Well, I guess at first read, this story smacks of Mary-Sue-ism. After all, the story is told in the first person! And Mara is a character I have RPed. But I hope that the story's real point redeems my storytelling methods...=P
Mara is unashamedly pretty; in Video Game Land, important female characters are never unattractive. That's just how it goes. She's not drop-dead gorgeous; she referred to Tifa as having "killer curves", which goes to show that she thinks Tifa is better looking than herself. I'm not gonna lie and say I don't wanna look like Mara. (Or Tifa, for that matter. Haha.)
But Mara also has her bad habits that I wouldn't be caught dead doing: barhopping and smoking. I don't care for either, or to hang out with people who do them, especially smoking. =P These are part of her character as a Turk (a job that I wouldn't much care for, either...heh heh), who are universally known as badasses, except for Elena I guess.
In some ways, Mara is a bit like me in her outlook and some other things; she's scared of heights, and she's pretty laid-back, and she wants to listen to people. But she's more outwardly emotional than I am, I guess.
I could go on for a bit like that, but now I'll get to the point: Mara is a plot device. Her introduction, and the entire first 5 chapters, serve only to put someone in a place to hear Vincent's story. In a major way, the Henkei is the heart of this fic.
I suppose I could have just written
the Henkei and have been done with it, but considering how sensitive a matter it
is for Vincent, it would not have been something he wrote in a book and
published, y'know? It was like Mara realized in Chapter 8: it's a story
that he could only share with someone he was in love with, or maybe an extremely
close friend. Since Vincent had neither in the game (honestly, I can't
pair him up with anyone there, except maybe Aeris, but...er...y'know), I had to
make one (actually two...Joshu would have served as an audience as well, but...er...y'know
* 2). So now I have Vincent's past as told to someone he trusts and cares
This story is also about Hojo, if you consider it. He is the major villain, and a lot of what I consider his personality to be shows up, including the stuff that made him become such a bastard in the Henkei. I could have gone on with stuff between Hojo, Lucrecia and Vincent for an entire story in itself (and maybe I will someday, in the third person so that I can elaborate =P).
So -- Mara is a plot device to bring Vincent's and Hojo's stories to the light. My answers to some common Mary Sue ailments:
She's a Turk: to give her a parallel situation with Vincent, and some common ground.
She's Zack's sister: to give her common ground with Cloud, which puts Vincent in her reach, in terms of social groups. It also gives Hojo something to work with.
She goes through Hojo's experiments: Again, to give her common ground with Vincent. It also provides the setup for the "dreaming" bit. The thing about Sephiroth trying to call her was definitely an afterthought; after all, why wouldn't she be affected? She should have been very similar to Cloud in reaction. If I really wanted to milk the "tragic past" bit, I would have had Hojo fling tentacle monsters on her or something, or turned up the Jenova factor. As it turned out, Mara got very little benefit from the experiments at all. As a tangential side note, the reason Seph didn't call Vincent with this logic...will hopefully be explained in a separate story. ^_~
She's good with a neat weapon: C'mon, if she sucked at it, she wouldn't be in the Turks.
She is attractive to lots of guys: When you work with groups of all men... Really though, most of her attraction is in her attitude, not her appearance. There was Rufus (who I figure as a playah), and Mick (who was only in there to show Mara's contempt of Westerners and her habit of judging people too quickly), and then Vincent.
She's with Vincent: Well, er...see everything above. =P
The story is in first person: Actually, that was just because. I haven't written in first person since my second Tohshinden fic, which was...hmm...5 years ago. I wanted to try it again, now that I've put a few stories behind me. As noted in Henkei, though, first-person-oral is hard. >_< Too hard for me. I like words too much.
And for my closing comment: You know...Cloud fits most of the billings of a Marty Stu. ;P If you ignore the stuff about him being just like the creator...He's a loveable tough-guy, good-looking, a jerk who everyone likes anyway because he really has a heart of gold, he has a tragic past, he has past history with the main villain, only he can duel with the main villain, and all the women fall for him (well..Yuffie's debatable I guess). He's got main-character-itis in a bad way. >_<
Thanks for reading this! ^^;