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Fanfic: The Fifth Act
The Fifth Act is Final Fantasy VII Peggy Sue fic, which brilliantly defies the ‘formula’ set by Final Fantasy VII Peggy Sue fics. After being returned to the past through an accident with a time travel material, Cloud is not placed into his old body but thrown whole back into the past. and instead of trying to save Sephiroth, he sets off to kill him. Being Cloud what he actually planned and what he ends up doing are separate things and ends up saving people anyways.

Expanded Universe oneshots available here

This work contains examples of:

  • Accidentally Broke the MacGuffin: Cloud accidentally breaks the extra vials carrying the spring water when he fought the Grand Horn with Zack, losing Genesis's chance to cure Angeal's degeneration quickly.
    • The entire plot is kicked off by Cloud accidentally breaking a mastered Time materia.
  • Advantage Ball: Cloud consistently has the advantage over the characters due to having a decade of experience and better equipment. Although he loses this when he gives the Ribbon to Kunsel
  • An Aesop: By reaching out to others, you can help others change
  • And Then What?: A recurring problem of Cloud is that people are constantly questioning what his goals are past killing of Sephiroth.
  • Appeal to Consequences: Cloud tries to convince Lord Godo that it would be a very bad idea to continue fighting Shinra, explaining that their plan to unleash monsters will not work, if they surrender now they could get better terms and time to regroup.
  • Ascended Extra: Kunsel, who becames Cloud's friend over the course of the story and gets captured by Hojo for experimentation, although he does manage to break out.
  • Bad Dreams: Sephiroth starts getting nightmares of Cloud's memories in the original timeline.
  • Badass: Cloud, thanks to being a Future Badass. By midpoint of the fic it is absolutely clear that this version of Cloud easily surpasses Sephiroth.
  • Badass Normal: Young Cloud, who's not enhanced at all and is a normal kid, manages to travel from Nibelheim to Midgar by himself carrying the mako-overdosed Kunsel in tow in hopes of finding older Cloud.
  • Bad Future: Averted, Cloud had no desire to travel back because after all the tragedies the future was not that bad. He decided to change the past after he realized he could prevent the tragedies and traumas.
  • Bad Liar: Cloud is not great at lying and mostly uses people's assumptions of him to get by. His lies will not hold in a deeper inspection.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Hollander kidnaps Cloud to experiment on him under the guise of helping Angeal. After chapter or so, he's unceremoniously shot by Vincent and Hojo takes Cloud for his own experiments
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Being experimented on by Hojo, unbalanced by the truth of his origins and seeing Sephiroth burn down the Shinra Mansion allows Jenova to possess Cloud in Nibelheim
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Cloud, very quiet and antisocial to the point of being an Extreme Doormat is the most powerful man in Shinra and can surpass Sephiroth in a straight fight.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Cloud becomes protective of Zack and Kunsel, trying to watch out for them the best he can.
  • Big Damn Heroes: when Kunsel is too exhausted to kill the last Nibelian wolf, Angeal swoops in and finishes it off
  • A Boy and His X: Young!Cloud and the Angeal chimera
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Cloud is the strongest Soldier of ShinRa, but doesn't give a shit about promotions.
  • Butterfly of Doom: A lot of Cloud's unintentional acts make major waves, such as curing Genesis as a result he never defects Sephiroth never goes crazy and Angeal defects instead.
  • Brains and Brawn: Zack is the brawn while Kunsel is brain.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: The eight-year old Yuffie, who is overly cocky and constantly stealing everyone's materia.
  • Broken Ace: Cloud is one to SOLDIER as he can outfight Sephiroth, is very skilled at combat and magic, is willing to help anyone that asks him but has no ambition, antisocial and his only goal is to kill Sephiroth. To Shinra this makes him the perfect soldier since he never complains nor asks for a promotion.
  • Call Back
  • Call Forward
  • Can't Take Anything With You: Subverted, Cloud had all his equipment with him, including his PHS.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Sephiroth, especially when Cloud was trying to kill him in the penultimate chapter.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Once in the past, Cloud tries to call Tifa for the the call not to connect. It turns out its because the number doesn't exist yet.
  • Central Theme: Redemption
  • Chekhov's Gun: Cloud's ribbon (which grants immunity to status effects), which enabled Cloud's time travel it was overhelmed by the mastered broken Time materia. He gives it to Kunsel when they're both captured by Hojo to help Kunsel escape. When Cloud gets possessed by Jenova, the lost of his ribbon loses him his Advantage Ball and Genesis is able to stop him
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Little Cloud and Vincent
  • Chekhov's Skill: Genesis always tries to cast status effects on Cloud, only for them to never work. Once Cloud gets possessed by Jenova, Genesis's casting stopped Cloud without them having to kill him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When Genesis took Sephiroth to meet Cloud for the first time, Sephiroth tries to introduce himself and Cloud springs immediately to attack him to not give him an opening
  • Commanding Coolness: Genesis holds a rank/position of a commander.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Genesis reflexively cast status spells on Cloud, even though he does know it doesn't affect Cloud. Inverted when they have to fight a Jenova-possessed Cloud, Genesis casts a Sleep spell on Cloud and non-lethally takes him down because Cloud lost his immunity.
  • Cutting the Knot: Since a lot of events center around Sephiroth, Cloud tries to kill Sephiroth to prevent them from happening.
  • Cynical Mentor: Cloud to Kunsel and Zack
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: When Cloud wakes up after being freed from Jenova's possession and Hojo's experiments the light of day gives him a splitting headache.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone has their moments, but particularly Genesis.
  • Dented Iron: Genesis stops his first fight with Cloud because he was in too much pain from his degeneration wound
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen: Cloud slowly becomes less cold due the influence of Zack, Aerith and Kunsel.
  • Demonic Possession: when Cloud gets possessed by Jenova
  • Determinator: See Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
  • Disguised in Drag: Cloud has to infiltrate Don Corneo's scheme with Genesis, Cissnei and Luxiere
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: When Cloud takes the Soldier qualification, he thought Kunsel was taking it easy on him only to find out he exhausted the poor guy.
  • Dramatic Irony: In the original Final Fantasy VII, Cloud was basically seen as a loser when the truth came out and Hojo didn't even recognize Cloud, even though he experimented on him for years. Hojo of this timelime thinks Cloud is his most perfect creation and scolded the other Hojo for not recognizing his own success.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Sephiroth gets dreams of the original timeline
  • Downer Ending: In an Omake, where Cloud was sent earlier into the timeline he successfully killed Sephiroth with Genesis and Angeal hunting Cloud down to avenge him even if it meant their lives.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Emotionally Tongue Tied: When Sephiroth tries to apologize to Cloud, he's at a loss what to do because he never had to apologize for anything
  • Face-Heel Turn: Angeal betrays Cloud to Hollinder and Hojo out of desperation for a cure. He comes to regret it eventually, and turns Face again shortly before the cure is found.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: in an Omake Kunsel hides Cloud from Sephiroth by dressing him up as a Second Class and making out.
  • Fanboy: See Hero-Worshipper.
  • Find the Cure: When he learns of Angeal's degradation from Genesis, Cloud promptly tries to have Aerith recreate the spring water.
  • First Name Basis: Cloud gives Zack his full name, which confused Genesis, Sephiroth and Angeal who only knew him as Strife and didn't realize they were the same man. Cloud is furious when Sephiroth starts calling him by his given name. Genesis was jealous that Zack knew the name of his savior before he did.
  • Fix Fic: For Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core
  • For Want of a Nail: Cloud's presence and action cause a title wave of effects, such as Genesis becoming the Hero of Wutai instead of Sephiroth since he didn't have his degeneration holding him back.
  • Foreshadowing: a Nibelheim local comments that Mayor Lockhart doesn't like Cloud because he's afraid "he'll leave a trail of bastards" Guess what Cloud's father did?
    • Ms Strife freaks out at sight of Cloud and tries to shoot him because his "brother"note  and his family did something horrible to her and she doesn't want them to take her son. There is a good reason to why she freaked out.
  • Friendless Background: When Cloud arrives to Midgard, he has no allies and no friends since he left them behind in the past timeline.
  • From Bad to Worse: Angeal sells Cloud out to Hollinder in hopes of finding a cure, only for Hollinder to reveal he has no intentions of finding a cure and wants to experiment to find out how Cloud's version of the SOLDIER formula. Hollinder is killed, only for Hojo to take Cloud instead.
  • Future Badass: Cloud, odd variant where the badass is the protagonist. This is for good and for bad, good in that he now surpasses Sephiroth bad in that Jenova and Hojo now find him the superior model.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: game mechanics are fully justified and explained within story. When Cloud compares his materia to Zack's materia, he explains since Cloud found his in the wild it tends to be more cost-heavy with more power. While Zack's Shinra man-made materia are very limited and simple but easier to use.
    • Since Cloud's Ribbon is a very rare item, the rest of the cast have no idea how Cloud is resisting status effects.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: When everyone sees Cloud's they assume that he's a SOLDIER despite never being part of Shinra.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Cloud intends to kill Hojo, Jenova and Sephiroth in that order.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Genesis thinks the scouts who reported Cloud's presence are morons since Cloud is not hiding in the least, is too blond to be from Wutai and is openly camping.
  • Half Truth: Cloud tells people that he used to run a delivery service before he came to Midgar and his motorbike got trashed.
  • Have We Met Yet?: Played with, Cloud knows Genesis and of his hidden degeneration but never personally met him before
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Cloud wants to stop Sephiroth from getting possessed by Jenova and causing many tragedies, he ends up getting possessed by Jenova himself
  • Head Butting Heroes: While Cloud is nominally on the same side as they are, he and the First Classes do not get along.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Cloud's younger self towards Genesis, due to Future!Cloud's meddling. When Genesis finds out Cloud and his "nephew" are the same person, he thinks its hilarious. Also, Kunsel quite admires Cloud and treats him as if the latter was his mentor, even when he outranked him (until, of course, the latter got promoted).
  • Heroic Bastard: Cloud turns out be President Shinra's illegitimate son
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Cloud doesn't think to highly of himself after all what happened
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: A underlying theme of the fic is whether is moral to kill someone that is innocent of his future atrocities.
    Sephiroth: I should be getting the benefit of the doubt here, I never met your mother
  • Homeless Hero: When Cloud gets to Midgard, he's homeless due to the fact that all his allies are gone and had no money to buy a place to stay. He ends sleeping in Aerith's church and this is rectified when he's recruited for Shinra.
  • Honor Before Reason: Angeal only for him to go back on it when he was dying.
  • Humble Hero: Cloud doesn't let his fame or his skills get to his head and tries to avoid the spotlight whenever possible.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Sephiroth wants to befriend Cloud, who can meet him in strength. Too bad the latter hates his guts.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Genesis wants to surpass Sephiroth.
  • I Hate Past Me: Averted, Cloud is actually very supportive of his past self and convinces the latter to stay in Nibelheim to the avoid the mess that is SOLDIER.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Implied, as when Cloud's mother meets him, she recognizes him through his resemblance to his father, President Shinra.
  • I Owe You My Life: Genesis is torn between his desire to help Cloud, to find more of the spring water to give to Angeal and to protect his friends from Cloud
  • I'm Not Hungry: Cloud eats very little when he gets invited to a diner by Tseng, who is making his recruitment pinch to get him to join Shinra.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In spite of Genesis's attack on ShinRa not happening, due to a bunch of Hollander's experiments escaping Zack still falls through the roof of Aeris's church.
  • Indy Ploy: Deconstructed as Cloud's biggest problem that he never plans ahead and makes things up as he goes. Which leads a lot of his earlier actions biting him in the ass.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Cloud tries to keep his distance from everyone so no one would get attached to him, but they won't leave him alone.
  • Internal Reveal: Cloud finally tells Kunsel that he is from the future before helping the latter escape from Hojo.
  • Irony: Cloud finally becomes SOLDIER like he wanted, but he no longer cares for that dream.
  • It's All My Fault: Cloud believes that most of the tragedies were his fault to begin with.
  • It's Personal: Cloud's stated reason to why he needs to meet Sephiroth, people are surprised that it's personal
  • Just Between You and Me: Hojo tells Cloud of his plans and of Cloud's true parentage, but to be fair to Hojo there was no way for Cloud to break out.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Genesis destroys Jenova.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Cloud
  • The Knights Who Say Squee
  • Koan: Genesis's quoting of Loveless are this and are often relevant to the situation.
  • Last Name Basis: Cloud introduced himself as Strife to Genesis and Sephiroth. To the point they were surprised to learn from Zack that his name is Cloud.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Cloud's attack only consists of running at it and attack, his strength makes up for it.
  • Let The Past Burn: Sephiroth burns down the Shinra mansion to destroy the notes and evidence of the experiment and to make peace with his past. Cloud gravely misinterprets the situation.
  • Lightning Bruiser: All of the SOLDIER Firsts qualify but Cloud takes the cake. When he's not weighed down by his massive sword, he's easily faster than even Sephiroth.
  • Light Hearted Rematch: Invoked by Sephiroth, who takes Cloud to the Midgar wastes in hopes of apologizing to Cloud for the puppet insult and for a fight they've both been itching for.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Hojo reveals to Cloud that President Shinja was his biological father and he, Lazard and Rufus Shinra are half-brothers.
  • Mama Bear: Cloud's mother tried to shoot Cloud, thinking he was trying to take her son away.
  • Minor Insult Meltdown: Cloud attacks Sephiroth for calling him a puppet, to be fair to Cloud he wasn't completely over his trauma with the past Sephiroth.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In-Universe example, a Midgar Zolom was far away from its swamp habitat and in the the rocky plains. Justified in that the environments have been in flux for years and the Zolom was hunting.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal
  • Moment Killer
  • More Than Mind Control: How Jenova is able to possess Cloud, she takes advantage of his shock from the revelations of his origins, disgust of Shinra and self-loathing and sense of superiority to make him open for Reunion
  • Mundane Luxury: Electric fans are considered a luxury from Cloud's original time due the fact electricity is scarce and only used for the most important things in Edge.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Cloud tries to kill Sephiroth several times, and he fails. He would have killed Lord Godo for refusing to surrender, if Yuffie hadn't stole his Fire materia.
  • Murder-Suicide: Cloud tries to kill Sephiroth after he is freed of Jenova's possession even if it meant his own life.
  • Must Make Amends: Angeal tries to help younger Cloud, Kunsel and the others to make up for his betrayal of Cloud.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Angeal is horrified when he realizes that Hollinder has no interest in curing but he doomed Cloud to experimentation for nothing.
  • My Future Self and Me: Cloud meets and befriends his younger self. Since the Older Cloud is doing all the time changing, he tells Younger Cloud to stay out of Shinra.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Due to his S-cells, Cloud can sense where Sephiroth and uses it to avoid him. Once Sephiroth's S-cells are awaken, he uses his to track Cloud down.
  • Nephewism: Inverted, Cloud poses as an uncle to his younger "nephew," Cloud Stife.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Subverted, Cloud meets his younger self when visiting Nibelheim and acts as an older brother figure.
  • Newspaper Dating: Cloud realizes he's in the past when he finds out the newspaper of Shinra declaring war on Wutai only being a week old
  • No Backwards Compatibility In The Future: Downplayed as the past Shinra is too decadent in energy which nearly overwhelms Cloud's more power efficient cell phone.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Cloud's decision to stop the Midgar Zolom instead of running away from it gets him sent back in the past.
  • No Sell: Cloud's immunity to status effects is seen as this.
  • No Social Skills: Cloud
  • Not So Different: Cloud and Sephiroth, to the point that Jenova was able to possess him.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Cloud misinterprets Sephiroth's burning of Shinra mansion as a sign that he was falling into evil.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Zack and Kunsel are prone to this.
  • Odd Friendship: Genesis views the friendship between the cheerful and loud Zack and the dour and quiet Cloud as one.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Young Cloud's trek to Midgar from Nibelheim with an Angeal beast and the unconscious Kunsel.
  • Omake: Several, some funny and some not.
  • One Degree of Separation
  • Oh Crap
  • One Steve Limit: Initial assumption of both Cloud Stifes, Cloud goes along with it and says it a popular name in the family. Zack differentiates the two by calling the younger Cloud "Mini"
  • Outrun the Fireball: Zack does this when Turk helicopters accidentally shot at him.
  • Panacea: Aerith's spring water.
  • Peggy Sue: Cloud becomes one after he breaks a Time materia.
  • Power Degeneration: Unintentionally curing Genesis of his, makes the first major waves for SOLDIER.
  • Power of Friendship: It's not Cloud's intentional changes that alter the timeline, it's by unintentionally reaching out to others and giving them a challenge to struggle against.
  • Power Perversion Potential: In an Omake, Zack wonders if Cloud and Sephiroth ever had sex, would their S-cells allow to feel each other.
  • Pragmatic Hero: When Vincent tries to convince Cloud not to kill Sephiroth, he is only convinced to save him for last to spare him the trouble of dealing with Hojo and Jenova. Other when Cloud fights, he strikes quickly to not give his enemies a chance to react.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: How Vincent killed Hojo. Lampshaded by Genesis how quick and clean it was.
  • Pyro Maniac: Genesis likes his Fire materia too much.
  • Quit Your Whining: Kunsel tells Zack off for complaining about Angeal's strictness when he gets one-on-one training with on the best soldiers while getting tips from Cloud on the side, who Kunsel wants to be his mentor.
  • Rank Up
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Shin-Ra recruits Cloud because they don't want anyone that could fight Sephiroth to a standstill to be on the other side.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Angeal
  • Reflexive Response: Genesis's spamming of status effects
  • Relatively Flimsy Excuse: Cloud poses as his own paternal uncle, which backfires on him when people realize that Strife is his mother's family name. So Cloud can't be Cloud Strife.
  • Revealing Injury: Genesis's injury helps Cloud realize who he is.
  • Revenge: Part of Cloud's motivation.
  • The Rival: Sephiroth views Cloud as one, the only one that could match him in power and skill.
  • Royal Brat: The eight-year old Yuffie.
  • Screw Destiny: What Cloud attempts.
  • Secretly Dying: Angeal
  • Secret Secret Keeper
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Cloud fully intended to kill Sephiroth, even after Sephiroth freed him from Jenova's influence and destroyed the remains of the project, even if he had to lose his own life in the process.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Cloud tries to set things right by killing Sephiroth but his actual turning point was when he cured Genesis. This sets up the domino effect of the story.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: When first arriving at Midgar, Cloud take refuge in the church forgetting that Aeris and Zack are still naive and occupying the church.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Oh Cloud
  • Show Within a Show: The LOVELESS play serves as this.
  • Situational Sexuality: In the Omake, homosexuality is common enough in Shinra that Sephiroth is only bothered that Kunsel and the disguised Cloud are making out in the Equipment Room.
  • Slash Fic: Some of the AU Omakes, but not the fic itself.
  • Skilled, but Naive
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Yuffie believes she's a great ninja that can take down Shinra, when she's a little girl that can be stopped by Cloud holding her by the scruff of her robes.
  • Spanner in the Works: Yuffie accidentally saves her father's life by taking Cloud's materia, which prevented Cloud from assassinating him and forced Cloud to work a diplomatic solution.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Genesis Zack, Aerith, Kunsel, Angeal
  • Spell My Name with an S: Literally, the author chose to call Aerith Aeris.
  • Spotting the Thread: Kunsel immediately spot holes in Cloud's identity when he meets the younger Cloud when he finds out that Strife is their mother's name, when Cloud is supposed to be his paternal uncle.
  • Sticky Fingers: Yuffie's kleptomania saved her father from Cloud.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table
  • Suicide by Cop
  • Superior Successor
  • Sure, Let's Go with That
  • Taking You with Me/ Mutual Kill: Cloud tries this on Sephiroth, to make sure "all" of Jenova's cells are destroyed.
  • Talking Is a Free Action
  • The Stoic: Cloud to everyone else. To the point Zack thinks its a big deal when Cloud smiles more than once a week.
  • Team Mom: Genesis
  • Tempting Fate
  • There Are No Therapists
  • Think Nothing of It: Cloud cures Genesis's degeneration without thinking of gaining anything from it.
  • Title Drop: Genesis brings up the Fifth Act of the LOVELESS play, which is the lost ending to the story and varies from happy endings to tragedies.
  • Treachery Cover Up: The Turks cover up Hollinder and Hojo's betrayal and why Cloud and Kunsel disappeared for months.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Cloud to his father, President Shinra (and by extension, Rufus and Lazard).
  • The Unfettered: Cloud was approaching this territory as he was willing to go through extremes to achieve his goals.
  • Unknown Rival: Sephiroth believes that he and Cloud have a rivalry, when he's not trying to kill him Cloud wants nothing to do with him.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Yuffie is one, as Cloud finds out to his annoyance. Yuffie described her father, Lord Kisaragi, as cowardly and peace-loving when the actual man is stubborn and very honor-bound.
  • Warrior Poet: Genesis. Unlike in canon, his quotation of Loveless is at least somewhat relevant to the story.
  • Was It Really Worth It?
  • We Can Rule Together: Jenova attempts this with Cloud when she successfully possesses him.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Cloud is called out on attempting to kill Sephiroth when the latter never did the crimes his past self committed and for attempting a murder-suicide.
  • What Year Is This?: Cloud didn't realize what year was it until he reached Midgar.
  • Wham Episode: When Cloud is kidnapped by Hojo, who reveals to him not only that the experimentation with Time Materia has been going on longer than he knows (and he basically confirmed the theory that new timelines are created each time), but that he is, in fact, the son of President Shinra. Big whammy, indeed.
  • When He Smiles: Noted In-Universe by Zack when Cloud does.
  • Whole Plot Reference
  • Wutai: Where Genesis initially meets Cloud. Then Genesis tells Sephiroth to come over.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Cloud
  • Worthy Opponent: Sephiroth thinks of Cloud as one.
  • The Worf Effect: Sephiroth is outmatched by the more experienced Cloud.
  • You Are Not Alone
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Cloud attempts to kill Sephiroth in Wutai. He fails.
  • You Will Be Spared: A variant in that Cloud spares Sephiroth only to not have to deal with Jenova or Hojo replacing him
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Angeal
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle

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