Chapter 1: Destroy All Monsters
Operation: Destroy All Monsters had mostly been a success. Despite pushback from the general public, the Earth Union had succeeded destroying almost every kaiju left on planet Earth, even those traditionally seen as Earth’s guardians. Their ultimate weapon, Mecha King Ghidorah, MKG as it was sometimes called, along with its pilot, Emi Kano, was largely responsible for this success. The former King of Terror, which for so long had seemed undefeatable, had become the instrument of mankind’s dominance over kaiju. Augmented with armor and cybernetic implants to return its mangled corpse to life, MKG was possibly more deadly than its previous, fully organic form. Any monster that dared challenge the cyborg and its pilot was soon ripped to shreds by its awesome power. It seemed that MKG would single-handedly herald man’s triumph over monster. That is, until the untimely revival of Godzilla.
The very same kaiju that had defeated Kaiser Ghidorah, the King of Terror’s ultimate form, had been sleeping beneath Mt. Fuji for years now, body ravaged from his final battle with the beast. But that time had been spent healing, and now the King of the Monsters awoke once again, sensing that his old foe was alive and well.
Their battle would take place in Tokyo, a city that for nearly a century seemed to attract kaiju like moths to flame. Though the city had long since been abandoned as Japan's capital, people continued to live their lives there. Were they aware of the danger? Of course. But Tokyo had never seen a day as destructive as the first Godzilla attack since it happened, subsequent attacks being little more destructive than a bad earthquake. Even with Godzilla on the loose once again, the people of Tokyo had little reason to believe that another attack, even another battle, would be any different. So life continued, even as battle drew near.
Emi kept MKG in orbit, waiting for Godzilla to make landfall. When Godzilla finally appeared in the city, she guided MKG down with blinding speed, ramming the Monster King from orbit. Only MKG’s inertial dampening systems prevented the shock from killing its pilot.
Godzilla, without missing a beat, let out an atomic blast that threw MKG into the air and crashing into a nearby skyscraper. As Emi righted the cyborg, she saw that Godzilla was already on his feet, preparing to fire again. The left and right heads, which did not require Emi’s direct instruction, fired their gravity beams, stunning Godzilla long enough for Emi to aim the robotic middle head and fire a powerful maser blast right in the king’s face. Godzilla was dazed, but Emi didn’t give him a chance to fall, immediately deploying the grappling arms that were part of MKG’s armor. Once firmly clasped in the steel arms, sharp spikes penetrated Godzilla’s skin, followed by a powerful electric charge. Godzilla shrieked in agony as his nervous system was overloaded and cooked by the shock, but Emi and MKG allowed no respite, ripping through his skin with maser fire and gravity beams.
As had happened so many times in the past, though, a quirk of Godzilla’s biology caught Emi off guard. The electrical charge started being redirected to Godzilla’s spines, causing them to glow as the energy was absorbed. Blue gave way to red, and Godzilla released a red spiral ray into MKG’s chest.
Though shielded, Emi’s cockpit was still buffeted by the blast, sending her briefly unconscious. When she came to, bloodied by the impact, she found a still-grappled Godzilla standing over a toppled MKG. The Monster King let loose another blue atomic blast before Emi could react, while MKG’s living heads flailed about trying to aim at their foe. Godzilla roared with satisfaction, and brought a foot down on MKG’s chest. He intended to crush his foe, literally and figuratively, for the last time.
Emi heard a buzzing over the radio. “Ms. Kano, we thank you for your service. Dimension Tide will take it from here.”
Emi’s eyes shot wide open. Disregarding her own safety, she yelled over her headset, “Are you insane?! You can’t fire a black hole into a populated area!”
“Keep Godzilla occupied, and under no conditions allow him to leave the city. You have your orders.”
Emi ripped off her headset in frustration. Fine, she thought. I’ll just have to kill him before those bastards kill the city. With that, she sent another jolt of electricity into Godzilla’s body. The monster reeled back, but once again responded with a red spiral ray, nearly shattering MKG’s armor plating this time. Seeing that this clearly wasn’t going to work, Emi opted for plan B. If she couldn’t use MKG to kill Godzilla, she could at least try and drag him somewhere less populated. But Tokyo was big, and the urban area surrounding it even bigger. Therefore, the only way to go was up.
She fired some maser blasts to stun Godzilla while she righted the cyborg, and then took to the air. The grappling cables were barely strong enough to support Godzilla’s weight, but they held. Godzilla continued firing blue atomic blasts at Ghidorah, but the cyborg held its course. Emi could see the tell-tale warping effect of the Dimension Tide’s black hole round now hurtling towards them. She closed her eyes, waiting for the end to come.
She was jolted back to awareness when Godzilla started aiming for MKG’s grappling cables, and then its wings. No peace even at the end, she mused, as she directed MKG to fire again at the Monster King. Godzilla was not to be dissuaded, apparently sensing his own impending doom, and continued desperately firing at his captor. MKG’s ascent slowed, and then the two began falling back to Earth. Godzilla’s efforts proved too little too late. The two monsters were engulfed by Dimension Tide’s shot, dissipating as the black hole went through its quick, built-in half-life. As the skies grew quiet, the world was left to wonder if the two monsters were dead, or merely someone else’s problem…
...in the world of Remnant, the ocean floor shook with a powerful force. Two giant creatures lay unconscious, deposited by forces unknown. What role they would play from this point forward, only time would tell.
Chapter 2: Dealing with the Past
Team RWBY is still coming to terms with the events at Mountain Glenn, and a new mission re-opens fresh wounds. Meanwhile, Emi Kano steers a limping MKG to safety, while the Grimm are driven mad with the desire to kill a new foe.
I apologize for getting this out a little late. There were some issues I had to work out after bringing in Emi and Ghidorah in the prologue, who were not originally supposed to appear in this story. I also had to re-watch RWBY several times so I could get the characterization down, and also be able to draw upon any details I may have missed in my first viewing. Now, without further ado...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“And you are absolutely certain there was no way you could have stopped the train in time?” Ozpin’s face remained in its usual calm, expressionless state as he interviewed Team RWBY’s leader. He had previously spoken with their mission guardian, Professor Oobleck, but as with any investigation he needed all perspectives.
“No, Professor,” Ruby said with a downcast expression. “There were too many of them to fight our way through.” She slumped back into her chair. “We shouldn’t have split up. If we’d just made a beeline for the front-”
“Then you would no doubt have been cut down as a group rather than as individuals,” Ozpin chided. It was clear to him that Ruby blamed herself for the breach; the headmaster had no intention of letting her pursue that line of thought. “As things stand, it is fortunate you and your teammates inflicted as much damage as you did. Things could have been much worse had the White Fang joined the attack, especially with Atlassian arms. People were still hurt, yes, but at least no one died.”
“Except the White Fang members…” Ruby trailed off. “Professor, I wanted to be a huntress so I could help people, to save them. Yes, sometimes we do have to fight other people, and yeah, I never actually hit anyone with Crescent Rose’s actual blade, but… whenever I knocked someone off of the train, they still got sucked underneath. They still died.” She was starting to tear up. “I’ve never killed anyone before.”
“Ruby,” Ozpin said softly. “Nothing that happened in that incident was your fault.”
“Of course it was my fault!” Ruby suddenly raised her voice at this. “You trusted me to lead my team on this mission! You said it yourself, we would have found a way there anyway! How is this anything but my fault?”
“True, I did bend the rules and allow you on a mission of a sort you and your team should not have seen for another year at least,” Ozpin conceded. “But had I not done so, there would have been ten hunters on that train, instead of merely five. With strength of numbers on your side, I’ve no doubt that things would have gone very differently.” Ozpin folded his hands in front of him and sighed. “The fact of the matter is, I made the wrong call. I sent you on an assignment you were simply not ready for. That you performed as well as you ultimately did is commendable in and of itself; many other first-year teams would not have survived the encounter, let alone avert the better half of a potential disaster.” Ozpin leaned forward above his desk. “Dwelling on things you could not have changed will not serve you or your team, Miss Rose. Instead, focus on the things you can change, and let that guide your development into a full-fledged huntress.”
Ruby seemed to perk up a bit after hearing this, but it was obvious she was still troubled. Ozpin smiled, and leaned back into his chair. “Now then, there is still the matter of how early your mission ended. You were not expected back for another few days yet, and regular classes will not resume until all of your professors have returned. I offer you a choice. Option one: you and your team can take a well-earned rest, catch up on your studies, and perhaps even pursue your… extracurricular activities, shall we say?” Ruby had a mixed expression on hearing this. It wasn’t the part about studying, Team RWBY’s grades were fine. It was, however, a lot of time for her to be alone with her thoughts, which did not particularly appeal to her at the moment. Noticing this, Ozpin added, “The other option is a small assignment.”
That one got Ruby’s attention. “I thought all assignments for this week were handed out already.”
“For shadowing a professional huntsman, yes. However, the one I have in mind is a real paid contract. It’s fairly simple; actually, most of your assignments will be more like this one, rather than that excitement at Mountain Glenn. There’s a small village just off Vytal’s middle-northern coast. A small pack of Beowolves, no more than six, has been sighted stalking the outskirts of town. The local sheriff will guide you to the area of the last known sighting. From there, you and your team will track them to their den, carry out an extermination, and report back anything of interest you find in the den.”
“That sounds… kinda refreshing, actually,” Ruby thought out loud. “Yeah, we’ll go with that.”
“Very well,” Ozpin said. “A VTOL will be waiting to take you there as soon as I finish debriefing your teammates.” As Ruby got up to leave, Ozpin added, “And Miss Rose. Should you happen to find anything of interest… do not hesitate to tell me.”
Ruby nodded. “Yes, Professor.” Then she entered the elevator.
Darkness enveloped Emi as her eyes slowly opened. She felt a liquid running down the back of her neck. Probably blood, she thought. I must have hit my head on impact. Impact? Wait. Memories of the battle slowly returned to her. They had been hit by a black hole. Supposedly, they could act as a sort of wormhole to another place in time and space; but shouldn’t the gravity have killed her? Point blank, she realized. The same had happened to other kaiju in the past. Before the black hole’s gravity had time to stretch her body into spaghetti, it had completely enveloped both her and the two monsters. Speaking of which…
Emi was please to find that the cockpit lighting still worked, and attempted to activate the middle head. All systems showed green, but the camera and controls were unresponsive. Now that’s odd. She tried reactivating MKG’s implants; no computer confirmation was needed to tell her that Ghidorah’s biological components were alive and well. As soon as the implants activated, Emi felt Ghidorah’s mind pressing against hers. One of the most powerful psychics in the universe, Ghidorah instinctively sought out a surrogate he could possess upon registering the loss of a head. The flanking heads had limited control over the body, but Ghidorah’s central head was dominant. With that missing, the monster attempted to dominate Emi’s mind; she would essentially become Ghidorah if this succeeded. But this was precisely why Emi had been picked out from the Saegusa Psychic Institute as MKG’s pilot: her mind instinctively reversed any attempt at psychic domination, instead dominating her attacker, regardless of power. Ghidorah was quickly subdued, and Emi assumed the role of the dominant head.
In the back of her mind, she could feel Ghidorah’s true middle brain trying to gain dominance, but MKG’s design would never allow that. The robotic head wasn’t merely a turret: it tricked the other two heads into believing that Emi’s mind resided within the middle head. Ghidorah could regrow a head eventually… but not as long as the rest didn’t attempt to trigger a regeneration cycle. As far as Emi was concerned, Ghidorah’s true middle mind could wallow in its personal purgatory for eternity; it would never return to power, regardless of how much it tried.
She reached out to the flanking heads. Lend me your eyes, she commanded. In an instant, she could see their perspectives as though she really were a part of Ghidorah.
With normal human eyes, she would have seen only black. Ghidorah’s vision, however, could detect much fainter illumination, and even some spectra outside human detection. Thus she quickly realized that what she was seeing was the ocean floor.
The middle head hung limply against the cyborg’s chest armor as MKG righted itself. In doing so, Emi was able to see that Godzilla had landed here as well, still unconscious. She considered trying to finish him off, but decided against it. Even if MKG’s systems weren’t completely waterlogged, nothing could match the King of Monsters, beneath the waves. As things were, MKG would be ripped to shreds should Godzilla wake up.
The reason for being so waterlogged was immediately obvious: the tow cables, deployed and cut, left gaping holes in MKG’s armor. It was a minor miracle that none had slipped into the torso itself.
Still using the flanking heads, Emi did her best to assess the damage to the wings. The wing membranes were exposed under many holes in the armor, and the wings themselves were punched completely through in some places. The conduits that conducted Ghidorah’s flight field -a sort of anti-gravity effect- were still intact, though without the membranes it was unlikely that MKG could counteract enough weight to get very high above the surface, and staying airborne for any long period of time was an iffy proposition at best. Still, anywhere else was better than standing helpless next to the most dangerous kaiju on Earth.
Emi activated the flight field, and MKG began a slow ascent to the surface.
The VTOL circled the village as the pilot searched for an appropriate landing site. Yang surveyed the area she and the others would be calling home for the next few days. “So what’s this place called again?” she asked.
“Odo Island,” Ruby answered. She’d practically committed the contract information to memory during the flight here. Despite the name, Odo Island was barely an island at all, separated from mainland Vytal only by a river. It was also enormous. “The briefing says it used to be way out in the ocean, but about two thousand years ago it crashed into Vytal and got pushed up a bit.” No one really questioned the island moving; they had all learned in grade school that Remnant had thousands of small tectonic plates, which were responsible for the patchwork look of the continents. A single island moving independently wasn’t unheard of.
“Well,” Blake said, “at least it’ll be easier than last time.”
“Don’t remind me,” Weiss groaned. “I’m still sore all over from the crash.”
“You could brace yourself a lot better if you didn’t insist on wearing heels everywhere you go,” Blake chided.
“...shut up.” Weiss snatched the briefing from Ruby and pretended to be engrossed reading it. This quickly evolved into actual engrossment once she started reading the extended notes. “Oh wow, I almost forgot my father had some mining operations here.”
“Does that mean we’re getting the penthouse suite courtesy of Schnee Dust?” Yang teased.
“Hardly. The miners mostly live in little on-site apartments when they’re stationed at places like this, except for the ones who live within commuting distance. Only the regional headquarters would have anything like a penthouse suite.”
“I guess you would know,” Blake snarked.
“...anyway,” Weiss continued, “I seriously doubt a village this small would have anything in the way of luxuries, even with the company here.”
The VTOL finally landed in a clearing just outside of town. As the team disembarked, the pilot yelled out to them, “I’ll be back to get you on Saturday morning. Don’t be late.” Ruby acknowledged him, and the VTOL took off again, turning back for Beacon.
They hadn’t walked far into town before the sheriff came out to greet them. He was a heavyset fellow, a tinge of grey starting to seep into his brown hair, but his face and posture spoke of long years of experience. Right now, that face was smiling at them. “You must be the team from Beacon I was told to expect.”
“That’s us!” Ruby saluted. “Team RWBY reporting for duty!”
The sheriff laughed. “Welcome to Odo Island.”
Deep in the ocean depths, a giant creature stirred. Yellow eyes blinked open, and took in their surroundings. Godzilla was a creature of the sea. It was, and had always been his home. Something about the ocean floor here seemed, off, though, like it belonged somewhere else, but his kaiju mind couldn’t place it.
The Monster King turned his attention to his other senses. Though not a powerful psychic on offense, Godzilla did have significant mental defenses, and right now he felt something that shouldn’t be there; something that should have been dead long ago. What was worse, the dark presence seemed to totally surround him. One of its many foci was approaching him now, fast from the side.
Godzilla turned to face it, only to be rammed in the chest by the beak of a gigantic, squid-like creature. This would prove to be its first mistake. The Monster King was knocked from the ocean floor, only to immediately right himself and speed through the water towards his enemy. He may have been slow on land, but Godzilla was the unparalleled master of the sea.
He surveyed his opponent on his approach. The squid was mostly black all over, with some sort of white and red mask-like covering surrounding its glowing red eyes. If not for his other senses, it could have easily gone unnoticed by the kaiju. From tip to tentacle, it was a bit over half Godzilla’s own height at a respectable forty meters.
Before he could counterattack, the Ursula Grimm exposed its beak and unleashed a corrosive black substance that stung Godzilla everywhere it touched. The King roared in pain, managing to get some of the substance in his mouth before veering away from his target. The Ursula’s moment of triumph didn’t last long, however, as the water surrounding the two combatants began to take on a blue glow. Having no eyelids and unused to bright lights, the Ursula attempted a retreat, but was immediately buffeted by a blast of intense heat.
His opponent slumped into lifelessness even as Godzilla’s atomic breath ebbed and faded. A black smoke emanated from the corpse as the Ursula slowly disintegrated.
Despite the creature’s death, Godzilla could still sense the dark presence. It was rather weaker than his recollection suggested it should be, but he still felt a nagging urge to be rid of it. The Monster King made his way to the surface, first poking his spines and then his head out of the water. He took a moment to let his spines soak up radiation from the sun’s rays. Though not his primary source of fuel and energy, the sun was invaluable to Godzilla as a way to slow his hunger, allowing him to go far longer between feedings than would otherwise be possible. Given the choice, Godzilla would likely have spent all of his time resting between the nourishing sunlight and the comfortable buoyancy of the ocean. Instead, he raised his nose to the air, trying to determine the nearest scent of land. Finding it, he changed course, and began his journey to eliminate the vile presence that irritated his senses.
Blake and the rest of the team followed the sheriff, whose name had turned out to be Huxley, through the village of Odo. Huxley had insisted on giving the girls a brief tour of the town before their hunt started later that evening.
Entering the center of town, the group was greeted by a two meter stone statue of… something. It looked to Blake like the mutant offspring of a gorilla, a whale, and a crocodile. “This here,” Huxley declared, “is the god of Odo’s pre-historic people, painstakingly maintained over the centuries. In those times, it is thought that every year the islanders would send a virgin girl out to sea, in order to appease the god and ensure a productive fishing season.”
Yang scoffed. “Why is it always a virgin sacrifice with these old gods?”
“It’s to do with the romanticized purity of a woman untouched by a man, saving herself for her future husband,” Weiss said with a certain flutter to her voice.
Yang shrugged. “Well I don’t know about you, Ice Queen, but if I were a god I think I’d want sacrifices with a bit of experience, y’know?”
Blake stifled a laugh. Ruby failed at doing the same. Weiss just blushed. Huxley cleared his throat. “Sorry,” Blake apologized on behalf of the group. After calming down she said, “What this god’s name, anyway?”
Huxley’s smile returned. “Well I’ll just have you take a gander at the nameplate down here. The original script has never been translated, so we don’t know the original pronunciation.” The script he was referring to looked to Blake like little geometric shapes with curved lines going through them. “Fortunately, these folks seem to have known Latin script. If you look right below there, the transcription reads as…”
Huxley showed them to the last place the Beowolves had been sighted, handed Ruby an emergency radio, and bid the girls good luck in their hunt. “Well team,” Yang said, “I guess it’s time to see what a normal assignment looks like. So… where should we start?”
Blake pointed at the ground. “Following the tracks would be a good start.”
“I knew that.”
They hadn’t walked for more than half an hour before Weiss called the team’s attention. She pointed to the trunk of a nearby tree. “Beowolf claw marks,” she said. “Probably marking their territory.”
“Can’t be very far, then,” Ruby noted. She looked up at the sky. “It’s getting pretty dark. You guys set up camp. I’ll scout around and take first watch.”
Emi flew all through the night, looking for some sign of civilization. The cyborg’s middle head had regained some basic function, but MKG would still not have lasted long in combat at this point. There were still gaping holes in the armor where the grapplers had been, and the wing armor had seen better days. Having the middle head did, however, take the strain off of her mind from controlling the flanking heads, and allowed Emi to pan around with her camera instead. She could see through the night-vision filter that Ghidorah’s wing membranes were already starting to heal, with smaller gaps already closed completely. So at least she’d be able to keep flying.
The bad news was, Emi had no idea where she was going. MKG’s global position system was working fine, but it could find no satellite with which to facilitate said positioning. She had pointed herself west toward the setting sun, hoping she would eventually find land. Flying at full speed, she might have found it already, but with the shape MKG was in she had opted for a meager sixty knots.
Finally, though, nearing midnight -though it could have been earlier, given she had undoubtedly crossed at least one time zone- Emi spotted dots of light in the distance. Couldn’t have been anything larger than campfires, but she’d take what she could get. As she made preparations to land, a loud set of calls sounded in the distance. Emi had no sooner pointed the camera when four gigantic… bird-things started making a beeline for her. Three of them sailed straight past her, but one had apparently not seen MKG and crashed right into it. The bird crashed into the waves, dead or unconscious Emi neither knew nor cared at the moment. Ghidorah was howling with pain, and Emi struggling to get the cyborg back under control. They were losing altitude far too quickly. Unable to re-establish a flight field, Emi braced for impact.
Three men wearing white and black outfits approached the fallen behemoth cautiously. Each one had the symbol of the White Fang emblazoned on the chest of his shirt. While cautious, though, they strangely showed no outward signs of fear. The lead one signaled one of his men. “Get Adam on the horn, and try and reach the boss lady if you can, too. They’re gonna want to see this.”
The next morning, Ruby woke up to Yang warming up a small breakfast over the campfire. The elder sister had taken the last watch, and then taken it upon herself to feed the group. “Morning sis.” Yang said in a low voice, trying not to wake the others.
“Mmmm… what’s for breakfast?” Ruby said, groggily.
“Nothing fancy,” Yang laughed, “just some canned hash browns.”
Not long after, Blake and Weiss were up as well, and soon the four of them were pounding down hash browns like mana from heaven. Ruby half-expected Weiss to complain about the food not being up to her usual standards, but the Heiress made not a peep as she ate. Yang was the first to speak. “So, anything happen on your guys’ watches? I’ve had a pretty boring morning.”
“Boring as boring can be,” Weiss said.
“Ditto,” Ruby added.
“I heard a couple of scuffles a bit east of here. Thought maybe we should check it out.”
Everyone turned to look at their faunus companion. “How far are we talking here?” Yang questioned her teammate.
“Fifteen, maybe twenty minute walk. I doubt anything is still there, but we might be able to pick up a fresher trail.”
The group finished their breakfasts, packed up the campsite, and set out for Blake’s “scuffle.” Sure enough, twenty minutes later they were met with a grisly scene. Maimed carcasses of a pack of wolves littered the clearing, some simply gored, some with various limbs torn off, and still more rent completely in half. The stench of death filled the area. Even Yang couldn’t help covering her mouth and nose. “My… god.”
Blake pointed at the other side of the clearing. “One’s still alive.”
The group looked, and there was indeed one wolf still limping its way through the carnage, bloodied and battered. It gave Ruby a pitiful stare, and she couldn’t help but be reminded of Zwei. She was suddenly quite glad they’d left him at the dorm this time. She rummaged around in her rucksack, prompting Weiss to question her actions. “I’m going to help it,” Ruby said, flatly. Before the others could stop her, Ruby marched out toward the wolf, a packet of medical Dust in hand. Not ten feet before reaching the wolf, a Beowolf suddenly burst from the brush, clamping its jaws down on the wolf’s flanks. The wolf, already exhausted, couldn’t do more than whimper as its backside was torn from the rest of its body. The remaining half of the wolf hit the ground hard, twitched for a moment, then lay still, its eyes frozen in a moment of pure terror.
The Grimm finished consuming its prize, then turned its attention to Ruby. It growled menacingly, advancing slowly upon the girl, savoring the kill to come. Ruby, for her part, was dead to the world with shock, looking at the wolf. Another living, breathing creature, killed before her eyes; flashing her back to the incident on the train, remembering the screams of the White Fang members as they were crushed between wheel and track. She could distantly hear her friends crying out to her as the rest of the Beowolf pack made itself known and closed in.
Her hand gripped Crescent Rose, slowly unholstering it. As the Beowolf advanced, Crescent Rose expanded its blade and handle as Ruby slowly lifted her eyes to meet the Beowolf’s. It was not fear she felt, but a deep, burning hatred. A life she could have, should have saved; gone. Her aura flared up around her, eyes burning with an intensity greater even than Yang. “You…” she growled. The Beowolf stumbled back at this unexpected reaction, seemingly re-assessing the situation. Ruby lept forward, screaming, “YOU MONSTER!” The last thing the Beowolf felt was the blade of Crescent Rose jabbing upward through its skull.
Late afternoon was giving way to early evening when Team RWBY arrived back in Odo. They met Huxley at his office as he was wrapping up the day’s paperwork. “Back so soon?” He smiled, and turned a machine toward them. “Just stick your scrolls in there, and we’ll wire the bounty right to your accounts.” As the girls did so, Huxley couldn’t help noticing the sullen looks on their faces. “Something happen out there?”
“Just a bit more gruesome than we’d been expecting,” Blake sighed. “Nothing we couldn’t handle, though.”
Huxley nodded. “Yeah, Grimm can be pretty nasty. If you think what they do to animals is bad, well…”
“What?” Ruby said, having snapped out of her slump momentarily.
“A few years back we got paid a visit by a couple Ursas. Big ones, built like tanks. Not something you usually wanna mess with. Had a huntsman team come out to try and track them. They killed the Ursas alright, but only one made it back.”
“What happened?” Yang asked apprehensively.
Huxley leaned back in his chair and sighed. “One of my boys found the poor fellow on the outskirts of town trying to hold his guts in.” The girls cringed at this. “Had like half his intestines ripped out. Now, you can heal pretty serious wounds with Aura and Dust therapy, even regrow body parts if you can stabilize the person in time. Those memories, though… When a Grimm takes a chunk out of you, he doesn’t just hurt you. He feeds on your fear. Your pain. I’ve heard it compared to having your soul sucked out. You can’t un-live that.”
“So…” Ruby trailed off. “...what ended up happening to him?”
Seeming reluctant, the old sheriff replied, “He blew his brains out a month later. Right across the street in our clinic there.” He pointed at the clinic in question. “That’s why you’re paid so well even for these simple contracts. That’s why the work you do is important. They don’t advertise it much on TV, and you probably don’t see it as much in your regular schooling, but Grimm… they’re pure evil incarnate. And every one of them deserves his time in Hell.” He glanced at the machine as the final transaction was completed. “Well, looks like you’re all done here. Anything else you need?”
“Our ride isn’t due back until Saturday,” Yang chimed in. “We could use a place to stay for a couple nights.”
“Well we don’t really have any inns or such around here, but I keep a little guest house on my property for these occasions. It’ll be a bit of a tight squeeze with four of you, but you’re welcome to it.”
“Thanks,” the blonde replied. “I’m sure it will be fine.”
A roaring screech reverberated through the building. Then another. And another. Weiss glared at the sheriff. “I thought there were only Beowolves around here!”
“There were!” Huxley shouted as he dashed out the door.
The girls had no sooner gotten out the door before they witnessed Huxley be crushed underfoot by a Nevermore’s landing. Ruby stepped back, gaping at the monster. This Nevermore was even larger than the one back in the Emerald Forest, at least thirty meters head to toe. The Nevermore reared back and screeched at the sky, to be answered by another call. Ruby looked up, and was greeted by the sight of two more Nevermores of at least the same size.
Yang got ready to charge, but Ruby knocked her hand down. “No!”
Yang gave Ruby something resembling a glare. “We have to kill this thing before someone gets hurt!”
Now it was Weiss’ turn to talk Yang down. “Your sister’s right. We’re not equipped to take down a Grimm of this size, let alone three of them!”
“We should focus on evacuating,” Blake finally added. “We should try and get to the mines. They’ll probably have weapons there. Weiss?”
Before they could enact that plan, a large plume of water jetted out of the water by the docks. The girls, the villagers, even the Nevermores could only stare as a huge, dark figure emerged, silhouetted against the red sky. It took a few steps onto dry land, and the girls immediately recognized the creature from their tour the previous day.
The god of Odo Island reared back, then roared a challenge at the giant Grimm. The Nevermores answered in kind, and the two sides closed on each other as people, no larger than ants in comparison, scampered about looking for any kind of shelter.
I hope I at least somewhat captured the spirit of the characters here. This is the first time I've ever written the RWBY cast, and while I'm sure I'll improve with time, the first time is always nerve-racking!
The angle I took with Ruby in this chapter is based on my impression of her in the first episode, when she states why she wants to be a huntress: she wants to help people. In every encounter where she fights other people, Ruby seems to do her best not to kill any of them, drawing blood only when Grimm are involved. On the train, though, deaths were unavoidable, since the rage of combat saw to it that several men fell to their deaths regardless. That had to have impacted her.
I took a slightly more gruesome path with the Grimm here based on the World of Remnant episode describing their interactions with animals. I feel like in the show, we're mostly being exposed to Grimm in fairly controlled situations, where they are either not a threat or far away from anything living. Ozpin, perhaps correctly or as part of another mistake, wanted Ruby in this chapter to see the real world, and drill home the point that not only does extreme cruelty happen in her line of work, but that sometimes you just can't do anything about it. And so that is what happens. We'll have to see in the future how Ruby internalizes the lesson.
And Godzilla! Odo Island! Yes, the world-building here is not an accident. More will become clear next chapter, but I don't intend to fully tip my hand as to Earth's and Remnant's relationship until at least halfway into the story.
2016 Update: This chapter was written before Volume 3 came out, and many fans were under the impression that Vytal was the name of the continent that Vacuo and Vale occupy; I probably won't correct this. Also, I had forgotten the name of the VTOL craft (they're called bullheads, by the way), which I will probably correct in a future revision.
Chapter 3: Recovering From the Present
Team JNPR and Ironwood deal with the aftermath of the Odo Island Attack. Meanwhile, Emi is confronted with some uncomfortable revelations about the world she has found herself in.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Earth Defense Force Dossier: Godzilla
Origin: Mutation of Godzillasaurus, previously unknown amphibious theropod native to the Pacific Islands. The animals were mutated by atomic tests, and are believed to have retreated to the ocean floor. Only four Godzilla specimens are known to have surfaced.
Height: 60 meters average.
Abilities: Fast regeneration, nearly impenetrable hide, atomic breath with variable yield, strong enough to throw smaller kaiju, able to absorb most forms of energy to convert into nutrients or offensive power.
Godzilla 1: First encountered in 1954. Attacked Odo Island and Tokyo. Killed in Tokyo Bay by the Oxygen Destroyer, corpse rendered to bones. Skeleton later recovered and transported to secure research facility.
Godzilla 2: First encountered in 1955. Lived in and around Japan for 40 years, fighting and/or subduing other kaiju that appeared. Was triggered into “burning” state after absorbing crystal dust created by Spacegodzilla. Last seen fighting Destoroyah. Died in 1995 due to “burning” state causing meltdown.
Godzilla 3: First encountered in 1993. Hatched under laboratory conditions. Genetic testing confirms it is the son of Godzilla 2. Female parentage unknown. Often known as “Junior” in infancy. Growth accelerated during Godzilla 2’s death due to absorbing the latter’s energy during meltdown; credited with preventing Japan becoming uninhabitable to human life. Lived in and around Japan for 53 years. Last seen fighting Earth Union forces in Tokyo. Sucked into black hole along with MKG. Presumed dead.
Godzilla 4: Created in 2003 as part of Project Kiryu. Cloned from stem-cells found in Godzilla 1’s dorsal plates. Partially-cloned body used as basis for the Kiryu cyborg. Spines were used to power from a distance; led to unintentional regeneration of the full body. Nicknamed “Ghost Godzilla” at this point, or “Ghost-G” for short. Ghost-G attacked multiple cities on a path to Tokyo upon resurfacing; memories retained from Godzilla 1 believed to be the cause of aggression. Defeated, but not killed, by combined forces of “Guardian Monsters” (Baragon, Manda, and Varan), the JSDF, and Ghost-G’s own malfunctioning (due to wounds) atomic breath. Rendered to the heart. Heart is currently stored in Area G.
Others: Research submarine crews have claimed to see other specimens residing near the ocean floor, and sailors claim to have seen specimens as tall as 110 meters (presumably females) surfacing on small Pacific islands for unknown reasons.
The world was a foggy blur as Emi slowly returned to consciousness. She slowly lifted her head, vision clearing as she did so. She was in a medium sized room, colorless save for a light mounted on the ceiling. It wasn’t a cell, exactly; more like an old workshop someone had tried converting into a living space.
There was a table within reach of the cot she lay on, a full glass of water sitting on it. Suddenly realizing how thirsty she was, Emi grabbed the glass and greedily gulped down its contents. It didn’t quite satisfy her, but at least she was no longer parched.
A door opened on the other side of the room, and a man stepped through carrying a small tray. “Oh good,” he said, “you’re finally awake.” He set the tray down on the table, and removed a tablet from it. The rest of the tray held simple foodstuffs: bread, vegetables, but nothing heavy.
Emi looked at the food, then at the man and asked, “How long was I out?”
“A couple of days now.,” the man replied. “That was quite the scene you made with MKG.”
“Yeah,” Emi replied, before realizing something. “Wait, how did you know what MKG is?”
The man thought for a moment, then answered, “Let’s just say that black hole didn’t send you as far from home as you seem to think, and leave it at that for now. I’m sure this must all be quite overwhelming for you, so let’s take things one step at a time. Let’s start with getting some food in your belly.”
As Emi began eating, the man brought something up on his tablet. “Your name is… Emi Kano, yes? 22 years old. born in America, but your parents emigrated from Japan.” He stopped to consider for a moment. “My my, there were quite a lot more countries in your time.” The man continued. “At 13 you were sent to the Saegusa Research Institute when you began showing signs of aura abilities-”
“Aura?” Emi interrupted. “I was sent there because I developed ESP. I’ve never heard of this… ‘aura’ before.”
The man stared at her blankly for a moment. “A different term for the same thing, perhaps. In any case, you were acquired by the Earth Union at the age of 20, and thanks to your semblance you were chosen to pilot MKG. Is that all correct?”
Emi decided not to question his use of another unfamiliar term, and simply replied, “Yes, I guess so.”
“Good,” he said with a smile. “Hard to know how accurate these ancient records are going to be.” He closed whatever record he was looking at on the tablet. “I should tell you, you’re not a prisoner here. However, as you may have gathered, this is not the same world you left behind. I would ask that you not stray far from this compound until we’ve had a chance to get you adjusted.”
“Just how long has it been, anyway? And why do you have access to these records?” Emi pressed.
The man frowned. “One thing at a time, Miss Kano.” He turned to leave. As he walked away he said, “The boss wants to talk to you when she arrives. Be on your best behavior.” He faced her briefly when he opened the door. “Oh, and don’t worry about MKG. You’ll be flying it again soon enough.”
The door shut behind him, and Emi was left to wonder just what exactly she’d been thrown into. What she found most disconcerting is that the man made it sound as though her arrival wasn’t a surprise; almost expected, even. Was this an Earth Union base? And if so, why not just tell her? She shook her head at the last question. The Earth Union’s policy was based on the mantra of, You’ll know what you need when you need to know it, and it was a rare occasion indeed that her superiors ever gave her the heads-up on anything not directly related to her current activity. Dropping Dimension Tide right on top of her was proof enough of that. But to give her nothing at all… How much time has passed? she continued to wonder. And what the hell happened while I was gone?
The VTOL raced through the air with a sense of urgency, and it was all Jaune Arc could do to hold down his stomach. Pyrrha put a hand on his shoulder. “Jaune, we can slow down a bit if you need to. You’re not going to be much help to anyone if you make yourself sick.”
Jaune shook his head and waved her off. As soon as the news of what happened at Odo Island reached Vale, Jaune hadn’t even waited for permission. All he cared about was that his friends hadn’t come back yet, and were still inside of a danger zone.
When Odo Island came into view, all of Team JNPR tensed up. It was one thing to see destruction like this in a news report: seeing it in person made it all the more horrible.
The pilot yelled back at them. “They’re telling me to land outside the quarantine area. You’ll have to go the rest of the way on foot.” Jaune acknowledged him, and the VTOL began to descend. They landed in a clearing not far from the emergency shelters that had been erected to care for the wounded. Jaune looked around him. Emergency response personnel were everywhere, and General Ironwood’s airships dominated the sky. Aircraft could be seen moving between them and the crisis zone, likely evacuating as many civilians as possible.
The four of them were quite surprised to see Ironwood himself approaching them; he must have wanted a more hands-on approach handling the crisis. Jaune had only seen Ironwood in person at the dance, and even then at a distance. Up close, he struck an imposing figure. Right now he was frowning. “You realize this is a disaster zone, right?”
Jaune ignored Ironwood’s remark. “Where’s Team RWBY?”
The others looked shocked that Jaune would address the general like that. Ironwood himself just sighed. “Let me guess, there’s no changing your mind. Follow me.”
Ironwood took them into a large tent, and the sight was shocking to say the least. Blake and Weiss lay unconscious, both badly burnt. Yang appeared unharmed, but her semblance was burning almost white hot. Most troubling was whom Yang was sitting beside: Ruby had hardly a speck of skin that wasn’t burnt, and some had quite visibly sloughed off, revealing pink, exposed flesh. Team JNPR slowly stepped toward the red head, and Jaune stammered out, “W-what happened?”
“Ionizing radiation,” Ironwood replied. “The witnesses who made it to the mines say that three Nevermores were fighting some kind of giant sea creature. That creature… well, no one we’ve been able to interview yet actually saw what happened, but it did something to flood the whole town. Ruby was trying to rescue some people in the center of town and was hit almost point-blank. She’s lucky to be alive.”
Jaune couldn’t help but notice that out of the three injured girls, Ruby was the only one who didn’t appear to be healing. He asked about it, and Ironwood said, “Her aura is completely drained. If it’s any consolation, she’s better than when her sister carried her in, at least. Most of the villagers don’t have any sort of aura training, and the ones who didn’t make it to the mines are either dead or in critical condition.” Ironwood took note of an alert on his scroll and said, “I’m needed elsewhere,” and excused himself.
Jaune kneeled down as close as he could to Yang; her semblance was running so hot he was afraid of getting burnt if he got too close. Pyrrha sat beside him, while Nora and Ren sat opposite. Nora, for her part, had stayed surprisingly quiet this whole time; even she could be shocked into silence, it seemed.
Jaune felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to Pyrrha. “This would be a good time to practice what I taught you about your aura.” Jaune nodded, and gently placed a hand on Ruby’s left hand: it seemed to be about the only part of her that had any good skin left. With Pyrrha helping to steady him, Jaune tapped into his aura. It was fairly second-nature for him to channel it through his equipment, using it to empower his strikes against the creatures of Grimm. Now, though, it flowed directly into Ruby. The young girl’s burns began to recede, and her sloughed skin tried to knit itself back together.
This went on for some five minutes before Jaune had to stop, his own aura nearing depletion. Ruby, still the worse for wear, was at least recognizable now. Pyrrha pulled away from her team leader. “Wow. She was even worse off than I thought if she could deplete your aura like that.” As Pyrrha had frequently remarked during their training sessions, Jaune had a lot more power to his aura than most people. Though they still hadn’t found his semblance, Jaune was starting to wonder if perhaps that extra power was his semblance. With what just happened, perhaps he was destined to be more of a healer than a fighter.
He didn’t have much time to dwell on this as Ruby’s eyes fluttered open. Yang’s glow softened, her semblance coming back under control. “Ruby?”
Ruby let out a soft moan before weakly responding. “Where…?”
“It’s okay, sis,” Yang said, visibly holding back tears. “You’re safe now.”
Ruby tried to nod, but was still too weak to move much. “Where’s… Go… G…”
“Godzilla’s gone, sweety. He killed those Grimm and left. You… you just got a little too close during the killing blow, that’s all.” Ruby’s gaze drifted briefly to Jaune, then back to her sister. Yang just said, “Now go back to sleep. You remember what Mom always told you, right? You can’t get better if you don’t rest up.” The girl’s eyes closed, and she quickly drifted into a peaceful slumber. Yang, now failing to hold back her tears, turned to Jaune and said, “Thank you.” Then managing a smile she turned to Pyrrha. “I need you to teach me that trick sometime.”
“We’ll get right on it when we get back to Beacon,” Pyrrha reassured her.
The next to speak, surprisingly, was Ren. “What were you two talking about? Who’s Godzilla?” Yang gathered herself, then told them about the statue depicting Odo Island’s god. Ren nodded. “So basically what you’re telling us is that the village’s own god blew them up while defending it from some Grimm.”
“Sounds like a lizard after my own heart,” Nora said approvingly.
Yang shook her head. “No, I… I don’t think he was defending us. It seemed like he and the Nevermores were trying to hunt each other. We just got caught in the middle.”
Pyrrha nodded. “That makes sense. I remember reading somewhere that giant Grimm don’t usually come near human settlements. Too easy to track down and kill if they cause trouble, or something like that.”
“Well if that’s true,” Jaune interrupted, “why would they go so far out of their way to fight something even more dangerous than a human?”
“Who knows?” was all Pyrrha could say. “There’s still a lot we don’t understand about the Grimm.”
They were interrupted by an aide entering the room. “Miss Xiao Long, we’re ready to move you and your team to Vale Medical Center.” She looked at Team JNPR. “You four should probably get back to your VTOL.” With that, they shuffled out, and the injured members of Team RWBY were moved onto stretchers in preparation for the trip.
Though not currently being tracked, Godzilla’s location was far from inconspicuous. The forest around him was on fire, Grimm being charred along with any animals unfortunate enough to be near them. Godzilla charged his spines, and let loose another wave of nuclear fire against the young Grimm inhabiting this place.
He felt a sharp pain in his leg, and looked down. A Beowolf was trying to climb him, and several of its compatriots were now crawling up both his legs and his tail. Godzilla waited patiently, his spines charging as the small horde reached his torso, then released a bellowing roar as his chest flashed. The nuclear pulse charbroiled or vaporised any Grimm brave or stupid enough to use him like their personal jungle gym.
The Monster King became aware of a hissing sound creeping through the forest below. He looked toward its source, just in time for the black head of a giant King Taijitu to reach up and latch onto his arm, its fangs sinking deep into the monster’s flesh. Godzilla howled, as the white head swung up and wrapped around his neck, latching itself onto his neck.
An impact from the side sent Godzilla toppling to the ground, still being strangled by the Taijitu. Craning his neck, he could see the source of the impact -a Goliath- hooking its tusks around his leg before proceeding to bend it at an impossible angle. His tail flailed about, but the Goliath remained undeterred. Still weak from the nuclear pulse, Godzilla brought up his free hand and grabbed the Taijitu’s body, pulling it just far enough to bite. Once in his mouth, the Monster King fired an atomic blast right into his would-be captor. The King Taijitu shrieked in pain, releasing its victim as it succumbed to its wounds. Godzilla then turned his attention to the Goliath, firing another atomic breath into its face. The Goliath was unhurt, but stunned enough to release the leg it had been working on.
Godzilla righted himself as best he could with the gimp leg, and drew on his reserves to fire the red spiral ray. This finally broke through the Goliath’s armor, and the oversized pachyderm slumped to the ground.
With no other enemies challenging him, Godzilla slumped his shoulders and attempted to catch his breath. The sun beating down on his spines, and the soothing heat of the forest fire helped to recover his strength. He still sensed none of his usual surface feeding sites, but he didn’t want to return to the planet’s mantle if he didn’t have to. He could still last awhile longer, and this place was absolutely infested with the dark presence of his father’s killer. Why? he might have thought, had he thought in words. That… thing was long dead, as were its cousins. So why did these creatures feel exactly the same as the crystal entities? What was the connection? His kaiju mind struggled to piece together this puzzle as he lumbered off toward the next gathering of Grimm he could sense. Whatever the case may be, he would be sure to kill them. He would kill them all. For Father.
When Ruby returned to consciousness again, she wasn’t sure where she was. Granted, she didn’t know that last time either, but at least then she was pretty sure she was still on Odo Island. This looked like… on further examination, this indeed was a hospital recovery room. With her aura’s healing properties, it wasn’t a place she ever imagined she’d need to be very often. Then again, she thought, I don’t get blasted to hell by living gods very often, either. To her right, a machine was pumping fluids into her arm via IV. Next to that, an indicator showed her aura level: still low, but high enough to help the healing process.
She became aware of a presence to her left, and turned to see none other than Ozpin sitting beside the bed. “Good evening,” he said, sipping from his ever-present cup of coffee. “You’re recovering well. It was touch-and-go before your friend intervened, but the doctor say he’s confident you’ll make a full recovery, even without Dust treatment.”
Ruby examined herself a bit. Her burns were indeed healing on her hands and arms. The hospital gown and blanket covered everything else, and she wasn’t keen to strip in front of her headmaster just to check under there. “Where’s my team?”
Ozpin smiled. “Weiss and Blake are in separate rooms down the hall. You were hurt worse than they were. You’ll probably be able to see them tomorrow, actually. As for your sister,” he said as he scooted his chair over. Yang was now visible, having dozed off in her chair, hair still faintly glowing with the power of her semblance. “All I can say is her semblance is truly astounding. By all rights, she should be dead. But as I’m sure you know, the harder she’s hit, the faster she lights up. All those injuries and sickness she should have taken instead turned her into a small titan. I don’t think the Almighty himself could have stopped her from getting you out of that village.”
Ruby laid back into the pillow. “I don’t really remember anything until I first woke up in the tent.”
“That’s probably for the best, if what I’ve been told is accurate,” the headmaster replied, grimly. “The campus cleaners are still scraping half-melted skin out of your clothes.” Ruby shuddered, wishing Ozpin hadn’t gone into quite that much detail. This wasn’t lost on the latter as he changed the subject. “On a happier note, you saved most of the villagers. In a town of less than a thousand people, it’s nothing short of a miracle that hardly anyone actually died. If you keep performing like that, I may just have to let you graduate early.”
Ruby snorted. “But if you did that, who would you send on near-impossible missions?” Then her face darkened. “I should have made sure no one died.”
Ozpin set his mug down and folded his hands. “Ruby, remember what I told you before you left. There was no way anyone, and I mean anyone, could have predicted that a giant nuclear reptile was suddenly going to pop out of the ocean and start killing Grimm.”
The girl sighed. “Still… Godzilla’s real. He’s not just some made-up god, he’s actually real. If he wanted to kill Grimm, why wait hundreds of years to reappear?” She looked to Ozpin for an answer, and saw something she never thought she’d see: Ozpin looked disconcerted. It almost as if… Does he know something? she couldn’t help wondering.
The headmaster finally answered, in carefully chosen words, “Perhaps there was something preventing him from doing so until now. After all, there are aquatic Grimm almost his size. If he had really been there the whole time, I’m sure there would have been a sighting long ago.” He stood up, retrieving his mug. “I’m afraid I’ve stayed too long. But Miss Rose: please don’t trouble yourself too much over the people you couldn’t save. If your mission had lasted even an hour longer, things could have been much worse. You and your team made a difference. Remember that.”
He left, and now Ruby was alone with her thoughts. It was true, she couldn’t have prevented Godzilla or the Nevermores from killing someone. And he did seem far more interested in the Grimm than in the people below.
She couldn’t help feeling a little bitter. If Godzilla had come out of hiding sooner, maybe… Maybe Mom would still be alive, she thought. She fought back tears and shook her head. No… no, we don’t know that it was the Grimm. But now that Godzilla is here, maybe he can do it. She pondered that thought a little longer. It seemed impossible, but the hope was there. Maybe he can beat the Grimm.
Adam Taurus paced around the clearing. He was anxious about meeting his benefactor in the most ideal of circumstances. Landing in the middle of a White Fang compound was hardly ideal. It was bad enough that a Schnee Dust employee had to be snuck into the place, it was worse that robo-dragon from earlier that week had to somehow be moved and camouflaged without any passing aircraft accidentally seeing. But this? This was insane. “Stupid girl,” he muttered to himself.
“I’m pretty sure calling your boss ‘stupid’ is considered out of line and rude in most societies,” Cinder chided him, somewhat jokingly.
“A year ago, my people would have been trying to kill her. Do I understand that she’s changed? Yes. Does every faunus who holds a grudge understand that? The White Fang will listen to me unconditionally, Cinder, but even I can’t erase the blood on this girl’s hands.”
“On her family’s hands, anyway,” Cinder observed.
Adam sighed. “It’s not just that. The more people from the Company who get involved in this, the greater the risk of a leak. Someone is bound to tell her father about these little trips eventually. She’s only 17. Dads tend to notice when their teen daughter is going out at strange times.”
“I suppose you would know. You got started in the White Fang as a kid yourself.” Cinder walked to a tree and leaned back against it. “Obviously there’s something about Kano that’s more important than the risk of detection. You know how this works, Adam: none of us have the full picture. We know what we need when we need to know it.”
“I’ve lost too many good people to this conspiracy to jeopardize it like this,” Adam muttered.
“You’re still thinking about Blake.”
“Of course I am. My best student. Gone over a misunderstanding.” Adam slid his mask up for a moment to rub his eyes. “I should have told her what was really going on. That there was a reason for the extremism. I could have made her understand.”
“There’s no point dwelling on bygones.” Cinder looked up as a noise grabbed her attention. “She’s here.”
A VTOL came into view, lights blinding compared to the night sky. It landed toward the center of the clearing, and the door opened. Two guards stepped out, the words “Schnee Dust” clearly printed on their armor. They were followed by a girl dressed in a white skirt and blouse, with long, flowing white hair. She was nearly the spitting image of her twin sister, save for the unscarred face.
The girl approached Adam and Cinder, guards taking flanking positions just behind her. “Cinder!” She cried, arms wide. “It’s been too long!”
“Likewise,” Cinder said before sharing a brief hug.
When they parted, she turned to the White Fang’s leader. “Hello, Adam.”
Adam just nodded. “Hello, Winter.”
I'm trying out these "EDF Dossiers" as sort of my version of the Foundation Trilogy's "Encyclopedia Galactica" entries. Basically, they're there to help you with the background I'm using for Godzilla's side of the story, which as I said earlier draws heavily upon Matt Frank's "Godzilla Neo" universe. If you haven't taken a look at that yet I do highly recommend it, but it's not necessary to understand this story. The Dossiers will give you that information, including when it diverges from Godzilla Neo's timeline of events. The other reason for having them is so I don't have to do infodumps in the middle of the narrative, like I did with explaining how MKG works in Chapter 2.
I'm sticking with the angle of Ruby as the selfless hero who beats herself up over every lost human life. I ended up focusing on her a lot more than I had intended in this chapter. I had wanted to have a couple more hospital bed scenes with Blake and Weiss talking to Sun and Neptune, respectively, but I just couldn't work them in without disrupting the flow of the narrative too much. I promise, they will not be relegated to being window dressing, but for narrative reasons this had to be a very Ruby-centric chapter.
Obligatory Godzilla scene was obligatory, obviously. Not a huge fight this time, since this was more of a down-time chapter, but just having him take a stroll would have been boring.
Emi was going to have a bit more major of a role in this chapter, but once again for narrative reasons I reduced this somewhat. She was somewhat of a show-stealer in the previous chapter, and I really want to save her major character moments for just a little later in the story.
Also, I ship Lancaster. Just saying.
Chapter 4: Ruminating Over the Future
Team RWBY continues to recover. The powers that be assess the situation.
Sorry for the lateness of this chapter. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that the schedule has been changed from every 3 weeks to every 4. I am also no longer sticking to the 10 page rule, as I am getting to the point of running out of things to say in a chapter that belong in its narrative.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
EDF Dossier: The Crystalline Entities
Origin: Unknown extraterrestrial location.
Height: Variable. See below.
Abilities: Seed a planet with living crystal. These crystals draw energy from the planet’s core, similar to Godzilla’s feeding process. The energy can be transferred to the entity for sustenance, or for attack. The entities will sample the genome of local life forms and assimilate desirable traits.
Spacegodzilla: In 1994, the first crystal entity made landfall on Birth Island, home to Godzilla 2 and Godzilla 3 (henceforth Junior). The entity incapacitated Godzilla and trapped Junior in a mound of living crystal, extracting DNA for its own use. This included the still-unknown Organizer G1 gene, and as would happen many times in later years this had what we presume was an unintended side-effect. Instead of merely gaining Junior’s regenerative abilities, the entity “regenerated” into a flawed clone of Junior’s adult form. Dubbed Spacegodzilla, it made its way to Fukuoka and turned the city into a fortress with its living crystal. After much effort by G-Force and the Mogera, the creature was finally killed by Godzilla when the latter channeled energy from the crystals into its atomic breath.
Krystalak: In 2007, a second crystal incursion saw a more mature crystal entity land in New York City. This creature appears to have been a more conventional member of its species, its body more crystal than animal unlike its predecessor. It was intercepted by Godzilla 3, and eventually killed when the Gotengo was able to harness the crystal energy to rupture the monster’s core.
Obsidius: A curious specimen, it was created as a result of the second crystal incursion, first making landfall in Seattle. Obsidius was similar in form to a walking volcano, and is thought to have been the offspring of Krystalak. Too young to effectively defend itself, its life was cut short by the intervention of Godzilla 3.
The Crystals: In both incidents, upon the death of the entity who created them the living crystals immediately shattered, becoming embedded in the Earth’s crust. More recently, mining operations for the shattered crystals, dubbed “Dust,” has become a lucrative market, and its applications are being tested on animals and machinery. Scientists have noted that while Dust can be used on animals with no ill effect, actual ingestion or injection results in them becoming extremely agitated and hostile to humans, and changes in size and appearance have been reported as well. The Earth Union has expressed interest in using this process to create man-made kaiju and enhanced humans, but it is unknown if they have yet attempted to do so. The EDF science division has no plans to conduct human testing at this time.
The Goliath herd gathered around its fallen member. The juvenile had been young and foolish, leaving the safety of the herd to take on Godzilla alone. Now, as its body slowly dissolved into a fine black mist, the 66-meter pachyderms considered their options. They conversed in a manner only a Grimm could understand, let alone register as speech at all, but let us imagine the conversation went something like this:
The First Speaker of the herd looked to the rest. His title was meaningless, other than denoting that he was the first to speak in any gathering. “His strength will not hold,” the First said, confidently. “It took all he had just to kill a youngling.” He felt no remorse for the fallen Goliath; Grimm did not think about such things. In their world, there was only bloodlust and cold logic.
The Second made a gesture equivalent to a man shaking his head. “He will retreat to feed if it comes to that. In the meantime, he will slaughter our kind faster than we can breed.”
The Third made what a Goliath might consider a smile. “Even if we are driven to extinction, the Dust continues to flow through this planet’s veins, and our kind still roam the stars. It would be nothing more than a setback.”
The Second seemed to sigh. “Even so, it would be in our best interests to see him dead, or at least infected.”
“Godzilla would never knowingly consume Dust,” the First said. “He knows it’s lethal for his species. We shall have to engage him in direct combat, but we’ll do it when he becomes hungry. Until then, we follow from a distance.”
“What happens if he enters a human settlement?” the Second inquired. “If we follow him, we could be killed.”
“He’ll probably destroy the humans himself,” the Third responded. “I doubt they’ll take kindly to him trespassing. They’ll wear one another down, after which their lives, and Godzilla’s, will be ours for the taking.”
The First nodded. “Failing that, we could send them in first.” He gestured toward the herd’s five remaining younglings, who ranged from 40-50 meters in height. The younglings were not permitted to speak at a gathering of elders, nor did they dare question the elders’ authority. To young Grimm, elders were like unto gods.
The First Speaker turned back to his companions. “This is our time. When we consume Godzilla’s flesh, our millennia-long mission shall be complete. Our fathers will return… and we will finally trade this wretched flesh for the purity of crystal.”
Ruby would have tripped without the nurse there to support her. “Careful,” the latter admonished. “Your strength hasn’t all come back yet. Just do what you can and no more.” Her mission for the moment was simple: walk to the end of the hall, then back to the hospital bed. Were she healthy, Ruby would find this silly: she could have done it before you finished giving her the directions. Right now, she only just had the strength to lift her own body. Her aura was still in overdrive, depleting itself of energy faster than it could heal her.
It had taken a lot of convincing to get Yang to check on their other teammates; the older girl had finally agreed to do it when Ruby used the puppy-dog eyes. Ruby loved her sister, but Yang wasn’t going to do herself any good by constantly worrying. Besides, it was a leader’s duty to make sure her teammates were in good health, and Ruby couldn’t do it herself right now.
It didn’t help that the nurse wasn’t taking her in their direction right now; Ruby’s room was nearer to the exit, and her team was down toward a window at the other end. The nurse had insisted upon the shorter route, as she wasn’t confident that the girl could handle a longer walk yet; she was barely handling this short one. “Do you want to go back? the nurse said, gently. “You’ve gone ten paces. That’s good enough for right now.”
“No, no, let’s keep going,” Ruby murmured, already running out of breath from this exertion. Then she smirked. “Dad wouldn’t approve of me doing things halfway.” The nurse nodded, and Ruby continued her slow journey down the hall.
In another room, Yang was speaking to her partner. Weiss was asleep when she checked, but Blake had only been reading a book. The faunus gave Yang a warm smile, but it was obvious how tired she was. Like Ruby, strength was only now starting to return to her body. Unlike Ruby, her visible wounds had already healed; she and Weiss had only been at the periphery of Godzilla’s nuclear pulse.
As they were talking, Blake suddenly said, “Hey, out of curiosity, did Weiss seem to act… strangely at all, to you?”
Yang was taken aback by this. “No, uh, actually she was asleep when I checked on her. Why?”
Blake frowned, seeming troubled. “Just something I observed when she and I were evacuating civilians. It seemed like she was… I don’t know how describe it, exactly, but it’s like she wasn’t as surprised to see Godzilla as she should have been.”
Yang laughed it off. “It was pretty hectic, and she was raised around corporate bigwigs. She was probably just in ‘work mode.’ I mean, it’s not like any of us had a lot of time to process what was happening.”
Blake sighed and leaned back into her pillow. Then she let out a small chuckle. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Guess I’m just paranoid.”
“Well, she was kind of your arch-enemy before we came to Beacon,” the blonde observed. “You two have done a good job of getting along in spite of that, but… a lifetime of hate isn’t something that just goes away, you know.”
Blake’s eyes closed, as sleep began to overtake her exhausted body. “You’re probably right.”
The King of the Monsters was not feeling much like a king at the moment. Each successive encounter with the Grimm was draining more of his strength, and while he was far from what he considered his danger-zone, he was aware of his own growing hunger. It would have been so easy to just retreat to the sea, dig into the crust, and soak up the natural heat and radiation of the mantle… but there were so many Grimm. So many spawn of his father’s killer. Godzilla had long ago promised himself that no crystalline entity would live longer than he needed to permit, and the need would not be there until his energy level was much, much lower.
Even so, hunger gnawed at him. It would help if he could find a light snack, at least. He still didn’t sense any of his normal feeding spots, but Godzilla had seen human settlements. If he could find a large city, that would be enough. Nuclear power was preferable, but any energy would do, and the humans always had it in abundance.
To humans, Godzilla’s rampages seemed random, causing destruction for its own sake. In truth, this was simply how Godzilla “ate” most of the time. Though he had a mouth, stomach, even a digestive system, these rarely saw use anymore and were mainly vestiges from the non mutated Godzillasaurus. What Godzilla did in a rampage was essentially electrocute himself with many tiny shocks as he moved through a building’s electrical circuits. The energy eventually reached his spines, where it was stored and processed. The fires he inevitably caused also fed heat energy directly into him. It was a slow, non-ideal way to feed, and it always brought the wrath of humans, but it worked.
Godzilla sniffed around, trying to catch the strongest human scent he could. The stronger it was, he reasoned, the larger the settlement was likely to be. Right now, that meant heading north.
Ozpin looked like a statue, sitting at his desk. It had finally happened. Godzilla had made his long-awaited return, and was fighting the Grimm as predicted. That still left him with some troubling questions.
His thoughts were interrupted by a beeping from his computer. General Ironwood was calling. Opzin answered, taking a sip of his coffee before saying, “Afternoon, James.”
“You know why I’m calling you, Oz. I need to know how to take down Godzilla.”
“I’m not sure there’s much you really can do at the moment, other than perhaps shoot at him,” Ozpin said with perhaps a hint of mirth. “If you need a comparison, imagine a Goliath, except with opposable thumbs, almost instant regeneration, and a weapon he can accurately shoot at anything close enough to see.”
“Oz, he’s headed for Vale.”
This got Ozpin’s attention. “I see. He’s getting hungry faster than I thought he would.”
“There’s more. We count at least eight Goliaths shadowing him.
“Goliaths are very intelligent,” Ozpin observed. “It’s natural that they’d pick up on Godzilla’s loss of energy. They’re also about his size and strength. You may want to think about taking care of them before they follow Godzilla into Vale.”
“Which I’ll do by stopping Godzilla. If he attacks Vale, then-”
“Then it would be no different than if a herd of Goliaths wandered in. Except Godzilla isn’t trying to destroy humanity.” Ozpin took another sip of coffee. “James, I know your faith in my abilities has been shaken by recent events, but we cannot lose sight of our real enemy, and that enemy is the Grimm. Godzilla is just an animal. He will take what he needs, and then he’ll leave.”
“I wish I could believe you,” Ironwood said gravely. “But he made an entire village uninhabitable within the space of an evening, just by being there.” He sighed. “We’re attacking Godzilla; and if you have anything in those prehistoric files that can help, I need to know. Now.”
“I have nothing that would be of use to you, I’m afraid,” Ozpin replied. “I’m sorry.”
The general frowned. “I’m sorry, too.” He ended the call.
Ozpin let out a rare sigh, and took another sip of coffee. Part of what he said had been a lie: Ironwood’s air fleet probably could destroy Godzilla, or at least incapacitate him. The weapons of Remnant were far superior to anything the Earth Defense Force had possessed in its time. Hmm… Earth.
Calling those times prehistoric was a bit of a misnomer. The EDF Dossier had survived, thanks to the headmaster, but its existence was not public knowledge. The world didn’t really remember the events of the cataclysm, 2000 years ago, and Ozpin wasn’t sure if it really needed to remember. Humanity had never been more divided than it was during the age of kaiju. The EDF had always been under-funded, as the monsters proved to be a much smaller threat compared to initial predictions. Earth had its protectors: Mothra, Battra, King Caesar, even Godzilla himself to a certain extent. But Remnant… Remnant had no more protectors. Not from the Grimm. Not after the cataclysm that created it, that inspired the name.
Without Dust, humanity would have no defense against the Grimm. Then again, without Dust there would be no Grimm, nor a cataclysm from which they could thrive.
Ozpin wondered why Godzilla was heading to Vale specifically. Was it because of the heart? He chuckled to himself. He still thought of Beacon as “Area G” sometimes. Still, it was a possibility. The heart of Godzilla 4 was frozen, dormant, but Godzilla had locked onto less likely targets before. It wasn’t out of the question that he might be after the clone’s heart.
Another thing still troubled him, though. Godzilla was here, but he had not been the black hole’s only passenger. Where was Mecha-King Ghidorah? Where is Emi Kano?
So, this was a bit of a quiet chapter. The story started off with a bang, then I let it cool down, and now it needs to rest a bit. Don't worry, though, we'll be ramping it up again next month.
You'll notice that Emi is missing from this chapter. I'm planning to cover her side of the story via flashbacks a little later. Right now, all she really does is interrupt the flow of the narrative. I probably should have planned for this from the beginning, but what can you do.
I'm trying to let you fill in the gaps yourself by off-handedly dropping details on you, rather than giving long exposition on every little part of the plot and setting. If you're skimming the story, you will miss things. The answers to your questions are in the details, though, if you have the patience to sift through the text. For example, Blake's little suspicion about Weiss in this chapter will mean a lot more to you if you paid attention in Chapter 3. I'm happy to point you in the right direction if you're not sure where I left some of my clues.
Chapter 5: Winter Witch
Godzilla is headed straight for Vale, and MKG prepares to launch. Is Team RWBY ready to face them, so soon after nearly dying?
I think it goes without saying that, as a fic which started back in April 2015, Winter Schnee's appearance in this story will not resemble canon much, if at all. To make sure there is no confusion, she is the twin sister of Weiss in this story, distinguishable only by her lack of a scar.
We now return you to your semi-regularly scheduled fanfic.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Journal of General Ozaki
It was a mistake, allowing the Earth Union to run amok. First they make a cyborg out of the most powerful kaiju known at the time. Then, they bring back Dimension Tide. Now, with the return of King Ghidorah’s creators and the appearance of Bagan, the damned fools are making their own kaiju using Dust. What’s worse, it seems to be working. The cost has been high: the more enraged Bagan becomes by these kaiju, these “Grimm” as the Earth Union is calling them, the more he destroys in his rampages. Not too surprising, I should think, considering the damned thing is a hybrid of Godzilla, Ghidorah, and god only knows what else.
Bagan has enough power to shatter tectonic plates: Asia and Africa are already starting to look like a jigsaw puzzle on the satellite feeds, and Europe isn’t too far behind. Mothra and Battra are dead, and it’s looking like the Grimm are our only hope. That wouldn’t be so bad if they were less aggressive against people… and if they weren’t breeding. The Grimm start off small enough to crush under your boot, but they become man-sized quite quickly, and at least one of the giant Grimm we’re tracking was born rather than created. The early generations looked more-or-less like regular animals, but each generation keeps looking more and more demonic. After what the crystals did to Godzilla back in 1995, I can’t believe anyone thought corrupting an animal on purpose was a good idea… but there it is, I suppose.
I’ve relocated EDF headquarters to Area G in Antarctica. Not a very long trip, seeing as it’s right off the coast of Japan now thanks to Bagan; well, I suppose we technically met in the middle. I have to say, it was definitely a little jarring to both be in Tokyo and the southern hemisphere at the same time. Although with both Antarctica and Japan being in the tropics now, that does present a problem in terms of keeping Godzilla 4’s heart frozen.
Resurrecting Ghost Godzilla is not an option. Even if he did regrow in time, and even if he did manage to defeat Bagan and the Grimm, he would probably try to destroy humanity again. Though it goes against my better judgement, we will probably need to use Dust, and machines powered by Dust, in order to keep him on ice.
Bagan is going to be killed by the Grimm, of this I have little doubt; but I suspect we’re next. The Earth Union may have been strong when it had MKG, but they have nothing with which to combat their own creations. Arnold Schnee is going to have a lot to answer for when this is over. I just hope for Ms. Kano’s sake that there’s still a world for her to return to wherever in time she gets dropped off.
Winter Schnee watched from a distance as Emi Kano was shown around the hanger. Hiding MKG here had been no small task, but Winter controlled enough people to keep it quiet. Hers was an unusual semblance; not mind control, exactly, but influence. To Winter, a person’s brain was like a set of dials: turn one this way, and you had a loyal servant for life. Turn another that way, and you had a savant. There were limits, of course. Her target could not be aware of what she was doing; that left family and close friends out of the question. Faunus were difficult due to their heritage, and she had only secured a key few such as Adam Taurus because of this. Grimm were rarely if ever vulnerable, as their Dust corruption was much too fargone.
Emi was quite possibly the easiest target Winter had ever worked on. They had yet to meet face to face, but she had made sure that among the things Emi was made aware of, the fact that the Schnee family still existed was one of them. The Schnee Dust Company was a far cry from what it had been as part of the Earth Union, so many centuries ago.
Right now she was making small adjustments to Emi’s character. If this long-running scheme of hers were to succeed, absolute loyalty to the Company would not do. Emi needed to be loyal to a few specific members, namely herself and…
If anyone ever gave Winter doubts about what she was trying to do, it was her twin sister. She held no ill will against Weiss for being the heiress to the company; she preferred to be behind the scenes, and in any case she loved her sister far too much. And that was the problem: would this ultimately do Weiss more harm than good?
Like Weiss, Winter recognized the terrible things their father and their company had done. But Winter, unlike her twin, was not so naive as to think a simple change of administration was going to solve anything. Humanity as a whole would never really accept the Faunus; Emi seemed to accept them for now out of ignorance, but if she ever learned of their heritage… Winter made a note to adjust Emi’s prejudices down to the lowest healthy degree when the main alterations were finished.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Winter turned around to see Adam standing behind her, this time without Cinder; the latter had returned to Beacon upon being briefed on her new objectives. Adam nodded toward Emi. “Admiring your new toy?” From behind, Winter would have appeared to be looking at MKG; like everyone else she had adjusted, Adam was not aware of Winter’s semblance. Indeed, as far as anyone within the White Fang -or any of her associates- knew, Winter had very little training in the use of aura. This was partly true: Winter was not a fighter, but like any member of high society she had some basic aura training. When people existed who wanted nothing more than to put a bullet in your brain, such skills were a necessity.
“Actually, I was peeking in on my newest employee. She’s been on quite the time-traveling adventure, after all.”
Adam snorted, then looked up at the cyborg. MKG’s armor was mostly prepared, but now also had some modifications: namely, Dust storage. Much of what it now carried came from the stock that Roman Torchwick had stolen. It was not the original plan, but having a kaiju cyborg crash in your backyard had a way of changing one’s priorities. “You’re not actually planning to use that thing, are you? Kind of goes against the whole subtlety angle we’ve been working on.”
“Plan’s changed,” Winter said. “The kingdoms are never going to fracture as long as Godzilla’s alive; and nothing they have can kill him. That and the fact that this,” she gestured toward the comatose cyborg, “has already made nations submit, first to my forefathers, and now to us.” She allowed herself a smirk. “Besides, I thought you didn’t care about collateral damage.”
“Only when humans are involved,” the Faunus retorted.
“You are human, after a fashion.”
“Tell that to the ones who enslaved us.” His tone was not threatening -Winter had spent far too much time adjusting Adam to allow hostility toward herself- but his words had a ring of truth to them. The Faunus genome had mostly stabilized over the centuries: interbreeding with humans was no longer necessary to avoid producing monsters. Memories of their origins and heritage were still fresh in the minds of some, though. It didn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to see the Faunus as Grimm, and those who thought so were not entirely incorrect.
“Do you remember what I told you about the Earth Union, and why you decided to help me reform it?” Before Adam could answer, Winter went on. “The EDF would only protect people, which meant leaving alive many threats that were never properly dealt with. The Earth Union protected humanity, sometimes even from itself. That’s we’re here to do. No glorious revolutions, no mass slaughters: just hurting those who need to be hurt in order to better humanity as a whole. Faunus included.”
Adam just sighed. He had heard this a million times. He knew Winter was right -Winter had programmed him to think so, after all- but elements of his old self still peeked through at times. He would be due for adjustment soon. “So when are you launching it?”
Winter turned back toward Emi Kano, who was still speaking with SDC personnel she had adjusted. “They are making pre-launch preparations down there as we speak.”
It felt good to be back in the dorm. The doctors had wanted her to remain at the hospital for at least another two days, but Ruby would have none of it. Yang often skipped classes to come visit her, and her other two teammates had already been released. Ruby was a leader, and her place was with her team.
Her wounds had basically healed. Light scarring remained on her cheeks, would that, too, would pass. It made her wonder for a moment why Weiss still had a scar, until she remembered the heiress had acquired that before her aura was awakened. It was something Weiss had told her privately once, a rare sign of trust.
The only downside to being back was that now, despite her best efforts, Ruby could not prevent her sister from mommy-ing her at every opportunity. It wasn’t totally unjustified, granted, and Ruby would probably have done the same were their positions reversed. But this… this was just getting to be too much.
Right at this moment, her mind was focused on Professor Oobleck’s lecture. It was obvious by his demeanor that the professor was trying hard to set everyone’s mind at ease by not addressing current issues; routine had a way of calming people even in the most dire circumstances. Even so, the proverbial elephant in the living room wasn’t getting off anyone’s minds soon, and Ruby could see it on all the student’s faces. All except Weiss…
Come to think of it, Ruby couldn’t recall if Weiss had so much as heard from her family since their brief hospitalization. She assumed that was the case, but given Weiss’ sullen look she wasn’t as certain. Weiss and her father were not on the best of terms, of course, but were things really that bad between them?
The bell rang, and Ruby prepared to execute plan “Escape From Mamma Yang.” Though Ruby did not have full use of her semblance back, she was pretty confident she could manage two or three speed bursts without hurting herself. One burst down the hall, another down the better portion of the stairwell, and one more out to the courtyard. From there it was just a hop, skip, and short flight to town, and a couple hours of privacy.
Ruby no sooner left the classroom before encountering the first hitch in this plan: a huge crowd of students was between her and her goal. With Yang fast approaching, Ruby panicked and used her speed to fling herself in the other direction. Second problem: Ruby was now quite winded, much more than she had anticipated. Though her aura was functioning again -and by extension her semblance- Ruby’s body was still suffering from minor radiation sickness and likely would be for many more days until her aura could finally fix all the underlying problems. This meant, among other things, that any exertion would drain her much faster than normal; exertions such as moving yourself a couple hundred feet in less than the time it took to blink.
Ruby had no time to regret this plan, as Yang had begun to give chase, leaving Weiss and Blake standing bemused outside the lecture hall. Her face showed a mix of worry, confusion, and perhaps a bit of anger. The redhead chose not to dwell on this, instead taking off once again toward the nearest stairwell she could see. The good news was, it was out of Yang’s sight, and Ruby could hear her sister sailing past a few moments later. Mission partially accomplished! The bad news was that these stairs only went to the roof, and as she wasn’t particularly inclined to skydive off the roof with only her half-functioning aura to protect her, Ruby was no longer getting out of Beacon today; at least not without getting caught. Nowhere to go but up, she figured, and did just that.
Blake and Weiss paused halfway up this hallway. They had lost track of Yang now, and Ruby was too fast to have any hope of catching up. “Well, so much for that,” Blake muttered.
“Yeah,” Weiss said meekly.
Blake turned to face her teammate. “Are you all right?”
Weiss scrunched up her eyebrows. “Of course I am!”
“You don’t act like it. Ever since Godzilla showed up, you haven’t been yourself. You spaced out at least four times when we were evacuating people, you haven’t so much as left your family a message-”
“How would you even know that?” Weiss asked indignantly.
“I’m a terrorist, remember? Intel-gathering is kind of something I’m good at.”
“Right,” the heiress observed, dryly. “Well in any case, I don’t see how it’s any of your business.”
Blake just stared at her for a moment, then said, “Seriously, princess, what’s wrong?”
“N-” Weiss began before stopping herself. She sighed. “I’ll… I’ll tell you the next time the four of us are together. In private. Right now we should probably split up and find our teammates.”
“Sure thing,” Blake nodded. “I’ll take Ruby, you go after Yang.”
“Why do I have to get Yang? She’s your partner!”
“She’s also royally pissed off, might have to be restrained, and if that’s the case,” Blake pointed at Gambol Shroud, “I don’t really feel like playing rodeo with someone who could probably snap me like a twig. At least you have the option of putting her on ice. Besides, Ruby obviously doesn’t want to be found, and I’m better at tracking people than you are.”
“Right.” Weiss frowned. “Okay, but you owe me for this.”
“Blueberry frozen yogurt,” Blake offered. When Weiss didn’t budge she added, “Homemade and whenever you want it until the end of the semester.”
“Deal,” the heiress said before heading down the hallway, weapon drawn. Blake headed in the other direction. She could smell Ruby’s trail, which headed up toward the roof. Problem solved, the Faunus thought. Now I just have to learn how to make frozen yogurt. Can’t be that hard, can it?
Ruby had spent five minutes trudging up the stairs, exhausted. Maybe Yang was right to act like a caregiver, if this was all she had to show for her recovery.
Upon reaching the roof itself she was surprised to find Jaune. She knew the blonde often trained up here with Pyrrha -and honestly, with all the loud banging metal who wouldn’t have known by now?- but usually at night… and usually with Pyrrha actually here to do the training. Instead, Jaune was sitting by himself at the edge of the roof. He probably wasn’t in any danger, what with his extra-strong aura, but Ruby decided it would be best not to spook him anyway. Causing someone to fall four stories didn’t strike her as the best way to maintain a friendship.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Jaune turned his head to look over his shoulder. “Oh, hey Ruby.”
“How’d you beat me up here?” Ruby wondered aloud.
“Didn’t have a class this period. Instructor was dead.”
That caught Ruby off-guard. “Dead?”
Jaune furrowed his brow. “You mean you didn’t hear yet? Oh, right, you’ve been in the hospital… Godzilla torched a whole forest full of Grimm the other day. Took out a team of 3rd-years whose assignment was running long.”
The news stuck Ruby as she sat down next to the boy. “Was it Godzilla that killed them, or the Grimm he was fighting?”
“Doesn’t really matter,” Jaune said. “I don’t think something that big can get into a fight without someone dying.” He looked at the girl next to him. “You’re looking a lot better than when I last saw you.”
That got a laugh out of Ruby. “Not that hard.” Then her expression grew dark. “Last time you saw me, I didn’t even have a face.” Seeing the questioning look on Jaune’s face she added, “Yang told me.”
“How are you doing now?”
Ruby cast her eyes down. Physically, she was fine aside from the minor damage that was still healing internally. Mentally… She thought back to Sheriff Huxley’s story about the hunter who committed suicide. You can heal pretty serious wounds with Aura and Dust therapy, even regrow body parts if you can stabilize the person in time. Those memories, though… Godzilla was no Grimm, but the mental scars cut deep all the same. Skin completely sloughed off, bone and muscle exposed to the world, flesh bonded to her own clothing, by all rights she should have been… Ruby started to cry. “I shouldn’t be alive.”
And she continued to cry. Jaune wasn’t very good with girls -wasn’t very good with people- but even he knew what to do when someone he knew well was in pain. So he put an arm around Ruby’s shoulder, pulled her close, and held her. Ruby continued to cry into the boy’s shoulder, and Jaune become aware of said shoulder getting very wet and a little sticky. When people cry -really cry- a lot of snot can get involved. They don’t generally show you that part in the movies, much to Jaune’s current chagrin.
When Ruby finally calmed down and noticed where she was, she blushed. “S-sorry,” Jaune stammered as he broke the hug. “I just thought-”
“No it’s fine,” Ruby said. “Actually, I might have to hug you more often. You’re surprisingly soft.”
“AHEM.” They turned around to see Blake leaning against the door. “If you two lovebirds are about done,” Ruby and Jaune both looked like they were about to object, but Blake continued, “your sister is looking for you, Ruby.” A loud boom from within the school drew all three teens’ attention. “And Weiss is keeping your sister from tearing the place apart looking for you.”
Ruby groaned as she got up, Jaune soon following. “Guess we’d better go save her.”
Blake was about to open the door for them when they heard another loud boom. This one was definitely not from within the school. “What was that?”
Ruby slowly turned around, toward the source of the sound.
Ruby's experience with being near death, once again, mirrors events in my own life. Between an appendix that almost exploded, several large vehicles that nearly splattered me on the pavement, and a close call with suicide due to a medication imbalance, I've had more than my share of facing death. You're never quite the same after you've experienced that moment of surrender.
My working schedule has stabilized somewhat, so I don't anticipate delays for the next chapter. I may actually be able to write at work, if a current request of mine pans out, so who knows. Maybe the next chapter will come out sooner.
2016 Update: Obviously that last part ended up being a lie. I actually do have a draft of chapter 6, it's just not done yet. It's also difficult to write due to the action; if chapter 5 marked the start of "Act 2," then chapter 6 is the rising action, with chapter 7 planned as another cool-down segment. Once chapter 6 is up, the story will be one-half to two-thirds of the way finished, depending on whether this ends up having a 3- or 4-act structure.