“Well... " Pyrrha sighs, rolling her shoulder as the chains binding her chafe across her back. "I'm not going to deny... " She looks upwards at the ground, and down past her feet to the chain disappearing up into the ceiling. "... this could've gone better."
Beneath are hundreds of starving Grimm, snarling and snapping up at her. From Beowulves to Creeps to Deathstalkers. A few have their sharp teeth just grazing the end of her inverted crimson ponytail. The blood rushes to her head and she groans, blinking out of sync and rolling the wrists bound at her back.
She flits her eyes around at the deep and dark cave network she found herself in. She tilts her chin up to look down, at the sea of writhing creeps underneath. So, she was underground, that much is for certain. Attached to the chains keeping her suspended is a wind-chime, jingling with every small swinging motion she caused. This sets the blind Creeps into overdrive, snapping and leaping to get a taste of what is causing the noise.
"You're a Beacon student, aren't you?" Came a gravelly voice, one that carries with it a great deal of knowledge. Pyrrha freezes her wriggling, snapping her eyes forward. Even though the world is upside down, she makes no mistake to who stands on the balcony before her.
"Well, if it isn't Mr Merlot." Pyrrha quips and she tilts her head curiously, that ever so bright smile on her face – despite the predicament.
"Ah! Doctor! Doctor Merlot." He corrects with a grin. Pyrrha huffs, blowing some of the dust from her brow.
"Right. My apologies." Pyrrha looks around, craning her neck. "Umm... this is all a bit theatrical, isn't it? You know, for one lone Huntress student."
"O-Oh no, I'm not underestimating you meddling kids this time!" Merlot chuckles, waggling his finger at her. It is easy to forget that – in between all the chaos that has hit their education – Teams R.W.B.Y and J.N.P.R had both stopped the mad Doctor once before, prior the first attack on Vale and before the Vytal Festival. The tall Doctor stares the young woman down as he stares at her. "Besides, I ask the questions."
"Okay. I'm sorry." Pyrrha says sweetly, wrapping her fingers around the chains at her back. Merlot raises a brow, but carries on, being the theatrical monologuing man he has always been. If there has ever been a man who shares an ego as extreme as Jacques Schnee, it would be Doctor Merlot.
"Why, is a Beacon soon-to-be Graduate sniffling around my make shift laboratory?"
"Oh yes, of course. We blew up your last one, didn't we? I'm sorry." Pyrrha smiles sheepishly, seeing to enjoy that memory a little too much, this however causes Merlot to growl with immense displeasure. "Yes, on behalf of Beacon, Ozpin, Team's RWBY and JNPR... we are sorry."
"Enough." Merlot huffs. "Why are you here?"
"Well... it's a long story really."
"You're not going anywhere." Merlot chuckles. "Oh! I do have an appointment in an hour though, so..." He taps his watch. Pyrrha huffs again, rolling her eyes as she begins her long tale of how she got here.
"As one of our final tests before graduation, we must offer the headmaster an item of interest and show we can single handedly take care of a Grimm hive. When I saw your robots at the cave entrance... Oooh it was too good to resist. Sorry." Pyrrha gives a sheepish laugh, if her hands were free, she would have gently covered her soft lips.
"So..." Merlot points beneath Pyrrha. She looks at the Grimm. "Hive." Pyrrha nods. Merlot points to his chest. "Item of interest?"
"Oh, don't think of yourself as an item, Doctor. But yes." Pyrrha says, passing some of her aura through the chains binding her, testing their magnetism. “You see, with Neopolitan captured and vanished, you are the second-best gift.” She tells him with a smile, now that Neo has massive bounties set on her head after her escape from Authorities prior the fall of the Black Smog.
"So, in a perfect world, you'll wipe out the hive, capture me, and graduate with flying colours?" Merlot tilts his head with a grin. Pyrrha shrugs.
"Yes, pretty much."
"Shame. We don't live in a perfect world! Ah hah!" Merlot cackles, springing his hand forward and pressing the remote in his grasp. Pyrrha rolls her eyes as the chain unlocks and starts to drop her down into the horde below. With a burst of black energy, the chains explode, and she quickly rolls over to grab the chains and swing up onto the cave wall, gripping the black stone.
The Grimm roar devilishly, addicted to the taste of blood that is so close to them, rolling over each other like a stormy black sea, trying to get to her. She looks up at Merlot on the balcony, seeing him walking across the platform.
"Why'd you think I set up my new lab here? Think of all the tests I can run on all those Grimm! End of the day, the Black Smog scattered, and many of them…found their way here. Isn’t it incredible how things turn out?" He gestures to the writhing black ground. "After they devour you of course. Oh, and so close to graduating too." Merlot pouts. Pyrrha raises a brow, lifting her fingers with a twitch, listening to the metal bangs echoing through the winding cave networks.
"You remember we broke your toys last time, don't you?" Pyrrha says, Merlot's smile dropping. Suddenly both Milo and Akoúo break through the stone in a plume of rubble, shooting through the air in a golden blur towards Pyrrha. She smirks and leaps off the cave wall, swirling elegantly through the air.
Her feet touch down on Akoúo for a brief second, before leaping off the whizzing shield. Akoúo embeds itself in the wall, and Pyrrha lands behind Merlot with a grin.
He cackles and lifts his cybernetic arm, the right appendage shifting and morphing mechanically under his sleeve until the fingers became recognisable as the barrel of a flame thrower. The sleeve melts and burns away as bright crimson flames shoot out at Pyrrha, she raises her gauntlets shielding herself from the super-heated flames, though the metal soon turning red hot.
She flicks her wrist and Akoúo snaps up out of the wall and clatters Merlot in the back of the head, making him stumble forward. She kicks him square in the chest and he hits the parapet wall with a crunch. She catches the spinning shield on her gauntlet, just as another salvo of fire engulfs her. Merlot, left hand on the parapet, slowly rises to his dazed feet, right arm still spouting flames.
As Akoúo starts to glow red along its rounded edges, she looks up at Milo embedded in the cave walls, just beneath a stalactite. She smirks and flicks her fingers, black light ripping Milo from the stone and shooting down into Merlot's knee, the blunt end dropping him easily to a knelt stature. Pyrrha lowers her glowing shield and uses the thousand-degree edge to slice the end of Merlot's mechanised arm off, bringing the flame thrower to an end. Merlot yelps as Pyrrha steps on his other hand, pinning him in place, her heel proving to be very uncomfortable.
Merlot's red optic looks up and he grins wickedly, Pyrrha furrowing her brows in confusion. Too late does she hear the barrelling metal footsteps behind, turning to the robot shoulder charging her through the parapet in a spray of rubble.
She falls towards the horde below, eyes wide in shock. Thinking quick, she outstretches her hand and it glows black. Milo blasting a hole straight through the robot's chest, flat out shutting it down. As it falls, Milo dives down for her, Pyrrha rolling over in the air and readying her knees up to her chest, as Milo passes beneath her with a loud metallic hum.
She kicks down on Milo's blunt backside and gives herself a double jump up onto a ledge, Milo slamming into the Creep crowd below, killing at least twelve with a massive shockwave.
Pyrrha pants, surveying her surroundings, before seeing the explosive red canisters. She grins and swings her wrist, launching Akoúo into a spin directly at them. The shield impacts and pierces the red drum, knocking it off the ledge and falling into the Creeps below. Pyrrha braces herself, gritting her teeth and covering her ears.
The drum squashes several creeps but doesn’t explode.
"Wha-?" Pyrrha looks down, then up. "Ah, what? But red barrels always explode!" She huffs like a disappointed child, almost like she is winging, "Fine, old fashioned way then." She leaps off the wall towards the Creeps forming a mountain out of themselves to get to her. She raises both fists over her head and slams them down on the top two Creeps, rolling over their backs and sliding down the writhing mound. She pushes off the last Creep and rolls through the air before catching Milo in one hand and Akoúo in the other, sliding along her knees in a shower of sparks.
The fluid the flattened red drum had been leaking the whole time catches those sparks and ignites in a pale blue and orange flame, racing back along the floor in a swath of fire, before reaching the drum and erupting in a loud fireball.
"Yay!" Pyrrha's eyes light up, just as the remaining creeps barrel towards her. She finds a recess in the cave wall and presses her back into it, raising Milo in spear form over Akoúo. She blows out a shaky breath. "Okay... Phalanx. Just as Father taught you." She grits her teeth as the Grimm make contact.
Merlot rises to his feet, stumbling inside with a slow and heavy limp. He disappears inside of his lab trying to find his weapon attachments - one handed. Eventually he does, muttering to himself as he cleans off the melted metal and can finally attach to the elbow socket. He grins, then freezes as silence reigns outside the door. He tilts his head.
"Well... " He stands with a groan. "Perhaps that truly was too many Grimm. Shame. She would've made a fine Huntress."
He unlocks the door and it slides open, revealing Pyrrha leaning against the wall, checking herself in her pocket mirror while her Aura slowly regenerates. Black blood freckles her once pristine armour, the shield on her back dented and scratched to near unrecognisable stature. That will most certainly
"Ready to go?" She shuts the mirror and says with a peppy smile. Merlot simply scoffs. "Grand."
He grits his teeth and raises the arm cannon, to which Pyrrha huffs and kicks his bad knee, dropping the man to the ground, before taking his arm and detaching it.
"Won't be needing weapons." She says, throwing it over him into the trash can.
“I…take it I can’t call a lawyer?” Merlot asks curiously, and she grabs him, lifting him up to his feet.
“Do you have one?” She asks, and he falls silent.
“I did.” Merlot says, and Pyrrha just raises her brow and sighs.
“Come on, don’t make this difficult.” She says, but he looks back at her and he just starts ranting and raving about her and the Huntsmen Academies.
“Do you really think this will help anything? This isn’t the first time you lot have tried to take me and it gosh-darnt will not be the last!” Merlot calls out, and Pyrrha rolls her eyes, before glancing at the roll of duct tape sat on the table and her gaze slowly turns to Merlot with a smirk. Merlot’s eyes widen and he stares back. “Oh no…don’t you dare.”
Outside of the location, they are all waiting for the last two members to return with their prizes. Team R.W.B.Y, Team J.N.P.R – missing only Pyrrha and Jaune right now – and Team S.S.S.N. Ruby stands with her back pressed against the tree here in the domain where both Pyrrha and Jaune agreed to locate their rewards. As friends – or family – they agreed to turn in their gifts together at the exact same time.
Four years have passed since the fall of the Black Smog, and they are now at their Graduation, and they have all changed over the years. Ruby now sports a white high-neck décolletage blouse with brown studded wristbands on the arms. Her outfit retains the use of a black skirt with red tulle underneath, somewhat similar to her original outfit, but her waist cincher has been replaced with an over bust corset with red strip holding it in place. A black belt bordered in red holds the magnetic clip for Crescent Rose and its ammunition. She also has brown straps on her blouse that allow her to wear a small brown backpack.
In lieu of her usual full black stockings, Ruby wears thigh-high stockings reaching to a few inches below the hem of her skirt, decorated by an image of a long-stemmed rose. Her red-soled black boots contain four straps and buckles apiece. Her cloak has a singular clip on the right shoulder in the shape of her emblem, replacing the cross-shaped clips from her original attire. Both the cloak and the stockings show tears from the long road they have been on to get to this point. Her hair has also grown slightly longer, maintaining the colour gradation from black at the roots to red at the tips.
Weiss’ new gear includes a short, glittering dress with a colour gradation of blue to pale blue at the hem, a sweetheart neckline, and a white, tulle petticoat.
A white ribbon is wrapped multiple times around her waist, and over the outfit is worn a slightly sheer long-sleeved blue shrug fastened at the collar with a large sapphire broach that has three pendants dangling from it. Printed on the back of the shrug is the Schnee Crest. Completing her attire are dark blue wedge heels and sapphire drop earrings.
Blake’s new attire features a long white tailcoat with dark grey lining and a sleeveless black crop top. The crop top has rectangular and diamond-shaped cut-outs around the neckline. Additionally, she wears a white belt over black fitted pants. Across her torso is a diagonal strap that contains a smaller magnetic clip used to sheathe Gambol Shroud. She wears thigh-high black heeled boots with gold-coloured edging around the top. The left boot has a belt wrapped twice around the thigh. Each boot bears her belladonna emblem in white on the outer side of the thigh, and a white pouch is attached to the back of her belt. And now, she no longer wears her bow.
Yang still wears the clothes she chose to wear upon returning to Beacon when the Black Smog attacked. She wears a tan jacket with orange lining and gold edging, unzipped halfway to show an orange crop top. The coat has darker brown short sleeves, a thick collar that completely encircles her neck, and two long gold-trimmed detachable rectangular tails. She also wears fitted black pants, and her hair has been let down again like her original outfit.
Around her hips and over the tails of her coat is a brown belt, which has two pieces of dark brown material trimmed in gold attached to it. The first covers from her left hip to the back of the belt and is folded over the belt, and the second is attached from the right hip and almost around to the other piece of material. She wears knee high brown boots with gold caps on the heel and toe, with the heel cap attaching to a gold strap across the front of her ankle, and a gold zipper on the upper half of the front of the boots. A single small buckled strap is on the upper outside of her boots, and a purple bandana tied around her left knee. A pair of black fingerless gloves with long brown cuffs reaching to mid forearm complete the outfit.
They are not the only ones to change their attire either, for Ren and Nora have done the same thing. Nora has fashioned herself a new matured version of her previous clothes, including a brand new – and awesome – weapon. She has named it Stormur Skeggox, an extremely powerful Battleaxe filled with the same pink dust that she would use with her now destroyed Magnhild. It still transforms into her beloved Grenade Launcher but has shrunken it down to an axe, for faster strikes, and with thrusters that can allow more devastating blows. Her orange hair has grown longer, and her body is larger thanks to her incredible – and terrifying strength.
Especially her thunder thighs.
With her sleeves rolled up, the muscle definition is as clear as day. Ren on the other hand has had a major change, now no longer tying his hair up behind his head, he has let it fall and grow long. He also wears a combat under armour that is black and tight to his skin, with an off-the-shoulder green sleeve that relates back to his old coat he wore before. He also has a curved dagger sheathed on his boot and has upgraded Stormflower to have larger and stronger blades, ones that can actually cut up Grimm extremely well. He – like the rest of them – has also improved his muscular definition, becoming one hell of an adversary for foes to face.
Sun on the other hand is the only member of his team to actually change his attire. He now wears a black shirt with golden buttons connecting it together, completely buttoned up. And the reason? Certainly because of the new scar he has scraped across his chest from the Praetorian Knight. The wound can still be seen, and due to how deep and serious the wound was, he required a unique form of surgery that cannot be removed. To prevent further damage to his body and internal haemorrhaging the nurses injected a dark grey filament to repair the damage, however it cannot be removed afterwards. He now has a long scar with this filament across his chest and the side of his face, cutting through his cheek and his hair on one side.
He is smiling again, but still suffers from some rather serious insecurities about his wound, ones that he cannot bring himself to keep his shirt open anymore. But that has not stopped him and his team from being the lovable idiots that they are, as they all stand there waiting with Ice Cream that they bought from a nearby truck in the city. The location they are at?
Turns out Merlot decided he wanted to return back to the city of which he caused the destruction of in the first place to conduct his experiments on the Grimm. Obviously, it did not take much for them to figure out he would return here, they were not fools – they knew he would have escaped from his facility when he set it to self-destruct.
Weiss and Blake look at their boyfriends and shake their heads at them, and Neptune pauses licking the ice cream as he looks at her. “What?” He slurs and she just rolls her eyes, in which Sun challenges her as he always does.
“Y’know you’re just jealous you didn’t think of it, Ice Queen.” Sun jabs with a cheeky grin on his face, a grin that Weiss detests. She spins round and stares at him.
“I am not some savage mutt! I have class and would never…want…Ice Cream.” She stammers, fighting through the words as she stares at the delicious ice cream in their hands. Sun scoffs as he stares at Weiss.
“You fought through that.” Sun comments with a grin on his face, and Weiss blushes as Neptune smirks, offering his Ice Cream to her.
“No, I didn’t.” She defends, crossing her arms and looking away, until she glances back at the Cream for a second. Nora and Ren look at each other as they wait for Jaune and they jump off the rock they are both sat on.
“We’re gonna go see how Jaune’s doing in there.” She says as she and Ren both walk towards the old abandoned building that Jaune headed into. He said he was simply gonna go in there, grab the old relic Ozpin said was in here, and come back with it. Unlike Blake and Weiss, Ruby is staring at the pink ice cream that Scarlet is licking beside his boyfriend, salivating desperately. And Scarlet’s words don’t make it any easier for the Puppy Girl.
“This is Delicious.” He comments as he continues to enjoy his treat.
“Oh, come on…” She groans desperately, the petals building up around her long red cape, and Yang rolls his eyes, extending her metal hand, grabbing her cape just as she tries to dash towards it, only to fall on her butt. She sits beside her sister and looks at the floor sadly. As she sits there, the little Corgi approaches her and licks her hand as she sits there, immediately curing her fake grief with joy as she tickles Zwei.
“I can’t believe you brought him here.” Weiss comments.
“How could I leave him? LOOK AT HIS LITTLE FACE!” Ruby squeals as she points to Zwei as he pants with a smile, looking at Weiss, and she breaks with a similar squeal, petting him.
“How can you not love a face like this?” Weiss coos as she scratches his ears, and Blake shudders, looking away from the dog.
“I can hate that face.” She says, making Yang chuckle.
“Your sour puss.” She jokes, making yet another one of her puns, hearing Sun’s response in the background.
“Get out.” Sun orders, and she looks around at the outside location they are at.
“How?” She asks.
“Go inside, and then get out.” Sun says, and Yang sighs as she walks towards one of the ancient destroyed buildings to do exactly that, in which Sage chuckles. Blake’s ear twitches when she hears the approach of someone nearby and she turns her head and bumps her partner’s elbow upon her return.
“Look.” She says, and they all turn to see Pyrrha emerging with Merlot at her mercy – with duct tape around his mouth – walking him down the steps. His deadpanned expression truly does make them feel great, especially to realise they finally have him this time.
“Well look who it is.” Ruby says as she walks towards Merlot in Pyrrha’s custody. She stares him down and he stares right back. “Been a while…”
He muffles and Pyrrha rolls her emerald eyes, grabbing the duct tape and ripping it off, quite sharply too. “Ouch…hello again, Miss Rose.” He says as he looks at her, and Ruby chuckles.
“You’re not getting out of this one this time, Merlot. You’re gonna do your time for what you’ve done.” She states as she stares right into his eyes and he scoffs.
“Please, you can’t hold me. Nobody can for long.” He states as he leans back with a smile.
“Alright, that’s enough out of you.” Pyrrha says as she sticks the duct tape back to the wriggling Doctor’s mouth. Pyrrha moves him across the destroyed area and she sits him down, chaining him up to a metal pole whilst they wait for the rest of her team to return, with whatever Jaune has located for his final exam. Pyrrha walks back to Ruby and gives her a hug. “Thank you for waiting, sorry if I kept you waiting.”
“Still waiting on Jaune.” Ruby comments as she looks at the building he went into.
“He isn’t back?” Pyrrha asks her, and Ruby shakes her head as she leans against Crescent Rose. Pyrrha looks at the building and she sighs. “I’m sure he’s fine, but…you know me.” Pyrrha says.
“Go on, we’ll wait.” She says to her and Pyrrha walks towards the building. She jumps up and clambers up the building, through the destroyed walls and windows, shattered by the Grimm that decimated this place. With the Black Smog practically extinct now, Vale is finally completely secure. The City of Vale and Beacon are both nearly completely repaired as well, just adding the finishing touches now. Pyrrha walks up the broken stairs with ease towards the opening into that cave that Jaune mentioned.
Until a sudden tremor hits…and she stops as she hears a distant scream.
A familiar scream…almost girly.
But certainly Jaune’s.
She sees him running towards her, now in his new gear he had forged with Pyrrha as she got her new clothes as well. He also still rocks his new haircut, the sides shaven down and his blonde locks waving with every movement made by him. Nora and Ren both sprint beside him, Nora with Stormur Skeggox in her grasp and Ren with Stormflower. “Pyrrha! The window!” Jaune screams.
“Jaune? What did you do?” She questions, when suddenly a massive Cerberus Grimm erupts through the floor behind them, bellowing out from all three heads, smashing through the supports as it charges after them. Her eyes widen and she pulls Akoúo into her grasp.
“The WINDOW!” Jaune shrieks, and she nods her head.
“Done!” She calls, swinging round and launching Akoúo right into it, shattering it and she jumps through, her team behind her as they slide down. Nora slides towards Sun who has no idea of what is charging towards them.
“OMPH!” Nora grunts as she slides past him, eating his whole ice cream, leaving him with just the cone. He deadpans and sighs as he stands there, staring at the empty cone, turning to the open window. When the Cerberus suddenly erupts through the building with a deafening roar. He drops the cone and Scarlet eats the whole thing in one, crying out from the brain freeze. Everyone draws their weapons as the beast crashes down into the centre of the area, roaring as it bites at them with its three heads.
All the meanwhile…
Zwei waddles along and approaches Ruby’s little Walkman on the ground with her Red Like Roses Headphones plugged in from when she was listening to them. He looks at it as they all start battling against the Creature of Grimm behind him, and he nibbles on the cable, yanking it from her Walkman, allowing the music to blare out.
The Remixed version of I Burn that played in Junior’s Club begins playing in the background and Zwei flicks his head back with a joyous smile on his face.
He waddles along as he hears the music playing around him, seemingly unaware of the epic battle happening around him. But he doesn’t care, he is happy, a happy little corgi. He waddles along as Ruby shoots around him in a cyclone of petals, firing Crescent Rose at the massive Beast as it barks and howls, jumping and biting at her repeatedly, whilst Scarlet swings round one of the buildings and kicks it in the side of one of its heads. The Cerberus barks from the impact and staggers back, slashing its claws that ignite with flames at him as he rolls back, just avoiding it. It swings its long spiny tail round and smacks Jaune across the ground, rolling past Zwei and landing right beside him, He groans as he slowly gets back up, pressing Crocea Mors down into the ground to get back up. He blocks an incoming fireball with his shield as he stares at it, panting.
He stands tall and double takes when he sees Zwei waddling along. “Zwei?” He comments, until suddenly the fireball comes flying back once again, sending him rolling back. Zwei – unphased by it all – continues to waddle along. His tongue hanging out as he keeps playing with joy as Ruby’s Walkman keeps playing her beloved tunes. Weiss flips through the air and she slides across her Glyph, forming another to stop the incoming fireball. She stares at Zwei, seeing him in danger.
“Zwei! Get out of here, you’re gonna get hurt!” She demands, and Zwei looks at her then his ears flop down as he gives her the sad puppy eyes and whines. Her heart melts immediately as she leans forward, hands pressed to her legs. “Oh, it’s okay, I love you!” She coos with a bright smile, when suddenly the Cerberus swings its tail right at her, sending her flying with a distant scream. Zwei barks as he bounces along, Sun spiralling his Gunchucks round as he fires them repeatedly, expelling shells with every single shot. He rolls aside as the Cerberus turns ones of its heads and blasts a fireball right at him, and Neptune pulls his goggles down and engages his semblance, rapidly firing shots into the fireballs, exploding them as it fires them at him.
Sage roars as he jumps up at the beast with his Claymore held above his head as she slashes it down the swinging tail of the beast, cutting it clean off, landing right beside the little puppy that dances with the music. The Cerberus growls and it lunges towards him, biting onto his aura protected body and shaking him around like a chew toy. “Get off him!” Nora calls out as she throws her new Storm Axe and it spins through the air, right over Zwei with crackling pink dust around it, stabbing it into the jaw of the creature. She jumps and grapples onto her axe, cutting its jaw open and ripping Sage from its razor-sharp teeth.
Sage crashes and tumbles across the ground, landing right in front of Zwei. He looks at the black and white Corgi, seeing him smile and lick his nose gently. Sage chuckles and ruffles his fluffy head, before getting back up and charging towards the monster with his huge sword, not even bothered by the attack he just endured. Zwei turns and his attention is caught by a small Grimm – one of those Rapier Wasps in fact – alone they are completely harmless but in swarms that is something else entirely. The Wasp buzzes along and he chases after it, biting at it repeatedly.
He finally catches it, trying to eat it until Ruby zooms back in a swarm of petals, landing right beside her beloved dog. “Hey, c’mon, spit it out. Spit it!” Ruby orders and he does as she commands, spitting the dead wasp out onto the floor, smothered in saliva. “Gross pup.” Ruby says before spinning round and firing Crescent Rose at the furious beast that blasts fireballs into the sky, like it is triggering the end times. She takes her rifle and transforms it into Scythe form, blasting towards the beast yet again. She cuts straight through the thick and armoured hide of the huge creature, curving around it, opening deep wounds all over its massive body before hooking the blade underneath the neck of one of its heads.
She fires the rifle, riding the recoil and severing the head from the neck, black smoke pouring out from its stump. The head crashes down to the ground with a thud, and Ruby lands down onto the ground nearby. Ren jumps up and lands onto one of Weiss’ Glyphs, firing both of his Stormflower Pistols at the giant creature, black blood and smoke pouring from every single wound, it roars with both rage and hunger. He lands on the ground and rolls out of the way as Nora points the head of her Axe at the beast, charging the pink dust up and blasting a focused beam of energy from the opening inside. The beam of superheated dust carves through one of its muscular legs and it bellows in agony, collapsing as it gets severed.
Yang punches one of the last two heads with her fists, punching it downwards into the ground so hard that the ground shakes and cracks split through the surface of the ground. It groans as it rises up, but snaps its jaws at her suddenly, only for her to cartwheel backwards to avoid its devastating jaws. She raises her fists to see Blake swing round with her Grappling Hook, stabbing Gambol Shroud into its neck and slicing a deep wound into it, so deep it causes the head to hang from sinew.
She lands down and nods to Yang, she throws her Grappling Hook to her and the Blonde-Haired Brawler catches it in her metal hand, and she runs around the block and the Cerberus. She fires Ember Celica repeatedly behind her to build up on speed, and Blake yells as she launches Yang towards that head. She yells with fury, punching the side of its skull with immense force, beheading it from the impact alone. The head falls from its neck and crashes down to the ground with a heavy thud.
Yang lands down on the ground and smirks to Blake, and Ruby readies herself as she stares at the final one and nods to Pyrrha who blasts towards it. She throws her shield and it collides into its nose, making it recoil back from the impact. Weiss casts ice and it freezes around its legs to hold it in position whilst Pyrrha zooms in. She and Pyrrha take their bladed weapons, and they swing them with great speed, cutting straight through the last neck of the Cerberus, killing it. The head crashes down in front of Zwei and he growls, barking at the dead beast’s head as it crumbles and disintegrates before his very eyes.
Ruby lands down on the ground as she pants, rising back up and cracking her neck. Pyrrha lands and she slams her sword down to the ground, landing with one knee pressed to the ground. She looks up, her red hair flowing in the wind as she looks at Jaune who nervously chuckles. “Hey…” He says to her and she walks towards him, grabbing his face and kissing him lovingly on the lips.
As they break, she whispers to him. “You had me worried.” She says.
“Me? Nah, had it under control.” He assures with a chuckle.
“Oh rubbish.” Scarlet says with a scoff as he holsters his pistol.
“No, no…hundred percent.” Jaune assures, leaning down and pressing his hands to his legs as he sighs.
“Did you…get your trophy?” Yang asks him as she deactivates Ember Celica, walking through the black smoke of the dead Cerberus.
“Mhm...check it out – the long-lost declaration for Mountain Glenn to be built years ago.” Jaune reveals, pulling out of his pocket. Their eyes widen as they look at it.
“Oz has been looking for stuff like that for years, so then we can always remember our history.” Sun says as he looks at the scroll in Jaune’s hand.
They did it…
With their final exam's handed in, and their month-long mission complete, J.N.P.R and R.W.B.Y let out the loudest, most exhausted sigh ever heard on Remnant. Team S.S.S.N have already gone off to get some drinks, leaving only the two teams together. Then, eyes opening to the world again, the eight friends all look to each other, and...
"That's it! W-We're done!"
"O-Oh I can't believe it! Look I-I'm shaking, just lookame!"
They quickly stem their chattering, Ruby hugging Jaune as tight as she can, laughing into his neck. She kicks her legs to the air and cheered. "Yeaaaah! That's a wrap! Now we just gotta wait for our results!"
"Which, judging by how long Winter said it might take to grade, we can expect back in two to three weeks. Excluding weekends and holidays." Weiss clears her throat into her fist. Yang loops her robotic arm over Weiss' shoulders with a grin.
"Well I think we have all earned ourselves a decent meal, huh?"
"Oh absolutely!" They all nods amongst themselves.
"No more ration packs?" Nora whispers with hope, balling up the collar of Ren's tailcoat in her fists. He chuckles and takes her hands in his, nodding with a soft smile. "Real food?"
"Yes Nora. And you can have aaaall the pancakes you want." Ren says amidst a chortle, ruffling her hair. She gasps, instantly drooling, plates upon plates of food dancing across her eyes.
"Mmm, I must admit... " Jaune stretches his back with a click and a crack. "I'm dying for something greasy, served with fries."
"Normally, I'd remind you of training, to please pick a healthier option... " Pyrrha smirks, prodding his collarbone. Then her stomach grumbles loudly, to which she blushes. "... but today is a definite exception to the rule. I want chocolate cake."
"Oh, a Gateau? With frosting and a small helping of ice cream?" Weiss has hearts in her eyes, blinking rapidly and shaking her head. They all stare at her in disbelief. "What? I have a sweet tooth too you know. Especially when I've eaten dehydrated... every fruit and vegetable under the sun for the past month!"
"Yuck, yeah Weiss is right. I didn't know so many things could be dehydrated and put in a plastic bag." Ruby sticks out her tongue. "Blake, didn't you have a dehydrated water bottle at one point?"
"Yeah, I honestly believe it was a gag gift Sun put in my rations pack before we left." Blake pinches her brow. "Just had an empty bottle all month."
"Oh yeah, she's not kidding." Yang nods, removing her rucksack and unzipping it. "I kept it cos I found it so funny." She pulls out the bottle, already chuckling. "Pfft! Look, see? Even says-"
"To drink add 25 millilitres of water." Nora and Jaune read, both snorting. "Gotta be a gag, right?"
"I'd hope so!" Yang chuckles, taking her smelly rucksack and turning it upside over the nearest trashcan. Out falls empty foil ration packets by the dozen. "Th-This is the whole teams by the way."
"Nope, Yang ate all our rations too." Blake smirks, hand on her hip as Yang gasps.
"So did." Weiss crosses her arms with a cocked hip. Yang growls at her.
"Guys! Mmm’ hungry!" Ruby pouts as her stomach rumbled. "Can we just continue this later, you know... once my belly's stopped eating itself?"
"Good call Ruby." Jaune takes out his scroll with a hum. "Ooh! We could go to Caesars teasers. They do good seafood."
"Right now, I'd eat sea food." Yang huffs, patting her stomach. "As in-"
"I see food I eat it." All seven of her friends say in unison, rolling their collective eyes. Yang pouts.
"You guys are no fun."
"Huh hoh! Oh boy, Oooor we could go to Freddie's Pizzeria!" Jaune smiles joyfully at all the collective frowns. "What? It's a respectable chain."
"Maybe, if we were hosting a kids party!" Weiss snaps, "I think we have all earned a full three courses at one of Vale's classiest establishments."
"Wash your mouth out Weiss, Freddie's is classy! Why I even took Pyrrha there on a date a few months back!" Jaune smiles at her. R.W.B.Y tilt their heads to look around Jaune at Pyrrha.
"He did." Pyrrha laughs sheepishly, tapping her fingertips together. "It was... umm... lovely."
"Yeah!" Jaune's eyes darts back to Pyrrha. He knows her nervous ticks like the back of his hand by now. "Wait. You didn't like it?"
"Oh no, your company was lovely! It's just... A-And I am grateful... but... for Valentine’s Day? Really?" She winces. R.W.B.Y gasp collectively. He turns to face them.
"You didn't!" Yang gasps.
"What is wrong with you?!" Weiss scoffs.
"Jaune... really? Not. Cool." Blake rolls her eyes.
"Yeaaaah, I don't do dates, Jaune. But even I know that's low." Ruby shakes her head. Jaune gasps, a hand over his heart. He steps backwards, the shock and awe evident in his eyes.
"Well! I learned something about my friends today! A-And girlfriend! That they cannot appreciate class when it hits them in the face!"
"I'm going to hit you in the face!" Weiss growls, shaking her fist at him. Jaune sticks out his tongue in retaliation. Nora huffs, waddling in between them all.
"So that's it, huh? We survive our month-long mission... only to starve to death outside of Beacon... BECAUSE NOBODY COULD MAKE UP THEIR MIIIIIIINDS-AH!" She pants, her voice echoing.
"R.W.B.Y! Fall in!" Ruby yells, huddling with her three teammates. Jaune frowns.
"Oh yeah? JNPR! On me!" He snaps, huddling with his three. "Okay, Freddie's has an ice cream machine and it's amaze-balls, s'all I'm saying."
"Jaune. I have to agree with Weiss. We do deserve to spoil ourselves. This is to celebrate the completion of our last exams!" Pyrrha shrugs, looking to Ren and Nora whom her arms are looped around. Jaune nods.
"Okay. No, you guys are right. By the way... can I just say, as your leader." He swallows thickly. "That I love you guys. Seriously. We've been through so much, a-and... well... I guess I never want it to end." He smiles, wiping his eye. "I hope I've been the best leader I could be for you."
"You've been the bestest." Nora beams, booping his nose. Ren smiles softly.
"I'm not booping your nose. But I could not have asked for a better leader through all this, or a better best friend."
Nora gasps, her eyes glassy.
"Best, male friend?" Ren adds. Nora pouts. "Male friend?" Nora hiccups, wiping her eyes. "Friend?" Nora sniffles and whines. "Nora!"
"I for one, think that you're the best thing that's ever happened to me." Pyrrha smiles up at him. Jaune beams back.
"Okay, break huddle." Jaune stands up. "So, I can kiss my girlfriend." He pulls her to him, claiming her lips. She smiles into the kiss, lifting her hand to cradle the back of his head, stroking the rough short hairs. His hands find her hip and the small of her back, closing the distance between them. Nora looks at Ren with a smirk. He blinks at her, then at the lip locked pair, sighing heavily.
"Ahem?" Ren clears his throat into his fist. Pyrrha and Jaune blink their eyes open, lips still firmly locked as they looked at him. Ren pats his stomach and then points in the direction of Vale.
"Can he get marked down for sleeping with a team member? Not very professional, eh leader?" Nora nudges Jaune, causing him to spasm into her elbow and break his lip lock with Pyrrha. Pyrrha blushes, wiping the saliva from her lips with her thumb.
"Ahem. Yeah." Jaune rubs the back of his head with a cough. Ren looks at Nora and shakes his head with a roll of his eyes. He goes to walk over to the still huddled R.W.B.Y and slowly raising voices, when Nora catches his collar with a mischievous look in her eyes.
"And where'd you think you're going, partner? He gets a little sugar, what about me? Hmm?" Nora places her other hand on her hip. Ren gives a small chuckle and leans in, sweetly pecking the Valkyrie on the lips.
"First food, then some privacy for the two of us." Ren says softly against her ticklish skin. Nora sighs heavenly.
"You sir, know the way into my heart." She gives him one last chaste kiss, before turning to Pyrrha and Jaune. "See? Self-control. Learn some."
"I'm sorry, but he was nearly eaten by a Cerberus earlier!" Pyrrha shrugs, finding her shoes suddenly very interesting.
"Oh please, Ruby. The only reason you don't want to eat there anymore is because they stopped selling baked goods."
"I'm not rewarding their disrespect with my time, Weiss! I ain't about that life." Ruby frowns at her. Weiss groans, pinching her brow. "Yang! Think of somewhere!"
"Quick fire! Off the top of your head! Go!"
"Nah, I don't feel like sea food." Ruby frowns. Yang scoffs.
"Gosh Yang, stop living in the past!"
"That's it we're going to Caesars." Weiss says, standing out of the huddle as Yang tackles Ruby. JNPR walk over.
"Hey, made a decision?"
"Sounds good to me." Pyrrha smiles softly as Yang and Ruby choke each other in the foreground. "I must admit I am famished."
"I think we can all relate." Weiss whimpers, holding her growling stomach. The cloud of fists and bickering roll across the ground between them all. Nora hops onto Ren's back, looping her arms around his neck, while Jaune happily feeds his hand into Pyrrha's. They look adoringly at each other, before Pyrrha sighs and snaps her eyes to the fighting sisters.
"Umm, you two?"
"Huh?" The bickering sisters pause. The six awaiting pairs of eyes all bore into them. Yang blink back to Ruby, both unfreezing and standing up, patting one another off.
"Let's go eat." Blake sighs, dragging Yang off by her collar guard, boots scraping the concrete.
"Hey umm... quick question Weiss." Jaune speaks up. Weiss turns to look at him with a huff.
"What star rating has Caesars got?"
"Oh, it's fancy. At least four. Why?" Weiss crosses her arms.
"Because... well... we all... " He lifts his arm and sniffs his armpit, his face going green. "Stink."
Weiss pales, looking down at her navy-blue combat skirt, at all the stains and scuffs. She groans and sniffs her own armpit, almost throwing up in her mouth. "Bleurgh! That's it! Team RWBY, Halt!"
"So close." Ruby groans, lowering her head. Blake stops, looking at Ruby with a raised brow. "She's realised."
"That she stinks. That we all do. Now we have to shower and change before we can eat." Ruby whines.
"We are not going to an establishment like that dressed and smelling like this! We are not animals!" Weiss crosses her arms, before pointing back at Beacon. "Hit the showers and pick out your best attire. We're going to do this properly!"
"Okay Jaune! Shower's all yours!" Nora yells through the bathroom door. Said leader is sat on his bed, Pyrrha straddling his lap with both hands on his shoulders, their lips locked in the quiet of their room. Jaune peels his lips from hers.
"Thanks Nora! Man, I can't wait to brush my teeth." He chuckles. "Sorry my breath stinks."
"You and me both." Pyrrha hums, stroking the back of his head with a satisfied sigh. Their bodies hum with tiredness, hunger bordering on starvation. But the hunger for touch is sated as Pyrrha gets as much of Jaune as she can in this small peaceful moment. She kisses his neck and buries her face there.
"Love you." She mumbles. Jaune smiles, burying his face in her dusty, knotted hair.
"Love you too." He smiles, hugging her tightly. He sobers and pulls away, cupping her elbows and sitting her up again. Her eyes search him, confusion adorably knitting her brows. "Listen. A-About that Valentine’s Day. I'm sorry, I should have taken you somewhere nicer, fancier."
"Jaune, it's okay, I was only teasing." Pyrrha says, stroking his head with her nails, sending shivers down his neck. "I'm happy wherever as long as I'm with you."
"Yeah." He chuckles, kissing her nose. "Same to you."
She grins against his ear, whispering hotly. "I've missed you." Pyrrha slowly dismounts his lap, winking at him with a smirk just as the bathroom door flung open. They may have agreed to wait to bring in their Trophies together as a unified effort – but they mainly had been hunting down these trophies on their own or in small teams in areas where they are close. Her hunt for Merlot happened to bring her to the same place where Jaune was searching for that sealed Certificate.
They had not seen each other in quite a while. So, they have some catching up to do.
"Aah! I feel so squeaky clean, huh Ren?"
Currently Ren is brushing his teeth, leaning over the sink. With a mouthful of toothpaste, he nods to her.
"Yesh Nora. Shqueky clean."
"Ah." Nora's content smile falters. "So, who's gonna shower first?" Nora asks. Pyrrha wrings her fingers gingerly while Jaune scratches the back of his head, scanning the carpet.
"Well... Jaune can go first if he likes." Pyrrha sighs. Nora studies the bashful pair before looking at her bed and the folded up Stormur Skeggox. She flits her eyes back to Jaune and Pyrrha then clears her throat.
"We should really check our weapons back into the lockers before we go out for the evening, don'tcha think?"
"Well... yes, probably." Ren re-emerges fully dressed. "Can't it wait till-"
"Nope. Let's do it now, I can't be bothered to wait for these two to get ready. You know how long Pyrrha takes to do her hair." Nora shrugs.
"I do not-"
"Ye-Yes you do." Nora glares at her knowingly, nodding to Jaune and back so Ren couldn't see. Pyrrha catches on and flushes.
"Oh! Y-Yes, my mistake, I do. The length of it, it just takes so long to dry. Sorry." She shrugs with a sheepish laugh. Ren huffs.
"Okay, come on Nora." He picks up Stormflower and Crocea Mors. "You guys want us to drop these off too?"
"That'd be great! Thanks guys." Jaune smiles, standing and rolling his shoulder with a groan.
"Okay. See you in a while. Come along, Nora."
"Coming Ren!" She follows him out, before leaning back in to stare at Pyrrha. "You two owe me!"
"Huh?" Jaune says as the door clicks shut. "Owe her for wha-Mmmph!" He is silenced by Pyrrha's lips engulfing his. She kisses him with all she has, breathing through their noses loudly. They finally part, panting.
"Shower. The both of us. Now." Pyrrha says in the small space, her face flushes red. Jaune nods dumbly, taking her hand and following her into the bathroom.
How things change in four years…
Weiss takes a step up to the front desk at Caesars, clearing her throat into her fist. The man writing into a small book behind the counter looks up and smiles, shutting the notebook. "Hello, we would like a table for eight please."
"Table for eight... " He reopens the notebook and runs his finger down the page. "Taaaaaaable fooooooor aha, eight. I can give you the booth in the back room?"
"Sounds lovely." Weiss nods, waving over the others.
"So anyway, there we are- sc-scene's set, right? - Nora's thrown a toaster in the river, me and Pyrrha are hanging onto this branch for dear life, right? A-And Ren! Ren's just... hahaha... o-okay, okay. Whew. Ren. Ren's across the river, yelling at Nora to stop whatever it is she's doing, cos this Ursa's trying to climb the tree me and Pyr are in!" Jaune fights through the story with only occasional interruptions from laughter.
"... So, Nora stomps back over, picks up Stormur, Yells at Ren... a-and I quote. "Hush ya gums, I'm charging up over here!" The table snicker with barely held back laughter, Nora biting her lip while Yang struggles to keep her bubbling laugh within. "... So, Nora stands in the river, after aaaaall that, yeah? She stands there, looks at her feet and just says "Oh man, I need to plug it in first."
The entire table erupt in laughter, startling all the other quieter customers, eyes curiously searching the restaurant for the noisy Huntsmen. Weiss giggles into her palm, wiping her eye carefully with her fingertip.
"Y-You dunce, you're ruining my make up!"
"Nora!" Yang lifts her head off the table, grasping the neck of her beer bottle. "Y-You're killin’ me!"
"I was under pressure!" Nora defends herself with a grin. "I had Grimm to kill, and I needed a juice up, stat!"
"That was very funny." Pyrrha snickers, finger tracing the rim of her wine glass. "Where did you even get the toaster?"
"The house, at the mill. Where the Ursa was hiding out." Nora thumbs over her shoulder, as if the house was there. Jaune smiles softly at Nora.
"This one." Jaune beams, pointing across the table at Nora, to which she raises a brow and a smile. "Is one of the best team mates I could ever ask for. And a great little sister."
"Pretty sure I'm older than you." Nora grins, lifting her chin and crossing her arms. Jaune shrugs and leans back in his seat, looping his arm over Pyrrha's shoulder.
"Mental age, sure."
"Ah, yeah, that's the one." Nora laughs, picking up her glass, smiling into it. Jaune smiles and winks at her, before turning to Ruby across the table.
"So! That's just one of the many stories from this month's mission." Jaune chuckles. "Ruby? What'd you guys get up to?"
"Yes, we would love to hear that." Pyrrha leans forward, chin resting atop her palms with a grin. Weiss snaps her eyes to Ruby and lifts her finger warningly.
"You are not telling that story!" She narrows her eyes as Ruby's mouth slowly opens. "Ruby, so help me, I know you too well by now!"
"So basically..." Ruby says, Weiss groaning and dropping her head in her hands. "We found this little village. It was pretty... run down, but pretty, you know?"
"Mmm." Pyrrha nods, lifting her glass to her lips. Ruby looks at Yang and gapes. Yang huffs and carries the story forward.
"So anyway, Weiss walks into the square - you know, middle of the village type thing, yadda, yadda - anyways! Weiss. Fountain. Water in the fountain. Green mossy water." Yang says, looking at JNPR knowingly.
"Uh oh." Nora snorts, snuggling into Ren's side as she gulps her drink. Yang nods.
"So, this squirrel jumps off the roof of this old house and knocks a couple of glasses over, smashing them. Ice queen here jumps - you know "Argh!" type deal - Stumbles back and-"
"Falls into the fountain, yes hah-hah!" Weiss rolls her eyes, groaning as the table laughed.
These are the moments they always wanted to remember…always wanted to last.
Not the horror…that would follow.