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"You spoke of only two cycles. That's not the truth though. Not two, not three, and not even four. The story keeps going. She made sure of that."
Lucina, Chapter 11

Cycle is a Fire Emblem Awakening Fan Fic which blends elements of various premises of the medium - among them the Self-Insert and For Want of a Nail, but also with elements of Adaptation Expansion and Adaptation Distillation among them.

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It goes like this. A young woman named Robin, inhabitant of Earth, is as ordinary as they come: she works as a baker, lives in an apartment with her roommate and friend Juliet, and one of her hobbies is gaming. She just so happens to be rather familiar with Fire Emblem Awakening and coincidentally shares a given name with the default name of the game's player character, but there the similarities end...

Until one day, she wakes on the field in the Halidom of Ylisse at the beginning of the game in the place of said player character. Here she meets Chrom, Lissa and Frederick in the flesh - oh, and not unlike the Robin of the game, her memory is spotty for reasons unknown. Finding herself stuck in the role of tactician of the Shepherds, she seems set to play out the events of the game like a typical Self-Insert.

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Or so it seems. Because while things at first look just the same as always, there are unsettling differences from the story Robin is familiar with, more and more as she goes on. There are strange new Risen emerging out of the woodwork, mysterious figures that weren't part of the original story make themselves known, and Chrom's time-travelling daughter, Lucina is behaving bizarrely - as is evidenced when she regards Robin with a bemusing familiarity and distrust... As the picture slowly become clearer, it falls on Robin to prevent not only the calamity that is Grima's upcoming resurrection, but also the potential collapse of an entire world's chance at attaining true peace.

Written by RoseWarden, Cycle is a veritable Doorstopper of a fanfic which takes expectations, subverts them, and crafts a unique tale within the setting of Awakening using a hefty amount of canon, headcanon and world-building.

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Cycle contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Grima was an exceedingly cruel "mother" to the twins Marc and Morgan, with extremely harsh expectatons and treatment - neither were even granted names. It's to the point that only their "father" (an unnamed former Shepherd, now a Risen) has kept them from being completely messed-up, and even then they'd need tremendous therapy to be functional individuals.
  • Action Survivor: As an ordinary person thrust into Ylisse, Robin naturally was this at the start; later she Took a Level in Badass and became a full-fledged Action Girl.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The original Robin. In canon, Robin was "just" a genius tactician and incredibly powerful warrior-mage. Here? She seized power comparable to the gods and outright broke time.
    • Marc and Echo. Morgan was extremely powerful in canon, yes. Here, Marc and Echo are each substantially stronger than even Lucina. Every character who can match them is an immortal body-hopping dragon warlord with millenia of experience. Neither of them is even 20.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The story takes the regular canon of Awakening and expands upon on - plenty of detail is given into the respective cultures of Ylisse, Regna Ferox and Plegia, and there's plenty of detail given into explaining historical aspects of their world (such as why Chrom's father waged war on Plegia, the way the countries were formed after the Schism, etc.)
  • Always Save the Girl: Chrom doing this in the first cycle is what started the original Robin's slow descent into madness.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Downplayed with Robin, who remembers plenty of crucial facts about herself but has forgotten key details; she also slowly recalls things of various importance. In short, the depiction is far more realistic than convenient (though it often is Played for Drama).
  • Animal Eye Spy: Henry's crows. Grima's generals have a Risen version.
  • Archnemesis Dad: The original Robin was Lucina's mother in the first cycle.
  • Bleed 'em and Weep: So what do you get when you have a person who's only experience with killing is through video games kills a person for the first time? Immediate regret and vomit.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Lissa has a massive crush on Lon'qu, who's her personal bodyguard. So far, he doesn't return her feelings, but he's Owain's father.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Robin in the aftermath of the assassination attempt.
    • Emmeryn goes through a big one during and after the Siege of Ylisstol.
  • Casting a Shadow: Marc and Echo's preferred magical style.
  • The Cavalry: The Feroxi's arrival broke the Siege of Ylisstol. Justified; they were already on their way and Gangrel lied about wiping them out.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story starts off with a fair bit of humour (though not without its seriousness), but around the end of the Regna Ferox arc things start to get darker as certain revelations and developments come to light.
  • Child by Rape:
    • During one of Plegia's Rape, Pillage, and Burn runs, Vaike gained a little sister.
    • It's implied in Morgan's interlude that the twin's conception may not have been entirely consensual. This was later confirmed by Word of God.
  • Continuity Nod: The whole work is riddled with references to the Archanea/Akaneia games, which is fitting considering their In-Universe historical importance.
  • Creepy Twins: Marc and Morgan (aka "Echo"), due to being brought up in a grossly abusive environment by Grima and having very damaged ideas of morality as a result. Although in Robin's eyes, there's more tragedy than anything else.
  • Culture Clash: Robin's integration into a quasi-medieval world takes some time, and naturally even later on there are moments of culture shock.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The Ylisse-Plegia conflict is built upon a legacy of this, one that is centuries old.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the regular Awakening, this version of the story raises the already-high stakes. Not only do we have a Robin who pulled a Face–Heel Turn and set up a "Groundhog Day" Loop, we also have more focus on the Body Horror of the Risen, greater emphasis on the risks of time travel, and new antagonists who are Nightmare Fuel incarnate and constantly affect Robin's life. That's without getting into the proper analysis of how mutually-destructive war can be, which was brought up to an extent in the original story but is fleshed-out further here.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Maribelle's parents, killed when Plegia invades Ylisstol.
    • The playable Anna was killed by Pravitus in the events that led to Robin being taken to the world of Awakening.
    • Echo reveals that a manakete who had forsaken his dragon form sacrificed himself to protect Tiki from Pravitus. His relationship with Tiki and the fact that Pravitus got shapeshifting powers from consuming him heavily imply that this manakete is Xane.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Morgan, twin brother to Marc, prefers to be called Echo. Marc and her "father" both consider it part of his "rebellious teen phase".
  • Dragon Rider: Marc. No, she's not riding a wyvern. She's riding an actual dragon, Echo. Who is also her brother.
  • Due to the Dead: It's mentioned that Ylissean culture takes this very seriously - even a hated enemy should be given proper burial rites regardless of their intentions. Sully, when bringing up her instinctive distrust of Plegians, mentions an incident where they ruthlessly defied this: her brothers were part of a group of knights killed by Plegian brigands, and the Ylissean forces were kept from retrieving them until their corpses had been already picked clean by scavengers. In addition, dragon cannons are considered a particularly-gross violation of this, given their origin and purpose.
  • Enfant Terrible: Marc and Morgan, being on the cusp of puberty and Creepy Twins to boot.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • The twins and their father love each other dearly.
    • While the previous Exalt wasn't exactly evil so much as paranoid and biased against Plegia, he loved his family immensely.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone can see the Ship Tease between Chrom and Robin, even a Feroxi woman who watched them talk for maybe a minute.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The original Robin seems to have pulled one, from Lucina's account. The exact details are... sketchy, however.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • There is massive racism between Ylisse and Plegia. When it's revealed that Robin may be Plegian, she's treated with suspicion and hostility by the some of the Shepards.
    • And then there's the racism between Grima-faction dragons and everyone else. Grima's dragons and the twins want to wipe out everyone but them. Understandably, everyone else wants them dead.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Of the twins, the girl is given the male-sounding "Marc" as a name; the boy has the more gender-neutral Morgan, not that he goes by it.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: During interlude 4, Marc and Morgan reveal that they have picked through a bag of Robin's belongings and figured out how to work her "music box" i.e. a modern MP3 player.
  • Grand Theft Me: Grima's generals are capable of taking over the bodies of humans in some unexplained manner - this appears to have extended their lifespans as a result. It's eventually revealed they can only take over humans already turned into Risen. Word of God says it's because Risen are made by Grima's power, and since Grima had something to do with her generals existing in the first place, it allows them to change bodies when needed.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Played With. For well over a dozen times, the two-year plus timeframe of the game has been repeated; however, it's only due to Robin interfering with things she shouldn't have been, and the current cycle is presumed to be the last as a result.
  • The Heavy: The original Robin. She's been MIA since the beginning of the last cycle, and the plot still revolves around cleaning up the mess she made. The potential resurrection of Grima is a secondary problem to the mangled timestream, resurrected generals of Grima, and twin evil Morgans.
  • Heroic Bastard: Invoked; Lucina and Owain's cover story to explain their Brands is that they're fraternal twins and the bastard children of the previous Exalt, from an affair with a mistress from Chon'sin. Helping their story, Owain is half-Chon'sinese due to Lon'qu being his father (and looks the part with his hair and eyes), and their "father" did in fact have interactions with their claimed harbour town birthplace and a Chon'sinese woman (though not necessarily an affair with her) along with other convenient facts that lend credence to their claims.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Falchion will literally burn away the hands of anyone tainted by Grima who tries to use it. Unfortunately, this includes Robin.
  • Identical Stranger: Robin somehow looks almost exactly like her predecessor, the original Robin, with the exception of her eye color.
  • The Lad-ette: Robin isn't what you'd call butch, but she can be somewhat crude and blunt as well as being (on occasion) a bit of a drinker; this is noted by Lucina to be a great contrast with the original Robin.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: Henry can control and communicate through crows. He has them peck an enemy to death at one point. He wasn't even in the building.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Marc, Morgan and their father all depend on each other for emotional stability, and any one of them would have gone mad without the other two.
    Father: Beyond Grima's destruction, the children are the sole reason I still breathe.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The rules of how magic works are very clearly explained, detailing how one can master stronger spells, cast without a tome directly in their possession, etc.
  • Medieval Stasis: Explained somewhat, in that some thought is given into how the Schism set technology back drastically and they've only caught back up over the last few centuries.
  • My God, You Are Serious: Chrom will conceive the infant Lucina by his 24th birthday, no matter who the mother is. Even if the mother is "a golden-haired prostitute belonging to a brothel on the coast of the Southern Sea."
    Robin: Good one.
    She stares dully at me showing no change. My smile drops like a heavy stack of bricks.
    Robin: ...you aren't joking.
  • My Greatest Failure: Robin considers the deaths of the four archers under her command, during the attempted assassination of Emmeryn as this, to the point she hits a near-total Heroic BSoD when it first happens.
  • Mythology Gag: Askr and Embla are brought up when Marc and Echo recount how Robin came to Archanea.
  • Name's the Same: Deliberately invoked with Robin, who doesn't miss the irony of it. But there seems to be more to it than that...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Robin's attempt to avoid the Longfort battle not only fail, they lead to her cloak's Plegian origins drawing the attentions of the Shepherds who are forced to consider that she might in fact be a Plegian - creating no small level of mistrust for some time.
    • Robin thinks she may done this when she realizes that Ginette might be Lucina's mother, and by saving her (and her son, who died in previous cycles) she might have changed more than she could have expected. However, Lucina reveals this isn't the case and Chrom will have her no matter who he marries.
  • Off the Rails: At first, the main events of the story play out as in the game, despite some divergent elements. Then the Siege of Ylisstol happens and everything goes off-course.
  • Official Couple:
    • Fredrick and Emmeryn, Kellam and Raimi, in the first cycle, Chrom and Robin.
    • Also given Owain and Laurent's appearances, Lissa and Lon'qu along with Vaike and Miriel are this as well, or at least in this cycle.
    • Interlude 4 has Morgan defiantly claim that "Lucina is not my sister", heavily implying that Chrom is the twins' father and husband to Grima.
  • One-Word Title: In reference to the "Groundhog Day" Loop plot.
  • Original Character: Phila's siblings, Grima's generals, and many others...
  • Out-of-Character Alert: A rare example that works towards the person in question's favor. Robin is able to prove that she's not Grima simply by acting in ways Grima would not under any circumstances, such as failing to call out Lucina on a hole in her logic or making pathetic threats towards the twins' father instead of swiftly and brutally subduing him.
  • Papa Wolf: The twins' father will do just about anything to protect them.
  • Parental Favoritism: The original Robin went nuts when Morgan died and her ability to conceive was lost, all at the hands of the Grimleal. She turned back time several times in a mad attempt to save him and effectively disowned her older daughter Lucina.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Dragon cannons are, as their name implies, created from a dragon's corpse. Worse still, the more powerful cannons are those made from fresher dragon corpses, since they haven't yet succumbed to decay and had their power reduced.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Old Hubba is related to the Anna sisters in this story.
  • Ret Gone: Most of the Future Children have been erased from the timeline, with only Lucina, Owain, Nah and Laurent left as of the current cycle. The cause to be their respective mothers (and/or maybe their fathers) dying in the cycle immediately preceding each child's disappearance, as Brady was gone in the fifth cycle after Maribelle perished in the fourth, and Tharja's daughter Noire apparently went back and forth before being gone for good. Lucina alone remembers they existed and mourns them; Robin however is clinging to the possibility that if their parents' deaths are prevented, they might be brought back.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Lucina remembers every single cycle, as does the original Robin (or at least she did, before she disappeared). Naga also granted Tiki the same gift in the last cycle, but her status is currently a mystery. The twins appear to have some measure of this, as they reference Grima!Robin not being "right" last cycle, meaning that they know what she was like in the future of the cycle before last.
  • Rogue Protagonist: The original Robin.
  • Ship Tease: While there's Chrom/Robin by the bucket load, there's also Sumia/Stahl.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Most of Cordelia's pegasus knight squadron survive, thanks to the drastically-altered Plegian invasion of Ylisse, as opposed to canon where she was the Sole Survivor.
    • Emmeryn is never captured and executed by Gangrel, since the Shepherds were present at the siege of Ylisstol to prevent the loss of the city. Unfortunately for her, Emmeryn is forced to lead the rest of the war, turning this into Break the Cutie as noted above.
  • Third-Option Adaptation: While Robin (both the current one and the past version) is female, both versions of Morgan exist, and pay tribute to the Future Past DLC of the female Morgan (called Marc) having a draconian mount (in this case Morgan, or "Echo"). In addition, there is the Anna from the Apotheosis DLC, who comes looking for her sister, the usual Anna of the story.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Robin has this response when she sees Kellam falling for Raimi - who seems able to see him without difficulty, and after some initial coldness warms up to him, leading to a surprisingly solid relationship - because he's a genuinely Nice Guy who deserves some kind of lasting happiness. Highlighted further by Kellam and Raimi's apparent future children appearing in the present, along with Lucina's shock at these occurrences, as Kellam never married or had children in any past cycles.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Robin develops this relationship with Fredrick.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Robin wakes in the castle infirmary after being hit with a curse designed to put her in a coma.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 11 is the first big one. Robin learns that, for unknown reasons, the original Robin started to reset the timeline countless times - only she and Lucina were aware of it. This has led to massive consequences, like most of Lucina's friends being Ret Gone and in the last "cycle", Grima took control of Robin right from the get-go.
    • The multi-chaptered Siege of Ylisstol is an In-Universe one, to the point that the Einherjar Caeda is shocked to see it.
    • Chapter 36: Lucina, upon learning that Robin saved Ginette in Southtown, enters an Heroic BSoD... which gets Robin into a bit of Oh, Crap! as she starts to realise what this might mean.
    • Chapter 41: Henry is introduced to the Shepherds - two years ahead of time.
  • Wild Card: Marc and Echo. They're on Grima's side. Not Plegia's. Not the Grimleal's. Grima's. And since the only version of Grima active is replacement Robin, that puts their loyalty in a very weird place - they can't decide if they are loyal to the Fell Dragon's plan, or to the new Robin. Oh, and Robin's trying to convince them to quit Grima's service and just learn to how to live as people, rather than as weapons, which would make them their own side.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Lucina's letter in Chapter 37 has a more complex analysis of this - while the exact future isn't set in stone, time does prefer to follow the originally-intended course and some events are likely (if not certain) to happen, if in a changed context. Emmeryn's fate being a major one, since none of the cycles Lucina has lived through have seen her survive until now.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Despite Emmeryn's best efforts, negotiating with Gangrel to prevent war just won't happen. He even attempts to draw her out and leave her open to being attacked, which is only stopped due to Maribelle's cunning. Also a Deconstructed Trope: Stage One and onwards have varied thanks to the resetting timeline and other varients, but elements like Emmeryn dying haven't been avoidable thus far - just the context of them has been.
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