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Those You Leave Behind (RWBY)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by XCVG, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. RWBY's gone. JNPR isn't. Torchwick is still out there, and it's up to them to stop him. This will follow Volume 2 fairly closely, but with JNPR taking... well, all the roles, basically. Because of that, there will be some changes, but it's generally headed in the same direction.

    I've cleaned this up since it was initially posted in the discussion thread, but it's still somewhat rough and will probably remain that way. This has been out on FFn for a while and the first chapters are based on those revised versions.

    Index

    Prologue: Passing The Torch (below)
    Episode 1: Worst Day Ever
    Episode 2: Unwelcome At Beacon
    Episode 3: A Major Hiccup
    Episode 4: Paint The Town Black
    Episode 5: Noncurricular
    Episode 6: Lighting the Torch
    Episode 7: Dance Dance Subjugation
    Episode 8: One Way Trip
    Episode 9: Hunt and Kill
    Episode 10: Fallen Glenn
    Episode 11: No Escape
    Episode 12: Breached
    Episode 13: A Dangerous Game
    Episode 14: Worth Killing For
    Epilogue: Loose Ends

    Prologue: Passing the Torch

    “Team RWBY is gone,” Headmaster Ozpin announced simply, without emotion.

    The four students in front of them stood in shocked silence. Finally, one of them, a scraggly blond, asked, “What do you mean by gone?”

    “They attempted to apprehend a known criminal,” he answered carefully. “That criminal was better prepared than they thought.”

    After a quiet moment, Jaune Arc managed to ask, “Were they killed?”

    The Headmaster sighed. “In all honesty, we do not know- I do not know. They could have been captured, they may be imprisoned, they may have been tortured to death, they may be gone to us forever. But...”

    “But?” Nora Valkyrie asked, much less energetic than usual. “I don't like the sound of that.”

    “We do not know,” he replied. “Officially, they are dead. If there is one thing I have learned, it is easier to accept a certain death than an uncertain one. They are probably dead, but it is not certain.”

    “If I may, sir, why are you telling us?” Lie Ren asked with forced calm.

    “I know your teams were close, both personally and professionally,” the Headmaster replied after a moment. “I felt that you deserved to know the truth. What you do with that truth is of your own choosing, but I strongly advise that you continue with your lives, that you do not attempt to finish what they have started, that you do not attempt to find them if they are alive.”

    Pyrrha Nikos answered for all of them. “It will be difficult for us, but... yes, sir.”

    He paused before admitting, “Losing students is difficult for us all. If there's anything you need...”

    “T-thank you, sir,” Jaune replied quietly before shuffling out of the room. His team followed silently, except for the still-crying Nora.

    Professor Goodwitch was waiting outside the office. Jaune stopped and looked at her, but was unable to form words.

    “This is not the first time that Beacon has lost students,” she admitted quietly. She sighed. “But... this is a shock to all of us. And I think it's hit the Headmaster particularly hard. He saw something special in them.”

    She straightened up, embarrassed by her lapse in formality. “Do not let this tragic event affect your training or your studies.”

    * * * * *

    “I just... I just can't believe they're gone,” Jaune said quietly. They were back in their dorm, but they couldn't study or sleep. They were still caught up in the news, simultaneously numb and alert.

    It didn't take long for him to realize that Headmaster Ozpin was right. If they knew their friends were dead, gone forever, they would be consumed with grief. But being told their friends were almost certainly dead, but with a slim possibility of survival left them with both grief and doubt.

    “You have a message,” Ren told him, interrupting his thoughts.

    “What?”

    Ren motioned to the device left forgotten beside Jaune's bed. “Your scroll. You have a message.”

    “It's from... it's from Ruby!” Jaune exclaimed after checking the device. He paused when he looked closer. “Weird, it says it was sent two days ago, but I haven't seen it until now.”

    His shoulders slumped. “Guys, I don't know if I want to watch this...”

    “It could be important, Jaune,” Pyrrha gently reminded him, giving his shoulder a comforting squeeze.

    “Yeah... I guess,” Jaune replied. He hit the play button and a familiar face appeared on the screen.

    “Jaune, if you're listening to this, that means something really really bad happened,” Ruby Rose began, her voice a bit sad. She turned toward someone outside the view. “I don't want to do this.”

    “It was your idea,” the haughty voice of Weiss Schnee snapped.

    “But it's depressing,” Ruby whined.

    “It's important,” the sanguine voice of Blake Belladonna said. “You know it's important.”

    “Well, okay.” Ruby turned back toward the camera. “Okay, we're sneaking out tonight to go after Roman Torchwick. We know he's up to something big and he's working with the White Fang. See when Blake ran off we found out she was a Faunus and she found out that the White Fang was stealing Dust and didn't know why. We tried to find her but she went down to the docks- that was the fight on TV. It turns out Torchwick was working with the White Fang.

    “Blake found out that there's another operation they have on the other side of town. We're going to see what's going on. It's really dangerous and we probably shouldn't be doing this which is why we're not telling anyone. But this is important because they could be up to something really bad. But it might not go well for us.”

    “Penny,” Blake reminded from off-screen.

    “Oh, I almost forgot!” Ruby added. “We met this weird girl, Penny, when Blake ran off. When there was the fight at the docks she was really awesome using these swords on wires and stuff. She has orange hair and green eyes and I think her colour is green. Try to find her!”

    “If you're watching this and nobody's said anything else we're probably gone. But I don't want you guys to be sad, okay?” In the video, Ruby smiled, her eyes bright and alive. “I want you to do the best you can and I want you to do it for us. We might not be able to protect the world anymore but someone has to and I know you can do it.”

    They were silent, wiping away tears that were and weren't there, for a while. It seemed like an eternity to them. Eddying, swirling emotions passed through them.

    “We have to keep going,” Jaune said finally, with a confidence he didn't think he really had. “We have to keep training, and keep learning, and become the best huntsmen and huntresses we can be. For them. That's what Ruby wanted. That's what they wanted. That's what we'll do.”

    “We're not going to try to find them?” Nora asked sadly.

    “You heard what the Headmaster said,” Jaune replied. “They're probably dead. You heard what Ruby said. We shouldn't... we can't destroy our own lives.”

    “What about Torchwick and the White Fang?” Pyrrha asked, unusually quiet. “Something happened, Jaune. They weren't killed for no reason.”

    He was a lot less sure about that. “I don't know.”
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  2. This was originally posted with the prologue on FFn. This is a slightly revised version.

    Episode 1: Worst Day Ever

    “I know this feels wrong, I know we shouldn't be out here with the memorial coming up... but I just had to get away,” Jaune muttered to his teammates for the third time today.

    The mood was somber as they strolled down the streets of Vale. Most people continued with their daily lives around them. It was sad news, yes, that such young individuals full of potential had perished, but it didn't have personal impact for most of them. But for Team JNPR, it was hell.

    “Jaune,” Pyrrha soothed, placing a gloved hand on her leader's shoulder. “It's okay. I understand. I think we all want to escape, at least as much as we can.”

    “Yeah... I just... I can't believe they're gone,” Jaune sighed again.

    “They might not be dead!” Nora said cheerfully- or what sounded like cheer. They all knew that it was false. She seemed bubbly and cheerful, but she was... off. Tense. “They could be... okay, it's probably pretty bad even if they aren't.”

    “I know none of us want to hear this,” Pyrrha reminded them, “But people go missing all the time. Usually, nobody can find what is left of them, if anything is left of them.”

    “We have to accept it,” Jaune reminded his team. “We have to finish what they've started.”

    He paused, faking a smile. “But not today. Today, we've gone out as a team to have fun, like they would have. And that's what we're going to... do...”

    “What is it?” his partner asked, following his gaze. “A bookstore?”

    “Blake liked that bookstore,” Nora reminded her.

    “That's not it, but yeah, she did,” Jaune said sadly, stepping toward it. As he approached it, he realized what was so odd about it. “Hey? Why'd they darken the windows?”

    “Maybe it's closed,” Nora suggested.

    “In the middle of the day?” Jaune asked.

    Ren agreed, “Hmm, that is odd.”

    Pyrrha asked, “Should we investigate?”

    Jaune thought about it for a moment. On one hand, it was really nothing that odd, and it wasn't really their responsibility. On the other hand, something felt off about the whole thing. “Yeah. I think we should.”

    “Weapons?” Pyrrha asked, turning serious.

    “Keep them ready, but don't draw,” Jaune told her, pushing the door open.

    The inside of the store was a mess. Books that were once carefully arranged were now strewn haphazardly around the room. One of the shelves was broken, and there was a trail of blood leading behind As soon as they saw it, they drew their weapons and moved into a defensive stance.

    Pyrrha was the first to speak, “Oh my- what happened here?”

    “Call emergency,” Jaune ordered Ren. Even without thinking, Jaune knew that the quiet, calm young man would do the best job of conveying the information. He stowed half of StormFlower and pulled out his Scroll.

    A wet, hacking cough came from behind one of the bookshelves, where the trail of blood led to. Jaune cautiously approached. Nausea threatened to overcome him when he saw the big faunus man, presumably the owner of the store, at the end of the blood trail with a giant hole in his abdomen.

    Pyrrha whispered to him, “He's still alive, but there's nothing anyone can do for him.”

    “White Fang... working with a human... some agenda,” the dying owner sputtered.

    “What?” Jaune asked, leaning down to hear the quiet words.

    “Find Bla... Blake... Bella... donna,” the faunus man sputtered, Jaune straining to hear. “Tell her... the warehouse... 8th and H... she'll...”

    He muttered something else before expiring completely.

    “This can't be a coincidence, Jaune,” Pyrrha said softly. “Maybe this is even-”

    “What got them... you know... yeah,” Jaune replied as he stood up, still in a state of shock. Outside, sirens blared as the police began to arrive.

    * * * * *

    The Beacon hall was crowded for the memorial service. In the usual tradition, the room was lit up brightly and colourfully, with the widely varying outfits and openly displayed weapons adding to the spectrum. Supposedly, it was to celebrate the diversity that the huntresses fought for, or the light in the darkness, or something equally poetically. The actual tradition dated back to a time where funerals were very dangerous, and getting attacked by Grimm attracted to the negative emotions was the norm.

    Four crosses sat at the front of the room, on the elevated stage, representing the dead. It was also an ancient practice that went back for longer than anyone could remember. Though none were sure of where the symbol came from, most understood it to be symbolic of a sword buried in the ground by a warrior no longer able to fight. They were, also as per tradition, coloured like the fallen huntresses; red, white, black, and yellow.

    The hall was packed with the Beacon students and staff, who could barely fit on a good day, as well as a handful guests with close connections to the deceased.

    Taiyang Xiao Long was inconsolable. He'd lost one love, then another, and now his precious daughters were gone too. Since he'd heard the news, he'd alternated between bawling loudly in the corner and breaking everything in sight. Right now, he was crying as quietly as possible, which was not very. Nobody dared laugh or tell him to quiet down.

    Qrow Branwen tried anyway. It wasn't easy for him. Yang was his niece by blood, and Ruby might as well have been. He'd personally trained the scythe wielder for years when he was a professor at Signal. He'd watched them grow up, watched them build their potential, and now they were gone. He remained stoic, even detached. It was all he could do not to break down.

    Winter Schnee sat two sets down from them, sniffling. She was a few inches taller than her older sister, though slimmer, and her snow white hair was loose, not tied up. Her cobalt-trimmed white dress was immaculate, but her light blue gloves were damp from wiping away tears.

    Flanking her were a pair of guards in SDC uniforms that looked more uncomfortable than distraught. One of them held a box of tissues for the fifteen-year-old girl. They silently agreed not to mention that detail in their report. Winter may have just lost the only real family she had, but their boss would not be so understanding. The heiress to the Schnee empire had to be perfect even when she never could be.

    “All rise!” the stern voice of Professor Glynda Goodwitch called. Very quickly, the assembled mass did her bidding.

    Ozpin, the headmaster of Beacon Academy, strode toward the centre of the stage, steps measured and deliberate. Despite having no notes, he habitually pushed his glasses upward on his face as he took his place behind the microphone. He began slowly, “We gather here today to mourn the passing of Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long, four huntresses taken before their time. Please be seated.”

    The gathering obliged, and he allowed them to settle for a moment before continuing. “As many of you are aware, this is... somewhat of a personal tragedy for me. This is not the first time Beacon has lost students, or even the first time since I became headmaster. It is a terrible tragedy whenever this happens- perhaps an inevitable one, but a terrible tragedy nonetheless.

    “These four had immense potential, perhaps the most I have seen enter this school. I do not say this to honour the fallen. With time, and the right guidance, they might have become legendary. If that is the case, then why are they gone? Because not all can wait until they are ready to achieve all they can be. Sometimes that must be forced. And sometimes, it ends in tragedy.

    “I have made many mistakes, but I do not believe this is one of them. I do not believe I was mistaken in allowing Ruby Rose into this school. I do not believe I was mistaken in making her leader. I do not believe I was mistaken in allowing them to undertake their own mission. I do not believe I was mistaken, despite all that has transpired.

    “They believed they would make a difference, they knew the risk, and they carried on regardless. They did not act in their own self-interest, but in the interest of protecting others. They took a great risk to do what was right. This is the ideal all huntsmen and huntresses should aspire to.”

    “I believe that in their final moments, they reached their potential. May their light burn everlasting in the darkness of eternity.”

    Some noted that his speech was strange, but the Headmaster was infamous for his enigmatic nature, and no doubt he was also awash in negative emotions. The four crosses were simultaneously set alight. Ozpin stepped back and bowed his head in respect, the audience following. They stood with their heads bowed and stayed as silent as possible until the crosses finally burnt to ash.

    “Ashes to ashes, Dust to Dust,” the Headmaster recited before passing the stage back to Goodwitch.

    She said curtly, “You may now come up and pay your respects. A memorial gallery has been set up outside. Counselling and spiritual services are available.”

    Team JNPR was at the front, and they were among the first to leave. On one hand, it felt wrong to leave so quickly, on the other hand, they didn't want to stay. Jaune noticed the Headmaster take Taiyang and Qrow aside, but paid no attention. They shuffled off back to their dorms, still thinking about the events of the previous day.

    * * * * *

    Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai stepped into the warehouse, past the White Fang grunts unloading crates of Dust from a Bullhead.

    “Oh, look, she sent the kids again,” Roman Torchwick quipped, wrapping his arms around the duo. “This is turning out just like the divorce!”

    “Ugh,” Emerald pulled away from him. “Spare us the thought of you procreating.”

    “That was a joke,” the orange-haired thief told them. He stepped away, raising a slip of paper in his hand. “And this... just might tell me where you two have been all day.”

    Emerald patted her pockets. “Wha-”

    “I'm a professional, sweetheart. Pay attention, maybe you'll learn something,” Roman said, smoothly and quickly. His tone turned dangerous when he asked, “Why do you have this address?”

    “Wouldn't you like to know?” the green-haired girl sneered.

    “Yeah, I would.” He waved the paper in front of her. “Now, where have you been all day?”

    Mercury stepped forward and pointed an accusing finger at him. “Cleaning up your problems. One of them, at least.”

    “I had that under control-”

    “Just like you had the docks under control?”

    “It was a minor setback,” Torchwick shot back. “I'm not the psychopath who decided to murder four students and do nothing at all about the one who actually caused our problems. If it were up to me, I'd-”

    “Do what, Roman?” an ominous voice asked. Cinder Fall descended toward them on a lift, seeming to appear out of nowhere.

    “Urm... the same thing?” He gulped nervously. Roman had actually called Cinder on it to her face when she first told him, and had nearly been cremated alive. Needless to say, he did not want to repeat that.

    “Cinder!” Emerald said excitedly. Her smile faded when the woman stepped past her, menacingly approaching Roman.

    “I thought I made it clear that you would eliminate the would-be runaway,” Cinder told him, an edge to her voice. “I'm disappointed to see you fail... again.”

    “I was going to...” the thief stammered.

    “He was going to escape to Vacuo!” Emerald accused. “Mercury and I decided to take it upon ourselves to kill the rat.”

    Mercury corrected, “I think he was some sort of cat, actually-”

    Cinder cut them off. “Quiet. Did I not specifically instruct you two to keep your hands clean while in Vale?”

    “I just thought-”

    “Don't think,” Cinder told her. “Obey.”

    “Yes, ma'am. It won't happen again.”

    Cinder turned toward Roman. “And you...”

    The thief laughed nervously, a lame attempt to cover up how afraid he really was.

    “Why wasn't this job done sooner?” Cinder snapped.

    “Uh...” Roman paused, took a deep breath, glanced at a certain shadow, then gestured around to the crates of Dust behind him. He stepped toward the woman, who he was pretty sure was a sociopath, and went on the offensive. “Sorry if I've been busy stealing every speck of Dust in the Kingdom!”

    “Which you only accomplished after we took care of your problems for you,” Mercury reminded him again.

    “I was doing fine!” Roman snapped back at him. He waved at the three of them. “It was you who decided that it wasn't going smooth enough, and decided to, how did you say it? Accelerate the process.”

    “It was necessary,” Cinder reminded him, an edge to her voice.

    He huffed. “Well if you guys wouldn't mind filling me in on your grand master plan, it might make my next string of robberies go a little smoother!

    “Oh, Roman. Have a little faith.” Cinder stepped forward and laid a hand on his cheek, a move that scared the crap out of him. “You'll know what you need when you need to know it.”

    She stepped back and told him, “Besides, we're done with Dust.”

    “Oh?” The thief raised an eyebrow dramatically. “Did our mysterious benefactor decide they finally had enough?”

    Cinder did not reply, instead giving him orders. “We're moving. Have the White Fang clear out this building. I'll send you details and coordinates tonight.”

    “Coordinates?”

    “We're proceeding to phase two,” she replied ominously, turning and striding out of the warehouse with her minions in tow, glass heels clicking against the concrete floor.

    Roman fished in his pockets for a cigar, pulling one out and biting down on the end. He reached for his lighter and realized that it was no longer in his pocket. Just before stepping out the door, Emerald flicked Roman's lighter, sticking out her tongue at the thief, who glared at her before she disappeared.

    Of course, Roman expected something like that. He was, after all, a professional.

    “Neo?” A girl with pink and brown hair stepped out of the shadows and tossed Roman his spare lighter. He caught it and used it to light his cigar. “Thank you.”

    She stood there, continuing to stare expectantly. The orange-haired thief puffed on his cigar and sighed. “I know she's going to sell us out. Don't worry, we'll beat her to the punch. Just... a little bit longer.”
     
  3. So... finally got around to continuing it. Believe it or not, I actually do have a plan beyond “replace RWBY with JNPR”. We'll see if I actually get there.

    It's not quite a scene-for-scene replacement anymore; I've shuffled the end a bit. The plotting and scheming will have to wait for the next chapter.

    Probably still quite rough as well.

    Episode 2: Unwelcome At Beacon

    “Ozpin!” General James Ironwood called as he stepped into the office. A tall, powerfully built man, his uniform was crisp and clean. A metal plate over one temple and an artificial arm belied his experience, and streaks of grey his age.

    “Hello, General,” the Headmaster greeted cordially.

    “Please, drop the formalities. It's been too long.” Noticing the severe woman standing by the door, he added, “ And Glynda! It has certainly been too long since we last met.”

    “Oh, James,” Glynda swooned sarcastically. She told Ozpin, “I'll be outside.”

    “Well, she hasn't changed a bit,” the General commented lightly after she had left.

    Headmaster Ozpin handed his old friend a cup of coffee. “I presume you have heard the news?”

    “I have,” Ironwood replied as he added a shot from his flask to the mug. “Not exactly a good way to start the Vytal Festival, is it?”

    “Certainly not,” Ozpin said casually. “I don't suppose the circumstances are familiar to you?”

    “No,” the General replied after a moment of hesitation. “The Kingdom of Atlas gave up on that a long time ago.”

    Blue eyes met brown. “Did they really?”

    “To the best of my knowledge,” Ironwood wasn't lying. It was just that the best of his knowledge wasn't very good, something that he suspected the other man already knew.

    The Headmaster continued sadly, “James, I saw potential in them I have not seen in a very long time. To lose them...”

    “You know as well as I do that it happens,” the General said bluntly.

    “Unfortunately.”

    “Unfortunately,” Ozpin echoed, regaining his composure. “I see you have brought your fleet with you. I don't suppose there is a reason for this?”

    “I think you already know.”

    “We are in a time of peace,” Ozpin pointed out. “Shows of power like this are just going to give off the wrong impression.”

    “But if what Qrow said is true...” Ironwood paused. “Oz, do you honestly believe your children can win a war?”

    “I had hoped they would never have to,” the Headmaster replied slowly, his voice carefully controlled.

    “Hoped,” Ironwood mused. He added critically, “It's always been your nature to act conservatively. Even now, when you've seen what can happen-”

    “I am not naive,” Ozpin replied calmly, but with an edge to his voice. “It is not the first time. It will not be the last.”

    “No, it won't be,” the General told him. He stood to leave. “I'm being cautious. You should do the same.”

    Ozpin watched the General retreat out of the office. Just before he passed through the door, he called, “James.”

    Ironwood stopped and turned. “Yeah, Oz?”

    “There will come a time where you must choose between what you believe to be right and what you are told is right. Choose carefully.”

    * * * * *

    “So...” Jaune muttered, tapping his fingers on the table.

    “So.” Pyrrha agreed. She added after a pause, “They were always the ones to get things going, weren't they?”

    “I can just imagine them playing that stupid board game,” Jaune said quietly. “What was it called?”

    “Remnant,” Ren replied.

    The blonde nodded. “Remnant.”

    Nora slid over beside them. “Ooh! I wonder if it's still around?”

    “I wonder if she knew we knew,” Pyrrha asked suddenly.

    “Huh?”

    “I wonder if Blake knew that we knew she was a faunus,” she explained. “She had some relation to the White Fang and that bookstore owner. What else do we not know?”

    “A lot,”

    “Hey,” a monkey faunus called, striding up to them. He wore his shirt loosely and open, showing off well-toned abs. A blue-haired human who looked like he absolutely did not want to be there followed half a pace behind.

    “Hey,” the leader of JNPR replied weakly.

    “I, uh, I overheard you talking about Blake,” the monkey faunus said quietly. “I was at the docks. I guess I was one of the last people to see them alive... that sounds really cliche, doesn't it?”

    “Ruby didn't mention you,” Jaune said, ignoring the bad attempt at humour.

    “Huh? Did she leave a message or something?” Seeing their looks, he said, “Okay, I'll take that as a yes. I'm Sun, by the way. Sun Wukong.”

    “Neptune Vasilias,” the blue-haired human introduced. His voice was smooth, but lacked any real enthusiasm.

    “What happened at the docks, exactly?” Pyrrha asked gently.

    “You saw it, didn't you?” Sun evaded.

    Jaune shook his head. “What about your version of the story?”

    “We waited, then we saw that human thief, Roman Torchwick, then Blake jumped in, then I jumped in, and then this weird girl showed up and started pulling airships out of the sky!”

    “Wow! She pulled them out of the sky?” Nora exclaimed. “Was she using swords on wires?”

    “Uh, yeah, I guess, why?”

    “Did she have green eyes and bright orange hair?” Nora continued. Sun nodded. She jumped up. “That must be Penny!”

    “Nora?”

    “Yes, Ren-Ren?”

    “Please try to be quieter.”

    “Okay, Ren-Ren!” she replied loudly.

    Jaune turned to the faunus and pressed, “But why were you there in the first place?”

    He shrugged. “Well, we heard about a Dust shipment coming in, and we figured that if they were going after Dust, that's where they would go.”

    “There's more to it than that,” Ren prodded.

    “Uh...”

    “She's gone,” Jaune snapped. “If you know something that could explain why, then you owe it to her to tell us what it is.”

    The monkey faunus sat down and took a deep breath. “Okay, Blake couldn't believe that the White Fang needed that much Dust. She wanted to prove that the White Fang wasn't behind those robberies.”

    “Which case were you trying to prove?” Ren asked. “That the White Fang were responsible, or that they were not?”

    “Does it matter?”

    “Yes,” Ren replied. “Ruby stated that Blake knew the White Fang was stealing Dust, but didn't know why. Yet you are telling me that she suspected, but did not know, and wished to prove that the White Fang was not stealing Dust.”

    “Okay, look, that's what she told me. I remember that,” Sun replied defensively. “She thought that the White Fang was behind it, but wasn't sure. She wanted to make sure, okay?”

    “Why?” Jaune asked, confused. “This doesn't make any sense!”

    “Was Blake Belladonna associated with the White Fang?” Ren asked bluntly.

    Sun stood up and moved to leave, grabbing his friend by the arm. “Uh, we've got to go, bye now!”

    * * * * *

    Team JNPR wandered back to their dorms, their minds weighed down with questions. How much did they know? How much didn't they know? What really happened that night? What really happened to JNPR? Who was Sun? Who was Penny? Who was the bookstore owner? Why was-

    Jaune's thoughts were interrupted by a sudden deceleration, followed by a hard impact with the floor. “Ow...”

    A dark-skinned girl with green hair and red eyes, wearing a uniform he didn't recognize stared down at him. A slightly older woman and a young man wearing the same uniforms, stood beside her. She offered a hand to help him up.

    The blonde team leader didn't take it, instead scrambling to his feet. “Oh, god, I'm so sorry! I didn't see you, and I ran into you. Sorry!”

    He passed by and continued down the hallway, embarrassed and still lost in thought.

    “I apologize for the cold welcome,” Pyrrha told the Haven students, lagging behind. “We lost four students recently. Some of us were quite close to the deceased.”

    “I'm very sorry for your loss,” the older of the two replied. Her voice was polite, but had a strange creepy tone to it. She said nothing else, simply continuing down the hallway with the other two.

    Nora voiced their thoughts, “Well, that was strange.”
     
  4. Escudo

    Escudo Local Lurker of the Lands

    Reading Ozpin and Ironwood's talk, I wonder if Team RWBY's death will be the edge that will make Ozpin take a more agressive approach in the situation, instead of the passiveness he took in canon.
     
  5. There's only like...two seasons worth!

    We hardly known anything about the world of RWBY.
     
  6. Escudo

    Escudo Local Lurker of the Lands

    I mean how he acted in season 2. Ironwood had insisted in a full militar mobilization when they knew about the infiltration in Beacon, while Ozpin suggested to 'send the scouts instead of the flag bearers'. I was trying to say that, with the weight of four deaths on his mind once he finds out, he may actually agree with Ironwood's proposal.
     
  7. Basically I was bored. Still debating internally on diverging significantly versus keeping things mostly the same. This chapter leans toward the latter, and the next one probably will, too. After that, it'll swing the other way. Maybe.

    The current chapter titling theme doesn't really work that well, but I'm sticking with it for the time being.

    Episode 3: A Major Hiccup

    Jaune Arc rolled his pencil between his fingers. Professor Port was rambling on about some adventure or other, but the blonde student's thoughts were anywhere but on the class.

    His crush on the now deceased (missing, he told himself, missing) heiress was hardly a secret. Ever since they'd met, he'd tried to court her, much to the girl's displeasure. Even after being all but rejected, he continued, thinking that if he kept trying, eventually he'd score a date. And then the white-haired girl would see how great he was, and they'd... well, actually, he hadn't give it much thought beyond the date.

    Was that all it was, though? He'd told himself that this was love, but was it really? Was it true love, was it a stupid schoolboy crush, was it adolescent lust, was it something else? He couldn't answer that. The only thing he felt now was a cold emptiness where Weiss Schnee used to be.

    Had he made a mistake? Maybe he never should have tried to go after her in the first place. Confidence wasn't enough. He just wasn't good enough. He'd thought the heiress was pretty normal, if pretty, and definitely possible, before finding out who she was. Should he have just given up-

    His scroll beeped. Grateful for the distraction, he stealthily checked it. The message confused him more than anything. It was from someone named Glacias, which he saw as odd. He didn't know any Glacias.

    There's something going on. Can't say more yet.

    * * * * *

    The mood in the JNPR dorm was different than it usually was- or as it usually had been. None of them had been feeling particularly good after the tragedy and chaos, and Jaune's strange order to lock the door and shut the windows only ratcheted up the tension further.

    “We start today,” Jaune announced boldly. “We start our investigation today.”

    “It's exciting!” Nora exclaimed. “It's like we're in a cop show and we're doing a super-secret investigation on a super-bad criminal.”

    “That is what we're doing, Nora,” Ren told her, tone exasperated as usual.

    Jaune unceremoniously tacked a large piece of paper to the wall and uncapped a marker. “What do we know?”

    “Oh, I know this one!” Nora said loudly. “It started with the fight at the docks! Blake ran away, so they tried to find her, and then they found out that Torchwhatever guy was stealing Dust with the White Fang.”

    “Actually, they suspected that the White Fang was stealing Dust,” Ren corrected. “They only confirmed that Torchwick was working with them and that they were stealing Dust once they were at the docks. And the monkey faunus, Sun, seemed to imply that he was with Blake and her team did not arrive until after.”

    Pyrrha added, “Blake suspected the White Fang was stealing Dust. She may have wanted to prove they weren't. But that would only make sense if...”

    Jaune paused his scribbling. “You're not saying that she was part of the White Fang, are you?”

    “We may never know,” Ren said, voice neutral. “But we can deduce that she had some association with the group, and some interest in proving they were not stealing Dust.”

    “Damn.” Jaune swore as he scribbled it all down in point form. “What about that weird girl they both mentioned?”

    “Penny?” Nora asked rhetorically. “Well, she pulled airships out of the sky!”

    “I think he was exaggerating,” Ren told her.

    “Something made those Bullheads crash,” Nora reminded him. “Maybe she didn't really pull them out, maybe she shot them out!”

    Jaune tapped his marker against the paper, leaving blue marks on it. “If we could talk to her, maybe she could tell us something.”

    “We don't even know her last name,” Pyrrha reminded him. “How are we going to find her?”

    “Well, we can be on the lookout, and we can ask around, but yeah, unless somebody knows her...” Jaune trailed off. “So, what are our leads?”

    He remembered the message that he had received at the end of class. “Oh, right! I got a weird message on my scroll.”

    Ren raised an eyebrow. “A message?”

    “Yeah, it's from someone named Glacias. They said that there's something going on, but they can't say more yet. Weird, huh? I don't think it's a coincidence.”

    “No,” Ren agreed. “I doubt that is their real name. Did you try messaging back?”

    He shook his head. “There's no number.”

    “It's not of much use to us, then,” Ren concluded. “But keep watching for more messages.”

    “I will.”

    “The owner of the bookstore told us to look for Blake Belladonna,” Pyrrha interrupted. “We cannot do that, but-”

    “The address!” Jaune remembered. “Uh, he said a warehouse on seventh and ninth... no that's not right-”

    “Eighth and H,” Ren corrected.

    “What would we do without you, Ren?” Jaune said lightly.

    “We'd be JNP, hmm, what would that be?” Nora replied unnecessarily. “Junpy? Jump? No, that doesn't work. Ren? Oh, right, we can't ask Ren because there wouldn't be-”

    “Nora?”

    “Yes, Ren-Ren?”

    “Focus, please.”

    “Sorry,” she apologized before adding, “Oh! We could visit Junior!”

    “Who's Junior?”

    “He's this guy that owns this club in the bad part of town. He looks like a regular bar owner but he actually has informations on everyone.”

    “How do you know about that, Nora?” the blonde asked.

    “Ehehehe... maybe you and Pyr-Pyr should visit Junior,” Nora said nervously.

    “Wait, why?”

    “She's banned,” Ren explained. “For life.”

    “It wasn't my fault!”

    “I've heard of him,” Pyrrha interrupted. “He's the youngest member of the Xiong crime family. I suppose it would make sense that he would still have connections.”

    “Great!” Jaune said. By that point, he'd abandoned the paper completely. “So, I guess I'll go to the club with Pyrrha, and you two are going to investigate the White Fang warehouse.”

    Nora snapped off a salute. “Sounds like a plan!”

    “I have no objections,” Pyrrha replied.

    Ren simply nodded.

    “Okay. Let's do this.”

    * * * * *

    “So, uh, how are we actually going to get information out of this guy?” Jaune asked his partner as they strode toward the club. Their destination was obvious- it could be heard from a block away.

    “We'll ask nicely,” Pyrrha replied. “Tell him that we're looking for information on some departed friends.”

    “No good cop bad cop or anything like that?”

    “It is a legitimate technique,” Pyrrha replied. “But not the one we should use.”

    “No, you're right, we probably couldn't pull it off.” He laughed. “I guess I just watch too many movies.”

    They turned silent as they got closer to the building, strolling casually toward it as if they were out to enjoy the evening. Or trying to, anyway. Pyrrha was used to putting on a calm facade, but Jaune couldn't hide his inner tension.

    A lone bouncer stood in front of the entrance. He was dressed like all the others- black suit with matching hat and gloves, red glasses and red tie. He moved in front of the open entry as the teenagers approached. “You're not on the list.”

    “Uh, sorry, I guess we'll just go,” Jaune replied nervously. They couldn't give up this easily! He wracked his brains for another plan.

    “Yeah, that's, wait, you're Pyrrha Nikos!” His eyes went wide behind his glasses and he stepped aside. “Go right on in, Miss Nikos.”

    She smiled sweetly, “Thank you.”

    They walked past the bouncer and into the club. As soon as he saw it, Jaune was blown away. The room appeared huge, with an infinite black pit below transparent platforms linked by staircases. A bar sat to one side, with a DJ booth at the far end. Of course, much of the effect was clever architectural and lighting tricks, but it worked. It was impressive.

    “Whoa...” Jaune breathed.

    “I suppose fame does have its advantages,” Pyrrha muttered.

    “I don't really see how it has any disadvantages,” Jaune said lightly.

    A rare frown crossed his partner's face. “You have no idea.”

    “Uh...”

    “Let's just get this done and over with,” Pyrrha requested, voice professional. She looked around and noticed that the club was almost empty. A few identically-dressed bouncers milled around. The only possible customers in view were a pair of girls dressed in white and red glaring at them.

    A tall man, dressed similarly to the bouncers but wearing a vest instead of a jacket, strode toward them. He greeted harshly, “So, what is the Mistralian tournament champion- and some blonde idiot- doing here?”

    “Hey!” Jaune blurted out.

    The big man ignored him. “Somehow I doubt you came here for fun.”

    The blonde managed to regain his composure somewhat. “We, uh, are you Junior?”

    “That depends.” He turned to Pyrrha and growled, “I know the idiots at the door let you in because you're the Pyrrha Nikos, but that doesn't mean you're welcome here. What do you want?”

    “Some of our friends went missing recently,” she answered. “We were hoping you would know something about what happened.”

    Junior narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Which friends?”

    Jaune beat Pyrrha to the answer. “Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long.”

    “Blondie? Aw, shit.” The big man sighed, then waved toward the bar. “Take a seat.”

    “You knew Yang Xiao Long?” Jaune asked, taking a seat beside his partner at the bar.

    “Yeah,” he grumbled from the other side of the bar. “She came in a few months ago, asked if I'd seen some lady, then trashed the place. Caused thousands of lien worth of damage.”

    Pyrrha covered her mouth in shock. “Oh.”

    “So, if she did that, and we're asking about her, why would you tell us anything?” Jaune asked, confused.

    Junior was evasive. “I owe her, okay? It's a long story.”

    “What do you know?” the red-haired champion asked.

    “They poked around where they shouldn't have and paid for it,” he answered, pouring himself a glass of Scotch whiskey. “That's the official story, and as far as I know, that's what happened.”

    “Did they find anything?”

    He shrugged. “You tell me. If they didn't, would they be dead? No, don't answer that.”

    “Are they really dead?” Jaune asked quietly.

    “Probably?” He sighed. “Kid, I have an ear to the ground, but I don't know every secret in the city. And these guys are really good at keeping secrets.”

    “Where are they?” Jaune asked.

    “They?” He laughed. “I can't even tell you where they were, let along where they are now.”

    “Why are you telling us this?”

    The big man took a moment to think about it. “Not too long after Blondie blew up the place, Torchwick came to hire some of my men. I couldn't say know- he offered too much for that. But they never came back.”

    He paused, contemplating his glass. “The thing is, I don't think he's the one calling the shots anymore. But that's just a hunch. Like I said, I haven't heard anything. These guys are really good at keeping secrets.”

    “The White Fang?”

    “They're part of it, but it's not the same Fang from our parents' days,” he replied, swirling his liquor. “Somehow I don't think this is about ideology. But then again, it never is, is it.”

    Jaune tried to sound intelligent. “I guess not?”

    “Now,” Junior finished, motioning to the door. “I'd appreciate it if you were never here. Understand?”

    “Uh, not really-”

    Pyrrha cut her partner off, grabbing him and pulling him toward the exit. “We understand. Thank you, Mister Xiong.”

    “Don't mention it,” he called as the walked away. “Seriously. Don't.”

    He turned to his bouncers. “That goes double for you morons.”

    The pair walked away confidently, armed with new information. They didn't look back after the doors closed behind them.

    “Jaune?” Pyrrha asked quietly.

    “What is it, Pyrrha?” Jaune was oblivious, but even he could detect the worried tone in her voice.

    “I've been thinking... is this about finding answers and stopping something terrible, or are we only doing this to get some kind of vengeance?”

    He chewed his lip. “I can't answer that, Pyrrha.”

    Before either of them could say anything more, Jaune's scroll began to ring. He almost dropped it before picking up the call. “Yeah?”

    Ren's voice, unusually panicked, chirped, “Jaune, they're on to us. Get here as fast as you can.”
     
  8. jwolfe

    jwolfe Never dead, merely sleeping

    Nora, what did you do?
     
    Escudo likes this.
  9. I never really got around to doing this the first time I read it, but the prologue where JNPR get the explanation that Team RWBY are 'gone', with the implication that death is pretty likely, could probably use a little more emotion.

    With the exception of the line "His team followed silently, except for the still-crying Nora", they could just about have been told that they've failed a class exam for all the strength of their reactions.
     
    SolipsistSerpen likes this.
  10. I think it might have been a lot stronger in earlier drafts, but people found it took dark, so I toned it down. Then I changed the circumstances somewhat and didn't rewrite their reactions.

    I'm not going to lie, this is a really rough fic and I don't know if it'll ever pull out of that.
     
  11. That explains it a little, because something about the tone just didn't feel very... consistent, I guess? It sort of swings back and forth over the first few chapters, which is all the more noteworthy given the short lengths.

    If you do decide to put much work into redoing it, I'd advise that the prologue and first chapter be lengthened, and more attention is paid to the reactions of Tam JNPR amongst each other in the wake of Ozpin's news for them. As it stands they're told RWBY is gone, watch a video left for them, go do some investigating, etc. There's no real moments where the team settles down in the dormitory and tries to comfort each other over half of their circle of friends having suddenly died (or just disappeared), or any equivalent scene. If I don't see characters deal with their grief, unless its notable that they're trying to avoid doing so because they're just that kind of character, the illusion breaks and I'm reminded everything is words on the page.

    I'd recommend not just adding a scene similar to the aforementioned, but actually (during a rewrite) throw in at least one additional chapter where the team just roams Beacon (presumably just the cafeteria and their dorms, as I'd assume they'd probably be excused from classes for a while) in a subdued mood, possibly before one of them gets the idea of trying to retrace their steps and all despite the risks (possibly because no one else is doing anything).
     
  12. Sooo...what are the chances this is running in paralell storywise with Emergence?
     
    Escudo likes this.
  13. As much as I'd like to, I don't have the time for a proper extended rewrite. The best you're going to get is another patch, which I might do, but it depends how busy I am.
     
  14. This chapter may be really short. The original episode has three sub-arcs. Out of those, one is omitted and one was resolved in the previous chapter, leaving only one left for this chapter. Also, this is my first time (!) writing this kind of battle, so there's that.

    Despite being a bit rushed, I feel this is one of the strongest chapters of this story so far.


    Episode 4: Paint The Town Black


    “Grimm masks,” Ren commented as he put on the centrepiece of his disguise, more to himself than to his partner. He reached up and adjusted his fake ears one last time. “We made monsters of them, so they embraced it.”

    “Do you think this will work?” Nora asked, putting on her own mask.

    He surveyed his partner. Though he had been very careful to choose an animal that was easy to look convincing and make his disguise as simple as possible, Nora hadn't. She had a long, furry, and absolutely fake tail, as well as a claw sticking out from under her gloves on every second finger. “I hope so.”

    Hesitantly, they stepped into the warehouse. A faunus guard, devoid of anything identifying him as White Fang, nodded to them as they went by. The inside of the warehouse was expansive, dimly lit, and full of faunus in White Fang outfits. Dozens stood on the floor and probably a few hundred more in the catwalks above.

    “What the hell are you?” a deer faunus snapped at Nora as they edged their way into the crowd.

    She glared at the Fang member from behind her mask, leaning uncomfortably close to her. “I'm a sloth faunus. Ku-raw! Ku-raw!”

    “Uh, sure, whatever,” she muttered, scurrying away.

    “Did you really have to make the sloth sounds, Nora?” Ren whispered after he was reasonably sure the faunus was out of earshot.

    The orange-haired girl rolled her eyes. “Well, I'm sorry for trying to get in touch with my sloth side.”

    “Thank you all for coming,” a powerful voice called, drawing their attention to a makeshift stage at the front of the room. “For those of you who are joining us for the first time tonight, allow me to introduce a very special comrade of ours! I can assure you, he is the key to obtaining what we have fought for for so long!”

    “Thank you, thank you.” An orange-haired human stepped onto the makeshift stage with a flourish. His white jacket, brimmed hat, and cane were instantly recognizable.

    “That's Roman Torchwick,” Nora hissed at Ren. On the stage, a short woman with pink and brown hair and eyes strutted out behind Torchwick. “But who's the pipsqueak?”

    “Please, hold your applause,” the thief said, holding up his hands.

    “What's a human doing here?!” the deer faunus shouted at the makeshift stage.

    “I'm glad you asked, Deerie! Now, I'll be the first to admit, humans... are the worst.” He motioned to himself. “Case in point. So, I understand why you would like to see us all locked away, or, better yet, killed!”

    But, before the claws come out, I'd like to mention the fact that you and I all have a common enemy: the ones in control, the people pulling the strings, the dirty, rotten humans that run our kingdoms!” The crowd began mumbling in response. The human had a point.

    “Government, military, even the schools: they're all to blame for your lot in life!” The crowd cheered.

    “He's certainly a showman, if nothing else,” Ren muttered. He realized immediately that the thief was playing the crowd- they had no idea what his intentions truly were.

    “And they're all pests that need to be dealt with! Fortunately, I'm the best exterminator around- no offence to any rodents in the room.” He snapped his fingers and the curtain behind him flew backward, revealing his surprise.

    “Is that a battle robot?” Nora asked.

    “It's an Atlesian Paladin 290,” Ren told her, examining the machine.

    Roman tapped the side of the mech. “As some of you might have heard, this right here is Atlas' newest defence against all the scary things in the world. And thanks to my employer, we've managed to snag a few before they, uh, hit the shelves.”

    He paused. “Now, many of your brothers have already moved down to our new operation in the southeast. If you'd rather stay within the city, that's fine... But if you're truly ready to fight for what you believe in, this is the arsenal I can provide you. Any questions?”

    The faunus crowd roared with applause.

    “We can't let him keep that,” Nora hissed at her partner. “Tell me you have a plan, Ren!”

    “All new recruits, please come forward!” the White Fang lieutenant called.

    “I'm thinking.” Sooner or later, they'd be discovered, and he knew it. They had to escape and warn the others- there was no way they could take out that machine on their own.

    “Think faster, Ren-Ren!” Nora urged as the crowd pushed them forward. “I think I just lost my tail.”

    Ren allowed himself a rare moment of near-panic. “You what?”

    “They're imposters!”

    “Humans!”

    “Get them!”

    “The window, go!” Ren shouted. In one swift move, his partner grabbed him, unfolded Magnhild, and swung it, pulling the trigger at just the right moment.

    “Whee!” Nora shouted as they went flying through the window.

    Their moment of glee was short-lived. The mech was after them seconds later, crashing through the cinder block wall directly below the window. They ran, Ren hastily pulling out his scroll as they jumped onto the rooftops.

    * * * * *

    “Where are you?” Jaune shouted back into the scroll.

    Ren's voice was unusually close to panic. “On the freeway!”

    “Great, how are we gonna get there in time?”

    Pyrrha was already working on it. She stepped onto the street, waving her arms as a green sports car approached. It screeched to a halt and a woman with green hair and a matching blazer angrily stormed out of the vehicle.

    “What the-” The woman's expression changed from anger to shock to elation when she saw who was in front of them. “Wow, you're the Mistralian champion, Pyrrha Nikos. Can I have your autograph?”

    “I'm sorry, but I really need to borrow your car,” Pyrrha requested, smiling sweetly.

    She blinked. “I don't know...”

    The Mistralian cut her off, bolting past and into the open driver's side door. “Thank you!”

    Jaune blinked, surprised that she would just steal a car like that. “Pyrrha, should we really be-”

    “Get in the car, Jaune!” she snapped, an intensity in her voice that he rarely heard. Wordlessly, he complied, getting into the passenger's side.

    The woman's confusion became rage. “Hey, that's my car! What do you even need it for?”

    “I'm really sorry about this,” Pyrrha shouted as they drove away.

    “I can't believe we're stealing a car,” Jaune practically shouted at his partner, tightening his seat belt.

    “We're not stealing it, Jaune, we're borrowing it to do something very important.” The redhead floored the accelerator. Propelled by its turbocharged quad-bank radial engine, the sports car bolted up the onramp onto the freeway.

    “We're borrowing it to rescue our friends-”

    She cut him off. “From a known terrorist group. Besides, we will return it when we are done. We're only-”

    “We're not the police, Pyrrha,” he reminded her.

    She didn't answer.

    “Hey, look, it's Ren and Nora!” Jaune pointed out. He could see the green and pink blurs ahead of them- and a giant grey robot between them. “And a giant robot. Uh oh. We need to stop that thing.”

    “Do you have any ideas?”

    He thought quickly. Of course! “Your Semblance is polarity, right? That thing's made out of metal.”

    “Yes, but it's too big for me to stop it,” Pyrrha reminded him. “I'm not strong enough.”

    “You don't have to stop it, just tilt it enough to fall off the highway.”

    “I can't drive and use my Semblance at the same time.”

    “I'll take the wheel. You focus on knocking that robot off, okay?” Jaune unbuckled himself and leaned over, taking the wheel with one hand as Pyrrha tried to slide out from under him. It was a strange, awkward, and uncomfortable position. The car swerved and slowed down as Pyrrha crawled onto the passenger seat and Jaune dropped into the driver's side. “Got it!”

    “I need a better line of sight!” Pyrrha shouted as Jaune struggled to follow the mech without smashing into the other cars or the median. Nora and Ren had given up running, instead using Magnhild to explosively hop down the highway. It was extremely odd to look at, but seemed to be working.

    “Okay, it's a-” The roof immediately flew off and disappeared behind them when Jaune pulled the retract lever. “Was a convertible.”

    The Mistralian shakily stood up, using one hand to keep steady and reaching out with the other. The slipstream battered her and she struggled to keep her balance.

    “Hurry, Pyrrha!” Ahead of them, the other half of their team narrowly dodged a missile barrage from the mech, using Nora's grenade hammer to blast them out of the way.

    “I'm trying!” She reached forward with one hand, channelling her Aura into her Semblance to apply a sideways force to the top of the mech. It wavered, corrected, and with another burst from Pyrrha swiveled on one foot and fell off the freeway. “Got it!”

    Jaune braked hard, bringing the car to a fast stop and nearly throwing his partner out of it. He jumped out, running over to Ren and helping him up. “You guys okay?”

    Nora snapped off a salute for both of them. “A-okay, leader!”

    He drew Crocea Mors and used it to motion his team forward. “Let's get him.”

    Team JNPR dropped from the freeway to the empty ground below, where the mech was already getting to its feet. It fired an initial barrage of missiles, and the four of them split up to avoid them.

    “Hit it with everything you've got!” Jaune shouted, charging forward with his sword. He brought it back and swung, burying the ancient metal of his family's blade in the leg of the mech. Suddenly, he found himself flying through the air, Crocea Mors clattering to the ground beside him. Had he not been disoriented by the impact, he would have realized that he had literally been kicked away.

    “Go for the optics, Ren, go for the optics!” Nora shouted, transforming Magnhild into its launcher form and unleashing bright pink grenades at the machine. They did little damage, but drew its attention. Her partner rushed in from the other side, driving his StormFlowers into the optics pod underneath, pumping a dozen bullets into it at the same time.

    Their blonde leader hauled himself to his feet, charging forward with his shield up. He managed to get one good swing in, but missed. The mech brought up a metal fist and drove it into his shield, sending him flying into a concrete pillar.

    Pyrrha tossed Miló at the mech as hard as she could, only for the sharp spear to bounce off after barely leaving a dent. She rolled to the side as the mech turned toward her, using her Semblance to retrieve her weapon. She managed to get off three ineffective shots in gun mode before being forced to dodge.

    Jaune watched as the mech tossed Nora into Ren before turning and opening fire on Pyrrha. Gunfire narrowly missed his partner, shredding a concrete support instead. That gave him an idea. “Shoot the pillars!”

    “Okey-dokey, leader!” Nora acknowledged, opening fire on the concrete pillars supporting the freeway above. They broke and crumbled with each impact.

    “Hey!” Jaune shouted, running out in front of the Paladin, shield in hand. “Look at me, I'm here! You want a fight?”

    On the other side of the Paladin, Pyrrha tossed Akoúo̱, using her Semblance to increase its speed enough to break through one of the pillars. Above them, the elevated highway began to shake and crumble.

    “Jaune!” Ren shouted.

    The blonde wasted no time, using his shield to absorb the impact of the mech's gunfire while he ran out from under the freeway. There was one support right beside him, and he chopped through the weakened concrete with Crocea Mors as he dashed by.

    The last two pillars, themselves damaged, could not hold the weight of the carriageway any longer. Steel-reinforced concrete cracked and broke, large chunks raining down on where the fighters were only moments before. The large mech tried to get out of the way, but was smashed down by what used to be the centre of the road.

    “Is it dead?” Jaune asked, striding toward the wreckage. His team was behind him, weapons still at the ready. One of the concrete fragments shook, moved, then went flying. “It's not dead!”

    Before he could give anything resembling an order, there was an explosion behind him and a pink blur went flying forward. Nora had her weapon out in hammer mode. She swung it at the struggling mech, pulling the trigger just before the impact. The hit shattered what was left of the Paladin and sent its occupant flying. He landed awkwardly and stumbled to his feet.

    “Just got this thing cleaned,” Roman Torchwick complained, dusting himself off.

    With a manic grin on her face, Nora transformed her weapon back into its grenade launcher form and let loose a volley at the thief. Before the grenades could hit, the short woman in pink and brown appeared from seemingly nowhere. She unfolded her lacy parasol and used it to effortlessly block the incoming grenades.

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” Roman tipped his hat, and his partner did an elegant bow. “Neo, if you would...”

    Jaune charged forward, his family's sword at the ready. With a mighty roar, he swung it at the thief, only for him to shatter into small shards and disappear. He dropped his sword in a mixture of surprise and fatigue. “...what?”

    “An illusion,” Pyrrha told him. Close by, a Bullhead took off into the sky before they could do anything to stop it.

    “Yeah,” Jaune said weakly, adrenaline now draining from his system. “I guess. Let's go.”

    * * * * *

    The green-haired woman stood beside her dented, scratched car, glaring angrily at the police officer. “I told you, officer, Pyrrha Nikos borrowed my car, and then I got the call saying it was up here.”

    “Right... the invincible Mistralian borrowed your car,” the officer replied, skeptically. “For some reason she was in a bad neighbourhood, needed to borrow your car, and you let her do it.”

    “Yes!” she replied, exasperated, not realizing how absurd it sounded.

    “And you're sure you didn't just leave it parked in a bad neighbourhood and it got stolen?”

    “No! I was in my car until she took it!” the woman insisted.

    The cop shook his head. “Right... well, you're going to have to take this up with your insurance company.”
     
  15. DrTempo

    DrTempo The Doc of XOvers

    I was wondering the very same thing...
     
  16. Basically, I ran out of time, so you get a Volume 1 style 4-minute episode. Sorry. I know the scene with Jaune and Pyrrha is probably cringe-worthy.

    There is quite a bit that can't really carry over in that episode, but there was some new stuff I was going to put in and a lot of it didn't make it.

    Episode 5: Noncurricular

    CRDL had potential, Pyrrha reflected as she parried Sky Lark's blow and hit him with the side of Miló. The blow knocked his Aura into the red and knocked him into the match, leaving only the leader of the team left. It was almost too bad. He was a terrible leader. Their team was uncoordinated, unsynchronized, ineffective.

    Cardin raised his mace and swung at the champion. She ducked under it and delivered a blow with her shield, knocking her opponent to the ground.

    Smirking despite the pain, he leapt to his feet and tried a different tactic. “Bet your little redheaded friend screamed real loud when she died-”

    Cardin was cut off by Pyrrha driving Akoúo̱ into his face. He collapsed to the ground, clutching his sides. She stepped toward them, rage on her face.

    “That's a match,” the professor called. Pyrrha kicked her opponent savagely in the side, feeling bone crack under her boot. “That's a match!”

    “I'm sorry, Professor Goodwitch,” Pyrrha apologized, her tone even. She felt simultaneously terrible and... not terrible at what she had done. She reached down to help Cardin up, but he refused to take it. “I got caught up in the match.”

    “Please take your seat, Miss Nikos,” the Professor told her. She addressed the class, “Alright, now I know that's a tough act to follow, but we have time for one more sparring match. Any volunteers?”

    One of the Haven students, a boy with grey hair and a grey outfit, stood up. “I'll do it.”

    “Mercury, is it?” she asked, receiving a nod in response. “Well, let's find you an opponent.”

    “Actually, I wanna fight... her.” Mercury pointed straight at Pyrrha.

    “Miss Nikos?”

    “No, I'm sorry, I'm... too tired.” She knew it was a lame excuse, but backing out was better than losing control again.

    “Alright.” Professor Goodwitch was careful to keep the disapproval out of her voice. After all, the girl was probably still reeling from the loss of her friends. She turned to Mercury. “I'm afraid you're going to have to choose another partner.”

    * * * * *

    “I thought I'd find you up here,” Jaune Arc said quietly, gently closing the access door and striding over to a patch of bare concrete beside his partner. He sat down beside her, maybe too close than he should have, though he only thought of that after he had sat down.

    “I... I needed to think,” she replied quietly, shakily.

    Jaune was confused, or at least sounded like it, “Pyrrha, this isn't like you. You're the invincible-”

    “Am I? Am I, Jaune?” She spun around, facing him. Tears dripped from her eyes. “Because I don't feel very invincible right now.”

    “What's wrong?”

    She sighed and leaned back. “I've been blessed with incredible talents and opportunities; I'm constantly surrounded by love and praise; but when you're placed on a pedestal like that for so long, you become separated from the people that put you there in the first place.”

    She shook her head. “People look up to me like I'm more than human. But I can't even hold myself together under a little bit of pressure, let alone live up to that ideal of perfection. I'm falling apart, Jaune. I can't be perfect. I can't be the invincible girl. Not when I hardly have any life of my own.”

    Suddenly, she snapped. “Is that how everyone sees me? Is that how you see me, Jaune?”

    “No, of course not, Pyrrha.”

    Her voice was only a whisper. “Then how do you see me?”

    “Well...” Jaune tried to choose his words carefully, even though he knew he wasn't very good at it. “Well, you're Pyrrha. You're strong, and you're smart, you're my partner and you always have my back. And you're brave and you're great. And even though I shouldn't even be here, you still want to help me.”

    “Jaune...” For a brief moment, she considered just jumping on him right then and there. Jaune's words had a warmth she rarely felt- that he meant Pyrrha the person, not Pyrrha the idol. Her courage faltered, though, and she asked instead what was probably an even worse question. “How did you really feel about Weiss?”

    Thankfully, Jaune interpreted her question as being a lot less direct than she thought. “I don't know. I mean, out of the team she was the one we didn't know the most about, but, well, you know, I kind of had a crush on her.”

    He traced circles with his fingers. “But I don't know. Was it just a stupid crush? Was it more? Was I the bad guy? Maybe it never would have worked. I guess I'll never know. I was gonna try to ask her to the dance, at least, but, well...”

    Abruptly, he changed topics. “Pyrrha, you know, it's a horrible time for all of us, and you don't have to be perfect, and, well, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm here for you.”

    She smiled a bit. “Jaune?”

    “Yeah, Pyrrha?”

    “Thank you.”

    * * * * *

    “Stolen military property, a street race, and allegedly the Invincible Girl,” General Ironwood said, pacing in front of Ozpin's desk. “I don't suppose this was your students.”

    “I'm afraid I don't have an answer for that,” the Headmaster replied honestly. “And I dare not speculate.”

    “Of course you wouldn't.”

    “I'm sure you already know the answer to your question.”

    “Why'd you tell them, Oz?” the General asked, heaving a sigh. “You know if there's even the slightest inkling of hope, they're gonna keep searching for an answer.”

    Ozpin's response was calm and collected, as it normally was. “And their search will lead them to the answer, whatever that answer may be.”

    “Or they'll die trying. Can you live with that, Ozpin? Can you live with killing another team? How many? When is it worth it?” He knew he was externalizing his own feelings to a certain extent, but he didn't care.

    “You know as well as I do that this goes beyond-”

    “And you know as well as I do that it's an excuse,” Ironwood replied, cutting him off. “What's this about, Ozpin?”

    “Stopping a threat. Preventing a war. Saving the world, if you're going to be dramatic about it.”

    “Is it?” Ironwood stopped and faced his old friend. “I know you're trying to do what's right, Ozpin. I just don't know if you know what that is anymore.”

    “A good question, indeed,” Professor Ozpin muttered as the General strode away.
     
  17. ShotgunWilly

    ShotgunWilly Rat Bastard Super Awesome Happy Funtime

    I think you underestimate your own work. I didn't think that was too bad. Short, as you've acknowledged (though, at least you broke 1000 words, not too bad for a snippet. Maybe not so much for an individual chapter...), and I thought that the Pyrrha scene was hardly cringeworthy. It made me smile. :)

    Then again, I'm something of an Arkos shipper even if I can't stand romance-fics so I may be biased. :p
     
  18. In which I try to write romance. Let's see how this goes.

    Nora seems to have hidden depths even in canon, but it's still hard to write her. Ren is almost a blank slate.

    Episode 6: Lighting the Candle

    “May I have your attention, please?” Headmaster Ozpin called from the front of the Great Hall, while hundreds of students ate breakfast. It wasn't a regular occurrence, but it wasn't uncommon for the headmaster to do so if there was important news to be shared. Though a few continued to eat, the room quieted down at his announcement.

    “Thank you. There seems to have been some confusion as to the status of the annual Beacon dance. I assure you that despite the terrible events that have taken place, and despite a few setbacks, it will be taking place as planned. To not continue would be to admit defeat in the face of the enemy, and it would be an affront to the memory of Team RWBY. So, I hope that you will all enjoy the occasion.” With that, he stepped out, and the room instantly became abuzz with conversation.

    “So, I guess it is happening, after all,” Jaune said quietly. “But what did he mean by setbacks?”

    “Well originally CFVY was going to get the dance set up but they're still on a mission, so they had to find another team to do it, and it was really last minute so they'd have to do it quickly. I think the Headmaster got the team with the old guy and the guy in the striped skirt to do it- they're second-years and I don't know much about them but I guess they did an okay job because it's happening.”

    “Ah, okay,” Jaune acknowledged, though he had caught less than half of what Nora said. “So... I think we should all go. It's, well, you know-”

    “What they would have wanted,” Pyrrha finished quietly.

    Jaune repeated his partner's words, “It's what they would have wanted.”

    “It's less than a week away,” she pointed out. “Have you thought about who you're going with?”

    “Well, that's easy,” Nora said, putting an arm around her partner. “Me and Ren are going together, right, Ren-Ren? Of course we are, because we do everything together. But we're not together-together, because that would be weird. We're just going as friends.”

    “Yes, Nora,” Ren acknowledged. His partner made finding a proper date impossible, but he didn't mind in the slightest. Even if they weren't together-together, they were still together. “What about you, Jaune? Do you have anyone in mind?”

    “I'm... I'm not sure.” Jaune admitted, sneaking a glance at his partner. “I guess, I mean, I've never really been good with girls, and I don't really know anyone, but, well, I'll figure it out. What about you, Pyrrha?”

    “I... I'm not sure either, but I have someone in mind,” the champion replied. She thought about winking at Jaune, thought about even just blurting it out, but decided against it. This wasn't a good time, she told herself.

    Good for you, Pyrrha. I've-”

    “Class starts in five minutes,” Ren interrupted. He really didn't want to do it- he was well aware of what was (or, rather, wasn't) going on between them- but they really were going to be late. He knew the two would take more time than they had.

    “Oh, crap!” Their leader bolted upright, nearly spilling his orange juice all over himself. Their plates were abandoned as they bolted out of the hall toward the Grimm Studies classroom.

    * * * * *

    The Beacon library was occupied, but quiet. Classes were almost finished for the day, but few wanted to study. Only the most studious of students, people looking for specific materials, and those that were falling behind were in the cavernous halls.

    “I thought I might find you here,” Ren said to his red-haired teammate, slowly approaching.

    Pyrrha closed her notebook and turned to face her teammate. “You were looking for me?”

    “Not specifically.” He held up a small paperback book.

    She read the title. “Quotations of Origins Unknown?”

    “It's about supposed sayings and such with no discernible origin,” Ren replied, sitting down beside her. “It's quite popularist, and the research isn't very good, but it's entertaining if nothing else.”

    He glanced at her notebook, which was covered in illegible scrawl. “How long have you spent on that essay?”

    The champion smiled ruefully. “I've spent hours without making significant progress.”

    “Is something bothering you?” Ren already knew the answer, and what answer she would give.

    “I'm fine.” She replied, her tone harsher than usual.

    He insisted, “You're not fine.”

    Pyrrha snapped her notebook shut and glared at him. “I said I'm fine! There's nothing wrong!”

    “Something is bothering you,” Ren insisted. “Something serious.”

    “I don't want to talk about it.”

    “Fair enough.” He decided to try another tactic. “Who's your date for the dance?”

    “I haven't asked him yet,” Pyrrha replied with a quiet sigh, answering both questions.

    “Jaune?” Ren had noticed that her affections for their leader went beyond simple friendship. Despite his quiet, sometimes antisocial nature, he was quite good at reading people.

    She nodded. “I'm the champion of Mistral, yet I can't even ask out that... charming... idiot. It's pathetic, isn't it?”

    He shook his head and replied sagely. “We all have our own fears and insecurities, no matter how indomitable we may seem. It is how we face them that defines us.”

    He paused before stepping down to a more pragmatic statement. “You're not perfect, Pyrrha, and neither is Jaune. He knows that and so do you. It's clear there's something between you.So why don't you want to ask him to the dance?”

    “I do want to, Ren,” she replied. “But what if he says no? What if he doesn't like me? He's one of the few who's ever seen me for, well, me, and the only one I've ever managed to get close to. I don't think I can take-”

    “Stop,” Ren interrupted firmly. “To be rejected would be a terrible blow, a wound that may or may not heal with time. But to not ask at all would be a wound that would inevitably fester with time. You of all people should know that you may never have another opportunity. And if you don't, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”

    He offered a rare smile. “Besides, I don't think that will be a problem.”

    “You really think so?”

    “I may not be the most social, but I know what the people around me are feeling,” he replied. “I can tell you already care about each other very much.”

    She smiled back. “Thanks, Ren.”

    “It's not a problem. Now, I think you have a date to ask out.”

    * * * * *

    “So, Jaune-Jaune, who are the lucky girls you have in mind?” Nora asked for the third time, jumping off the bed. “Or the lucky guys, if that's what you like.”

    He put down his textbook, realizing that he had read the section on Beowolf behaviour three times and was halfway through reading it again, yet had no idea what it actually said. “There's nobody, Nora. I can't think of anyone who I can ask.”

    “But there's lots of pretty girls here,” she reminded him. “And handsome guys. And pretty guys. And handsome girls.”

    “Yeah, but I don't know any of them well enough, and I'm not exactly the most attractive guy in the world.” He sighed. “I mean, I was going to ask Weiss to the dance, but, well, you know...”

    “She's dead,” Nora said casually. “And she never liked you anyway.”

    “Nora!”

    “Well, it's true,” Nora rolled her eyes. “Weiss was many things, a lot of things that a lot of people didn't get to see, but liking you? No. Not that way. Never would have worked.”

    “It's rude to-”

    “Not speaking ill,” she replied in a grossly inappropriate singsong voice. At least Nora was back to her normal self, if you could call that normal.

    She did a frontflip off the bed. “So, you were going to ask the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, who everyone figured was way above them, but you're afraid to ask anyone else?”

    “Well, yes!” he replied. “I don't know, I guess I just had a crush on her before I knew that, and I kept going because of that, but now, I don't even know where to start. Nora, this is Beacon. The most promising students in the world go here. How can I compete with that?”

    “Love isn't about who's the best at something,” Nora told him. “It's about who likes who, for whatever reason.”

    “That's... not really helpful, Nora. There's not a lot of reasons to like me over anyone else. I mean, I'm-”

    Nora zipped in front of him and poked him in the forehead. “Stop that thinking right there, Jaune! There are lots of reasons to like you! In fact, I can tell you, with absoballylute certainty, that there is at least one girl who does.”

    She covered her mouth with her hand. “Probably shouldn't have said that.”

    Jaune stared at her. “Really? Who?”

    “Well... she spends most of her time right in this room,” she hinted, hoping that the dense blonde would get the hint.

    He didn't. “I thought you said you were going with Ren?”

    “Not me, silly! Your partner, Pyrrha!” She covered her mouth again. “Oops.”

    Jaune laughed. “Pyrrha? She's a good friend, but there's no way. She's way too good for me. You don't think she really likes me, does she?”

    “Why don't you find out?”

    “I don't know... I mean, it's Pyrrha. She's the Invincible Girl!” He waved his arms for emphasis.

    “Is she?”

    Am I? Am I, Jaune? “...no.”

    “Do you like her?”

    He couldn't deny that he felt something for his partner, even if he wasn't sure what it was. He sputtered “Well, I guess, I mean, who doesn't-”

    Nora grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him toward the door. “Then go out there and get her!”

    * * * * *

    Pyrrha ran into Jaune in a hallway outside their dorm. Literally. She crashed to the ground, taking the blonde down with her.

    “Sorry!” Jumping to her feet, she blurted out- “Jaune, will you be my date for the dance?”

    “Hey, I'm wondering if- what?” Jaune gave her a look of confusion as he stumbled back up.

    With a mix of frustration and desire, she repeated, “Can I take you to the dance?”

    Jaune took her hands in his and smiled. “Yes. Absolutely.”

    She smiled back. It felt as if everything was right with the world. It was a wonderful moment. It was a moment that didn't last. The blonde frowned and asked, unsure of himself, “Are you sure, though? I mean, I-”

    “Jaune, stop. I'm sure.” She squeezed his hands tighter, smiling sweetly. Her partner still had an awkward, dumbfounded expression on his face. It was, in a way, charming.

    “You don't want to try to find someone... well, better?” he asked quietly.

    “I don't want better. I want you.”

    And once again, the moment was perfect again.

    * * * * *

    Despite all the spin, all the lies and all the rationalization, she knew what they were really doing.

    She knew that they were willing to do anything and then some. So when she came across something they had refused, it set off alarm bells in her head. This time, the more she looked, the more it frustrated her. And this didn't disgust her. It scared her.

    What were they not doing? She wasn't naive; she knew that if the SDC wouldn't do it, someone would. And this was something she just had a bad feeling about.

    Grabbing her scroll- the one that was registered to Glacias, not her company one- she fired off another message.
     
    GBscientist, beleester, Qeqre and 9 others like this.
  19. I'll admit this chapter's rougher than the last, though I think it's still a lot better than Chapter 5 in that regard. There are a few chapters that I couldn't think of a good title for, and this is one of them.

    The chapter title is terrible and mostly irrelevant, I know.

    Episode 7: Dance Dance Subjugation

    Jaune Arc had only one word to describe his partner. “Wow.”

    She was simply stunning in Jaune's mind, and he was sure in anyone else's too. She wore a long, closely cut red dress with a partial back, attached to her neck. Her sparkling green eyes were complimented with just a touch of makeup. Intricate gold earrings dangled from her ears. With her heels, she stood just a few inches shorter than him.

    Pyrrha Nikos smiled at him. “I could say the same about you.”

    He wasn't the sharpest dressed or best looking man in the party, she knew. His red-trimmed tuxedo didn't fit quite right and his red bow tie was crooked. It looked like he'd tried valiantly to comb his hair and lost the battle completely. But he had clearly put in a lot of effort, and Pyrrha only cared that he tried. Besides, he didn't need a fancy outfit. The smile she got back was all she wanted.

    Taking one of Pyrrha's soft hands in his own, Jaune gestured to the entrance with the other. “Shall we?”

    The greeter at the door- a sharply dressed man with blue-streaked hair- nodded to the latest arrivals as they entered the hall. “Have fun, guys.”

    Pyrrha replied for both of them. “We will, Mister Laguna.”

    He chuckled at that, “Please, I'm not that old. Call me Arvin.”

    “Sure thing, Arvin,” Jaune replied, leading Pyrrha into the hall.

    Beacon's main hall had been completely transformed for the event. It was normally an ornate, but very functional space. Tonight, it was an eloquent ballroom. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The walls were richly gilded and the floor eloquently patterned. Lit trees and statues were placed around the room, along with elegant tables and chairs. The decorations may have been potmetal and paint, but they looked good enough from a distance. All that was missing was a live orchestra- the decorated and hidden sound system would have to do.

    “They did pretty good for the last minute,” the blonde said to his partner. He let go of his partner and stepped ahead onto the crowded dance floor. “May I have this dance?”

    She took his hand once more, a glowing smile on her face. “You may indeed.”

    * * * * *

    “It appears all the dancers have partners,” Emerald Sustrai observed idly, observing the dance floor from the second floor gallery. In fact, she was watching to see if anyone was leaving or getting suspicious, and her statement was a per-arranged code phrase.

    A harsh female voice buzzed in her ear, “How long do I have?”

    “You should probably be home by midnight, to be safe.” Clear for now, but stay cautious because someone might leave.

    “I'll keep my eye on the clock.” Proceeding with caution.

    * * * * *

    The pair of lovers danced together for what seemed like both hours and seconds, time ceasing to pass at its normal rate. They were completely absorbed in each other, rocking back and forth in an elegant tango and dancing the night away.

    “Want to, uh, take a break?” Jaune asked awkwardly. His feet were getting sore, and he really just wanted to hold his partner- girlfriend's hands and maybe even kiss her or- no, bad thoughts, Jaune. Take it slowly.

    “Okay,” Pyrrha replied gently. She gave her partner a reassuring smile and led him off the dance floor, up the staircase toward the exterior balcony. “Where did you learn to dance like that?”

    “I grew up with seven sisters,” the blonde replied with a shrug, pushing open the exterior door. Refreshingly cool night air blew into his face as he followed his partner outside. “You just kind of pick these things up.”

    Pyrrha leaned against the balustrade, wrapping an arm around the blonde. They were the only ones on the balcony, and they had a beautiful view of the Beacon campus. “What's it like?”

    “What's what like?”

    “Growing up normally, just as Jaune Arc, growing up with seven sisters.”

    He sighed. “It wasn't really as normal as you think. I guess we're not really known in Mistral, but the Arc name is kind of a big deal.”

    “Oh?” In truth, she'd never really thought about it. She knew from what Jaune told her that he came from a family of hunters, but had assumed they weren't exactly famous. “How big?”

    “My great-great-grandfather was one of the most highly decorated veterans of the war,” he replied. “Ever since then, the Arc family has been a family of heroes. Up until, well, me.”

    It surprised her more than it should have. She'd assumed that her partner's doubt came mostly from within, that he was overblowing the history of his family. But now, she realized they weren't as different as they thought. “So they expected you to be-”

    “Perfect? No.” He laughed nervously. “But they expected me to be a hell of a lot better than I was. And... so did I, I guess.”

    “I don't know if they really meant to put the pressure on me,” he continued after a pause. “It's always been the son of the Arc that's the big hero. It was just kind of an expected thing, you know? Live up to the family name, carry on the tradition.”

    He suddenly stepped away from the edge. “I wasn't always bad, Pyrrha. They knew I had talent- I knew I had talent. But then I started falling behind, and I guess at some point we all just kind of gave up. Joanna was the new hope, and I was the embarrassment.”

    “That must have felt terrible.”

    He nodded slowly. “It did. I felt so worthless. Agricultural engineering? An Arc, going into agricultural engineering? I felt like a failure. Sometimes I blamed my parents, blamed my sisters, blamed the system- but usually I blamed myself.”

    He whirled around. “But I don't want to ruin this evening. I have- huh?”

    “What is it, Jaune?” his partner asked, concerned at his sudden change in tone.

    “Her.” With a slight tilt of his head, the blonde motioned to the ground below them- or rather the black-clad woman dashing across it towards the communications tower. “Something's not right.”

    “Should we go investigate?” Pyrrha asked, her voice suddenly businesslike.

    “Yeah. Call our gear,” he replied in the same tone before climbing over the edge of the barrier and dropping to the ground. His partner pulled out her scroll and tapped in a few instructions before elegantly jumping over the same barrier and landing in a roll.

    Several seconds later, their lockers dropped out of the sky, making craters in the ground. They rushed over and pulled out the contents, arming themselves with their familiar weapons.

    “On the roof,” Jaune called to his partner, dashing forward. There was no way they could climb up and chase her, so they were forced to take the long way around the building. By the time they had made their way around, there was no sign of the mysterious woman. “Where did she go?”

    “The transmit tower.” Pyrrha pointed to the imposing structure and the conspicuous absence of the guards that should have been posted.

    Her teammate didn't catch on. “Are you sure?”

    “It's supposed to be guarded,” she replied, taking the lead with her weapon drawn. “And the guards are gone.”

    Jaune rushed ahead and called the elevator. “We've got to find out what's happening.”

    * * * * *

    The intruder leaned over the computer console, which bleeped at her in response to the typed commands. She suspected that she was being followed- call it intuition- and felt the pressure as she did her work. Despite this, she remained calm. It was simple and it was almost done.

    “A party guest is leaving,” a female voice stated through her earpiece. So she was right, sort of.

    She sighed, but didn't stop typing. “Which one?”

    “Ironwood.” The General was a major threat, but it was unlikely that he left to go after her. But if he checked the guards, things could go south quickly. It wasn't an immediate threat, but she knew that she needed to finish as quickly as possible.

    Which she was already doing.

    A different voice, this one male, asked, “Should we intervene?”

    Behind the intruder, the terminals came to life, displaying a black chess piece on a green background. “No. We're done here.”

    She stepped back from the terminal, but immediately ducked back under it when the elevator doors opened. She thought about reprimanding her subordinates, but decided against it. They might hear her, and that was the last thing she wanted.

    Sneaking a glance, she saw that there were not one but two new arrivals. One of them was a scraggly blonde in a rough tuxedo- she recognized him as Jaune Arc, leader of one of Beacon's more promising first-year teams. And friends of the late- sort of- RWBY. “Hello? Is there anyone here?”


    His partner, the Mistralian champion Pyrrha Nikos, said confidently, “Someone is here.”

    She could take one of them- especially the blonde idiot- easily. Two of them, though, could be a problem. They were only first-year students, but one of them could get lucky, and a fight wouldn't exactly be quiet.

    The students stepped forward carefully, scanning around them and covering each other. She had to move. So she did, standing slowly and making herself look as non-threatening as possible. With one hand, she reached for a canister of ice Dust and opened it.

    The blonde noticed her right away. “Hey! What are you doing here?”

    She didn't reply, instead tossing the ice dust straight at them. Before they could do anything, it went off, clouding the room in a thick fog.

    “Where'd she go?”

    “Damn it!”

    She was sure that they were searching for her, but neither of them could see or hear her as she made her quick exit. Her main worry was that one of them would start shooting randomly- some things in the room did not react well to bullets- but that fortunately did not happen.

    The infiltrator chuckled internally as she slipped out of the communications centre. By the time the fog cleared, she would be long gone.

    * * * * *

    “I knew something was happening,” a deep voice mused. The students turned to see a powerfully built man in a pristine Atlesian uniform stepping out of the elevator.

    Jaune jumped in surprise. “General Ironwood! Uh, sir?”

    “What happened?” the General asked, surveying the scene. There wasn't any serious damage, just a lot of fog and pair of confused students.

    He replied, “Uh, we saw this woman sneaking around, so we followed her, and she came up here, and then we confronted her and she threw something and now she's gone.”

    He shrugged. “I'm sorry. We couldn't-”

    That meshed with Ironwood's suspicions. Still, he wondered what she actually did up here. “You did the best you could. You weren't expecting this.”

    Pyrrha picked up on his wording. “And you were?”

    He nodded before motioning to the elevator. “Go back and enjoy your party; we can debrief in the morning.”

    They duo left in silence, their mood completely soured for the night. In the elevator, Jaune pulled out his scroll and idly toyed with it, his mind a maelstrom of confused thoughts. He blinked in surprise.

    “Jaune?” Pyrrha asked, concerned. She moved closer to her partner. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, yeah, I'm fine,” he replied. He turned his scroll to show the message to her. “Glacias.”

    “This is big. It goes deep down and all the way to the top.” the champion read. “Cryptic.”

    “Yeah, well, this one isn't.” He brought up a different message and read, “I don't know how involved the Schnee Dust Company is, but there's something that even they won't touch.”

    “The Schnee Dust Company is one of the most controversial in the world,” Pyrrha mentioned. “And we know that a lot of the rumours are true. What kind of thing wouldn't they do?”

    “Maybe they decided to be responsible,” Jaune suggested. “No, maybe it's just not profitable.”

    His partner shook her head. “That's not what the tone of the message suggested.”

    “Well, we can think about this tomorrow,” Jaune concluded as the elevator came to a stop. “What do you say we just enjoy the rest of the night?”

    She smiled. “I'd like that.”
     
  20. So, where was last week's chapter? Because of scheduling and generally being busy, I'm probably going to skip a few weeks with this story. This may or may not be announced in advanced.

    This is probably the most conservative of the stories I've written in recent memory. I kind of went back on forth and keeping it close to canon in the early stages, but a general lack of inspiration kind of limited the amount of divergence. The original concept was JNPR replacing RWBY, but I think I might have taken it too literally.

    With that being said, Glacias is fun to write and her parts are more out there, and I have a few original episodes planned post-Breach. I think the last parts are going to be the most exciting.

    Episode 8: One Way Trip

    The atmosphere in the Headmaster's office was tense. The occupants of the room were still recovering after a long, eventful night, and recent events had only ground on them more.

    “Now, the General here has already informed of the events that... transpired last night,” Ozpin said, his eyes flicking between the nervous blonde and the stoic redhead. “But now that you've rested, we were wondering if you had anything to add.”

    “Was anyone else with her?” Professor Goodwitch asked, crop loosely in hand “Did she look familiar to you at all?”

    “We, uh, we didn't see anyone else, just her,” Jaune Arc answered awkwardly. “And she was wearing a mask, so we couldn't see her face. And she didn't say anything.”

    “She used ice Dust,” Pyrrha added, thinking back to the events of the night. “She had a container, but the effects were too great for the quantity she had. I believe she had woven Dust into her clothing as well.”

    “That's right, she glowed!” Jaune added. “I didn't really think about it at the time but for a second she was glowing. Like, her eyes were glowing.”

    The General was unimpressed. “Embedding Dust into clothing is an age-old technique. It could have been anyone.”

    “Her focus seemed to be on stealth,” Pyrrha added. “One she saw us, she tried to act non-threatening, and then covered her escape with the Dust.”

    “That sounds like the woman I fought the night we met Ruby,” Glynda remarked.

    “You think, uh, you think she's connected with Torchwick and the White Fang?” Jaune asked hopefully.

    “It's possible,” the Headmaster allowed. He stared at the nervous boy. “But we still lack the required evidence to link the two together. Perhaps there is something else?”

    Jaune was confused. Did the Headmaster already know about their encounter with the White Fang? He decided to take a chance. “Actually, uh, now that I think about it, I think she said something about a hideout, or something, in the southeast. Just outside the Kingdom.”

    He nodded in response. In fact, it was exactly the answer he was looking for. “Interesting.”

    Glynda furrowed her brow in confusion. “I thought you said the intruder never-”

    Ozpin cut her off. “Thank you for your cooperation. You may take your leave now.”

    The adults watched silently as the two students disappeared into the elevator.

    “Well there we have it,” General Ironwood concluded after they had left. “We send as many troops as we can to the southeast, find out exactly what's going on, and eradicate any forces that stand in our way.”

    Professor Goodwitch growled in frustration. “Why must your answer to everything involve a triumphant display of military bravado!?”

    The Headmaster held up his hand for silence. “The general has a point.”

    Glynda glared at him. “Are you actually supporting this?”

    Ozpin shook his head, standing and swirling the coffee in his mug. “I said the general has a point, not that I agree with it. Perhaps sending in the troops would resolve the situation. Taking a quick and decisive action, ending this before it spreads.”

    He took a sip. “On the other hand, we must remember that this may go beyond Vale. And if this truly is part of some master plan for which we know not the final move, we mustn't be so bold. We could make the situation worse, or even play into their hands.”

    “I have served you faithfully for years...” Ironwood replied, and edge to his voice. “But if you mean to tell me that your plan is to hold the defences, and wait-”

    “It is not!” the Headmaster snapped. “You're a general, James. So tell me, when you prepare to go to war, which do you send in first? The flag bearers, or the scouts?”

    * * * * *

    She was the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, soon to be one of the most powerful people in the world. She had been given only the finest in education, training, and peers. She wasn't the perfect girl- no, that was her late sister- but she was damn close. She may have only been fifteen, but she possessed knowledge and intelligence of someone twice her age.

    Yet she was still out of her element.

    Like the movies, she had a dizzying array of information- paper and electronic- arrayed in front of her. Unlike the movies, it was dizzying- she had no idea what was what. She had all kinds of data on where money was flowing, where Dust was flowing, where people were flowing. She had information on who was screwing who and who was screwing with who. Yet none of it actually meant anything.

    She was sure there was plenty of dirt there, plenty of evidence on illicit dealings. If she knew what she was doing, she could probably take down half the organized crime in Atlas with the information she had. Of course, that was the crux of the problem and she knew it.

    The girl leaned back and closed her eyes, focusing on what she did know. She knew that Torchwick was the man at the front, although he was almost certainly not the leader. She knew they had at least one and probably a lot more Atlesian Paladins- whoever they were. She knew that they were stealing massive quantities of Dust in Vale.

    Anyone who watched the news knew that.

    She knew from her sister's last letter that the Schnee Dust Company was involved, but she didn't know how. She knew that they had tried to take down Torchwick, who was doing something big, and that it had resulted in her death and the death of her team. She knew that it was big, whatever it was.

    She'd managed to learn one thing, which was where the Dust was going. Not an exact location, but she knew that it wasn't staying in the Kingdoms it was stolen from. Of course, that meant little. A lucrative black market was known to operate in the outskirts and the Grimmlands, where Dust was necessary for survival and its source hardly mattered. Even if she could find the Dust smuggling operation, it was unlikely the law would be able to reach them.

    Perhaps she had been too hasty. Maybe she was so distraught she was grabbing at straws that weren't there. It could all be coincidence. The strange directives that nobody was supposed to see, the massive quantities of Dust being sold to nonexistent companies at rock-bottom prices, the same meaningless names that kept appearing. But she had a bad feeling about it, and if there was one thing she had learned from her sister than she wasn't supposed to have learned, it was to trust her feelings.

    The strangest thing she had seen was the references to Activation. She had no idea what it was- whoever had written the memos had been very careful about that- but there was a thread of messages from her father to an unknown outsider talking about it. Technically, she wasn't supposed to have access to that, but she was more observant than her father thought.

    It wasn't that he said no. Her father had said no to many things for business reasons, and was often right about it. It was the way he said no. As if he saw potential but didn't want to take advantage of it. As if he was afraid of it. And she had never, ever seen her father afraid of anything, especially when it came to business deals.

    She gathered up her materials and locked them away in her safe. Dr. Polendina's reluctance was cited several times in the letters. She would go and see if she could get some answers out of that insane genius.

    * * * * *

    A mixture of excitement and trepidation pervaded the auditorium. It was filled with students from all four kingdoms, from the various academies participating in the Vytal Festival. Soon, they would be selecting a mission to go on as part of their training. For nearly all of them, this would be the first time they truly headed into danger.

    “Quiet! Quiet please,” Professor Glynda Goodwitch called from the front of the room. “Professor Ozpin would like to share a few words before we begin.”

    “Today we stand together, united. Mistral. Atlas. Vacuo. Vale. The four Kingdoms of Remnant,” Ozpin began, his voice reflective.

    “On this day, nearly eighty years ago, the largest war in recorded history came to an end. It was a war of ignorance, of greed, and of oppression. A war that was about much more than where borders fell or who traded with whom, but about the very idea of individualism itself.

    “We fought for countless reasons, one of which being the destruction of all forms of art and self-expression. And as you are well aware, that was something many could not stand for. As a result, those who opposed this tyranny began naming their children after one of the core aspects of art itself, colour.

    “It was their way to demonstrate that not only would they refuse to tolerate this oppression, but neither were the generations to come. And it was a trend that is held to this very day. We encourage individuality, expressionism, and unity through diversity. As I have said, today we stand together, united.

    “But this bond cannot exist without effort. Which is why today, while the rest of the world celebrates peace, Huntsmen and Huntresses will work to uphold it. As first year students, you will be tasked with shadowing a professional Huntsman or Huntress on a mission. Some of you may be taken out of the Kingdom for several days. Others may work within the walls for the rest of the week.

    “But no matter which path you choose, remember to be safe, remember your training, and remember to do your very best.” With that, he stepped away from the microphone and allowed the students to begin choosing missions from the automated terminals.

    “So...” Jaune asked, turning to his team. “Do we try?”

    “Try what?” Nora asked.

    “The southeast,” he replied. “We know the White Fang is there- they have to be! That's where we'll find, well, answers. Hopefully.”

    “I think it's risky,” Ren told him. “But I believe it is worth trying.”

    “I thought you wanted to-”

    “It can wait,” he reassured his leader.

    “Nora?”

    “Let's do it!”

    “Pyrrha?”

    “They would have done it,” his partner said quietly.

    “They would have,” Jaune replied with a nod. He walked over to one of the terminals and selected a Search and Destroy mission in Quadrant 5, entering in the team identifier.

    “Mission unavailable to first year students,” the blonde read, deflated. “Well, so much for that.”

    “Unfortunately, we determined that the concentration of Grimm was too extreme for first-year students,” Ozpin explained, seeming to appear out of nowhere. “It seems that particular region is rather popular. In fact, I have the sneaking suspicion that you four will make your way there no matter which job you choose.”

    “Uh...”

    “I'm still curious what was really in the message a certain girl sent you. I'm intrigued by the mysterious person you are corresponding with. I'm interested to know how you really learned about a hideout in the southeast. And I certainly wonder why one woman claimed that the Champion of Mistral had stolen her car and left it beside a stretch of collapsed highway.”

    Pyrrha rubbed her hair nervously. “Uh...”

    “I doubt I'll ever find the exact answers I'm looking for,” the Headmaster mused, tapping on his scroll. “So how about this: instead of waiting for you all to break the rules, why don't we just bend them?”

    In front of the team, the message disappeared. “Do not thank me for this. You are heading into grave danger, and I fear that there is more to this than any of you believe. Remember that the pursuit of those that would do us harm, no matter how noble, often results in tragedy. Good luck.”

    * * * * *

    “Did the Headmaster seem a little off to you?” Jaune asked as they waited near the airship docks.

    “I think he considered Team RWBY his proteges,” Ren explained slowly. “I think the Headmaster has taken the loss far worse than it outwardly appears.”

    “Yeah, I mean-” Jaune was interrupted by the bleeping of his scroll. “Huh. It's Glacias.”

    Nora leaned over his shoulder. “What does it say?”

    “The Dust is being shipped to Atlas or somewhere near it,” He read. “It's being used for something called Activation. It's very secret and I'm trying to find out more.”

    “We took a mission,” the blonde leader said firmly. “We're not backing out of it now. Besides, maybe this is something Glacias doesn't know about.”

    “Wow, Team CFVY looks really beat up,” Nora remarked, her attention suddenly focused on a tired team stumbling out of a Bullhead. She watched as Cardin Winchester moved toward the rabbit faunus at the edge of the group, only for his partner to lightly pull him back, shaking his head.

    “So, we're doing this, right?” Jaune asked his team one last time, motioning toward their Bullhead. His voice was nervous, but determined.

    “We're doing this,” Pyrrha said with a smile.

    “Yeah!” Nora shouted. Ren nodded.

    “Then let's go,” Jaune said with conviction, leading his team toward the Bullhead.
     
  21. I'm quite happy with the parts that don't deal with JNPR. It got a bit rushed because of exams and such, but I didn't actually have to cut anything this time.

    I'm still trying to figure out how many weeks I can skip; this story has five more chapters (plus an epilogue) and is planned to end some time in June.


    Episode 9: Hunt and Kill


    “Why, hello students!” an energetic voice greeted from the airship. “Who's ready to fight for their lives?”

    “Uh...” Jaune sputtered, surprised at who they'd be going with.

    “Professor Oobleck?” Nora asked, surprised.

    He continued pacing in front of the Bullhead. “Seeing as you've opted to shadow a Huntsman on what is now essentially a reconnaissance mission, I can assure you, we will not be establishing a single base of operations. Rather, we will be traversing several miles of hazardous wasteland and making camp in any defensible locations we may stumble upon. I packed all of our essentials myself, plotted our air course, and readied the airship.”

    Suddenly, he whirled around and got right in Nora's face. “It's Doctor Oobleck. I didn't earn the PhD for fun, thank you very much!”

    “Uh...”

    “Come now, children; according to my schedule, we are already three minutes behind!” He zipped back toward the airship.

    “I'm sure he knows what he's doing,” Jaune told his team. “I hope.”

    “Doctor Oobleck is a professional huntsman and a professor at one of the most reputable academies in Vale,” Pyrrha assured them. “The mission will go fine.”

    * * * * *

    She did her research before approaching Dr. Polendina. He was the quintessential eccentric genius- wild look, odd quirks, inexplicable insights, and very enthusiastic about his work. He was also, according to his file, a security nightmare, tending to discuss everything openly without any regard for who could hear it. In other words, the perfect man to talk to. She decided to approach him at lunch, when he was further away from the guards meant to prevent him from talking.

    The Doctor liked to take his lunch outside the laboratory building, although they were still within the secure compound. The laboratory building was a large, drab grey structure with windows on some levels and a giant Schnee logo on one side. Outside, the grassy ground was kept green and trimmed, the paths crisscrossing it spotless and the trees and flower beds perfectly maintained. The whole complex was an unnecessary expense and a show of wealth and power.

    “A synthetic being, capable of generating an Aura of her own,” Polendina described, carefully separating the hot dog from its bun. He began to cut the meat into perfect cubes, discarding the edges. “I named her Penny. She seemed to like it- even though she's still figuring out what she likes and dislikes. It's a learned thing. I think you've already seen her- she was in Vale around the time you were. Just like a real Huntress, or she will be once her personality develops.”

    He poked one of the meat cubes with his knife and brought it to his mouth. “They said it was impossible, that a machine could never have an Aura. The truth is, there's just nobody who understands Aura the way I do. It's so ingrained into legend that nobody want to look at it scientifically. But I have unlocked those secrets. And it's an entirely new world of study.”

    As interesting as the synthetic was, she knew that wasn't what Activation referred to. She had access to that project and knew that it went by a different code name. It hadn't changed code names, either- the project was successful and the result was operational. Right now, she was focused entirely on that mysterious name, and she forced herself not to care about the synthetic.

    “But they weren't happy with it!” He finished with the cubes and started on his chips, which he ate with sweet relish and a fork. “They want me to pursue other pursuits! As if I can simply push everything aside and focus on another project by someone else's doing!”

    “Oh? What are you working on now?” She kept her tone casual, as if she was curious about his work and not trying to figure out what Activation was.

    He threw up his arms. “Nothing! They wanted me to look at Spectral Dust again, and then they told me to stop and said they wanted better Aura and Dust detectors. I could make one that could detect a city from twenty-seven scientific miles off, which I think is rather disappointing, but those were good enough-”

    “Wait, you said something about Spectral Dust?”

    “Spectral Dust, my dear Schnee.” He squirted relish on another chip. “What do you know of it?”

    “It's a fifth elemental form of Dust,” she replied. “It's so rare that many don't believe it exists- they consider it nothing more than a myth or legend. Only pennyweight quantities are known to exist, which are too small to meaningfully study.”

    “Until recently, that was true,” he replied. “But I have studied it, and it is amazing! I'll admit that we still don't know about many of its special properties, but its energy potential alone is incredible! If there was a way to get more, it would revolutionize the world like Dust did in the beginning.”

    “Is that what-”

    “Doctor Polendina!” an armed guard in Schnee security armour called, jogging over.

    “Oh, hello, Holly,” the old scientist greeted. “I was just discussing the nature of Spectral Dust with our dear Winter.”

    The guard audibly sighed. “Doctor, you know you're not supposed to talk about that.”

    “But it's very fascinating!” Polendina protested, completely missing the point. “We know we can harness it, it's just a matter of doing it! This could change everything!”

    “Why don't you head back to the lab, sir?” she suggested firmly. She lied, “I think Ironwood sent something he wanted us to take a look at.”

    “Really? Well, I must see this, then.” Leaving his half-finished meal on the table, the scientist trotted off, back toward the monolithic building containing his lab.

    “I'm sorry, Miss Schnee,” the guard told Winter. “This information is strictly compartmentalized. Only the head of the company can authorize people to know it.”

    She paused. “I know you know this already, but please try to forget what you just heard. This is stuff that nobody should hear, especially out of context.”

    “I understand,” Winter replied, standing to leave. “Was it because-”

    “No, he talks to everyone,” Holly told her, confirming the reports she had read. “Really smart guy, but a security nightmare. One of these days, it's going to come back and bite us.”

    “It's your job to prevent that from happening.” Winter put more of an edge on her voice than she really felt.

    “Yes, Miss Schnee.” She sighed internally at the tone. They were already treating her like their master.

    * * * * *

    Pyrrha was beginning to regret her earlier statement of confidence.

    The mission had started out fine. Professor Oobleck was well aware of their true mission- no doubt Ozpin had personally selected and briefed him. He was knowledgeable- what he said made sense and he said it in a way that made it clear that he knew what he was talking about.

    He had explained that the Grimm would be attracted to the hatred and aggression of the group they were pursuing. Their group would stay quiet and out of sight, tracking packs of Grimm toward their targets. It wasn't exactly what they trained for, but it was a good idea.

    That plan lasted until an over-enthusiastic Nora jumped in and sent one of the Beowolves flying like a furry golf ball. Soon they found themselves constantly fighting off Grimm as they advanced through the city. There weren't too many, and they weren't that strong, but she was still worried about Jaune. Tactician or not, he was still kind of a lousy fighter.

    Meanwhile, Professor Oobleck stood by, calmly observing them and the city around them. He never lifted a finger to fight- she still wasn't even sure what his weapon was. In fact, he seemed more focused on random artifacts and samples he examined and collected from the dead city itself than the monsters surrounding them.

    She was sure he had his reasons. She just wasn't sure if they were good reasons or not.

    * * * * *

    As soon as the line was secure, Holly reported, “I think Polendina talked.”

    The voice at the other end was generic, monotone, and probably generated by a computer. “To whom?”

    “Winter Schnee, the new heiress,” she replied.

    “Miss Schnee has been more dedicated and successful than we anticipated,” the voice admitted. “Still, it will not be a problem at this point.”

    “Polendina?”

    “The time has come for Polendina.” She swore inwardly, even though she knew it was coming. “It will be a shame to lose such a brilliant mind, but he is now more a liability than an asset. You know what to do.”

    “Yes, sir,” she replied tersely, before asking, “What about Winter Schnee?”

    “We can't eliminate her. It would be too... messy. But if it becomes a problem, we can deal with her using other means.” There was a slight pause. “In any case, it will not be your responsibility.”

    “Understood.” Taking care of the distinguished scientist would be hard enough. Taking care of a grieving teenager with a shitty, stressful life- well, she didn't think she would be able to do it.

    “Hang in there, Holly.” A rare moment of humanity from the voice at the other end. “Everything is coming together. This will be over soon.”

    “It better be worth it.” The line went dead, and she tossed her Scroll on the messy table in the corner of her apartment. She looked at the half-empty bottle beside it for a moment, but decided against it. Her handler was right. Soon, this would all be over, and they would be able to reap the rewards.

    It didn't mean she had to like what she was doing.

    * * * * *

    “So, uh, are we ready to keep going?” Jaune asked between breaths. Realizing he was still holding his sword in a combat stance, he sheathed it. They'd just finished fighting through what seemed like the hundredth group of Grimm, and it was seriously wearing the blonde down.

    “Nope! I believe that will have to do for today. It's going to be dark soon.” Doctor Oobleck tossed his bag at Ren, who deftly caught it. “You three, set up camp in that building. Oh, and please do make sure there are no more of those... creatures. Your leader and I are going to secure the perimeter.”

    They eyed Jaune nervously, and he gulped subconsciously before following the hyperactive huntsman. Oobleck led him around a corner, toward the edge of the ruined city. The forest outside was visible, along with a pack of-

    “What the hell is that?” Jaune exclaimed, taking a step back from the cliff edge.

    “That, young Arc, is a Grimm.” They looked as if an extinct pachydermidae had been scaled up to the size of a building and given the menacing red eyes and bone plates of a Grimm. They were truly terrifying to behold.

    “How do you kill something like that.” He stared at the professor in shock. “What if it attacks us?”

    Oobleck shook his head. “Those Goliaths are not concerned with us. Not every Grimm is mindless, or rather not every Grimm is still mindless. You see, the Grimm you see before you are so powerful, so superior to the Grimm you fought, that they've undoubtedly lived hundreds of years, and in that time between killing humans and attacking our borders, they have done one important thing.”

    “What did they do?”

    “They've learned. They've learned that when they attack our borders, they're likely to die, and what we lack in strength, we make up for in will, and that killing one human will only bring more. And now they're waiting patiently for their chance to strike, when humanity is at its weakest.”

    He rounded on the nervous blonde. “Tell me, young Arc, what do you know of the history of this place?”

    “It's Mountain Glenn,” he answered. “This is where Vale tried to expand, except the Grimm attacks got too strong and overwhelmed the defences.”

    He nodded. “When you look around yourself, what do you see?”

    “A creepy abandoned city,” he replied simply.

    “I see lives that could have been saved,” Oobleck told him bluntly, with a tinge of sadness. “As a Huntsman, it is my job to protect the people, and although I am capable of doing it with traditional weaponry, I believe I can make a much larger impact if I do it with my mind.”

    “As a teacher, I'm able to take knowledge, the most powerful weapon of them all, and place it in the hands of every student that passes through my classroom. I look at this wasteland, and I see lives that could have been saved, but I also see an opportunity; an opportunity to study these ruins and learn from this tragedy, and therefore become stronger.”

    “You don't want it to happen again,” Jaune said in realization. He didn't get a response.
     
  22. It feels almost like I'm on the home stretch, but I have to remind myself that this doesn't end with Breach. There will be two chapters and an epilogue after that. I really do think they will be the best chapters of this fic.


    Episode 10: Fallen Glenn


    General Ironwood stood on the moonlit balcony. In the distance, the city of Vale lit up the sky, with a few airships visible above it. His mind, however, was not on the view.

    “Trouble sleeping?” Professor Glynda Goodwitch asked, striding out behind him.

    “Arm was acting up.” It was an excuse and they both knew it.

    “Of course, so logically, you got out of bed, dressed yourself completely and decided to gaze menacingly out into the distance.” She stopped beside him, meeting his gaze. “What's wrong?”

    “Ozpin,” the General confided. “I've known him- trusted him- for years. He's always been confident and he's always been decisive. But now it sounds like he doesn't know what to do. He talks like he doesn't even know what's going on. That's not Ozpin.”

    “I'm sure he has his reasons,” she replied. “The past semester has been hard on the headmaster, but I doubt it has affected his judgement.”

    “I didn't come here of my own accord, and I wasn't sent here to provide security,” Ironwood admitted. “I didn't tell Ozpin because I assumed he already knew more than I did. But he only pressed me on it once, and then he just stopped asking. As if he'd just taken my explanation at face value.”

    That wasn't exactly what they'd conversed about, but he didn't want to spread the rumours any farther. Although, if Ozpin really was in the dark, he might have to. The fact that he was being used as a pawn didn't sit well with the General.

    “Give the man some credit, James,” Glynda urged. “I think he knows more than he lets on. And I think it scares him. Or at least as close to scaring him as anything can get.”

    “I've trusted him, Glynda,” he said slowly. “I've trusted him with my life, I've trusted him with the future of... well, the future of everyone. I don't know if I can anymore. If I can't trust him, can anyone trust him?”

    He paused. “What if the Council doesn't trust him anymore? What if they shut him out? We've always been sure, made sure that didn't happen. The problem is, what if we're wrong and they're right?”

    “He won't let it happen, and we're not,” She reminded him, “Ozpin has experience that the rest of us lack. And I think that's something worth remembering.”

    “And what if that experience finally caught up with him?” His question went unanswered.

    * * * * *

    Lie Ren was awoken from his slumber by something cold, hard, and sharp poking him in the ribs. Smoothly, he opened his eyes and sat up, turning to face the offender.

    A half-gloved finger poked him in the nose. “Boop.”

    “I thought Pyrrha had next watch?” the boy asked.

    “She does,” the fully-awake girl confirmed in a stage whisper. Folding Magnhild back up, she said seriously. “Ren, we need to talk.”

    It was an odd tone from her, and it meant something serious was up, but... “Nora, I don't think this is a good time.”

    “Don't be silly, it's a perfect time,” she replied lightly, before her tone turned serious again. “It might be the only time we'll ever have.”

    Before he could protest, the hyperactive girl grabbed him and dragged him out of their makeshift shelter and into the street. There were no Grimm visible, but he knew they were around.

    “Nora-”

    “Shh...” Nora hissed, putting a finger over his mouth. “Not yet.”

    He remained silent as they crept around the ruins, and so did she. That was odd. She wanted to talk, but she wasn't talking. This wasn't about, well, them, was it? Ren was generally confident and calculating, but when it came to their... unique relationship, he generally just dealt with it as it happened.

    “Ren,” Nora said finally, her voice lacking its usual brightness. “You know how we're always together-together? Well, I've been thinking, and I've wanted this for a long time, but I'm scared, but, um, we might not be around forever, and, damn, I just can't wait any longer. Ren, I want to be together-together. I really really want to be together with you, for real.”

    “Uh...” For the first time, he had no idea what to say. He was completely tongue-tied. Did he? Well, yes, he couldn't deny that the feelings weren't there, but was it really a good idea?

    “I was afraid of this,” Nora said, downcast, kicking the dirt. “That even after all this you still wouldn't want to be, well, you know.”

    “No, Nora,” he corrected, laying a gentle arm on her shoulder. “If you want this, then so do I. I have had similar feeling, but I've always dismissed them, because I was afraid of the consequences. After seeing Jaune and Pyrrha, tho-”

    She cut him off. “Shh.”

    He was bewildered. “I'm sorry, I-”

    Ren stopped, realizing that Nora hadn't shushed him because of her feelings. Something- someone- was coming. They ducked down and hid behind what used to be a wall.

    Two men, dressed in the distinctive garb of the White Fang, rounded the corner. Their weapons were at the ready, but not raised. One of them was looking around for something, “What was that?”

    “What was what?” the other one asked, more relaxed.

    “I thought I heard a Beowolf or something.”

    “Hmph.” He wasn't convinced. “Let's just finish our patrol and get back to base. This place gives me the creeps.”

    “Let's follow them!” Nora stage-whispered to her partner before standing up and bolting toward the passing White Fang soldiers.

    “Nora-”

    Unfortunately, she was far from stealthy, and the two Faunus heard her as soon as she stood up. They whirled around, weapons up. “Hey, stop!”

    Nora was faster. In one smooth movement, she unfolded her warhammer and swung it into the closest soldier, sending him flying like a baseball. His shocked partner opened fire, holding down the trigger and spraying in the general direction of the pink-clad terror. Nora swung Magnhild again, this time at the ground, using the momentum to send herself flying into the air and away from the stream of bullets.

    Realizing there was no point in trying to be stealthy any longer, Ren opened fire with StormFlower. The soldier hadn't been expecting an attack from behind and took the brunt of the impact, dropping in seconds.

    “Oh, f-” Nora began as she came back to the ground. Before she'd even made contact with the pavement, it began to split, cracking from the point where she'd hit it earlier. The duo was helpless as the ground came out from under them and they plummeted into the abyss.

    They landed hard on a platform below, their Aura taking the brunt of the impact. The chamber they were in was dark, but they could tell it was an artificial cavern, with many large ruined structures nearby.

    “It's the old city,” Ren realized, standing up and dusting himself off.

    “Yeah, I guess it-” Nora was interrupted by a door opening and two very surprised White Fang soldiers stepping out.

    She raised her hammer again. “I think we found their hideout.”

    * * * * *

    The first thing Jaune Arc noticed when he awoke was that Pyrrha had somehow edged her way closer during the night and they were now almost- but not quite- cuddling.

    The next thing he noticed was the sound of a large explosion close by. That jolted him awake, and he bolted upright, reaching for Crocea Mors with his right hand.

    It woke his partner up, too. Her eyes darted back and forth, searching. “Jaune, what's-”

    Professor Oobleck was already awake. He told them, “Grab your weapons. Nora and Ren may be in trouble!”

    Jaune looked around and realized that neither of them were still there. He guessed that Nora was the source of the explosion, and it probably wasn't a good thing. He grabbed his sword and followed the Professor out of the ruined building, with a now wide-awake Pyrrha right behind him.

    They ran down the streets, stopping in front of a gaping chasm that had opened up in the pavement. Jaune was hesitant to approach the edge, but he could hear gunfire and explosions below.

    “Nora! Ren! Are you down there?” he called. It was useless. Even if they had replied, none of them could hear over the distance and sounds of battle.

    “Hurry up! No time to waste!” Oobleck said before jumping into the hole.

    “I guess there's only one way down,” Jaune said to his partner, doing the same.
     
  23. ShotgunWilly

    ShotgunWilly Rat Bastard Super Awesome Happy Funtime

    Well, writing's not bad. I do have one criticism. What we have here, quite frankly, feels like little more than a stark retelling of Volume 2. There are hints of more and hints of changes, and maybe I'm just missing something, but that's what I've seen so far: a retelling of volume 2 with JNPR in RWBY's place, with most of the same scenes and even some of the same dialogue with pretty much nil divergence from the episodes with the exceptions of the aforementioned hints.

    Just saying.
     
  24. That's more or less what it is.

    The original concept was "Volume 2 with JNPR". It wasn't meant to be that literal- they were supposed to do things differently and I did have plans to smoothly integrate the second storyline rather than tacking it on where it would fit.

    So, what happened? Well... most of the chapters are written in two or three days. I don't have the time or ideas to do a good job. The car chase was supposed to be something different, but I couldn't think of anything in time, so I just kind of rehashed the existing chase. A lot of dialogue is lifted because it's much faster than writing proper dialogue. In other words, this fic gets whatever effort and motivation I have left over, and if it's not there, I hack around it.

    That's not an excuse and it's barely an explanation. I realized fairly quickly that it would never be a good fic. But on the other hand, it was never meant to do anything but fill in certain holes.
     
  25. This was delayed by one week so I could finish up some other stuff. The next chapter will probably be on time, but it depends how other things go. That one may also have to wait a week, but it shouldn't hurt the overall schedule because there are only three episodes of this left.

    The fight scenes were very difficult to write. I'm much more used to writing big, epic battles rather than close-up fight scenes. Which we will see. But not yet.

    Episode 11: No Escape

    “Sir, we're under attack,” Perry reported redundantly.

    Roman gritted his teeth, biting back a sharp retort. He could hear the shouting and explosions, and guessed it was that crazy girl who had infiltrated their meeting earlier. “We're expediting this operation. Attach the car and spread the word: We're starting the train.”

    “But we're not-”

    The human held up a hand for silence. The sounds intensified, and he could hear panicked shouting now. Of course someone had to show up and make a mess of things. “Get to your places, we are leaving now!”

    “Got it, boss.”

    As the faunus ran away to do whatever the hell it was he did, the thief waved to his partner. She looked uphappy. “Yes, we're going through with this. We're almost done, I promise.”

    She was still scowling as they strode briskly toward the engine at the front of the train. In an effort to assuage his partner, he added, “After this nasty business, we'll slip away, we can get ice cream, maybe kill someone, and reap the admittedly disappointing profits we've already made.”

    She gave him a quizzical, confused but happy look. That was what they wanted to do all along, but there had always been an obstacle in their way.

    He shrugged. “To hell with Cinder. She should have held up her end.”

    * * * * *

    “What's happening?” Jaune asked Ren, ducking below the angry blade of a White Fang soldier.

    He explained calmly, “We ran into some White Fang. They saw us and when we fought them, the road collapsed. It appears this is their base of operations.”

    “No, why were you out here in the first place?”

    “Oh, we were going to boop,” Nora said casually. She transformed her weapon back into hammer form in preparation to hit another of the faunus.

    “Nora!”

    “Okay, not exactly. But we did have a heartfelt conversation.” She swung Magnhild, sending the soldier crashing into the wall of the cavern. “Boop!”

    “So you finally decide to get together and you have to do it now?” Pyrrha asked, frustration tinging her voice.

    “No time like the present!” Another swing, another dead faunus. “Boop!”

    “Guys, they're doing something,” Jaune interrupted, pointing at what appeared to be a large armoured train. “I think they're-”

    “They're loading up the train,” Oobleck finished, appearing from seemingly nowhere. “But the tunnels are sealed. Where are they going?”

    “They're going somewhere.”

    “Then we must ascertain their destination.”

    Jaune pointed his sword. “We have to get on that train.”

    They ran toward the train as it began to accelerate. The Professor was the first to climb up, followed by Nora, who jumped up with a whoop and half-dragged Ren with her. Pyrrha nimbly leapt from the ground to the top of the train. Jaune took a deep breath, dashed toward the accelerating vehicle, and jumped.

    He didn't quite make it. His arms scrambled for purchase against the slick sides of the train before a gloved hand grabbed his arm. “I've got you.”

    “Thanks,” he said to his partner.

    “Wow, look at what's on this train,” Nora said, peeking into an open hatch. “Looks like mechs and battle robots. I guess this is what the guy with the hat was talking about. And what's that beeping... oh. Uh oh.”

    “What do you mean uh-oh?” Jaune asked.

    “I think it's a- Doctor, is that a bomb?”

    “Yes, it's a bomb! Quickly, move forward!” Oobleck shouted. They followed him as he dashed down the length of the traincar and jumped to the next train. “Pyrrha, make sure-”

    They were interrupted by the car with the bomb suddenly decoupling itself. “What?”

    It exploded, the shockwave buffeting them. On a hunch, Oobleck opened the access hatch on the car they were on top of. “This one also has a bomb.”

    Before they could say anything, he zipped to the next car. “And this one! No, no, no!”

    “What?” Jaune asked, following the professor.

    “They all have bombs! The cars detach-” As if on cue, the car they had just been on decoupled. “The cars detach and explode, creating openings for the Grimm. He's leading them to the city!”

    “We really have to stop this-”

    “Guys, bad guys,” Nora interrupted, pointing to the White Fang soldiers, flanked by Atlesian Paladins, climbing on top of the train and heading toward them.

    “Pyrrha, with me. The rest of you, go below and try to stop those bombs!”

    * * * * *

    “Does anyone have any ideas?” Jaune asked, gingerly poking the literal ticking time bomb.

    “We could smash it... no, that's a horrible idea,” Nora proposed before backing off.

    Ren examined it for a moment. “It won't fit through the hatch, and it seems to be bolted to the floor.”

    The bomb started beeping and Jaune jumped back. “Okay, we've got to move. We're just going to have to stop this train. No problem, right?”

    Nora gave him a thumbs-up as she swung open the door. “No pr... problem!”

    Standing in the middle of the train car was one of the biggest faunus they had ever seen, rippling muscles visible beneath his White Fang uniform. He started the massive chainsaw in his hands and advanced menacingly.

    With a manic grin, Nora unfolded Magnhild into its hammer form. “Go! I've got him!”

    Jaune hesitated, glancing at Ren who gave him a slight nod. The two young men ran down the sides of the wide train car and into the next compartment. Jaune slammed the door behind them.

    “Jaune,” Ren told him calmly, keeping his eyes on his opponent. The pink and brown girl they had seen with Torchwick sat on a packing crate, idly twirling her parasol. “Go on. I have this.”

    He didn't hesitate this time, charging forward and into the compartment door as Ren opened fire with StormFlower behind him. His foot caught on the threshold and he half-rolled, half-slid across the floor before dragging himself back up.

    His opponent cleared his throat, idly toying with his cane. The blonde looked at him with recognition and rage. “You're Roman Torchwick.”

    “In the flesh. How do you do?”

    “You... you!” Jaune stammered. “You're the scum who stole all that Dust, and all those robots!”

    He sighed. “Ineloquent and impolite. Still, I suppose it was too much to expect from someone who lied their way into Beacon.”

    “How do you- I'm better than you think!” the blonde retorted angrily.

    “I apologize, that was uncalled for.” Roman raised his hands in mock surrender. “How about this? You stop fighting, we stop fighting, we ride this train to its destination, and then what I do is my business and what you do is yours!”

    “Never!” Jaune shouted. “We're stopping this train, not letting it destroy Vale!”

    He raised his cane. “Well, I suppose it was worth a shot.”

    * * * * *

    “Forward, Pyrrha!” Oobleck ordered, already charging toward the enemy. He took a sip from his cylindrical flask before flicking it forward, expanding it into a bat-like weapon with a small flame at the tip.

    Pyrrha followed closely, readying Miló in its sword form. She reached out with her Semblance, snagging the legs of one of the Paladins and twisting it. The machine stumbled and slid off the side of the train with a loud crunch.

    The professor wasted no time, swinging his incendiary bat at one of the mechs several times in quick succession. Each hit dented and melted the armour and beat the machine back before it ran out of roof and fell onto the tracks below.

    The remaining mech opened fire, covering a group of White Fang soldiers as they rushed forward. The champion used her shield to deflect the incoming bullets and transformed her weapon into javelin form and threw it, piercing through two of the faunus and knocking them off the train.

    Oobleck unleashed a barrage of fireballs at the Paladin. They didn't penetrate the tough armour, but disoriented the pilot, giving the doctor enough time to swing his weapon into a faunus opponent, sending her pulverized corpse flying with enough force to knock the Paladin back onto the platform it had climbed up from.

    The White Fang soldiers kept coming, however, flanked by another pair of Paladins.

    “We're not going to get through this in time!” Pyrrha voiced. She used her Semblance to pull Miló back toward herself and caught it deftly in her right hand.

    “Then let's hope the others are being met with more success!”

    * * * * *

    Nora kept her usual manic grin on her face as she ducked under the huge faunus's chainsaw. Neither of them were experienced at fighting in close quarters, and neither of them had the right weapon for it, but she was smaller and faster than her opponent.

    The pink girl replied with a swing from Magnhild, catching the giant in the left hand with the blunt end of the hammer. She pulled the trigger and grinned as he howled in pain, dropping the massive chainsaw.

    She took the opportunity, transforming her weapon into grenade launcher form and firing six rounds at point blank with no regard for her own safety or the environment around her. Holes appeared in the walls of the train, the slipstream whistling in around. the jagged metal.

    The White Fang fighter dragged himself back up, grabbing the chainsaw with his other hand. He swung at the same time as his opponent, and their weapons slammed together. Nora pulled the trigger again, separating them, and carried the swing through, building momentum by firing again and slamming the hammer into the side of the faunus. He went flying into the side of the car, cracking it further.

    That gave her any idea that anyone but her would consider very bad. She swung again once, twice, three times. The damaged metal behind the faunus cracked, buckled, and finally gave in, his battered body breaking through and bouncing comically away along the tracks below.

    Nora gave a mock salute before hurrying forward to help Ren.

    * * * * *

    Ren placed his strikes carefully, ducking and weaving around his opponent's parasol. She was swift and agile, but so was he. She blocked well with her parasol, but she only had one parasol, and he had two StormFlowers. He swung with one, and sure enough the tiny woman blocked the strike with ease. With the other, he unleashed a short burst, hitting her in the legs.

    She jumped back in surprise, and he pressed the advantage, unleashing a flurry of strikes with StormFlowers. The short woman's eyes widened in surprise as she struggled and failed to block the blows. Then, as she was running out of room to manoeuvre, her body shattered and disappeared.

    An illusionist. He would need to attack where she should be, not where she seemed to be. Ren whirled around, just in time to block the sharp blade coming toward him. He swung with his other weapon, hitting the woman in the legs. He almost swung again before feeling a tiny, almost imperceptible burst of wind.

    His opponent had moved. He stepped back and pivoted, pre-empting the next swing with a series of attacks of his own into what at first seemed like thin air, but transformed into the pink-haired girl. The panic in her eyes seemed genuine this time.

    The illusion shattered once more, and this time he had no idea where his opponent would be. Seconds later, the hatch at the top of the train snapped shut.

    * * * * *

    “Do you yield?” Jaune Arc asked intensely, holding his opponent at swordpoint. It had been surprisingly easy. A few clumsily-parried hits, and soon he was standing over the thief with his sword at his throat.

    “Still the chivalrous knight, I see,” Roman Torchwick replied mockingly. With a dramatic flourish, he tossed Melodic Cudgel to the side.

    “Some of us have to do the right thing.” His sword hand was shaking, but there was conviction behind his words.

    “Is that really what's motivating you? Stopping the bad guys, saving the world?” the criminal asked sarcastically. “Or is this about something else? Something more personal? Are you the white knight, my dear Arc, or are you the one avenging his fallen comrades?”

    The knight's lip twitched. Pausing, he added, “They're not dead, you know.”

    By antagonizing the blonde fool, he was hoping to get an opening. Instead, he got the opposite.

    Jaune tossed his sword away and drove his fist into the thief's face with all his might. “WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THEM?”

    Roman managed to crack a painful smirk. “Things you could only begin to imagine.”

    The blonde boy roared, bringing his fist back and punching the orange-haired man repeatedly in the fact. He felt the Aura between them crack and give way, and the next hit cracked bone and left both his fist and the man's face covered in dark crimson blood.

    “Jaune?” a familiar voice called. He brought his arm back again, but hesitated. “Jaune!”

    A strong hand, covered in a now-bloodied brown glove, grabbed his wrist and held it. “Jaune, stop. He's not worth it.”

    Jaune blinked, realizing what he'd done. He felt a wave of nausea course through his body as he observed his handiwork. “Oh, god...”

    “Jaune, we're running out of track,” Pyrrha reminded him, laying a comforting hand on his shoulder. “We have to do something.”

    “Pyrrha, I thought-”

    “The Doctor is holding them off.”

    Jaune shook his head, forcing his shocked brain back into leader mode. He noticed Ren and Nora join them in the car. “Okay, do any of you know how to stop this thing?”

    They glanced at the controls, blacked out and partially damaged. He concluded, “Nevermind, looks like they really don't want us to do that.”

    “We can't stop the train,”

    “No,” Jaune realized. They had failed. The train would crash into the barrier at the end, break through, open the floodgates and let the horde into the city. They would be pulverized on impact, which might actually be merciful given the circumstances.

    But maybe they hadn't failed completely. He shouted suddenly, “The Paladins!”

    “What?” Nora asked.

    “We can get in the Paladins and use them to ride this out!” Jaune explained, already climbing up the ladder toward the train's roof hatch. When he emerged, he couldn't see any of the White Fang or their professor. He forced the bad thoughts out of his mind and dashed toward the rear of the train.

    Nora voiced, “Where's Oob-”

    “We can't worry about that now!” He risked a brief glance behind them and he could see the end of the tunnel rapidly approaching. “Go!”

    They ran madly down the train, past the cars they'd fought in and down onto a flat car with some of the hulking machines sitting on them. Ren remarked on the situation. “Jaune, there are only two left!”

    “Then I guess we're going to get cozy!” he replied, climbing into the closest one and reaching down to pull his partner into the cramped cockpit. Behind him, Ren and Nora did the same.

    It was a tight squeeze, but they managed to get the cockpit shut. With Pyrrha sitting on his lap, Jaune could only reach one of the side sticks. He didn't get a change to try it. Seconds after they'd boarded the machine, he felt a bone-shattering impact and the world turned upside down.
     
    GBscientist, beleester, Qeqre and 6 others like this.