Chaos & Pals
or Final Fantasy told as a Children's Show.
Author's Note: This is the first part of my Twisted Fantasy series. I made a "wheel of genres" and spun it fifteen times and decided to tell each of the fifteen main series ff titles in that way. Originally these were all going to be in one story, but I decided that since they are so vastly different and since not every retelling or game is going to appeal to everybody, I will make them separate stories.
The saccharine voice drips like honey through the television's speaker as its screen fades in from black. The scene is an ancient looking castle, perhaps a bit worse for the wear, with stonework in bright pastel colors: yellow walls trimmed with teal battlements and cyan spires. It sits in the middle of a vast field of the make-believe land of Cornelia; albeit due to a bit of miscommunication with the set dresser and the writer, the suspended carboard banner hanging haphazardly in the sky by a thread reads "Corneria".
A blur of yellow begins to drop unconvincingly into the frame. The beating of his great wings is rigid, mechanical, and not at all in time with his bounces. When he lands, it becomes readily apparent that it is a man wearing a rubber body suit decorated with purple and pink horns. The look of the beast is quite ghastly. It's the sort of adorably-colored nightmare creature that could only have come from a jaded mind overdosing on nursery rhymes and Quaaludes. When the chromatic abomination speaks, the whole effect comes into play, delighting children with its dulcet tones as it plants the sweet fodder of nightmares for a lifetime.
"I'm Chaos. Would you be my friend?" it says, its plastic mouth jabbering incoherently.
A chorus of prerecorded children let out a half-hearted cheer which doesn't quite seem to fit the prompting of the horned patriarch. Fortunately, the mascot suit can express nothing other than slightly stupefied optimism.
"That's great! Because today, we're going on an adventure with my best buddies-" the creature pauses for half a beat to allow a monotone chorus of fictional children chant along with him, "-the Four Friends!"
Four bounding figures make their way up to the camera from stage left. As a chipper theme tune consisting of about five separate notes repeated ad nauseum plays, Chaos announces each figure as they enter the screen. The camera slowly pans out to try and include all of these characters in one shot.
A big white ball of fur wrapped in purple rags shambles up beside him, it's mouth agape as it holds a Ruby in its only visible hand, its head decked in a matching crown.
A honey-colored snake slithers onto set revealing the female torso attached to it. Her skin is covered in a bright red smock, and her four arms hold up lollipops.
"And Mr. Krakks"
A bulbous blue shape rolls into the crowd, wearing polka dot swim trunks and holding a surfboard. Its sunglasses don't seem to be attached to any region where eyes could be reasonably expected.
A multi-headed blue dragon shuffles into frame. In a jarring bit of artistic discordance, this creature actually looks realistic enough and mildly terrifying. The director seems to believe that having it speak with an adorable voice will offset its intimidating presence, but this only exacerbates it.
"Oh boy!" Says Licky in a playfully slow voice. "What are we gonna do today guys?"
"Let's go to Elf Land!" suggests Tia in a girlish tone.
"Ooh, ooh! How about we go sail with the Pirates of Pravoka?" Mr. Krakks offers.
Mary speaks next, but stumbles over her line and speaks very softly, and inconsistently audible. This is to be expected; everybody knows her voice actress is the Producer's kid. The script calls for her to suggest the gang go visit the Ice Cavern, but what gets picked up by the microphone is "Let…. I…. I like ice…"
"Those are all great suggestions!" Chaos says, pulling the four of them into a group hug.
One of the puppeteer's hands slides into frame for a split second before the image awkwardly jump cuts to the same scene but a few seconds later. A boom mic is seen hastily sliding out of the shot before Chaos continues talking.
"But how about we go to the Floating Castle today?"
"Hey!" Tia giggles. "That's my home!"
"Gee, Chaos. What are we gonna learn about there?" Licky asks.
"Well we'll be high in the air, Licky. We can learn all about weather and clouds!" Chaos replies, pointing up and behind him to the cheaply painted skies in the background.
The sound of creaky rolling wheels can be faintly heard as a cardboard cut-out cloud with a smiling face painted on it slides into view. It wobbles a bit and it almost seems like it's about to fall from its loose hangings before another jump cut occurs. This new scene consists of the gang simply marching off the set towards stage-left, chanting the theme tune in merry, if somewhat half-hearted, "la la la"s.
One patience-testing insufferably slow star wipe later the scene shifts to a simple blue backdrop with a collection of various hanging clouds. The characters seem to be standing behind foam bricks painted to look like the battlements of a castle, stone grey this time instead of the pastel.
"Look friends. There are five of us, and there are five types of clouds in the sky!" Chaos says.
"I wonder if the kids at home can help us count to five!" Mr. Krakks ponders, turning to stare into the camera with his dead, plastic eyes.
Despite the fact that each of them counting off individually would have certainly made for a better object lesson, the group does their obligatory number lesson in unison. "One, two, three, four, five!"
Chaos then jumps straight into the cloud lesson, pointing to one of the lower hanging clouds, a small wispy cloud that they have for some reason given a pouty face to.
"This is a Stratus cloud," Chaos says. "Can you say Stratus?"
The recording seems to fast-forward at this point, skipping through several scenes of Chaos giving an object lesson about each of the clouds in turn, from the fluffy Stratocumulus to the terrifying Cumulonimbus which they have given a mean scowl of a face. Ten minutes of mind-numbing education and at least one musical number later, the fast-forwarding stops, cutting to Licky mid-sentence.
"… fly a kite in a thunderstorm!"
"No!" comes the crying of the pre-recorded chorus of kids.
"Unless you're Cid Franklin!" Tia jokes.
The gang all waves goodbye, and at this point the camera pans out and there is the voice of an older man yelling "Cut!" loudly overtaking all other audio in the shot.
A man in a cherry-red business suit walks onto the set, his matching tie loosened considerably as he runs his hand through his ginger hair.
"Garland, that was absolutely terrible," he says.
"Come on, Mr. Warrior, I think we have a really good show on our hands. We just have to work through the growing pains," Chaos, says before stripping off the more easily removed parts of his outfit and becoming the actor / writer Garland.
"Look the studio is going bankrupt, we're going to need something better than this," Mr. Warrior says.
"I have an idea," says a woman in a white blouse and skirt, holding a clipboard as she approaches from the opposite side of the stage.
"What's that Ms. White?" Mr. Warrior asks, running his hand along the cheap plastic and foam set, trying to pretend like he hasn't heard this conversation a thousand times before.
"Kid's shows are out. We're never gonna compete with that show with the two plumbers," she says, with a crisp tone that sounds vaguely of clinking gil coins; absent completely is the sound of any artistic integrity.
"Hey boss," comes a gruff voice of the gaffer, a shirtless bodybuilder who is busy hauling lighting equipment. "What's the lady suit doin' here?"
"Easy, Monk. She's trying to pitch that show change again," Mr. Warrior replied. "Wants to make it into a teenage high fantasy adventure."
"Uh, should I stop rolling guys?" says the cameraman, his voice overtaking everything else.
"May as well keep it running, Red. It'll make good Behind The Scenes footage," Ms. White replies. "And I'm simply proposing what I think is best. We're in rough shape guys, we have to shake things up a little bit."
"Didn't that Dragon show do it first though?" Mr. Warrior asks.
"But we can do it better," Ms. White insists her voice leaning into Mr. Warrior, despite her body remaining perfectly still. An attempt at breeding comradery where there was none.
Mr. Warrior sighs. "I'm open to suggestions. But I have to say, I think I'm better at telling a story than doing an action-packed show."
"Well great! I'll run up a draft and we can talk it over. We can even re-use a lot of these guys. We'll just have to make them a bit more… monstrous," Ms. White says. "And as for the heroes, uh. I guess we can use the talent we have in house."
Ms. White walks up to Monk and pats his biceps. Monk sighs. "I'm not much of an actor. I was hired to lift heavy things."
"Strong, silent type!" She says. "We'll need some celebrity talent too. I think that magician is still in town. Black something or other. I'll give him a call."
The image slowly begins to fizzle out as the tape ends. The presenter, garbed in brown linens with a green bandana, sets the tape on your desk. "And that was the disastrous first run of Final Fantasy, before it became what it is today. They didn't want anybody to know about this. Bit of an embarrassment for the company you know."
He walks away from you, lights a cigarette and lets out a sigh. "But I guess you could say… I stole the show."