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War Dogs

Chapter Text

Vale Shipping Docks

Specialist Doc Higgins ducked behind a forklift just as a burst of fire bounced off the ground. The rest of his team was scattered across the shipyard. He dropped the magazine in his rifle and slapped in a new one. He quickly scanned his team, checking their individual status on the inside of his helmet.

Ordi Otto, the team’s explosive expert, was hunkered behind a shipping container, picking off Atlesian Knights. His aura was strong, having only drained a quarter of his reserve. Gunner Kasato and Sketch Akerman were whittling down a Paladin that was advancing on their position. Gunner was the team’s heavy support and Sketch was their tech specialist. Both of their auras were sitting at half. Doc was the team medic. Together they made Team DOGS, a name whose irony was not lost on the wolf faunus.

Ordi broke from his cover and slid next to Doc, changing his own magazine. “Looks like we’ve found ourselves in the shit again boss.”

Doc leaned around the side of the forklift and fired a few shots at the incoming knights before ducking back down. “Yeah I know, why can’t Ironwood send us somewhere nice. That Paladin is gonna be within firing range soon, we need to get those two back here.” he said checking the rest of his ammo.

Ordi pulled out a battle axe from his back and transformed it to a grenade tube-launcher. “What’s the plan to get them down here.” he asked

“I need you to draw its fire and throw it back in its face.” Doc said, summoning a pair of dark wolf apparitions. He keyed the mic linked to their scrolls. “Gunner, Sketch, Ordi is gonna draw the Paladin’s fire and I’m sending some dogs to take care of the knights. Get your asses down here!”

“Got it boss, on our way.” came the reply, Doc watched Sketch smack Gunner on the shoulder, signaling their time to move.

Gunner stood from his position and shouted into the mike as the two of them turned and ran, “Covering fire!”

Doc flicked his wolves toward a pair of knights as Ordi ran forward from their position. Doc fired short round bursts to distract the Paladin. The slow thump of grenades launching towards the mech forced the remaining team members to run faster. The hacked mech cocked back it’s arm, preparing to target the team with missiles.

Ordi’s grenade knocked the Paladin’s aim off target just as the missiles fired. Doc tracked the projectile as it slammed into a shipping container marked with the red SDC logo signaling that it was packed with fire dust.

Ordi activated his semblance, gathering the fires’ destructive energy and directed it at the Paladin. Doc watched as the mech fell backwards and turned back to see Ordi’s aura shatter and fly through the air engulfed in flames.

 

======

Three months later in Atlas

 

Doc stared through the observation window as he watched the surgeons work on his friend. He barely noticed the thin reflection in the glass as someone came to stand next to him.

“How’s he doing?” asked General Ironwood

Doc sighed and turned his head to look at his boss, “He’s had seven surgeries already, this is number eight. Quadruple amputee, third degree burns covering the rest of his body, he’s lucky that his aura managed to protect his face. How do you think he’s doing General.”

Ironwood pulled a flask from his coat pocket and offered it to the Specialist. “I’m sure he’ll be ready for duty by the time I find you a new mission.”

Doc took a pull from the flask and returned it to its owner, “I hope so, the team will collapse if he doesn’t.”

The two men stood silently for a few minutes, only the sound of the surgeons instruments and the heart-rate monitor breaking entering the room.

“I remember the day I found you and your team.” Ironwood began, “Two humans and panther faunus standing around you, fending off a yard of bullies in the dead of winter. You were turning a 17 year old’s face into something that resembled ground beef.”

“If you had been held down while a racist cut your tail off with a pair of pruning shears, you would be angry too.” Doc said shifting his weight from one foot to the other. His hand instinctively moved to the stub of bone in his lower back.

“I’m surprised that you didn’t pass out from the pain. Terrible thing for a 13 year old to go through.”

“Rage is one hell of an anesthetic. I’m surprised you bailed us out of that shit-hole.”

Ironwood chuckled quietly, “I’ve never seen such a group of different individuals form together so quickly. You were destined to be huntsman, but you weren’t going to become one while rotting in dust mine.”

Doc leaned back his head and closed his eyes, “I brought them into this,” Doc sighed “How long have we known each other General?”

Ironwood pinched his brow, “I was your team’s sponsor for combat school, supported you through your time at the academy, and you’ve served in the Specialist Corps for the last five years. 13 years.”

Doc nodded, “13 years, three months and five days.” He opened his eyes and looked at his mentor, “Tell me we’re going after the people to attacked Beacon. Tell me we’re going to make the people who put Ordi on that table pay.”

Ironwood stared at the floor and sighed, “We can’t. We’re too vulnerable right now, our military is in shambles. The virus that they uploaded compromised our entire mechanised garrison, even if we operate the Paladins manually, we can’t risk those machines going rogue.” He turned his back and leaned against the window. “They made us look like the world’s enemy.”

Doc glanced back at his friend in surgery and smirked. The world was right to think they were the enemy, how else were they supposed to react to a live feed of Atlesian Knights and Paladins attacking civilians and students. They had brought an army to Vale and it had been turned against them. He turned when Ironwood spoke again.

“We’re recalling all of our assets outside of the kingdom, we’re closing the borders to all incoming and outgoing trade.” he said

Doc stared at Ironwood in disbelief, “If we close the borders, then how are we going to fight the real enemy? How am I going to get them back for taking Ordi’s arms and legs? What am I supposed to tell my team?!” he asked

“I already told you, we can’t! No one is coming in and no one is going outside of the kingdom. That includes Specialist operations.” replied Ironwood

Doc turned away from the window and walked away, he stopped in the doorway and turned back to the General, “You said you would find us a new mission when he was ready to return to duty. What mission would you have for my team if you’ve closed the border?” he asked

Ironwood pulled out his scroll, typed in a few commands and returned it to his pocket, “It’s a protection detail. High value target for one our defense contractors. They specifically requested a team of Specialists.”

Doc raised his eyebrow in surprise, protection details weren’t given to entire Specialist teams. Usually a single or a pair of Specialists were used for these assignments. “Why don’t you give this one to Schnee? She’s been around those stiffs since she could walk.” he said

“Conflict of interest.”

The scroll in Doc’s pocket dinged, he pulled out the device. The screen displayed his team’s new orders. They read:

Mission Update: Protection Detail. Organization: Schnee Dust Company. Target Name: Weiss Schee.

Chapter Text

Three months later. Atlas.

 

Doc leaned back in his seat as General Ironwood pulled up to the Schnee Manor. Jacques Schnee had insisted on meeting the team leader before entrusting the safety of his youngest daughter.

“Feels a little excessive just to clear someone for babysitting duty” he thought to himself, “Is this really necessary General?”

Ironwood put the car in park and stepped out of the door, “Jacques Schnee is the head of the largest dust company in all of Remnant. He’s also a father. Meeting with him before you start being his daughters’ bodyguard is not unreasonable.” he said

Doc closed his car door, “Makes sense, anything I should know?”

“He can be…” Ironwood stopped at the manor steps before answering “Stubborn.”

Doc thought about this and accepted Ironwood’s answer.

They walked up the front steps and were greeted at the door by the Schnee family’s housekeeper. “General Ironwood! A pleasure to see you once again.” the stout man held the door open for them and took Ironwood’s coat. “I see you’ve brought a guest, another Specialist at that.”

“Good to see you again Klein.” said Ironwood shaking the his hand, “This is Specialist Doc Higgins, we’re here to see Jacques.”

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance Specialist Higgins. Perhaps you’ve worked with our firstborn, Winter.” said Klein getting Doc with a handshake before offering to take his coat. “Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee?”

Doc declined the housekeepers’ offer to take his coat. “I’ve met Specialist Schnee sir, but I prefer to work with my own team.” he looked around the mansions’ immense opening room. “However, if you have the time I would like a tour of the place.”

“Of course.” Klein gestured with a sweep of his arm “Master Schnee is waiting for you two in his study.”

Klein guided them through the mansion, passing through hallways of family portraits and expensive art paintings. They stopped in front of a solid oak door, the sound of enraged shouting slipping under the door.

“I’m terribly sorry General,” apologized Klein “He’s been dealing with a faunus labor strike at one of the mines today. Hopefully he’ll calm down knowing that you’re here.”

Doc glanced at Ironwood when Klein mentioned the faunus strike. Ironwood’s expression was, for lack of a better word, ironclad. “This is going to fun.” he thought to himself as Klein rapped on the door.

“Master Schnee? General Ironwood and the Specialist team leader you were expecting are here to see you.”

A muffled explanation could be heard under the door, followed by a moment of silence. “Come in.”

Ironwood opened the door and showed Doc into the room. The first thing Doc noticed was that the room’s temperature was lower than the rest of the mansion. “Guess this room makes him the Ice King. Never understood how all the Schnees could be so cold all the time.”

Jacques Schnee didn’t bother greeting them when they entered the office. He was busy studying a pile of documents scattered across his desk. Ironwood strode the the front of the dest and greeted his old friend. “Good to see you Jacques, it’s been awhile.” he said, extending his hand. Jacques hummed his acknowledgement, but didn’t take his attention from the papers on his desk. Ironwood took a seat in front of the desk, Doc decided to remain standing and rested crossed his hands in front of him.

After a few minutes, Jacques lifted his head and propped his elbows on the edge of the desk, folded his hands together and leaned forward. He studied the Specialist before him with cold skepticism. “I know a bit about the Specialist program Specialist Higgins. My oldest daughter happens to be one, despite my instructions to remain in the family.” he tilted his head, trying to gain a better read on the man “I don’t see your weapon Specialist. Am I supposed to expect you to protect my daughter without one?”

Doc reached into his jacket and pulled out combat knife with a curved handle, snapped it into a revolver, then back into a knife before returning it to it's place on his belt. He returned to his previous stance. “My team is equipped to handle any scenario you can expect Mister Schnee. From a White Fang attack to a charity event. Your daughter’s safety is guaranteed.”

Jacques hummed to himself, turning his attention back to his desk, “I doubt that, I don’t believe in anyone’s guarantee.” he shuffled through some of the papers, “You and your team will be making sure my daughter doesn’t leave the manor grounds unsupervised. You will not take her anywhere without my approval, is that understood?”

Doc opened his mouth to remind him that he wasn’t one of Jacques’s employees, but Ironwood beat him to it. “Actually Jacques, they’ll do whatever I tell them to. His team isn’t your personal protection squad to command.”

Jacques stopped searching through his papers, picking up a stack. He glanced back at Ironwood. “They might as well be James.” he said flipping through the stack, “According to their service records, their enlistment ends in six months.” Jacques turned his attention back to Doc “Would you and your team be interested in coming to work for me once your service is over? I can give you a substantial pay increase from what you’re currently used to.”

Doc listened to the man’s offer. He needed to pick his next words carefully, he had heard stories about the people who defied the Schnee. He had no desire to be added to the pile. “I won’t speak for the rest of my team sir.” Doc shifted his weight and leaned forward, “But I’ll keep your offer in mind.”

“Will that be all Mister Schnee? Or do you have more questions about me and my boys?” he asked standing straight

“No, that will be all Specialist. I expect you and your team to stay in the manor while…” Jacques paused, searching for the right words before continuing, “...you are on loan to me. See Klein to make the arrangements. You may go.”

Doc nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him. Klein was walking down the hallway with a tea tray in his hands. He jogged to catch up with the housekeeper.
“Specialist Higgins, how was the meeting with Master Schnee?” Klein asked cheerfully, slowing his pace so that Doc could fall into step.

Doc grimaced at the mans tone, “The man is an arrogant asshole, and please call me Doc. It looks like me and my team passed his little exam.”

Klein smirked at Doc’s honesty, most were too afraid of his employer to say such things. He was relieved to find that the team leader wasn’t one of them. “That is good to hear, what will you be doing for him again?”

Doc rolled his neck around and sighed, “We’re going to be protecting Weiss. Apparently Jacques doesn’t want her sneaking off to without his permission.”

Klein raised his eyebrow at the news, it seemed that Doc was about as happy with his new assignment as Weiss was with her imposed house arrest. A thought formed in his mind, Klein tucked it away for later use. “I’m sure Miss Schnee won’t give you any trouble. Will you be staying in the manor?”

“Yes, Jacques requested that my team stayed here. I’m sorry if that causes you trouble.” Doc pulled his scroll from his pocket, checking a message from his team. He fired back a reply and returned the device back to his pocket. His faunus hearing picked up sounds of steel striking stone as they turned the corner into another hallway. “Where are we going Klein?”

Klein smiled and gestured to the tray in his hands. “Miss Schnee has been practicing her sword-skill since her father locked her in her room. I thought I would cheer her up to bring her some of her favorite tea.” The sounds of steel on stone became louder as they walked down the hall.

Doc shook his head in surprise, he didn’t know that Weiss knew how to use a sword, “That’s kind of you Klein, Weiss must be very lucky to have such a thoughtful housekeeper. Did she pick up sword-play as a hobby or was it something all Schnee children are expected to learn?”

“Oh no sir,” Klein laughed “Weiss wants to become a Huntress. She wants to restore the family name and return the company’s reputation back to the time before her father. She’s had to fight her father every step of the way.”

“He made her fight a giant animatronic just to prove she was worthy to attend Beacon Academy.” Klein let out his breath with a huff, “ Then after the tragic event that occurred at the Vytal Festival last year; he stripped her of her title as heiress after she summoned a Boarbatusk at a charity event.” They paused outside of a door, heavy breathing could be heard under the door.

Doc stared at the door and grasped the handle, “I was there for the Fall of Beacon Klein. One of the members of my team spent the last six months recovering in the hospital.” he paused, a light-bulb flickered in the back of his mind, “Do you think Weiss would take the fight to the people who attacked Beacon if she had the chance?”

Klein smiled, the thought he had tucked away resurfaced for a moment, “If you could open the door, you might be able to ask her yourself.”

 

Chapter Text

Weiss took a break from her training as the door to her room opened up. She smiled when she saw Klein walked in with a tray of tea. Her smile quickly faded when a Specialist followed him into the room and closed the door.

“I thought you might like some tea Miss Schnee, I understand that it’s better for the body after exercising.” said Klein cheerfully, setting the tray down on the table and pouring tea into a cup.

Weiss put Myrtenaster back into its case before accepting the cup with a small smile. “I appreciate the thought Klein, but who is the man that came in with you?” she asked

“Oh, that is one of the Specialists that your father requested from General Ironwood. It seems that he is concerned for your safety after that unfortunate incident at the charity event. He’s actually quite nice.” said Klein, making a second cup and bringing it over to the man at the door.

“Concerned my ass.” thought Weiss, “He just wants to make sure that I don’t run away.”

She watched as the man took the cup in one hand and politely thanked the butler. The man wasn’t extremely tall, roughly 5’10”, medium build, steel blue eyes, short dark brown hair shaved on both sides of his head. He had a scar across his cheek, just under his right eye. He had the familiar cold demeanor that her sister Winter had, but something felt different about how he looked at her from across the room. She walked over to him with leisurely strides, stopping in front of him and waited as Klein refilled her cup before speaking. “What is your name Specialist?” she asked taking a sip from her cup.

“Doc Higgins, leader for Specialist team DOGS.” he said coolly before raising his cup to his mouth and draining it. He handed the cup back to Klein and placed both his hand in front of him rocking on the balls of his feet.

“I see it now.” Weiss thought to herself, “He’s indifferent to being here. It’s not that he doesn’t know who I am, he just doesn’t care.” Her eyes studied the scar under his eye. After a closer look, it looked as if it had been stitched closed, reopened and then restitched with unsteady hands. “How did you get that scar Specialist Higgins?” she asked

The Specialist looked down at her and smirked, “Would you believe me if I told you that your sister gave it to me while we were at Atlas Academy together?” he said.

Weiss raised an eyebrow, keeping her expression neutral while the knowledge that the man had attended the huntsmen academy the same time as her sister peaked her curiosity. “Explain.” she said

Specialist Higgins chuckled and rolled his neck around, “Your sister lost her temper at the end of a sparring match in our fourth year. She failed to stop her attack after the match ended and sliced me under the eye.”

Weiss was shocked to learn that her sister had made such a careless mistake while at the academy. She knew Winter sometimes had trouble controlling her temper in the middle of a fight. She had seen it just before General Ironwood stopped a fight between her and Ruby’s uncle, Qrow Branwen, while at Beacon.

“Sounds like you failed to keep your guard up.” she said with a humph.

“Maybe so,” the Specialist said smiling down at her, “But she did swing by the infirmary after the nurse finished stitching me up. She even apologized and offered to make it up to me.”

Weiss looked at him skeptically, “And what did you say?”

“I told her that we would be even if she kissed it better.” he said with a laugh, “She slapped me so hard that the stitches tore out and the nurse made me close the wound back up myself.”

Weiss held her head in between her hands and groaned, “Well you certainly deserved it.” she remarked.

The man shrugged his shoulders, “Meh, I’m pretty sure I won out in the end. Ironwood tucked Winter under his wing as soon she graduated and joined the Army, kept her safe from all of the really dangerous missions.” The man smiled as Weiss looked at him with cold narrow eyes, enjoying her reaction to finding out that her role model received treatment. “It just meant that he threw all of his dirty work to me and my boys. I’m pretty sure he didn’t want the public to learn that a Schnee was running black op missions outside of the kingdom.”

The sound of ceramic shattering on marble echoed through the room as Weiss clenched her fists to her sides, eyes glaring daggers at the man in front of her.

“How dare you!” she began, “My sister is a highly professional member of the Atlesian militar-”

“She’s a Schnee Snow Princess. Even after she gave up her claim to your father’s company, she was still attached to the name.” said the man matching her cold expression, “There’s no way that General Ironwood was going to put the daughter of his biggest supplier in danger. Why do you think that she wasn’t at Beacon when it fell?”

“Enough!” she shouted, “I won’t let you disrespect my sister in that manner!” Weiss turned and quickly strode back to the table, opening up the case to Myrtenaster and snatching up her weapon. “You’re going to pay for saying those things.” she growled pointing the sword at the man who dared to call her sister a coward.

The Specialist shrugged and pulled out a combat knife, snapped it to a revolver and dumped out the dust rounds into his coat pocket. He changed the gun back to a knife and returned it back to his belt.

“Miss Schnee! I don’t think your father would approve of this sort of thing inside of the manor!” exclaimed Klein rushing forward.

“Don’t worry Klein, I’ll protect her from Papa Schnee.” said Specialist Higgins calmly.

Weiss growled and gritted her teeth, “So much arrogance! First he insults Winter, now he assumes that I need protection from my own father?!”

“You’re dismissed Klein. Thank you for bringing me tea.” she said dismissing the butler.

Klein sighed, collecting the tray and remaining cups. He nodded to the Specialist as he held the door open for him as he left the room. “I’ll send someone to sweep up the broken cup when you’re done.” he said on the way out.

Weiss ground her teeth as the Specialist shut the door behind Klein, leaving only the two of them. She watched as the man cracked his knuckles and raised his fists to a fighting stance.

“Let’s see if you’re as good as your sister Princess.” he called out mocking her.

Weiss raised Myrtenaster, summoned a Boarbatusk and sent it charging at the man. The man ran forward, flipped in the air and destroyed the beast with an ax kick to the back of its head. Weiss brought up one of her glyphs and leaped forward, keeping her blade in front of her.

Specialist Higgins came back on his feet and sidestepped Weiss’ incoming attack. He attempted to clothesline the girl, but she sprung backwards off of another glyph and landed on her feet. She closed the distance between them and thrust-ed forward aiming for his head. The sound of steel clashing together filed the room as he snatched the knife from his belt and parried the attack. He lunged forward, using a series of swipes to drive Weiss on the defensive.

Weiss stepped back to gain more room to deliver a counterattack and jabbed at the man’s legs, giving her enough room to deliver an upward slash. The buttons of his uniform fell to the ground, barely missing her mark. The man did a backspin around her arm before she could recover, she gasped as he gripped her wrist in his left hand and pressed the knife against her throat with the right.

“Not bad Princess.” he said staring into her ice-blue eyes, “But you still have a ways to go.” He bent her wrist far enough to force her to drop her weapon, quickly catching it before it hit the floor.

Weiss massaged her wrist as the man turned and walked to the door. She hurried to catch up, “Give me back my weapon!” she called after him.

“Grab it’s box, we’re leaving.” he replied reaching the door. He stopped to return the knife back to his belt and rested his hand on the doorknob.

“What do you mean we’re leaving?!” Weiss asked, “My father gave clear instructions that I’m not allowed to leave this room.” Weiss quickly gathered the box for Myrtenaster and grabbed her coat.

“Yeah, well I don’t work for your father.” he said opening the door, “Time for you to meet the rest of my team.”

Chapter Text

Downtown Atlas

 

Weiss watched as Specialist Higgins pulled up to the gate-shack in front of a large warehouse. A soldier checked his ID and handed it back to him, waving him to drive on through. They pulled into a parking space towards the front and exited the vehicle. “You know we could’ve asked one of the company’s drivers bring us here? You didn’t have to steal one of the cars from the mansion.” she said

 

The Specialist smirked at her and let out a huff of air. “This location is classified, no civilian drivers are allowed in without proper clearance. Not even your father would be allowed here without an escort.” he said pulling the case that held Weiss’s weapon out from the back seat. “Which reminds me, you’re going to need a pass when we get inside.”

 

“Is that going to be a problem?” she asked as the two of them began to walk to the set of double door on the side of the building.

 

“Not really, as long as you don’t wander off and stick to authorized areas then you should be okay.” he said walking over to a pavilion that sat off to the side of the entrance. A picnic table sat underneath it, along with a small grill and a pair of metal trash cans. A couple of soldiers sat around the table smoking. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket. “I’m gonna smoke before we go inside.” he said turning to Weiss. “Besides, there’s someone you need to meet already here.”

 

Weiss scowled in disgust as she watched the Specialist walk over to the group of soldiers. A couple of them put out their cigarettes before heading inside, their break now being over. Specialist Higgins greeted the remaining smoker and waved her over to them.

 

“Weiss, meet Specialist Otto. Ordi, meet Weiss Schnee.” he said as the heiress arrived at the table.

 

Weiss offered a polite smile to the new team member as she took a seat next to Specialist Higgins. The man gave a nod in reply as he reached for his own pack of smokes on the table. Weiss let out a short gasp as she watched a pair of metal hands pull a cigarette out of the box. Her hand shot up to cover her mouth as she quickly eyed the faces of the two men.

 

Specialist Otto rolled his eyes as he brought the cigarette to his mouth. “Surprise Schnee! I don’t have any arms!” he propped his leg up onto the bench, “But wait! There’s more!” the sound of metal on metal rang through the pavilion as he rapted his knuckles on his knee, he repeated the process on the opposite leg. “I’m a fucking tin-man.” he grumbled.

 

Specialist Higgins sighed, “How are the arms doin man?” he said popping his own cigarette into his mouth.

 

Specialist Otto perked his head up with a slight grin, “They’re great boss, check this out.” He flicked the tip of his left thumb open with the index finger to reveal a small glowing fire-dust crystal. He lit his own cigarette and extended his arm to light his team leader’s.

 

Higgins blew out a trail of smoke, making Weiss cough, “That’s a neat little trick. Ya rig that up yourself?”

 

“Nah, Sketch did it for me. I still have trouble getting my fine motor skills down.” the man said, a deadpan expression replacing his grin.

 

The team leader nodded and slid the weapon case holding Weiss’ Myrtenaster across the table. The amputee peaked inside the case before snapping it closed and turning to Weiss. “Yours?” he asked

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you have a secondary weapon?”

 

Weiss looked at the man confused, she had never used a second weapon in battle before, she had her glyphs. She held out her hand and summoned a small white glyph. “Does this count?” she asked

 

Both men shook their heads, Specialist Higgins letting out a sigh. “No, you should have a backup just in case you get disarmed. Which is what happened earlier today.”

 

He turned back to the man and slid the weapons case across the table, “Take that downstairs and have Sketch draw up a mini version. Something that she can hide if needed.”

 

The man grunted and put out his cigarette. Picking up the case and slipping away from the table he went inside, leaving the pair alone.

 

“What are you doing?!” exclaimed Weiss as she turned on the man sitting next to her. “What was all that about a secondary weapon?! I can fight perfectly well with just my Myrtenaster!”

 

The Specialist took a final drag from his cigarette and rubbed it out before throwing it into one of the trash cans nearby. “Let me let you in on a little trade secret I learned over the years kid.” he said getting up from the table. “It’s called Murphy’s Law: what can go wrong, will go wrong.”

 

“Earlier today, I took away your weapon. Now unless you’ve been working on your hand to hand fighting without a partner, which I doubt, you need another weapon just in case that happens again. The best thing would be something you’re already used to fighting with.” The man gestured towards the set of doors at the front of the building, signaling that he was ready to go inside.

 

Weiss stood up from the table and nodded, ready to continue with the strange series of events that had become her day. She stopped as her scroll began to ring and she scrambled to pull it from her dress pocket. She glanced at the contact name and let out a groan, her father calling. He no doubt was calling to demand why she was not in her room and to know where she had supposedly run off to, but before she could hit button to accept the call, her scroll was snatched from her hand.

 

She stood dumbfounded as she watch the Specialist decline the call and pocket her scroll. She continued to watch as the man rolled his neck and shrug his shoulders. Seconds later his own scroll began to ring, the man pulled out the device and let out a tired sigh, clearly he had been anticipating the call. Weiss observed as the man declined the second call and instead spent several minutes typing out a text before returning his own scroll to his pocket.

 

“What did you tell my father?” Weiss asked as they finally began to move towards the the entrance.

 

“I didn’t tell your father anything,” the man said as he pulled open the door, holding it for her as she entered the warehouse. “Like I said before, I don’t work for your father. I work for General Ironwood, and I told him that if he expects my team to protect you, that they’re going to have to meet you first.” He followed her inside, letting the door swing shut behind them.

 

The interior of the warehouse was much different than Weiss had expected. Inside was a set of hallways and elevators leading to other parts of the building. A visitor center sat just off to the right of the entrance, partly build as an armory to check visitors’ weapons while they were at the facility. She felt a firm hand push her as Specialist Higgins directed her to the front desk. She waited as the Specialist rang a bell on the counter to summon the Specialist on duty. He stood off to the side as he pulled out his scroll and began sending a series of messages to his team.

 

Weiss rocked on the back of her feet as the waited, she heard the sound of heels striking concrete as the attendant came around the corner. She busied herself smoothing the front of her dress.

 

“Weiss?!”

 

Weiss’s head shot up to the sound of the voice and looked straight into the eyes of her sister.

 

“Winter! What are you doing here?!” she asked, not expecting to see her sister, despite knowing full well that Winter was a Specialist and that she was standing where her sister worked.”

 

“Weiss, I work here! What are you doing here? More importantly, how did you get here? Where is your escort?!” Winter said as she picked up the phone sitting at the desk. “I’m calling General Ironwood, he can bring father and he’ll take you home.”

 

“Relax Winter, you’re sister is with me.” said Specialist Higgins as he stepped up in front of the counter. “I just need to get her a pass to level three so she meet the rest of my team.”

 

Winter slammed the phone back down onto the receiver. She placed both of her hands on the desk and leaned as far forward as she could. “What. Is. Weiss. Doing here Doc?” she growled.

 

“What, did Ironwood not tell you?” he asked, a smirk trailing the corner of his mouth as he folded his arms across his chest.

 

“No, he didn’t.” Winter said glaring at the man in front of her, “Now, once again, what is Weiss doing here?”

 

Specialist Higgins’ smirk broke out into a full blown shit-eating grin as he leaned back, cocking his head to the side. “It’s classified Winter. Ask Ironwood if you’re so curious.” He straightened up and leaned one hand on the desk in front of Winter. “I just need you to get her that pass to level three.”

 

Winter growled and began filling out the paperwork for Weiss’ visitor pass. She slid the pass across the desk and pulled a pen from a coffee mug by the phone.

 

“Weiss, sign here.” directed Winter, pointing to a line at the bottom of the paper. Once signed, the paper slid over to Specialist Higgins for him to sign. “It was good to see you Weiss. Even if it was under less than ideal circumstances.” she said sadly.

 

Weiss offered a smile to her sister, “Likewise Winter, perhaps father will let me out of the mansion sometime and we can have coffee together.” she said as she tucked away the visitors pass. She turned to follow Specialist Higgins as he began to move towards the elevator.

 

“Take care of my sister Doc! I don’t need to tell you what’ll happen if you get her into trouble!” Winter called after them, getting a three finger wave in response from the man.

 

Specialist Higgins ushered Weiss into the elevator and pushed the button to shut the doors. He pulled out his ID card and placed it on a scanner by the door, punching a four-digit code. The elevator shifted as it began its descent.

 

The two of them stood in silence as the car moved further down the shaft. Weiss staring straight ahead at the doors in front of her. She turned her head when she head Specialist Higgins cough.

 

“I can probably find a way for you and Winter to have that coffee date you mentioned.” he remarked, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

 

“Really?” she asked, excited at the possibility of seeing her sister outside of the mansion or official business.

 

“Don’t get your hopes up too high, it won’t be just the two of you. Me or one of my guys will have to go with you.” he said rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “It’ll probably be Gunner, man’s built like a tank and sticks out like a sore thumb, but Ordi will probably break the cup and Sketch will spend the whole time pissing off Winter.”

 

“Why can’t you go?” Weiss asked, placing a hand on her hip.

 

The elevator came to a stop and the doors began to open. “Because,” he said stepping through the doors into a wide open room lined with shelves and equipment, “someone has to answer to your father when he finds out you’ve left the mansion without his permission.”

 

Weiss followed Specialist Higgins into the room. The temperature had dropped several degrees by going underground, but the change didn’t seem to bother those around her. Following the Specialist, she saw two men sparing with training weapons on one side of the room. She looked around and saw a third man sitting at a workbench hunched over a tablet working on some sort of schematics. A fridge sat on the wall next to a set of weapon lockers and computer station. A couch lay off to the side with a coffee table next to it, a microwave and coffee maker sat on top of it.


Specialist Higgins let out a whistle, grabbing the men's attention. “Hey guys!” he called “Come meet our new mission!”

Chapter Text

Weiss followed the Specialist team leader over to the wall that made up the makeshift breakroom. The team gathered around on the various pieces of furniture and appliances. The leader poured coffee into a double stack of styrofoam cups, adding sugar and stirring it with a popsicle stick. She watched as he took a sip of the brew as they both sat on the couch.

 

“Alright, let’s start with introductions. We can drop the formalities here on out.” he said and began to point out individual team members.

 

“You met Ordi outside already, he’s our explosive specialist. He can redirect weapons energy with his semblance. He uses a grenade launcher that turns into a battleaxe.”

 

Weiss looked over at the quadruple amputee leaning against the side of the fridge. He had quickly changed out of his uniform into training clothes, his prosthetic arms and legs on display. She took note of the skin graphs that ran up the remaining portions of his limbs just past the knees and elbows. “Whoever gave him those injuries probably used fire dust.” she thought to herself.

 

Doc continued the introductions. “Up next: we have Gunner Kasato. He’s our heavy weapons specialist, uses a machine gun that turns into an oversized sledgehammer.”

 

Weiss watched the man pulled a bottle of water from the fridge and offer it to her. Doc had been correct in his earlier description of the man. Gunner stood at 6’8”, broad shoulders and a barrel chest with massive arms and legs that made him look like he could pick up an Ursa and rip it apart with his bare hands. The man stood quietly as she accepted the bottle water, she felt a sense of calm in his aura. “Another calm giant, just like Yatsuhashi from team CFVY. Remind me to stay out of his way if there’s a fight.”

 

“Last but not least, the man sitting by the computer is Sketch Akerman.” said Doc as he swept his arm to reveal the last member of the team. “He’s a man of many talents; computer hacker, sniper, designer and mechanical engineer. He prefers to fight his enemies at a distance, be it from a thousand yards with his rifle, or from across the room at the end of his spear.”

 

Weiss let out a sigh in disgust as Sketch flashed her a wink and a smile. The man was the smallest member of the team, coming in at 5’7” with a frame that would give Jaune Arc a run for the title of: tall, blonde and scraggly. Except the man was much shorter than Jaune and completely lacked humility. He reminded her of one of the members from team CRDL. “This one is going to be a problem.” she thought.

 

“Now that we’re done with the intros, do you have any questions Weiss?” Doc asked

 

Weiss turned her attention back to Ordi as she stood up from the couch. “How did you lose your arms and legs?” she asked

 

“Wow, pulling punches straight out the gate.” laughed Sketch as they watched a scowl spread across Ordi’s face.

 

Weiss quickly glared the man back into silence before turning back to the man by the fridge.

 

Ordi crossed his arms and clenched his right hand into a fist. “A shipping container of fire dust blew up right next to me. My aura broke while I was trying to redirect the blast at the enemy. The dust burned my limbs so bad that they had to amputate.”

 

“When did this happen?”

 

“Six months ago, during the fall of Beacon Academy.”

 

Weiss stumbled for a second before regaining her composure. She cleared her throat before readdressing the group. “I no longer have anymore questions at this time.” she said, looking back to the team leader on the couch. “Is there anything you wish to know about me?” she asked him.

 

“Not really,” he said getting up from his seat. “Ironwood gave us this assignment three months ago. That gave us plenty time to do our own homework on you.” Doc walked over to the computer and tapped a few buttons on the desk. A dossie of team RWBY popped up onto the screen. “Why don’t we go over what we learned about you and your team.”

 

Weiss swallowed, she hadn’t expected to be confronted with this information. She took a sip of her water as she waited for the leader to pick apart her short huntress career.

 

“Let’s start with you Weiss.” Doc began selecting her file, bringing it to full screen. “ Weiss Schnee, age: 18. Born in Atlas. Former heiress to the Schnee Dust Company. Member of team RWBY. Fighting style: fencer, uses a dust chambered rapier in combination with her glyph semblance.”

 

“Family: Winter ‘Ice Queen’ Schnee, Atlesian Specialist and sister. Whitley Schnee, heir to Schnee Dust Company and brother. Jacques Schnee, president of the Schnee Dust Company, major defense contractor for the Atlesian Military and father. Willow Schnee, daughter of the founder of Schnee Dust Company Nicholas Schnee and mother.”

 

Doc closed the file and stood up from the computer desk. “Anyone want to go next?” he asked pulling the team file back up.

 

Ordi threw up his hand and pushed away from his spot on the fridge. He traded spots with his team leader and clicked on the next file. Weiss held her breath as her partners’ name flashed on screen.

 

“Ruby Rose, age: 16. Born in the island of Patch. Team leader for team RWBY. Fighting style: sniper and scythe wielder, her weapon is high powered combination of both fighting styles.” read Ordi, pulling up security footage of Ruby fighting thugs outside of a dust shop.

 

“Allowed early entrance into Beacon Academy at age 15. Her family consists of her sister Yang and father Taiyang Xiao Long. Her mother, Summer Rose died on a Huntsman mission when she was little.” Ordi clicked on a photo of a woman in a white cloak just below Ruby’s family. “Mission details regarding Summer’s death have been marked confidential by order of Beacon’s headmaster Professor Ozpin; who’s current status is unknown.”

 

“Do you know where she is right now?” Weiss asked crossing her arms and resting her chin on her fist.

 

“Ruby Rose left Patch three months after the fall of Beacon.” Ordi clicked on a link and brought up security footage of Ruby boarding a ferry with the rest of team JNPR. “She was seen leaving the kingdom of Vale with the remaining members of team JNPR. Our last sighting of her was when she arrived at a port in Western Anima with the rest of the team.”

 

Weiss watched quietly as more security footage of Ruby and team JNPR played. Ruby could be seen leading the group off of the boat and out of the port heading north into Anima.

 

“What are we calling them?” Doc asked from his old spot on the couch. “They’re traveling as a team, but they weren’t one at Beacon.” He looked around the room for suggestions.

 

“Ruby’s the most recent addition to the team and since Jaune is the original team leader, wouldn’t they be called team JNRR?” asked Sketch

 

“Yeah, but JNRR isn’t a color, plus it’s clear that Ruby is the one leading the group north.” said Gunner “Wouldn’t that make the team name RNJR?”

 

“But it’s Jaune’s team.” said Ordi

 

“But it looks like it’s Ruby whose dragging them through Anima.” said Doc

 

All eyes turned to Weiss as they watched her shift her weight from one foot to the next. With the opinion tied, they looked to her to make the final decision.

 

“It might be Jaune’s team, but Ruby has more experience leading and holding people together.” Weiss said quietly looking at the ground. “Call them RNJR.”

Ordi nodded and added the name under the entry marked team affiliation. “Who want to read Yang’s file?” he asked

 

Sketch bounced in his chair and shot up his hand waving it excitedly. “Me! Me! I want to read the file on Tits McGee- OW!” Sketch exclaimed as he rubbed the knot that was forming on the back of his head where Ordi had smacked him. “What the fuck was that for?!” he asked

 

“There’s a woman present. She’s also our mission, so try to keep it professional.” said Doc as he nodded his thanks to his partner.

 

Sketch waited for Ordi while the man went to the empty seat on the couch and began to read Yang’s file. “Yang Xiao Long, age 18. Team member on team RWBY. Fighting style: hand to hand specialist, augmented with shotgun gauntlets. Her semblance allows her to absorb the energy from enemy strikes.” Sketch pulled up a video of Yang fighting against a nightclub owner with a rocket launcher and punching him through an upper story window.

 

“Semi finalist in the Vytal Festival, disqualified for allegedly attacking a defeated opponent.” said Sketch

 

“Yang would never do that, Mercury attacked her first!” said Weiss defending her teammate.

 

“We’re not saying she did Weiss, we’re just reading what’s been reported.” said Doc, “Even if she did do it, we’d be the last ones to judge her for it.”

 

“What do you mean? Attacking the defenseless goes against every rule we’re taught as huntsmen!” said Weiss dropping her arms to her sides, her fists clenched.

 

“Not everyone becomes a huntsman to restore their family’s honor or to protect the weak and innocent Weiss.” said Doc, “Some of us are just naturally good at violence and have a burning need to make someone else hurt for what they’ve done.”

 

Weiss shifted uncomfortably at how comfortable Doc brought up violence as a means to an end. Her team under Ruby’s leadership had become so focused on doing what was right, that the idea of someone becoming a hunter for their own retribution was a foreign concept to her.

 

“Maybe we should just move to Miss Belladonna’s file.” said Gunner from his spot by the fridge. The weapons specialist traded spots with Sketch at the table.

 

“That would be for the best.” commented Weiss as she walked over to the table to read over Gunner’s shoulder.

Gunner clicked on the file marked Belladonna and revealed two seperate dossie for the faunus member of team RWBY. One sported the White Fang logo and the other showed the symbol for Beacon Academy. Clearly highlighting Blake’s former affiliation with the terrorist organization. Weiss watched as Gunner selected the White Fang file and brought up on screen.

 

“Blake Belladonna: former White Fang operative. Affiliation with the group began at an early age due to her father’s position as leader of the organization. Despite her family’s departure, Blake remained an active member of the group and at one point had close ties to the leader of the Vale faction Adam Taurus.” read Gunner.

 

“It’s a shame that her parents left the Fang when they did, we could have met under very different circumstances Weiss.” commented Doc.

 

“Agreed.” said Gunner as he went back to the file, “Last known White Fang activity was a train robbery of a SDC shipment.” Gunner pulled security footage from the robbery showing Blake fighting beside Taurus. Another video showed Blake severing the link between two cars and pulling away from the bull faunus.

 

“What do you mean we might have met under different circumstances?” said Weiss, her eyes shifting between Doc and Gunner.

 

“We’re both faunus. Doc is a wolf and I am a panther.” said Gunner.

 

“But…” Weiss began, “You both look so human.”

 

“Well not everyone has a set of ears or a tail to make it obvious. Except for Doc, his got clipped.” chirped Sketch from his spot by the fridge.

 

Weiss uncomfortably shot a glance at Doc, waiting for a reaction. Doc stood from his spot on the couch and lifted the back of his jacket, revealing stubbed tail just above his waistband.

 

“When did that happen?” asked Weiss quietly, her eyes shifting away from the team leader.

 

“It’s tough growing up in an orphanage in Atlas kid. It’s even tougher being the only noticeable faunus in one too.” said Doc as he dropped his jacked over the stub and sat back down.

 

“Girah Belladonna would have probably accepted all of us into the Fang, but he stepped down right before we could graduate from the academy. So we became Specialists as a way to thank General Ironwood for saving us as kids and putting us through combat school.” said Gunner as he switched to Blake’s Beacon file.

 

“Blake Belladonna: age 18, team member of Team RWBY. Fighting style consists of hit and run tactics, assisted by use of shadow clones that she can infuse with dust elements. Weapons include a katana pistol with a cleaver sheath. Last known location was Menagerie, apparently she has decided to go home.”

 

With that final comment Gunner closed the dossie and looked up at Weiss, gauging her reaction.

 

Weiss stood silently for a moment before walking back over to the elevator, signaling that she was ready to return to the mansion. Doc rose from his seat and addressed the team around him.

 

“Pack your shit, we’re moving to the Schnee Mansion. General Ironwood’s orders. I’ll make sure that the staff know that we’re on our way.” he said and watched as the team acknowledged the order.

Chapter Text

Six Weeks Later

 

Klein wiped his brow with the back of his hand as he hurried down the hallway. He had just finished assisting Master Whitley with some mundane request that evening and he needed to get to the library to help Miss Schnee escape the mansion. He turned a corner, only to bump into one of the Specialists assigned to protect Weiss. Klein quickly apologised and began to move past the man, but he stopped when he was grabbed by the arm.

“Klein, have you seen Weiss?” asked Doc,“She isn’t answering her scroll.”

“I believe she’s in her room Mr. Higgins. Perhaps she is asleep.” said Klein as he tried to shake the man’s grasp.

“I already checked her room, she’s not there.”

“Then perhaps she’s gone to the kitchen for a late night snack.”

“I thought that’s what butlers were for.”

“Well, I couldn’t possibly in two places at once.”

“Klein,” Doc said as he leaned in closer, “tell me what’s going on.”

Klein dropped his shoulders with a sigh and relented to the Specialists questions.

 

======

 

Weiss’ heels clattered as she ran down the tunnel that led to the edge of the mansion grounds. Klein had assured her that there was a car and driver ready to take her to an airship that was departing for Mistral.

Thanks to what she had learned from the dossie files provided by the specialist team, Weiss could safely assume that Ruby was on her way to Mistral. All she had to do was get outside of the kingdom and wait for her leader to show up in the city. Once there, they could formulate a plan to reunite with the rest of their team. She was close to the end of the tunnel now, she could hear the sound of an engine running. She was about to exit the tunnel when Doc stepped out in front of her exit.

Weiss skidded to a stop and stared down the man between her and freedom. Her grip on Myrtenaster tightened, if the specialist wanted a fight then she would give him one.
“Going somewhere Weiss?” asked Doc stepping forward.

“I’m leaving.” said Weiss defiantly as she dropped her bag and pointed her weapon at the man in front of her. “You can’t stop me.”

“So you thought sneaking off in the middle of the night to smuggle yourself outside of the kingdom was the best solution?” said Doc as he stopped just short of the former heiress.

Weiss’s arm wavered for a second as the tip of her sword sat just at the front of Doc’s chest. “I can’t stay here.” she said “I need to get back to my team. They need my help.”

“You know something that I don’t kid?” Doc said raising an eyebrow.

Weiss swallowed the ball of fear that had begun to form in her throat. She couldn’t risk getting sent back to the prison that was her room, especially after roping Klein into her escape attempt. “If I know my partner Ruby, then she’s trying to go after the people who attacked Beacon. She’s going to need my help.” She looked up into Doc’s eyes pleading. “Please let me go.” she said.

Doc let out a sigh and reached into his back pocket, “I can’t let you leave Weiss.” he said.

Weiss’ jaw dropped slightly at the words she was hearing. She expected Doc to understand what she was trying to do, his team was there during the fall of Beacon.

“Not without this.”

Weiss watched as Doc pulled a small leather bound bundle from behind his back and hand it to her. She tucked Myrtenaster under her arm as she unwrapped the bundle to reveal a hand crafted stiletto with matching sheath. She remembered the conversation they had had six weeks ago about her needing a secondary weapon. This was perfect.

“Come on, we’re already late.” said Doc as he picked up Weiss’s bag.

“Wait!” Exclaimed Weiss as she hurried to catch up to Doc as he began to walk to the waiting SUV that sat outside of the tunnel. “You’re coming with me?” she asked.

“We have to, Ironwood’s orders.” said Doc as he opened the back door and handed her bag inside to a waiting Ordi who sat inside.

“General Ironwood ordered you to help me escape Atlas?” asked Weiss as she climbed into the middle of the backseat. She looked around the inside of the vehicle and watched as Gunner climbed in beside her and rested his LMG between his legs. Sketch sat behind the wheel. Doc climbed in the passenger seat and rested a longsword on the dashboard.

“He didn’t really say for us to help you escape exactly.” Doc said as he clicked his seatbelt into place and motioned for Sketch to start driving. “He didn’t order us to prevent you from escaping either.”

Doc handed Weiss a copy of the orders that General Ironwood had given Team DOGS. Weiss saw that the team had been ordered to look after her safety and wellbeing, but had not been specifically ordered to keep her confined to the mansion or within the kingdom of Atlas. She clearly saw the intention, but knew that Doc could make an argument that they had not been ordered to prevent her from leaving, only to make sure that she remained safe.

Weiss watched as they drove through the outskirts of the city on the way to the airfield. Eventually they pulled up to a small ship. She watched as Doc greeted the pilot and handed him a stack of lien. The rest of the team unloaded the SUV into the cargo bay and began to pull on their gear. Weiss noted how the team had opted to leave their standard white and gray uniforms behind and had changed into black and gray combat fatigues instead. They wore gray muscle shirts with armored chest plates over top and cargo pants with a black and gray camo pattern with black combat boots. The rest of their gear they hid behind smuggler panels.

“Weiss, you might want to scrap up that dagger now. Wouldn’t want you to lose it.” said Doc as he pulled his long sword out of the SUV.

Weiss strapped the stiletto under her dress on her right thigh just within reach if she needed it at a moments notice.

Doc did a function check by switching his long sword to its rifle form and then back before pulling the sword from its sheath to check the blade. He strapped the sword to his back before receiving a call on his scroll. He checked caller ID and let out a groan before motioning to the pilot that they were ready to take off. He took a seat next to Weiss before answering.

“General, what can I do for you this late at night?” he asked

“Doc have you seen Weiss?” said Ironwood over the phone

“Yeah, she’s right next to me as we speak.”

“And were are you now?”

“The airfield, why?”

“What are you doing at the airfield and why is she not at the mansion?!”

“We’re leaving Atlas General. Miss Schnee wanted to see her teammates from Beacon.”

“That is in direct violation of the order that I-”

“General you ordered us to look after her wellbeing and safety, not to make sure she stayed in Atlas. Now if you excuse me, we’re about to lose service. We can talk about this if we ever make it back to Atlas.” said Doc and ended the call.

They sat in silence as the cargo door began to close and the ship began to lift off from the ground. Weiss checked her scroll as it began to ring. Sure enough, it was her father. Doc grabbed her scroll and tossed it outside just as the cargo door sealed shut.

“I’ll buy you a new one.” he said as the ship left the airfield and headed south.

Chapter Text

Somewhere in Anima.

 

“Five huntsmen. Five huntsmen with a cargo ship full of dust and that Queen Lancer still managed to shoot us down!” thought Weiss as she focused her semblance summoning a third and final glyph to slow down the ship’s descent. She could hear the pilot shouting out the distress signal for any nearby ships in the area. Help was unlikely, since the last ship they had seen that day had been destroyed before their very eyes. The ship slowed as it hit the final glyph and broke through. Somewhere in the cabin Weiss could hear Doc shouting for everyone to hang onto something as they rapidly approached the treeline.

 

The world around her became a clash of dirt, tree and steel as the ship dove into the ground. She found herself being launched outside of the ship and the world around her suddenly went black.

 

======

 

Doc pulled himself out from under a pile of crates and dusted himself off. The crash would’ve been a lot worse if Weiss hadn’t slowed the ship down by using her semblance. He checked the cockpit to see if the pilot survived the impact.

 

“You find the pilot?” called Gunner from outside.

 

“Yeah,” said Doc as he pulled back a ceiling panel that had collapsed upon impact. A tree branch had broken through the glass and the pilot’s seat, with the pilot still sitting in it. “He didn’t make it though.”

 

Sketch stumbled into the cockpit and began pulling his gear out from one of the smuggler panels. “Be sure to grab the lien we paid him with, he doesn’t need it anymore.” he said glancing up from shouldering his pack.

 

Doc let out a sigh, he reached into the pilot’s pocket and pulled out the money he

had paid the man with the day before. “Not like it isn’t anything we haven’t done before.” he thought to himself before being interrupted by Gunner.

 

“Doc, we have another problem.”

 

Doc pulled his bag from where he had stashed it and stepped out from the crashed ship. “Anyone seen Weiss?” he asked switching his sword to its gun mode.

“She’s not here boss. Someone took her while the rest of us were knocked out.”

 

“Any clue to where they went?”

 

“We have three sets of boot prints that lead west. One set definitely has a pointed heel.” said Gunner.

 

“Someone in high heeled boots kidnaps an Atlesian heiress from a crashed airship in the middle of the Animanian forest. Who do we know that would be crazy enough or strong enough to do that?” thought Doc, “Sketch, can you pull up the list of last known bandit groups operating west of Lake Matsu?” he asked.

 

Sketch fiddled with his scroll and scanned through a series of satellite images of various bandit camps and their surrounding locations. He smiled and pulled up a photo of a large bandit camp and surrounding landmarks. “Doc, you’re not going to believe this, but guess what?” he said as he tossed the scroll to his leader and clapped his hands jumping up and down. “We get to visit our friend Raven and the Branwen tribe!”

 

“And here I thought we wouldn’t see each other again after that last job we pulled for her.” said Ordi as he finished loading a grenade into his axe and snapped the tube shut.

 

“Yeah well, guess we’re full of surprises today.” said Doc as he tossed the scroll back to Sketch, “You jump ahead and see if you can find the camp. Drop back when you find it and stay out of the tree tops. We don’t want Raven to do a flyover and see your ugly face.”

 

“Awww, you always put me on scout duty.” whined the sniper, “Why can’t you send Gunner or Ordi?” he asked

 

“Because Gunner sticks out like an Ursa and ravens tend to be attracted to shiny objects, like prosthetic arms. Now get going before I let Gunner slap you with his hammer.” said Doc.

 

Sketch lifted his rifle and grumbled under his breath before activating his semblance and disappearing into the distance.

 

======

 

Raven watched as her daughter Yang and her former captive stared down the tribe. The white knight summon towering over the camp concerned her, as far as intimidation factors went, it was a strong deterrent. What was more concerning was the fear it would cause if the Schnee girl actually decided to use it.

 

The Spring Maiden subtly summoned her powers and directed them through the help of her puppet, Vernal. Clouds began to form above the camp and the wind picked up as she prepared her show of force.

 

Vernal stretched out her hand with her captured rapier and waited for Raven’s command.

 

======

 

Doc watched as clouds formed overhead and the wind blew through the leaves in the trees. “Raven is about to pull a stunt with her maiden, we need to hurry up with that breaching charge. We can use whatever comes next to cover up the sound.” he said as he watched Ordi place a dust charge on the back of the palisade.

 

“Probably has something to do with that summon Weiss brought up. Last thing Raven needs is the tribe getting spooked and bring the Grimm down on them.” said Ordi as he inserted the fuse and connected the detonator. “Charge is set, ready when you are Doc.”

 

Doc waved the remaining team members over from their positions and stacked up behind Ordi along the wall. He looked up at the sky and watched as lighting began to form in the clouds above them.

 

“Steady…NOW!”

 

The lightning strike covered the sound of wood splintering as the charge blew a man sized hole in the wall. They could hear Raven shouting at the tribe about the dangers of Grimm as they made their way through. They had entered on a clearing on the backside of what looked like the largest tent in the camp.

 

======

 

Raven finished setting out her tea set and began to add leaves to the pot now sitting on the small dust powered camp stove. The sound of a leather flap opening from the back of her tent made her draw her sword and spin on the intruder. The tip of her blade stopped just in front her intruder’s nose, the faunus reached up and turned the weapon away with a single finger.

 

“Nice to see you too Raven.” he said

 

Raven let out a sigh and returned her sword to its scabbard. “What are you doing here Doc? I thought we agreed to never see each other after that last mission we did together?” Raven rested her hands on her hips and glared at the Specialist.

 

“Is that how you greet an old friend after not seeing them after all these years?” he asked and took a seat at the table. He pulled a canteen from his pack and drank from it. When Raven refused to answer he closed the lid and returned the bottle to his bag. “You have something that belongs to us. It’s about 5’3”, likes white, and nearly just destroyed your entire camp. Sound familiar?” Doc returned Raven’s glare by staring back with narrowed eyes.

 

“Since when did Ironwood start handing out babysitting assignments?” Raven said, a smirk creeping across her face.

 

“That’s classified.” Doc returned the smirk with his own deadpan expression. “You going to hand her back over to the boys and I peacefully or are we about to fight?” he asked

 

“I’m not the one you need to be asking about rescuing the Schnee girl. My daughter Yang found her way home and has decided to drag the heiress with her on a fool's’ errand.” Raven removed the teapot from the camp stove and poured tea into a cup before handing it to her old acquaintance. She poured herself a cup before taking her own seat at the table. “You’re more than welcome to try and stop her though.” she said.

 

The two of them turned as both ends of the tent opened up and watched as Yang and Weiss entered in from the front and the rest of Team DOGS entered from the rear.

 

“Hey Raven! Someone just blew a hole in the back of your fence, you might want to get someone to~ well hello there!” trailed off Sketch as he began to stare Yang up and down.

 

“Raven, who the hell are these guys?!” exclaimed Yang as her eyes flashed crimson, clearly not happy with newly added company. “If you’re here to take Weiss back to Atlas, I swear that I’ll~”

 

“Yang! Relax, they’re with me.” interrupted Weiss, “This is the team of Specialists that actually helped me leave Atlas. We were on our way to Mistral before we got shot down and your mom kidnapped me. I assume they are here to rescue me.”

 

“Yeah no need to thank us sweet cheeks,” said Sketch as he made his way over to the blonde, “but if you do feel like thanking us, I’m sure I can think of something for you to do.” He ran his hand up Yang’s right arm and rested it on the back of her shoulder. “More like something you could do to me.” he said with a grin.

 

Yang shook the hand off her shoulder and cocked her arm back before punching the creeper out the back of the tent. She continued to stare down the other men in the room who returned her challenge by throwing up their hands in indifference.

 

Doc and Raven sipped their tea.

 

======

 

Doc and Raven watched as Yang pulled her motorcycle around the camp and waited for Weiss to climb up behind her. A red portal stood off to the side, ready to take them to Qrow and Ruby.

 

“You know if you go with them you’re going to end up getting yourself killed.” Raven told Doc as they watched the rest of the Specialist team enter the portal first.

 

“Yeah well, it sure beats hiding in the woods waiting for Salem and her cronies to bring the fight to my doorstep.” he said as he pulled his sword from his back. He thumbed the edge, looking for damage to the blade. “I would rather take the fight to Salem. Following Weiss is the fastest way for me and my boys to do that.” Doc returned the sword to his back and stepped towards the portal.

 

“I’ll keep your little secret safe. As long you don’t get involved then you won’t have to worry about me or my team coming after you.” he said over his shoulder.

 

“Let’s say that I don’t, what then?” Raven asked cocking her hip to one side.

 

Doc gave the bandit leader a wry smile, “I think we both know what happens Raven. I’ll be seeing you.” he said and stepped through the portal.

Chapter Text

Weiss let out a sigh of relief as they exited the portal. She had prepared for the worst and had hoped for the best. She was pleasantly surprised when they pulled into the back courtyard of the house with a cliffside view. The grip she had around Yang’s waist relaxed as she brought her motorcycle to a complete stop.

 

The two of them could see the team of Specialists quietly talking to Yang’s Uncle Qrow. They watched as Doc clapped the older Huntsman on the back and led his team into the house through the back door.

 

Qrow walked over to the two of them and pulled his ever present flask out of his vest pocket. “It’s good to see ya firecracker.” He took a quick drink from the metal container before pulling his niece in for a quick hug. “Ice Queen’s sister.” he said nodding at Weiss.

 

“Qrow.” replied Weiss before turning to Yang as she greeted her uncle.

 

“It’s good to see you too Uncle Qrow, how’s Ruby?” asked Yang.

 

“Why don’t you ask her yourself kid. She’s inside helping get dinner ready.” said Qrow as he placed a hand on Yang’s shoulder and led them into the house.

 

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Ruby heard the sound of people coming up the stairs from the kitchen. She knew it wasn’t her uncle or Oscar, neither of them wore heavy boots.

 

“I wonder who it is? Maybe it’s more huntsman.” Ruby thought to herself. She pulled herself away from her spot by the stove and went to go see who had just come into the house. She looked outside of the kitchen and was shocked by what she saw.

 

A team of huntsmen were dropping their gear off by the door. Ruby watched as they pulled maintenance kits out of their bags for their weapons. She always looked at a huntsman’s weapon before looking at its owner. The weapons condition would tell her what caliber of huntsman they were, if they were experienced veterans or if they were fresh faced graduates.

 

She took a look at the owners of said weapons and gave out a small shudder. Ruby’s eyes were drawn to a sharp axe, a solid hammer, a straight backed spear and the smooth worn handle of a sword.  They didn’t look like regular huntsmen, at least not like the huntsmen that she had met through her Uncle Qrow, her dad, or through her teachers at Beacon. These guys looked like soldiers, short hair, combat boots, body armor, cargo pants and cold eyes.

 

“Are these the guys Qrow said would help us?” she wondered and left her spot in the kitchen doorway. “Are you guys, by any chance, the huntsmen my uncle, Qrow Branwen, recruited?” Ruby asked, her hands folded in front of her.

 

The one with the sword looked over at her, but said nothing. He handed some lien to the huntsman with the hammer and murmured something that Ruby couldn’t hear. The hammer wielder gave a quiet reply and left out the front door. The first huntsman looked over at Ruby and gave her a small wave before leading the rest of the team further into the house.

 

“Guess they’re not much for conversation.” Ruby said to herself as she went back to helping make dinner in the kitchen.

 

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“Go get us some fried rice, noodles, and a case of beer.” Doc told Gunner as he gave him a handful of lien.

 

Gunner grunted, “Be back soon.” the faunus said opening the front door and closing it behind him.

 

Doc looked over at the girl standing in the doorway to the kitchen. She had asked who they were, but that would have to come later. They still needed to make sure the rest of the house was secure. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Qrow when he had said that the house was secure, he just wanted to see for himself. He gave the girl a quick wave to acknowledge that he had heard her and motioned for the rest of his team to move into the rest of the house.

 

“What’s the plan Doc?” asked Ordi as they entered the rest of the house. They stopped at the end of a hallway that connected to what looked like possible living quarters.

 

“Spread out and search the other rooms. We already know that Qrow Branwen, Ruby Rose and the rest of team JNPR are staying here. See if there’s anyone else.” he said. The two Specialists nodded and split off into the first two rooms that sat in the hallway.

 

Doc opened the door to the last room in the hallway and looked inside. The room had two full sized beds with matching nightstands, a small desk with writing paper on it, and a mid sized dresser. At the end of the room was window with red curtains that provided a view of the training yard. In the corner of the room there was a small worn travel pack.

 

Doc checked the dresser and found a single change of clothes, a dirty white shirt and a pair of brown trousers. Both items had at one point had holes in them and then patched over. Doc picked up the trousers for closer inspection.

 

“Little small for someone living in a house full of huntsmen in training.” Doc thought to himself, “Then again, that Ruby girl looks pretty small for a huntress.”

 

Doc dropped the clothes back into the drawer and closed it. He moved on to the desk, on it was an unmailed letter that the room’s owner had left; Doc took a minute to read it.

 

“Looks like someone is trying to apologize to their aunt about leaving without saying goodbye. You should have stayed on the farm Oscar. It’s probably safer there than it is here with whatever war Qrow has dragged you into.”

 

Doc turned away from the paper on the desk and went over to the bag in the corner. He undid the small clasp that held the flap closed  and flipped it open. Inside was a silver handle with a trigger along the side. Doc pulled the handle out of the pack and pulled it’s trigger, a rod extended out of the handle. “Some kind of cane?” he thought.

 

“Hey Doc, searched the other rooms. Nothing here but travel gear, clothes, dust cartridges and tools. Standard huntsmen equipment. You find anything?” asked Sketch over their linked scrolls.

 

Doc keyed his ear piece to reply when he heard a toilet flush in the hallway and the bathroom door open. “Hold on, someone just came out the bathroom. Come to the last room down the hall.” he said. A set of clicks from the other Specialists signed their acknowledgement.

 

Doc stood up from his spot in the corner when a teenage boy walked into the room. The boy jumped when he saw Doc in the corner. He noticed was that the boy immediately looked at the cane in his hand.

 

“Uhm, excuse me, but that’s actually mine.” said the boy

 

Doc dropped the cane onto a bed and took a step toward the boy. “Time to see what this kid knows” he thought.

 

“You must be Oscar. You mind telling me where your parents are kid?” said Doc as he started to question the farmhand.

 

Oscar took a step back out of the room, but walked into Ordi and Sketch as the two Specialists entered the room. Doc signaled for Sketch to stand out in the hallway and keep watch. He placed a hand on Oscar’s shoulder and leaned down to look the boy in the eye.

 

“Answer the question kid.” said Doc as he stared into the boy’s soul.

 

Oscar broke away from the man’s gaze and looked down at the floor. “They’re dead. I, uh, live with my Aunt.” he said.

 

“A different Aunt? Or the one that you ran away from without leaving a note?” asked Doc as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder towards the letter that sat on the desk. Oscar hung his head and stared at the floor.

 

Doc eyed the teenager before him. He didn’t like it when people started getting evasive, especially after he asked them a simple question. It made gathering intel harder and tried his patience. “Answer me.” he growled.

 

“T-the one I-I ran a-away from.” stammered Oscar.

 

Doc tightened his grip and continued to press for more answers. “How do you know Qrow Branwen? What are you doing here in Mistral? Are you a student at Haven Academy?” he said as he fired questions at the now scared Oscar.

 

“Qrow’s a friend of a friend. A friend of mine told me to come to Mistral and the academy doesn’t start classes for a few more months!” whimpered Oscar as he tried to shrug off the hand on his shoulder.

 

“Gunners’ back!” said Sketch as he leaned back into the room.

 

Doc looked up at his friend and gave him a nod. He glanced back down at Oscar, the boy likely knew more than he let on and his answers so far hadn’t revealed anything that he didn’t already know, but this wasn’t the time or the place to do a full on interrogation. He let go of the Oscar’s shoulder and him and Ordi left the room. They could always put the screws to the kid later.

 

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“That could have been much worse.” echoed Ozpin inside Oscar’s mind.

 

“Yeah, you’re telling me.” mumbled Oscar as he rubbed his shoulder. “Who were those guys?” he asked.

 

“I believe they were Specialists. Huntsman that joined the Atlesian military, choosing to follow the orders of my old friend General Ironwood.”

 

“But what are they doing here? I thought Qrow said that Atlas closed their borders?”



“I don’t know…”

 

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Weiss sat next to her friends and teammates in the safe-houses’ living room. Ozpin was speaking to them through the boy named Oscar, filling in the pieces of information about Salem that Raven hadn’t been able to provide. He told them about the Maidens and about the relics and why it was so important that they keep them out of Salem’s hands.

 

Jaune asked Ozpin about the Fall Maiden and why he and his inner circle had asked Pyrrha Nikos to take the Maiden’s place. He blamed them for putting her into a position where she felt like she needed to sacrifice herself. Pyrrha had been their friend and Jaune’s mentor; Weiss couldn’t blame him for being angry.

 

Yang was being uncharacteristically quiet. She had been engaging and happy at dinner, but now she sat with her arms folded across her chest. She could see that Yang didn’t really trust Ozpin. She listened as Ozpin defended the decision to change her mother and uncle into shape shifters. Yang might not have agreed with the former Headmaster, but she knew if it was good enough for her sister, then it was good enough for her.

 

“Are there anymore questions?” asked Ozpin.

 

“Yeah I have one.” said a voice from the back of the room.

 

The group turned at the sound of the voice and saw the team of Specialists sitting on the back wall. Empty take out containers and a few empty beer bottles were scattered between them. Their weapons sat next to them or between their legs. It was clear that they had been quietly hiding in the back of the room the whole night. They’d heard everything Qrow and Ozpin had said about Salem, the Maidens, the Relics and how the Academies were fronts to hide them. They knew about Cinder and her stolen Maiden powers and how it made Beacon Academy a target.

 

“Do you always rely on inexperienced children to fight your battles?” asked Doc as he took a sip of his beer.

 

“Hey! We’re not inexperienced!” Ruby exclaimed as she jumped up from her seat.

 

“Yeah! We made it all the way here from Vale all on our own, we can handle ourselves!” said Nora as she joined her friend in standing.

 

Doc raised an eyebrow and tipped the bottle back to his lips. “Saving villages from B League Grimm while your uncle babysits doesn’t count.” he said.

 

“We took on the White Fang and uncovered their plans to attack the city with the subway system!” said Ruby, “We captured Roman Torchwick, and stopped the Grimm from reaching too far into the city. We saved the city!”

 

“We read the Mountain Glenn report. We weren’t impressed.” said Doc, “I thought it was another example of Ozpin relying on children to do the job of actual Huntsmen. The fact that General Ironwood knew that the White Fang were in the area and did nothing, only showed his misplaced faith in your headmaster.” Doc reached into his cargo pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He took one out before handing the pack to Ordi who sat next to him.

 

“It was the right call at the time.” sighed Ozpin, “James wanted to flood the area with troops as a show of strength. They would have tipped off the enemy and the attack on the city would have been worse.”

 

“On that we can actually agree.” said Doc as he lit his cigarette. He took a second before blowing out a plume of smoke. “What Ironwood should have done was call us in and we would have taken care of the problem. Qrow could tell you from experience that we specializes in covert search and destroy missions. Emphasis on the destroy.” said the faunus with a wolfish grin.

 

“This isn’t a sparring match in a classroom.” said Gunner as he struggled to stand up from his spot on the floor. “This is a war, and you kids aren’t ready for it.”

 

“But that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to fight.” argued Yang “You don’t know anything about us, or about Beacon, or what we’ve been through!” she said as she got up to stand next to her sister.

 

“They were at Beacon Yang. One of them lost more than just an arm.” said Weiss quietly.

 

Yang looked at the her in shock and then back at the Specialists. Ordi rolled up his sleeves past the elbow to reveal prosthetic arms identical to hers, minus the weapon modifications. A metallic clang echoed through the room as Doc slapped his sword across his shins. “Must be nice to have feeling in your arm and legs ‘eh kid?” said Ordi as he flicked his thumb open to light a smoke with the dust crystal inside.

 

Jaune stood up from his seat, “Just who are you guys?” he asked as he rested his hand on the hilt of his sword.

 

“Ah yes, I almost forgot. Introductions!” said Doc jumping to his feet, snatching up his sword. He walked into the center of the room and propped a foot on the coffee table and leaned forward. “My name is Doc Higgins, I am an Atlesian Specialist and this is Team DOGS.” Doc said as he began to point out his team members as they began to move around the room. “The big faunus on the far left is Gunner Kasato, our heavy weapons expert.” Gunner went and stood between Qrow and Ozpin.

 

“The skinny little man with the bruised jaw is Sketch Akerman, our tech engineer and sniper.” he said as Sketch popped up behind Nora flashing her his signature wink.

“And the quadruple amputee here is Ordi Otto, explosive expert.” said Doc as he clapped a hand on the back of the man’s shoulder as he came and stood next to him.

 

“Don’t worry about introducing yourselves. We already know who y’all are.” said Sketch as he wrapped an arm around Nora’s shoulder. “I especially enjoyed watching you fight in the team match during the tournament last year!” he said to Nora. The rest of the team let out a quiet laugh.

 

Weiss fixed her attention on Doc as he stood in the center of the room. She only remembered one other time that she had seen him act so nonchalant around others. That had been right before she had started a fight with him. He had goaded her into attacking him by making statements for the sake of getting under her skin.

 

And he was doing the same thing now, by directly making statements about their time at Beacon. He took their greatest accomplishments as a team and threw them back in their faces. Doc had even gone after Professor Ozpin for his handling of the events prior to attack on the school. The rest of his team had even gone so far as to accuse them of being inexperienced and unprepared for the fight that was to come.

 

Weiss stood from her spot on the couch and reached out to pull the antagonizing team leader from the center of the room. If she allowed him to continue directing the conversation down its current path, then there was no doubt in her mind that someone was going to get hurt. She had to stop this and soon. Her hand landed on Doc’s shoulder just as he began to speak.

 

“Speak for yourself Sketch, my favorite part was the magic trick their team pulled in the finals round.” said Doc with a wicked glint in his eye. Weiss gripped his shoulder and turned to pull him away before the metaphorical shoe could drop.

 

“What magic trick?” asked Jaune confused as to how the Specialist was able to draw any magical conclusion to his partner’s final match.

 

Doc rested his hands on his knee that was propped up on the coffee table. He shrugged off Weiss’ hand that was trying to pull him out of the room and leaned even further forward. He bared his fangs as he smiled up at the blonde in front of him. “The magic trick where Pyrhha Nikos turned a Penny into quarters.” he said.

 

The metaphorical shoe dropped.