Chapter 1: Studio Backlot
Ragna landed on the hard floor. The wind knocked out of him. For a moment, he just lay on the cold stone, panting heavily. Slowly, he pulled himself up a looked around. He was in some sort of dungeon. The walls, floor, and ceiling were stone. Small stubby plants were trying to take hold in cracks between the stones. It smelled faintly of rusting metal and moss. There was illumination, enough to see well, but he couldn’t tell from where. Behind him was a wooden door, half rotted away, the only way out.
He walked carefully towards the door, footsteps softer then they had any right to be. He pushed gently against the door. The door gave a bit, creaking and bending around a bar on the other side. Ragna stopped. He realized he hadn’t heard anything except himself since he was sent here. He scowled. It was unlikely that Terumi sent him somewhere outside his control. this dungeon was probably a lot nastier then it looked. On the other hand, he hadn’t been sent to a volcano so maybe Terumi didn’t have control over where he ended up. He had looked rather desperate as the fight waged on and on.
He slammed into the door shoulder-first. It crashed on to the floor and echoed throughout the dungeon. The corridor was no less gloomy and abandoned then the room he’d left. It stretched a good hundred meters in either direction. Lined with broken doors and empty door frames. A thick mist hung over everything, obscuring his view. The echoes faded out and he listened carefully, but heard no other sound.
He set off, heading right down the corridor. Glancing into each room as he passed. Hand resting on the hilt of his sword. He saw nothing but empty rooms and heard nothing but his footsteps. He reached the end of the corridor. It split into two paths, left and right. He could hardly see anything through the all-encompassing fog.
He yanked his foot back but it was too late. The bucket sailed through the hit one of the walls, bounced off the floor and slowly rolled to a stop. The echoes seemed too last for eternity. He drew his sword and braced for attack. But nothing came at him from the fog...
Behind him he heard a rotten wood door burst open, then another. He turned. The mist was billowing, like something big was charging at him. He waited. He felt the mist push against his skin, cold and clammy. He swung. The sword sliced through empty air and lodged in something. An invisible enemy; He grinned. Terumi was in for a surprise if he thought that could kill him.
He was knocked off his feet. Right, two doors, so at least two enemies. He rolled out of the way of the hallway into the left side path. the mist swirled as whatever hit him turned to face him. Suddenly there was a burst of movement and the ground shuddered. There was a unearthly roar that was echoed down the corridor.
Door after door burst open. The sound of feet skittering towards filled his ears like static. Something thudded along the corridor, something else made a sound swooped like birds, all of it getting closer.
He turned and ran. He needed to find better ground. A bottleneck, a bit of high ground, somewhere he could see. Behind him he could feel the invisible horde bear down upon him.
Hyde didn’t know where he was. He was in an unfamiliar bed, with the smell of grime filling his nose. He sat up, and was suddenly aware of a massive headache. The room he was in was a made of stone, glistening from… something. He swung himself out of bed, noticing he was wearing his school uniform. He racked his brain. He could not remember how this had happened. Last he could remember, he was watching TV having finished his homework, then he got up to go to sleep and… he clutched his head.
Hyde glanced around, then he checked under the bed. This reeked of something, though this didn't seem like the work of anyone he could think of. Whoever did this, must have known where he lived. He shuddered at the realization. Still, he had never backed away from a fight and he wasn’t going to start now.
He closed his eyes and made a grasping motion in front of his open palm. His fingers closed around the hilt of the Insulator. He withdrew the sword from his palm in a spray of red and black sparks. Now he was ready for a fight.
Hyde swung open the wooden door. Immediately he was surrounded my thick fog. He was now at the end of a hallway. Barren stone reflected a light with no source. Carefully, he walked forward, it wasn’t like he had much choice. Occasionally a doorway would appear on either side of him. Each just lead into an empty room, but that gave Hyde the shivers. It was like there was something in there, waiting, dormant.
Eventually Hyde just ignored the doorways.
Ruby woke up cold. She stretched and saw a layer of fog hanging over the room.
“Yang,” Ruby called out “could you close the window?” Silence.
Ruby sat up. The room was empty, devoid of life. The fog cast a haze over everything, sapping them of colour. Zwei was missing. So were her teammates. The only signs of life in the room were the unmade beds.
She swung down out of bed. Noticing that she had slept in her battle outfit. She reached for the door handle, and stopped. Leaning against her bed was Crescent Rose.
“Huh, I'm sure I left you in my locker.” She slung her scythe across her back and opened the door.
The school was deserted. The grey fog clung to everything.
She could feel a pull. The feeling when a hoard of grimm was seeking towards her. She walked towards it.
Beacon Tower stood in front of her. The pull now had a distinctly downward direction to it. She frowned. The tower didn't have a basement. Her hand reached to push the door open.
In the distance there was a faint sound. She strained her ears. The fog rustled the leaves of the trees. Then, the sound of steel striking stone. So faint as to barely be heard. She pulled back her hand, and turned away. The pull grew stronger. She shook her head and dashed off towards the sound, Leaving a trail of rose petals in her wake.
Yu Narukami was still awake, which was a surprise. Normally he was asleep by now. The storm was a nasty one and pounded against the window.
Out of curiosity, he checked the time. 11:58. The Midnight Channel might be on soon. Might… the Midnight Channel hadn't been on since Teddie’s contest had been put to bed. Still, he got the nagging feeling that he should tune in, just in case.
Suddenly the TV burst to life. A young man with white hair held his arm out as if it were a snake. His hand writhed and contourted. He let out a blood-curdling scream before he was suddenly cut off, replaced by a different image. A girl maybe a year younger than Yu swung a scythe over a battlefield strewn with monsters. A boy in a school uniform standing in front of an altar, bathed in light. Lastly, the three of them together, back to back, fighting an endless stream of shadows.
The TV clicked off, leaving Yu staring at his own reflection. Slowly, he picked up his cell phone.
“Yosuke, it's Yu.”
“It's gone midnight, buddy. Can this wait until tomorrow?”
“Did you see the Midnight Channel?” Yu thought he heard Yosuke swear.
“There was a Midnight Channel? You sure? I thought those had stopped.”
“Apparently not. There were three people in it together, fighting an army of shadows.” There was the sound of Yosuke sitting upright from the other end.
“Fighting, like, with Personas?”
“Just swords I think, oh, and one had a scythe.”
“I'm free for a trip into the TV World tomorrow, if that's the plan.”
“I'll tell everybody else.”
“Better you than me. Goodnight Partner.”
He quickly sent out texts to the investigation team.
three people on the midnight channel
going to check it out with yosuke tomorrow
can anyone else make it?
Before he fell asleep, one of his friends got back to him
Kanji: go the fuck to sleep
Ragna wandered into a courtyard. It had taken almost an hour but he'd finally found a way out of that dungeon. Whatever had been chasing him, there were a lot of them. Fortunately, they lost interest in him after a while, and the invisible foes were easily defeated by the tactic of “find a narrow dead-end and send a few Dead Spikes back the way he came”.
He leaned against the base of a statue. The statue itself was cut in half, with only its legs still in place.
He was now it some sort of town. Shops’ doors just hung open with no one minding them. He'd tried checking a newspaper that one of the shops had been selling, but it's words were garbled and mocking. He wondered if the place actually existed. Maybe he was deep inside his own head. But he knew himself, his monsters weren't invisible.
Footsteps. Ragna eased himself into the shadow at the base of the statue. Normally he wouldn't bother, but, things were hardly normal.
A teenage boy in a school uniform walked into the plaza. He held a red sword loosely in one hand. He wore two belts loosely over his blazer. He probably wasn't a threat, and more importantly he probably knew what this place was.
Ragna took a step forward, and kicked a stone. He barely had time to curse his bad luck before the boy had slashed the air, sending a red disc hurtling towards him.
Hyde was quite proud of himself. Linne probably would have been impressed. He'd sized up his opponent (adult, red coat, massive sword holstered behind back), decided on the best course of action (Black Orbiter aimed to cut him in two), and swung all within a half second of hearing the sound. If it had connected it would have been perfect. Instead he’d sidestepped and Hyde barely had time to raise his sword to deflect the overhead strike that came at him.
The impact made Hyde reel backwards. His opponent refused to let up. A jab towards his guts, a swing at his left shoulder, a swing at his right knee. It was all he could do to block each attack. Damn he was fast, almost as fast as Linne but hitting twice as hard. Hyde tried to see an opening in the flurry of attacks. Surely there had to be an opportunity against an opponent that welded two-handed. Then his saw it.
He's swinging that monster sword with one hand.
The kick to his stomach caught him by complete surprise. He dropped the Insulator, doubled over in pain. He saw a boot kick it out of reach.
“Face it kid, you're out of your league.”
Hyde groaned a response.
“What was that?” Hyde looked up at the man who had defeated him.
“I said: best two out of three.” The man's lip twitched up into an almost smile. His face fell into a frown as he looked around.
“Where is this place, and why was I sent here?”
“How would I know?”
“Because…” he stopped mid sentence. “How did you get here?”
“I woke up in a bed about three stories down in a foggy dungeon.” Hyde examined the man more closely. “Why? how did you get here?”
“Magic portal dropped me in a foggy dungeon. What was the last thing you remember before waking up here?” He’d but his sword back behind his back and squatted down next to Hyde so they were eye level.
“Umm…” Hyde stalled, he actually had spent the last hour scouring his memory for information. He decided just to tell him everything. It wasn’t like he'd worked out what had happened. Besides, he didn't seem to be all bad. “I was just doing my homework in front of the TV, then I must have fallen asleep, then I ended up here.”
“Oh, so an actual schoolboy.” The man picked up Hyde’s sword. Hyde tensed but instead of striking he turned in around and offered it to Hyde hilt-first. “Leave, Stay here, Tag along, I don’t care. But don’t get in my way.” He offered Hyde a hand up. Hyde ignored it and pushed himself up.
“I'm not going anywhere until you answer some of my questions.”
“Oh really? You think so?” the man narrowed his eyes. Hyde tightened his sword grip.
“Now hang on just a minute!”
Ruby immediately wished she'd thought of a cooler line, maybe she should have quoted something from a Spruce Willis movie. Still, the two stopped glaring at each other and turned to look at her.
“And who the hell are you?” The blond one looked taken aback at his… partner’s rudeness.
“Ruby Rose, leader of Team RWBY.” She introduced herself. The pair did not look impressed. She felt the need to elaborate. “Huntress of Beacon Academy... in Vale.” They still didn't look impressed. “I've killed a Nevermore.” She added.
“So you're a bounty hunter?” Asked the man, readying his weapon. His companion edged away, adopting the role of bystander.
“I mean, I guess Huntsmen do some bounty hunting from time to time. But that's not the main thing, obviously” The man was looking thoroughly nonplussed.
“Did Terumi, or someone else at the Library, send you to kill me?” It was Ruby's turn to look confused.
“What the hell sort of late fee do you owe?” The blond one asked, sounding amazed at the thought.
“Who's Terumi?” Asked Ruby, who had met Beacon’s chief librarian and was less surprised by a library putting out a hit.
“He's an asshole in a custom suit and hat. Looks weak but can put up a decent fight.” Ruby thought for a second.
“Vibrant hair? Kinda soft spoken? Has a lot easily beaten underlings?”
“Do you mean Roman?”
The pair stared blankly at each other. Eventually, the blond with the many belts broke the silence. “How did you get here and can we leave that way?”
“I just woke up out here.” Ruby waved her hand at the fog covered city.
“Damn. Do you know where we are?”
“Not really, I mean, I recognized a bit of it as Beacon, but Beacon's not in the middle of a city… so.” she shrugged.
The white haired man stowed his weapon. “Well if you're not here to fight me, just stay out of my way while I find a way out.”
“Can I come along.” She thought about Beacon Tower. Even this guy was better company then the fog.
“Sure, Whatever.” The white haired man walked off into the fog. Ruby looked at the boy and he shrugged.
Silence engulfed the square.
“Hey, what are your names?”
“I'm Hyde. You're Ruby, right?”
“R, H, R....”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. Just thinking.”