The Fifth Act is Final Fantasy VIIPeggy Sue fic, which brilliantly defies the ‘formula’ set by Final Fantasy VIIPeggy 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. With the realization that he could prevent a lot of tragedy, he sets off to kill Sephiroth. 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
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 and what will he do if he succeeds.
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.
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
Berserk Button: Don't call Cloud a puppet and don't threaten his friends.
Brick Joke: In a Shout-Out to Crisis Core, Yuffie discovers Cloud's number and sends him spam mail about finding treasure in various improbably dangerous places. Except for a mention by Tseng, Yuffie's messages are generally ignored. Then at the very end Cloud reads Yuffie's messages and has to go rescue her from the Northern Crater.
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.
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.
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 Skill: Genesis always tries to cast status effects on Cloud, only for them to never work. Once Cloud gets possessed by Jenova, Genesis's reflexive 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.
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.
At the end when both Cloud and Sephiroth are paralyzed by Jenova, Genesis shows up and impatiently fires off a few Fires, roasting Jenova.
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.
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.
Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Despite Genesis initiating a fight with Cloud when he tried to find Sephiroth, Cloud willing gives Genesis a vial of Aerith's spring water when he sees Genesis suffer from degeneration. Genesis is so moved that Cloud saved his life that he gets Sephiroth to come to Wutai.
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.
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 Cloud's father 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.
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
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.
Hourglass Plot: Cloud is initially a humble nobody hoping to stop several tradegies. Genesis is forever stuck in Sephiroth's shadow and resentful of it. Sephiroth is the pride of ShinRa, both arrogant and justified that no one could beat him. Cloud is proven to be the stronger man and becomes ShinRa's top SOLDIER despite his hatred of the company if it means he gets to kill Sephiroth and gets a lot of attention both positive and negative. Genesis becomes a hero in his own right as Hero of Wutai and becomes appreciative of his life and his friends when he can close to losing them. Sephiroth realizes for the first time what it means to be someone's shadow and to reach someone's level of strength but being unable to and is able to empathize with Genesis. Cloud deliberately attempted to isolate himself while Genesis and Sephiroth attempted to include him. Cloud falls into madness when revealed the truth of his origins while Genesis and Sephiroth remain sane and stop him.
Humble Hero: Cloud doesn't let his fame or his skills get to his head and tries to avoid the spotlight whenever possible.
Knowledge Broker: Kunsel in Crisis Core was a well informed and vaguely gossipy Mr. Exposition. The Fifth Act upgrades to him having a vast information network, being everyone's go to guy for information and in the Omakes, being better informed than the Turks
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 fighting strategies consists of running at an enemy and attacking it though 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. It ends badly and Angeal gets seriously injured while trying to break up the fight.
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 it's swamp habitat and in the the rocky plains. Justified in that the environments have been in flux for years and the Zolom was hunting.
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 so Sephiroth would kill him because Cloud had the horrifying revelation that he was on the path to becoming worse than Sephiroth
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 him 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.
Not So Different: Cloud is not that different from Sephiroth, to the point that Jenova was able to possess him.
In that split second, he'd wondered what he'd do after he killed Sephiroth.
His first thought had been to destroy ShinRa. Destroy the company that had drained the Planet, dropped the Plate on Sector 7, and made Sephiroth possible in the first place. Destroy the man who left his mother in Nibelheim to die.
Except… once he'd been freed of Jenova's influence, he'd realised how familiar that line of thinking was.
When he found out the truth of his origins…
...The first thing Sephiroth had done when he'd returned from the Lifestream was assassinate President ShinRa.
He started to hate ShinRa.
Revenge on ShinRa hadn't been enough. He turned his resentful eyes towards the Planet, and constructed fanciful notions that it was to be destroyed and made anew – that it was his birthright.
Then after a while, he started to hate everything.
Not What It Looks Like: Cloud misinterprets Sephiroth's burning of Shinra mansion as a sign that he was falling into evil.
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.
Pyro Maniac: Genesis likes his Fire materia too much. Depending on how you count the Extended Universe, Sephiroth seems to have picked this up.
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: Cloud is promoted to Second-Class after a few months. He and Kunsel are promoted to First-Class when they were believed to be dead when Hojo captures them.
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.
Secret Secret Keeper: Cloud and Genesis are the only ones that knew that Angeal was dying and there is a cure for his condition.
Seeking Sanctuary: When first arriving at Midgar, Cloud take refuge in the church forgetting that Aeris and Zack are still alive and occupying the church.
Self-Made Man: Lazard's backstory. He rose from the slums to being Director of Solider.
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.
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. She later swipes Genesis's materia in a Omake.
Sure, Let's Go with That: Cloud goes with a villager's assumption that he's a relative of the timeline's Cloud Strife. He later goes with Zack's assumption that he's a washed-up mercenary.
Sword and Sorcerer: The three top SOLIDERs (not including Cloud) form a Sword, Sorcerer and Fighter combo. Sephiroth is unmatched in swordsmanship, Angeal is the best barehanded fighter and Genesis spams Fires and Status materia like it's going out of style.
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 how it varies from happy endings to tragedies. He used to prefer the tradegic endings but after his brush with death and gaining a new lease on life, he beginning to like the happier ending.
Took a Level in Kindness: Genesis is a much more pleasant and easy going individual when he isn't slowly dying or resentful of Sephiroth.
Treachery Cover Up: The Turks cover up Hollinder and Hojo's betrayal and why Cloud and Kunsel disappeared for months.
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.