Lullabye for the New World Order is a Final Fantasy VII fanfic written by synecdochic. It takes place in an alternate universe that ignores most of the Compilation and takes some liberties with the primary canon.
The story takes place during the timeskip between the razing of Nibelheim and the start of Final Fantasy VII; Tifa is running Seventh Heaven but hasn't joined up with AVALANCHE yet, Cloud and Zack are still locked up in Shinra Mansion, and Rufus Shinra is looking for answers as to why one of the only men he ever called a friend went stark raving mad and burned a village to the ground. As Tseng discovers by complete chance, Tifa has some of those answers, but its going to take a lot of convincing for her to cooperate with the man who embodies everything she hates about Shinra.
The story is notable for its re-characterization of Rufus and Tifa; where Rufus was originally a very straightforward Corrupt Corporate Executive, here he's re-imagined as a ruthless and pragmatic businessman who nonetheless loves his city and its people and will go to great lengths to protect both of them. Tifa, likewise, gets a promotion from Cloud's love interest to main character and primary driving force of the plot with special attention given to details about her character that tend to fall by the wayside in other fanfics.
This story contains examples of:
- Beware the Nice Ones: Seventh Heaven is surrounded by a truce zone which is relatively crime-free compared to the surrounding slums. This zone exists solely because Tifa has a standing policy of don't fuck with my customers and a history of enforcing it.
- Bodyguard Crush: Tseng and Rufus. The needs of their respective positions force them to be discreet about it, but they're both rather private people in the first place so it works out.
- Chessmaster: Rufus has been like this out of necessity since he was young.
- Continuity Nod: Tsengs judgement of Tifas martial talents is that shell surpass him within a few years once she closes the experience gap between them. Given that the story diverges a few years before canon, when Tifa helped save the world and Tseng was just the leader of the resident Goldfish Poop Gang, his assessment appears to be spot-on.
- At one point near the end of the Nibelheim trip Tseng informs Rufus that the Turks have found her and have been keeping an eye on her for several months. Its Rufuss reaction that gives away that theyre talking about Aerith.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Tifa, of course. Tseng and Rufus dont have the greatest childhoods either but being a Nibelheim survivor is hard to compete with.
- Handicapped Badass: Tifa suffers from breathing problems when she exerts herself because of the scar tissue left over from Sephiroth nearly bisecting her at the Nibelheim reactor. This limits how hard she can push herself without damaging her lungs but hasn't stopped her from being almost as strong a fighter as Tseng (who has a hefty edge in experience).
- Heartbroken Badass: She's also this, of course.
- Hidden Depths: Tifa, again. The story spends a lot of time expanding on her character compared to canon, where her primary role was to be Clouds love interest.
- Hitman with a Heart: Tseng's feelings for Tifa are quite genuine in spite of his best efforts to remain aloof.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Combines with The Chains of Commanding in Rufus's case. Being the second most powerful man in the world and the heir apparent to Shinra, Rufus's ego is justifiably enormous. He owns almost everything, he is in charge of almost everything, and in his view that makes him personally responsible for every wrong perpetuated by Shinra's chain of command, whether it's the condition of the slums or the razing of Nibelheim.
- In Love with the Mark: Played with a lot. Tifa isn't Tseng's mark yet, but he knows she's been leaning in the direction of joining an anti-Shinra group just as soon as she can find one that doesn't seem to be just as bad as Shinra itself, and if she ever does she'll become a mark in short order. He gets into a relationship with her anyways, at first just to manipulate her but later for real. To make things even more complicated, Tifa knows that she's a potential mark and she knows that Tseng knows that she's a potential mark, and feeling is still very mutual.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rufus, though it's less jerk and more pragmatist.
- Odd Friendship: Tifa and Reno of all people. Reno reveals at one point that he was a slum rat before he joined the Turks, and he empathizes with Tifas incredulousness when shes confronted by the casual displays of wealth and privilege exhibited by most of Midgars plate-dwellers.
- Oh My Gods!: Curses are typically made on the names of the summon spirits; Ramuh, Leviathan, Shiva, and several others come up repeatedly.
- Parental Abandonment: Rufus's relationship with President Shinra is not a warm one. He says explicitly at one point that Shinra didnt want a son so much as he wanted a miniature version of himself to continue his legacy, and when Rufus didnt turn out that way their relationship soured quickly and never recovered.
- Shameless Fanservice Girl: Only on one occasion, but when Rufus demands proof of Tifa's claim to being from Nibelheim she responds by casually stripping off her tank top and showing off her enormous... uh... her enormous jagged torso-bisecting scar, courtesy of Masamune. Rufus shuts right the hell up.
- Sixth Ranger: Tifa becomes this to the Turks during the trip to the Nibelheim reactor.
- Technician vs. Performer: Discussed. Tseng is the technician, being a master of the classic forms of Wutaian martial arts, while Tifa is the performer, having been trained by Zangan in a more flexible and unorthodox style. Tseng beats Tifa in most of their sparring matches, but he notes that Tifa will eventually surpass him as the experience gap between them closes and Tifa's natural talent gives her an edge he can't obtain.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Brutally driven home for Tifa when she sees what Shinra did to Nibelheim in her absence. Not only can she not go home, she can't even visit the ruins.