Kuja occur unseen and are announced to the other villains after the fact.
Earn Your Happy Ending. By the time the final sentence ends, Golbez and Jecht have a second chance at life with their families back home, everyone else is home again where they belong, and Cloud and Terra are together in the Final Fantasy VII world. The road to that final sentence was not an easy one for any of them.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Subverted with The Emperor and the Warrior of Light, who are called Mateus and Hikari, though their official titles are still used frequently. Played straight with Onion Knight—Terra mentions he has a proper name, but he hasn't told anyone. Though this last case is eventually subverted as of chapter 36-OK reveals his real name is Luneth.
Face Death with Dignity: Sephiroth fades away with a resolution that whatever awaits him on the other side, he will face it with his head held high.
Fate Worse than Death: Sephiroth taunts Cloud with what he plans to do with him once he takes over their world — erase his memories of all his friends and take over his mind to force him to kill them, after which Sephiroth will revive them so he can do it again, occasionally letting him regain his senses to watch Sephiroth kill them himself.
Fighting Your Friend: Cloud and Terra each get a turn, Cloud when Terra loses control of her powers, and Terra when Sephiroth takes control of Cloud's mind.
And earlier in Chapter 23, as Sephiroth vanishes in a flurry of black feathers, the last one to appear is white instead.
"Groundhog Day" Loop: Just as in the game, the cycles of war between Cosmos and Chaos are constantly reset to be fought over and over. The difference is in this fic, it's gone on for untold eons.
The Heavy: The actual Big Bad is Chaos with the Emperor and Garland acting as his main servants as in the source game, but Sephiroth is the villain of the main storyline, and grows into an antagonist role opposing Terra in addition to being Cloud's nemesis.
Killed Off for Real: All the villains save for Sephiroth, Ultimecia and Kuja stay dead after being killed. Later, Sephiroth is stated to die for the final time, Cloud's Sephiroth cells being purified and his last link to the living gone.
Gabranth not only provides Cloud and Terra with their strongest foe yet even with both of them fighting, but he also informs them of Shinryu's existence and the nature of the cycles of war.
Chaos, as befitting the Big Bad. His arrival on the scene triggers the death of Cosmos, the splitting of the party, and the road to the final battle which includes Cloud's death and resurrection and Hikari's Heroic Sacrifice.
Lampshade Hanging: Cloud and Terra both demonstrate some degree of Genre Savviness with regards to their quests and their archenemies. Cloud for example is completely unsurprised when Sephiroth comes back to life after their first battle.
Magic Knight: Terra prefers her magic but uses her sword on occasion. Cloud plays this straight as can be after he receives Hikari's power.
Mythology Gag: In the spirit of the source game, numerous Final Fantasy references are dropped, some more subtle than others. Many are to Dissidia itself, such as various attacks used in fight scenes being based on attacks in the game, snippets of dialogue are taken from the rest of the series, and many locations, though not directly named, are based on some location from a Final Fantasy game. Various other franchises get nods too.
An unintentional one that came full circle, the Manikins are called "Crystelle", since they hadn't been given an English name yet when the story started. Crystelle is the name of a Crystal-like enemy encountered in the depths of the Interdimensional Rift in Final Fantasy V. Then came Dissidia 012, and look at the origin story they created for the Manikins.
Sephiroth sprouts his black wing before all his battles, then transforms into Safer Sephiroth in Chapter 27.
Kefka shifts into his God Form for the final moments of his battle with Terra.
Jecht for the battle with Mateus at the end of Chapter 31. Mateus invokes this for himself in the next chapter.
Kuja goes Trance for his battle with Zidane, Squall and Bartz at the Chaos Shrine.
Chaos invokes both of his One-Winged Angel forms in the final battle, growing to huge sizes as in Utter Chaos, but described as looking like Feral Chaos.
Only I Can Kill Him: Hikari and Garland are the Champions of Cosmos and Chaos, respectively, thus only they can defeat the other. Chaos later shifts the title to Mateus, but revokes it to invoke You Have Failed Me.
Loophole Abuse: As Jecht notes (and proves), just because you can't be killed except by that one person, doesn't mean you can't have the unholy snot beaten out of you.
Plot Tumor: Golbez wasn't intended to have such a large role in earlier chapters, which were written shortly after the Japanese release of the original game. Then English translations of the story began to come forward, and he became The Mole and Terra's mentor, and effectively became a third protagonist alongside her and Cloud.
Power Floats: Terra begins to fly on a regular basis as she becomes more confident in her control of her powers.
Shoo Out the Clowns: Aside from the occasional one-liner, a lot of the comic relief in the story ended once Kefka got killed.
Sink or Swim Mentor: Golbez tries to be a conventional mentor to Terra, but she's so wrapped up in various mental blocks that he loses his patience and begins using more forceful and direct methods. Starting by zapping her with a Cosmic Ray.
Title Drop: "Shards of memory" is used several times. Pulled double-time by Sephiroth in Chapter 21.
"Your delusions of victory will be shattered, and the shards of memory crumbling around you shall be the only fragments left of your final fantasy."
Took a Level in Badass: Terra after retrieving her Crystal and regaining full control over her powers, and Cloud after receiving Hikari's power.
Troll: Kefka, increasingly so when he realizes Sephiroth hates him
Sephiroth: You told me a magic field stopped us from teleporting here directly. Why did you lie to me and make us scale the tower the hard way?" Kefka: I thought your expression would be funny.
Unreliable Narrator: Shinryu reveals that Cosmos and Chaos purposefully lied to the heroes about the cycles of the war, including the origins of the Crystelle, the nature of the Crystals, and the fates of their worlds, in order to encourage them to fight. Thus, any exposition delivered from a character's viewpoint about such things may or may not be truthful.
Unwitting Pawn: Mateus let Golbez scheme and help the heroes so he would eventually meet with Cosmos in person and let Chaos into Order's Sanctuary. Jecht meanwhile was used to attain a Dark Crystal that he could use to resurrect his allies.