Name: Zack Fair
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII (Crisis Core)
Species: Human with Mako/Jenova enhancements
Time Period: Just after escaping Nibelheim
Wing Color: Light (almost neon) green
It isn't really shown in the image, but Zack has a feature well worth noting: his eyes are infused with a chemical (mako) that makes them glow.
History: FF Wikia
Zack Fair was born in the rural town of Gongaga, where he grew up with one major wish: to get the heck out of the swamp and join SOLDIER, an elite band of warriors working for the Shinra Electric Company in Midgar. Widely renowned for their superior strength and genetically modified bodies, and made popular by famous heroes such as Sephiroth, joining SOLDIER was a common goal of any boy with a desire to prove himself. As a teenager, Zack finally hoofed it to Midgar himself and got himself into the SOLDIER program. That part of his history isn't shown (thank god for headcanon!); what we are shown is that while he's a 2nd Class SOLDIER, he is taken under the wing of Angeal, a 1st Class of some renown. Zack pretty much idolizes the 1st Class SOLDIERs- Sephiroth is his hero, and he drinks in practically every word Angeal says, though he treats him much more casually than the others. His goal is ultimately to reach the status of 1st Class, himself.
Within 3 years of joining SOLDIER, Zack is recommended for 1st Class by Angeal, something he is enthusiastically grateful for, and they are immediately sent on a mission to Wutai by the executive manager of SOLDIER, Lazard, in order to investigate the disappearance of the 1st Class, Genesis. While waiting for the mission to begin, Angeal educates Zack on the merits of dumbapples, being poor, and keeping a familial sword in good condition. And yes that's about as much sense as that scene makes. Since the mission is mostly for the sake of Zack showing off his stuff in order to qualify for 1st Class, Angeal takes the back burner and allows Zack to handle most of it on his own, which he manages to do fairly well up until the end of it. Him nearly getting impaled by a giant ogre is a good enough reason for Angeal to step in, though, using the Buster sword, the aforementioned family heirloom he rarely uses. Angeal excuses the usage by telling Zack that he's a little more important than a sword.
Unfortunately that's the end of happy times for Zack and Angeal; shortly after, Angeal disappears, and Sephiroth arrives to help Zack out and tells him that Angeal has probably deserted and joined Genesis. Zack vehemently denies it, however, believing in Angeal.
From there, Zack is sent to Banora Village with Tseng, one of the special agents of Shinra, the Turks. The only one they find alive there is Angeal's mother; the rest of the village is infested with Genesis clones, and because of that, Tseng says the village is going to be bombed. When Zack tries to save Angeal's mother, he finds her dead, with Angeal and Genesis nearby. Zack accuses Angeal, but the two of them escape when Genesis summons Bahamut for Zack to fight.
Not long after his return to Shinra, Zack is finally promoted to 1st Class. He can't exactly celebrate, however, because of everything that's happened, and he has little time to do so anyway; once again Genesis is causing trouble, this time attacking Midgar itself, so Zack is summoned to help deal with it. While battling in the city streets, he meets Cissnei, another Turk, one he takes an immediate liking to. Shortly after, Zack runs into the winged Angeal, who claims he's a monster and tries to force Zack into fighting him. When Zack refuses, Angeal attacks, and Zack ends up falling into the slums. Lucky for him, he has an extremely hard head and landed on... flowers. Right. He is awakened by Aerith Gainsborough, a flower girl, and he offers to repay her for her help with a date. Though she initially calls him silly, they end up doing so anyway, hanging around in the slums; despite some momentary fail when Aerith calls SOLDIERs scary and Zack reveals that he is one, they obviously enjoy one other's company, and agree to see each other again when Zack's called back to work- it turns out Genesis has attacked Shinra again, and after another fight both Angeal and Genesis disappear once more.
After that, Zack is sent to the icy mountain of Modeoheim with Tseng and two soldier grunts, one of whom is Cloud Strife. The two of them bond over their mutual hick background on their way up the mountain, sharing enthusiasm and laughter despite their differences. They finally reach a mako excavation facility where, after fighting and defeating Genesis, Zack follows the scientist Genesis has been tracking, Hollander, and finds Angeal with him. For the second time Angeal demands that Zack fight him, fusing himself with a number of monsters and becoming one large monster known as Angeal Penance. After a difficult battle involving spears and ass lasers, Zack defeats Angeal, killing him in the process, but not before Angeal offers up his last words - to remember his dreams and honour - and the Buster sword. Zack seeks consolation in the arms of Aerith, and, over time, Zack is able to work past his grief and follow in Angeal's footsteps as the symbol of the dreams and honour of SOLDIER, inspiring the troops as Angeal inspired him.
Two years pass, and Zack has changed his hairstyle and begun using the Buster sword as his primary weapon. During those two years (as shown in Before Crisis), Zack does some work with the Turks again, focusing on battling the rising threat of AVALANCHE. During the mission Zack's SOLDIER comrades are captured and turned into genetically enhanced monsters, whom he must fight and kill. He marks a grave for them with their swords, though, promising to return and visit again. Because of all his hard work, he is sent to Costa del Sol for some R&R with Cissnei, though he doesn't relax much because he dislikes being sent away without any answers. Unfortunately his vacation is cut short when more of the Genesis clones attack the beach, and he is brought to Junon to deal with even more of them, while Director Lazard breaks Hollander out of prison and disappears with him. From there it's right back into Midgar, where Hojo's monsters are running loose and wreaking havoc on the general populace. Naturally Zack boots it to his girlfriend's place, because poontang > grunts, and while he's trying to protect her from Hojo's bizarro robots, a flying monster with Angeal's face comes along to help out. Awesome, Aerith now has dog! One that Zack finds questionably trustworthy, at that. And since sudden danger is fabulous incentive to start a date, Aerith convinces Zack to build a wagon for her so they can sell her flowers. Once built, Aerith gives Zack a note, claiming it's her list of 23 little wishes, lest he forget what they are. Unfortunately their selling session is cut short when Zack is called away on the last mission he'll ever do for Shinra: an investigation trip with Sephiroth and Cloud to the gloomy mountain town of Nibelheim.
In Nibelheim, Cloud is too ashamed of his lack of SOLDIER balls and hides his face to avoid being recognized by his old sort-of-friend, Tifa, who is acting as the guard to the reactor at the top of Mt. Nibel. Once they arrive, they discover that the reactor contains pods of bizarre, deformed monsters that have been infused with mako, as well as a door leading to a room containing Jenova, a name Sephiroth recognizes as his mother's. Genesis intervenes to inform him of how much of a monster he is, as well; this is evidently enough to seriously disturb Sephiroth, and he immediately retreats into the basement of the Shinra mansion, staying down there for several days, reading every report available about the secrets of his birth and ignoring Zack's efforts to snap him out of it. Finally the information overload sends Sephiroth straight into Crazy Land, and he proceeds to murder the entire population of Nibelheim and burn the place all to hell before heading back to reactor to liberate his "mother". Zack follows, enraged by Sephiroth's sudden lapse in judgment and determined to stop him from doing anything even more crazy.
Tifa, who miraculously survived the slaughter, challenges Sephiroth, which doesn't end well; Zack does the same, but is ultimately defeated. Finally Cloud takes the Buster sword and gives it a go, catching Sephiroth by surprise and stabbing him. After a struggle, Sephiroth falls into the mako with Jenova's head, and Zack and Cloud are all too injured to escape. That's when Hojo and the Turk clean-up crew show up - taking both Zack and Cloud into custody for secret Jenova experimentation in the mansion's basement.
What follows is a big [.....] in the story, since four years is omitted with little more than hinting at what happens. Zack and Cloud are experimented on for that long, that much is certain; in the reports found in the basement when exploring in the original FFVII, it states that Cloud reacted to the mako and Jenova, while Zack did not, and at some point during these experiments, Cloud contracted a severe case of mako poisoning which took away his ability to speak or think clearly and gave him a bad case of Headbob Syndrome. Zack remained coherent and very much the same as usual, aside from being slightly less bouncy than he used to be, which is perfectly understandable. After four years, Zack is finally able to escape from the lab, taking Cloud with him.
Canon World Details:
The world of Final Fantasy VII (commonly called Gaia, but in-game is has no official name, to my knowledge) is a mixture of gritty pollutant technology and wide open areas of untouched wilderness. The towns carry an oppressive and unhappy tone, a mixture of war, fear, and sickness of spirit, with the people living their day to day lives and focusing on little else. They live under the big boot of Shinra, and that is their burden to bear. Either they hate Shinra, work for Shinra, or tolerate the existence. Meanwhile, there are massive stretches of untouched, untamed land between towns, full of monsters, bandits, and other dangers, often including the terrain itself. While the world outside the civilized areas are dangerous, they also offer life and beauty that most of the towns lack. In Midgar, everyone is amazed to see Aerith's flowers because it's so difficult for plants to grow in a city so full of metal and pollution, so dark that the sun hardly seems to shine, and those living in the slums beneath it can't even see the sky. Yet outside of the city limits, the land is green and lush and brimming with vitality. Shinra itself, a massive, world-wide company with a basis of an electric company and a powerful militia at the forefront, is a corporation led by a power-hungry president and has a tendency to step outside the boundaries of normal business operations and lean more towards world domination. 90% of the world's civilized areas (eg. the towns) are controlled by Shinra, and those that aren't usually still rely on the mako reactors to power their buildings and establish their way of life. Few oppose them, and those who do are treated without mercy.
Aside from Shinra, there are several significant people/groups worth noting:
-Sephiroth, a powerful and practically legendary 1st Class SOLDIER who worked for Shinra until he went mad and burninated Nibelheim. At Zack's canon point he is still alive, but sleeping in the Northern Crater.
-AVALANCHE, a merry band of tree-hugging ecoterrorists. ...Well, not quite. The AVALANCHE in Before Crisis is quite different from the whimsical and lovable group in the original game. In Before Crisis, they're more dangerous and far more underhanded in their tactics, adding kidnapping and genetic experimentation to their roster rather than simple infiltration and destruction. Instead of a rag-tag band of friendly and often-ineffective characters, they seem a lot more of an official terrorist organization.
-Ancients/Cetra, a nearly-extinct race of people who can commune with the Planet and seek out the Promised Land. Basically FFVII's hippies.
In regards to features, the world is pretty much built around the mixture of magic and technology. Mako, a naturally occurring substance fed directly by the planet's energy, can be used as a natural power source, as well as used as a chemical to enhance the physical bodies of humans. Additionally, mako can be hardened (either naturally or artificially) into orbs of varying magical ability, known as materia. The colour dictates the type of magic it will cast, and they can be used to summon a massive 12-bodied deity of death, or a fireball, or turn someone into a frog. The possibilities are pretty endless. In Zack's canon, materia can also be fused with each other and/or items, making them even more powerful.
The easiest way to describe Zack is to do what the game itself did- point at a picture of a puppy and call it a day. This is obviously a cop-out, but it's worth noting that several characters refer to him as such, most notably Angeal, who treats him sort of like a patient yet exasperated master might when dealing with a puppy who ought to act like an adult yet won't stop chewing on the furniture.
The most prominent personality trait of Zack is his overall friendliness. He's happy, peppy, cheerful, and playful, all rolled into one convenient little package. He lives and breathes enthusiasm, bouncing from one optimistic mood to another, for the most part. By nature he's a joyful person, making friends and rarely not smiling. He's extremely easygoing, very rarely letting the bad moods of other people brush off on him or affect him with just words. Zack can be a bit of a dork, finding the slightest things pleasing or amusing, and delighting in people who feel the same way- such as the jump he uses to get back to his feet when he's knocked down; he impressed Aerith once by jumping up while on sand. Silly but meaningful peptalks and encouraging speeches are his forte, and whenever someone is down, Zack is an easy one to count on for moral support.
Zack has this incredible, innate ability to get along with practically everyone, provided they aren't particularly violent to the innocent or something. He is surrounded by gruff, serious, or shy people, yet he is able to get along with and befriend the majority of them easily. Even Sephiroth isn't immune to Zack's oft-annoying yet somehow magnetic personality, opening up to him relatively easily and sharing his past, which is a mystery to most people due to his legendary-SOLDIER status. If you show even a flicker of good, Zack will find a way to weasel his way into your heart and try to get chummy with you, which is why he probably has as many friends as blood cells in Midgar. With Zack, it's also ridiculously easy to be considered a friend; in Before Crisis he mentions to the lead Turk that going on a single mission with two SOLDIERs was enough to make them friends.
Not to say that Zack is in any way a pushover; if someone does something he can't agree with, such as hurting or threatening people, he'll be the first to step in and try to put a stop to it. Genesis was always on Zack's bad side because the only thing he seemed to want to do was cause chaos and destruction, something Zack couldn't let happen no matter what. And when Angeal pushed him into a fight by becoming a monster, Zack barely hesitated to take him down in order to stop him from hurting other people, even though it pained him greatly to do so. He's one of those people who will do what needs to be done, however painful or difficult it might be, but not before exhausting all other options. He's a SOLDIER and he loves to fight, but he hates hurting people, so there's a lot of conflict in his life, especially considering the hard choices he's had to face.
Because Zack is so trusting (excessively so, really) he's very easy to hurt or betray. His trust in Angeal and then later, Sephiroth, wound up forcing him into battle with both of them, and he was genuinely shocked by their about-face. To him, the world was very much black and white, and Angeal's demise took a lot of his playful and bouncy spirit away. Not entirely, of course- he's still cheerful, relaxed, and optimistic 99% of the time, but there's a quiet nostalgia to him, and he seems to have better control over his unhappier emotions because of his experiences. He's taken it upon himself to act as an example in Angeal's stead while still being Zack, so it's a complicated balance.
Zack is something of a ladies' man; it's shown directly through Crisis Core (where he flirts with practically every attractive woman that comes along) and indirectly via Aerith's description of him in FFVII. Most of it is harmless flattery and amounts to nothing, and when he does settle for a girl, he sticks by her and doesn't flirt nearly as aggressively, but he just can't help but compliment the ladies, especially the pretty ones.
Finally, Zack has an incredible, indomitable spirit that is such an ingrained part of him that in four years of imprisonment, experimentation, and mindnumbing chemicals, was still as strong the day he escaped as the day he was captured. He has a willpower and a desire to live (and love every friggin' minute of it that he can) so powerful that it took an entire army of Shinra grunts and countless bullets to take him down. There really aren't enough words to describe it without delving into the realm of "helpless fangirl gushing"; it's practically unfathomable that someone who has been through so much can still smile, laugh, and love life the way he does, yet Zack himself is living proof, at least in his world. A character so firm in his beliefs is very hard to come by.
Physical: Physically, Zack is kind of ridiculous. He's run the length of a moving train while dodging bullets and overpasses and swinging his sword around like a maniac. He's carted a broadsword around that probably weighs as much as he does. He's crossed blades with Angeal, Genesis, and Sephiroth and lived to tell the tale - usually after defeating them
Mental: Zack is extremely durable when it comes to mental attacks, trauma, torture, all that jazz. He's been through a lot that could easily break a lesser man, but he's always been able to overcome it, even if his best tactic seems to be shoving all his issues where the sun doesn't shine and pretending everything is just fine. That's just his style. He's gone through four years of experimentation in an isolated laboratory with a mad scientist, all the while watching his only companion go comacrazyface due to hearing creepy voices in his head, and he's still able to smile after the fact and keep himself together. Simply put, Zack is his own brand of crazy, but it's the kind that does its best to keep him, and anyone around him, happy and sound of mind.
Aside from his optimism and mental fortitude, Zack actually has a decent head on his shoulders. He may want to keep up a strong front, but he also has the sense to recognize when things are looking bad; he can be serious when the shit hits the fan, and he's not afraid to stop the whole smiling act and make it clear to anyone just how he feels about what's going on if he doesn't agree with it.
Emotional: Zack's greatest emotional strength is that aforementioned optimism. He's very emotionally grounded- he's a happy person, and very little can upset him for long. His emotions can sort of vary all over the place, which gives him a more open and normal feel to him; he isn't an unbalanced mess of emo or an obsessively happy spazz. He prefers to be happy - who doesn't? - but he's not afraid to show anger, fear, sadness, any negative emotions like that. He's an extremely open person, and that just makes him more charismatic and likable to others. He makes friends easily (he's stated that a single meeting is enough to become friends with someone), and he truly cares for and loves the people close to him.
Physical: Honestly, Zack doesn't have much in the way of physical weaknesses; he can be hurt or even killed by normal weapons, but he has the durability of a freight train on crack, and he's faster and stronger than most people. Basically he has all the weaknesses of a normal human, but it takes way more killing blows to completely take him down. His focus on physical versus magical ability is also very unbalanced; he's not often seen casting magic or using skills besides his physical prowess and a few limit breaks (and often those have a physical attack focus anyway). Basically he has skills on both ends of the spectrum, but he's kind of biased towards swordsmanship.
Mental: Zack's not stupid, but he's... not exactly educated, either. He's very ignorant of even the way his own world works- in-game he asks for an explanation of how mako/materia is formed, and it seems like it's a reasonably well-known subject to those around him. His ignorance doesn't seem to bother him much, but can probably be frustrating to his allies. He's easily tricked and occasionally made the fool of, and while that doesn't often bother him (hell, not much does), it can put him in a bit of an awkward spot, or even a dangerous one, if his ignorance leads him to be pushed into bad situations.
Zack's optimism and his sense of realism are rather skewed; at times he can be too optimistic, wandering into the realm of slightly annoying and even "oh my god shut him up he's too happy". His enthusiasm can be a bit ridiculous, and while he isn't as bad as he was in his youth, he can still be a little too bouncy to be entering a dangerous combat situation sometimes. Danger is not always good, Zack. In that sense, he's awfully reckless with his life, and even he himself admits that he takes risks when he's on a job. Did I mention he can be annoying? WELL HE CAN. He also butts into anyone and everyone's business like it's his, and assumes that people should be just as open as he is and explain everything ever. Because he has a strong moral code and holds honour in such high regard, he sort of expects those around him to be honourable and such, just because it's the Right Thing To Do. And then gets mad when they don't, what even.
Emotional: Despite his persistent happiness, Zack can also be very easily riled. Messing with his friends freak him out, which is understandable enough, but he has trouble keeping his cool when he's forced into a situation that toys with his emotions too closely for comfort. He's been forced to fight two of what could be considered his closest friends, and killed one of them; he's also had to watch Cloud slowly lose himself in the madness of mako poisoning. All of this combined makes him pretty susceptible to emotional attacks, and toying with his heartstrings get better results than trying to physically take him down.
Man, what a weird place...
Still getting used to it and all, but- I guess the hardest part is just believing everyone when they say I was here before. I mean, you'd think you would remember stuff that already happened to you, right? But I don't remember anything about Luceti, or wings, or the people here. Does this happen a lot?
Well, whatever. Why let it bother you, right? So, I have a question for everyone I used to know here. How'd we meet? Are we friends, or are we still getting to know each other? What kind of stuff did I do here? There's so much I wanna know!
Zack awoke feeling stiff, sore, and rather out of place, for a reason he couldn't quite put a name to until he opened his eyes and noticed snow falling slowly towards where he lay. A flake dropped onto his cheek, and he lifted a hand to touch it, puzzled. Snow? Here? Nibelheim wasn't due for snow yet. The weather was still cool and airy, especially in the mountains, but they'd made it well past the limits of the town by now. They'd become so lost in the woods that even the Shinra troopers couldn't track them. So why...?
He sat up slowly, wincing - must've slept on a rock or something - and quickly realized several things that were both wrong and very, very disturbing. First, he was unarmed. The Buster sword was nowhere in sight, and the very idea that someone had disarmed him while he slept without him even realizing it was frightening. He couldn't afford to be that careless. Second, his clothes were gone, leaving him only in a pair of unfamiliar white pants. That came completely out of nowhere; losing his sword was one thing. Having someone else undress him and put him in something else? What the hell kind of drug had they given him to manage that?
More importantly, though...
Panic struck him, and he pushed himself up into a crouch and looking around to get a better feel for his surroundings. ...Trees. Lots and lots of trees. O... kay? Zack frowned, straightening up once he was sure it was safe enough to do so. He'd been in a forest before, so this wasn't much help. It hadn't been snowing, though, so... maybe he'd been transported further north? Or to an area in Mount Nibel that had a bunch of trees for some reason? It wasn't as if he'd explored every area of the mountain; there just hadn't been time.
Okay, first things first: find Cloud. For now, that was all that mattered. Ignoring the cold, he set off into the woods to track down his missing friend, blissfully unaware of the new appendages decorating his back.
☆ Threadhopping with this character - yes/no/maybe so?: Yes! No permission needed unless it's private.
☆ Backtagging with this character - yes/no/maybe so?: Yes, of course!
☆ Hugging this character?: Zack's totally a hugger, so go for it. He'll love it.
☆ Giving this character a kiss?: Ohoho, yes.
☆ Punching this character: You can try, but you might break your fist.
☆ Is there anything ought not be mentioned near this character?: Nothing comes to mind; he won't exactly fly off the handle if you bother him with something, anyway.
☆ Is there anything you need us to know about interacting with this character? Special physical features, fighting abilities, STUFF: Zack's eyes have a very noticeable glow. Physical abilities can be found in his application... other stuff may be added as I think of it. :|b
☆ Anything else, please mention here: I have a number of infodumps on this journal, so feel free to peruse if you feel like experiencing a tl;dr experience of Zack's canon/fanon.