It was basically an amateurish, second-rate knockoff of a combination of Chrono Trigger and SaGa III/Final Fantasy Legend III (the latter being the name I knew the game by--note that at the time of the story, I had lost my gameboy cartridge of the game and was entirely relying on memory of it, though years later, I would track the game down, and play an online emulator of it all the way through, just like I did when I was younger).
I'm not sure if it was originally a part of the inspiration from the get-go, or later added in (I could probably check via searching when the show was first aired on American television; if the time was around when I was that age, then it was originally in there; if later, it was probably later added in), the show Primeival also helped inspire things. (I watched the first two or so seasons of that, but at some point, it stopped airing on the network I was watching it on, so at that point, I lost connection with the show.)
Involving time travel, with a mixture of real and fictional battles. With the fictional battles being entirely made up, no basis in legend myth nor fact. (I think Age of Mythology may have also been an inspiration, with me maybe taking some cues from Zeus/Poseidon, too, because back in the day, I was a huge fan of Greek mythology, I also loved Norse mythology, and I dabbled in Egyptian mythology as well.)
It involved advanced futuristic tech (duh), but also dabbled in magic. (More on that later.) The main character was, naturally, me. (Who else?) This is something that in some of my early stories I've obviously changed, but this is one of three stories where I flat-out own it, refusing to change aspects of the character such as the name and bluntly go, "Yes. It's me in this book. Deal with it."
For the curious, Disease is the second, and the third was originally one book but split into three, with the latter two books being a cheap Inu-Yasha knockoff especially the last book. It had its own twists, of course, namely being the elemental spin on things, but I literally could not have been less subtle about it being a knockoff and at this stage it's another thing I just have to go, "yes, it's a knockoff, deal with it" because it's so integral to the setting that it just wouldn't be the same story without it.
But back to the point. I mean it was me, and even more typical of my age, me as I dreamed I would be. As in, my name and everything, with all my dreams come true: expanded house, while also running a video game company. Though, to my credit, integral to the story was my character eventually adapting an alias, where the title of the book came from: Rabrian. (The tile of the book being 'Rabrian the Adventurer'. Hey! Don't laugh! Cut me some slack; I was a kid! Admit it, your story titles were just as lame at that age.)
As in...Ranger Brian. (Yes, I was Ranger even back then. I've been Ranger since I was 12 years old, a year before I was technically legally able to because I...kinda lied about my age when signing up for Darkthrone back in its beta days, the place I first used the name Ranger.)
In this case, the pronunciation was wildly inconsistent, but most commonly was Ra(h)b-ree-ehn. (Rhyming with cab-tree-been.) Also existing: Rab-ree-uhn (because of the two ways you can pronounce 'an': as ehn, or as uhn, rhyming with been, or with done), or, critically, sometimes Ra-bree instead of Rab-ree.
Incidentally, given hindsight...that was actually a big deal. It was around puberty, so while my body was trying to be male, my mind was trying every possible thing to be female, and I didn't understand why until recently. There were actually several cues from around that time which were signs I'm trans.
The name was just one of them. (There's a REASON my true name is Bree; it's been me the whole time. I may not have consciously known it at the time of writing, but on some subconscious level given my love of the name I made then, I knew.) A particularly livid memory I have helps demonstrate this.
Uh...fair warning. This is a bit of a tangent. Larger than normal. I don't think it very likely, but all the same as a precaution for those reading: TRIGGER WARNING: POSSIBLE ABUSE, so read this section at your own risk. There was an incident when my family went on vacation to Chicago, Michigan, staying at my mother's parents' house.
At the time, you have to understand that I was extremely protective of my looks. I always wore sweatpants. I always wore at least 3 layers of clothes, sometimes four: in this case? T-shirt, sweatshirt, sweater, and hoodie in that layering order. I forget the exact reason why, but my parents insisted that I take them off. I refused. They insisted more. I refused.
They then tried to force me to take them off. I resisted. I fought my dad. I was even able to have it be a standstill; he couldn't make progress on me alone, so he got some other people (my mother's brothers if memory serves me) to help. So, with multiple adult men against a single child, layer by layer, they forcefully stripped me down to just my T-shirt, which I was incredibly uncomfortable in.
And for the rest of the vacation, I was forbidden from wearing those extra layers. I was forced to walk around in a T-shirt, which I was incredibly uncomfortable in, in spite of having no physical need for the extra layers. (This being a Michigan summer, it was hot and humid.) My need for them was emotional, though, because with just a T-shirt...I felt exposed. I felt not myself. It was inducing dysphoria before I even knew what dysphoria was.
/END TRIGGER WARNING SECTION.
That was basically the one and only memory I have of that vacation. I have vague ideas of what we might have been doing there. (Might've been a celebration of some sort for some lady in the church?) I have a vague picture of the back yard, along with random images of the city and of the church. But aside from that incident, I can remember one thing, and one thing only about the vacation:
After the trauma from the above, I wanted to do nothing except write. I had started Rabrian the Adventurer prior to vacation, but I over doubled the number of chapters I had written while on that vacation, along with having also dabbled in that other story I mentioned near the top of this blog.
But back to the story: what I wanted to talk about is the world as I have imagined it over the years. Some small elements have changed (including some recent worldbuilding I'll talk about later), but for the most part, the story remains unchanged, simply enhanced by further details and never having the basics changed.
The first essential bit to know is that, aside from time travel, the story revolves around three timelines: two main, primary timelines where the majority of the action happens, and one alternate one. Hilariously enough given my Chrono Trigger inspiration, I had absolutely no clue at the time Chrono Trigger even had a sequel; I was under the impression it was a standalone game, especially given how well all the main endings wrapped things up.
So, obviously, I hadn't the faintest idea Chrono Cross revolved around two timelines. It was a core element of MY plot since day one, and I only learned about that game something like 3 or 4 years later, after having discovered TVTropes (back when I was 13, I didn't hang around in that corner of the internet; I think I was introduced to TVTropes by a mafia player and I didn't start playing mafia until I was 15 or 16 or so--2009 would have been the earliest I could have seen TVTropes), which had an article on it that I read when I discovered it.
I appreciated the coincidence, and given the nature of that game, it's not like I actually have reason to treat the sequel as cannon anyway. (I MAY have ranted on this subject before, but suffice to say: I know enough about Chrono Cross that I'll never play the game because I respect Chrono Trigger too much to have it be ruined. Yeah...I'm one of THOSE people. With good reason! Anyone who knows anything about Chrono Cross should understand this mini-rant. Short version short, I don't CARE if Cross ultimately has a happy ending, Square Enix still was doing everything possible to SPIT ON its predecessor.)
To give the basics: the first timeline is the basic, default, "correct" timeline, how things were before things got altered. As such, we don't get to see much of it. The main character is from this timeline, so we start out in it at the very beginning of the story, but most of the action happens in timeline two. (Incidentally, the love interest was originally from timeline two, but was sent into timeline one at a young age. This was an element, ah..."borrowed"...from SaGa3.)
To describe what it is: this is our world! Timeline 1 is how we've recorded history. It's the way things were supposed to go, had the meeting between humans and an alien race (I named them, but I can't remember off the top of my head what; I'd have to look it up--maybe Anuvians, which I'll call them by for the remainder of this blog post, with whatever the old name was trumping this) in the near-future. (2020, I think was the selected date.)
The main character, Rabrian, at that point had moved up from being the head of a wildly-successful gaming company into the world of politics, being an extremely-successful diplomat. (People always told me, even from a very young age, I would make a good politician, and like many children at that age, it gave me ideas of maybe someday being President. Incidentally, those comments got much stronger after I started playing mafia, but existed well before then.)
He ended up appointed as the world leader after first contact. With humanity's help, a war criminal by the name of Anubis was captured, ending his terrorist revolt. Obviously, he was not content with this outcome. This is where the first timeline runs into problems, however: Anubis broke time with shenanigans, by having a future version of himself from one of the latter two timelines break himself out of jail, and in the process, help to create the second timeline.
In this second timeline, Earth suffered a catastrophe 8 years prior to first contact. (Because 2012, duh. Worth mentioning: I think that I had myself be born earlier in this story, because I imagined myself somewhere between 30 and 35 as of 2020, whereas with my actual birthday, I'd be 26-27. So, like, born in 1990 or so rather than 1993.)
Also in this second timeline, Anubis is now the ruler of his world. (You may be seeing more and more elements of SaGa3 as I describe things, though elements of Lavos exist a plenty.) To ensure his work isn't undone, using this newfound power, he sends armies across time to our world, in an attempt to alter history, allying themselves with the side in battles history of the first timeline records as losing. (Not to mention, creating natural disasters, making natural disasters that were recorded worse, and trying to make manmade disasters that were averted happen.)
It is through this manipulation that he is able to make a third timeline, when enough interference has been made. This extra interference allowed for some rule circumvention with regards to time travel (more on that in a bit), allowing for a timeline where Earth was destroyed long before humanity could mount a resistance. (More on humanity's resistance in a bit.) The other two timelines are the primary ones, but this ugly third one does have some influence over the second in particular.
The main difference for Anubis himself is that in the second timeline, he's dealing with a resistance. In the third, he already won long ago, obtained immortality, and rules undisputed. (There's the Lavos!) Since he's unopposed in that third timeline, this is the timeline he aims for. As one of the two keystones in history, he has memory of all three timelines, so works to create the third as much as he possibly can.
But all this meddling has a cost. He is a keystone, but one other person exists as the other, and thanks in part to Anubis himself trying to stop him (ironically creating him in the first place), Rabrian has been turned into the other, much larger, important, critical keystone to which all timelines are tied. Because the split in timelines are directly influenced by Rabrian, ultimately, when all is said and done, if he is able to defeat Anubis, he and he alone gets to choose what comes to pass.
So, that's why he's now The Hero, with Anubis's attempts to create the third timeline ultimately mainly being his attempt to prevent Rabrian from ever being born.
...Did I mention Chrono Cross was absolutely not an inspiration for this? And I mean that sincerely, not as suspiciously specific denial; I'm dead serious. I wasn't inspired, at all, even remotely, even subconsciously, by Chrono Cross on these elements. I swear, it's just coincidence. I kinda wish I could time travel back to two points, the first when I conceptualized the story to tell myself, "write down these plot points on paper, don't keep them in your head, also, mark the date", and the second to when I discovered Chrono Cross to say, "put a note to say you just found out about Chrono Cross today", as to help prove that, yes, this was my own idea completely separate from that game, but alas. You'll just have to take my word for it.
Anyway, it gets better. Part of the lore behind the second timeline is that, during the cataclysm that ruined Earth, the Rabrian of that timeline sacrificed his life to save his friends. (Oh. That reminds me. Noein was one of the first anime I ever watched. It was an inspiration. This bit? Lifted directly from there. Watch that show, and you'll know what I'm talking about instantly.)
Those friends ended up in a hub of some kind, outside the normal influence of time. (Chrono Trigger again! This is the end of time, manifested in my own story.) It is from this point that they end up creating the human resistance, time travelers who fight against Anubis across history, separate from Rabrian, in the efforts to protect him and even ensure he is born. (Thiiiiiiiiiis I might have gotten from Terminator. I had watched T3 at some point, and also a bit of The Sarah Conner Chronicles, so there's another time travel story which may have influenced Rabrian the Adventurer. Like Primeival, I'd have to check the dates, though. It'd have to be around 2005 to be an inspiration.) This, mind you, is where both the future tech and SaGa 3 inspirations do come from, since part of their efforts include making Rabrian be equipped with future tools, disguised as every-day objects.
Unfortunately, through all the fighting, by the time Rabrian enters the fray, only one of these time travel warriors is left alive: a future friend of his that worked at his company and became one of his best friends, but which he does not yet know as of the first timeline. Age-wise, he's been aged to be a fear years older than Rabrian in spite of having started younger, because he's been fighting for years by this point. He's also wise beyond even those years, thanks in part to him having survived a scrape with the third timeline, something that a fair number of them never did.
He becomes both their mentor and the guy who serves as mission control. (This is equal parts SaGa3, with one fifth party member late in the game, and Chrono Trigger, with the 3 sages.) This is because, prior to them arriving at this place, they had been traveling through portals as they had seen them randomly appear (this is partially Chrono Trigger, but is also very possibly where Primeival comes in).
After arriving there and having him help them, they're mentored in how to time travel to specific points, and fight the battles they need to fight. It's at this point I should mention: weapons and armor can't be transferred to far before they were viable to make, normally. Within a couple hundred years or so, yes, if there is a solid basis for that technology. For instance, having a longsword during William the Conqueror's time would be a little out of place, but it'd be allowed because it's not too terribly far advanced. Try bringing that same longsword back to 500 B.C., and it'll be left behind.
There is a bypass: if the object is imbued with magic, it may remain. However, there's a twist: Anuvians, by default, cannot use magic. If they're gene spliced, sure, they can use magic, but gene splicing requires them to use people who can use magic...ergo, they must have access to humans. Meaning, Anuvians can only gene-splice themselves to use magic in the first two timelines, which means, Anubis's warriors can't use magic. The resistance fighters he's up against in the second timeline can. He, being from an earlier timeline, has undergone the gene splice, so he can. But his troops can't.
The reason most humans can use magic is because dragons are the source of magic. Dragons know they are doomed to extinction, in all three timelines. However, they interbreed with humans fairly frequently, and descendants of dragons are able to use magic. This is an event Anubis wishes to stop from happening: the third timeline destroys the Earth before magic-using humans become more commonplace.
This is a bit of a new explanation (the dragon interbreeding always was there, given a main character is a half-dragon, but them being the source of magic and having descendants of dragon blood is a new development), but the basics are there. Magic has always been the way to bypass the technology limitation. And the limitation has always been there.
As for how time travel is even possible in the first place...that, I originally left unexplained, but now, I think that time travel is basically just a variant on Anuvian mastery of instantaneous travel from one place to another: they contact Earth through what would effectively amount to a wormhole, and use a smaller version of that technology in their daily lives to fast-travel from one section of the world to another.
Anyway, given all of this, the story is basically about Rabrian fighting throughout time and history, gaining allies not recorded in the history book, meeting people who are recorded in the history books, sometimes even saving them from their historical fate if they're deemed important, and builds up to an ultimate showdown between him and Anubis, with the end result being the recreation (with specific modifications) of the first timeline, but where he can help get a happy ending for many more people than should be possible.
It was the first story I made, it remains one of my favorite stories to this day, and I think given this ramble and all the great influences on it, you can see why.