Actions

Work Header

To Find Untroubled Waters

Chapter Text

She was stressed, yes she had overreacted a bit but anyone would... Ok, maybe not everyone would but she was on a knife edge here! She had worked so hard to get this far. The slightest problem and off goes eight years of work down the drain. So when there was a loud bang just as she had finally seen off her 'minder' and began to relax, she had practically jumped out her skin.

She had spun around frantically to see a young girl, far too young, sitting in a pile of her belongings. Yes she had brought a lot with her, but there was no way she was leaving anything she cared about in range of him. The girl had been dressed entirely in red and black with a long red cloak on her back. She had also found it kind of reassuring that this girl proved she wasn't the only one who used a combat skirt, however, at this point she had been more upset about what could have happened if this incident had occurred less than a minute earlier.

“What are you doing!” she had yelled, still very much on edge.

The young girl had started and looked up at her from where she sat on the floor, “Uh, sorry!”

"Sorry?! Do you have any idea of the damage you could have caused?" Looking back on that sentence now she could only wince at how... Stuck up? Materialistic? Bitchy? Whatever the appropriate term is, she sounded. She knew the girl could have had no idea what the damage she was referring to really was, but the opportunity to vent had been catharsis to her stress.

The girl had only looked at her uncomprehending, “Uuhhhh” had been the best she could manage. At this point she had noticed the girl was holding a particular case that was probably the worst thing in the entire pile she could have used to shield her face.
“Give me that!" She had shouted, snatching back the case, "This is Dust - mined and purified from several of the Schnee company’s many quarries and then purified in several layers of refineries!" She emphasised the ‘dust’, mostly to emphasise that the girl had essentially been fiddling with live explosives. Of course the girl barely seemed to get it.

"Uuuhhhh..."

Ok, by this stage her venting had no longer really been helping anymore. In fact, looking back, it had likely made her even more stressed, "What are you, brain-dead?" She had shouted at the girl, waving a vial she had retrieved from the case. "Dust! Fire, water, lightning, energy!" Embarrassingly, she had been incensed enough that she hadn’t even noticed the dust leaking from the vial. Having been around it frequently she rarely noticed the smell anyway and, to be frank, her senses had been, and still were, inundated with new sensations from the new city, hell, new Kingdom. Admittedly it smelt less industrial than atlas, but the new smells were quite overpowering. It also didn't help that she’d closed her eyes to rant.

This time the girl had tried to give a response, as she was beginning to get annoyed, but the dust bring thrown around her face had kind of made speaking difficult. "I... I know..." was all she could get out before her speech regressed into coughing.

"Are you even listening to me? Is any of this sinking in? What do you have to say for yourself?!" She had been aware, even in the moment, that she had gone completely off topic and likely (ok definitely) was overreacting but she kind of didn't care.

Then, well... The girl blew up, and literally, not figuratively. She had immediately realised that this was a much bigger problem, in the grand scheme of things some knocked over bags probably wouldn't have brought the patriarchal hammer down, but blowing up the courtyard on the first day? Far more likely.... And the little amount of stress she had managed to blow off came back worse.

“Unbelievable! This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about!" Ok, it both had been and hadn't, the whole damage she could have caused thing, yes this is exactly the damage she could have caused falling on the dust case in the first place, but not in the way the girl likely interpreted it.

"I'm really, really sorry!" Ok, she really should have forgiven the girl, but to be frank she had been incredibly shaken and the forlorn look the girl had been giving her only gave her something else to focus on.

“Ugh, you complete dolt! What are you even doing here? Aren't you a little young to be attending Beacon?" Ok, even to herself she had to admit that had been a low blow, hell, the girl was barely shorter than she was (and she was in heels!).
“Well, I-I..." the girl had continued to stutter at her but she was feeling the need to double down to cover her own mistake.

“This isn't your ordinary combat school. It's not just sparring and practice, you know! We're here to fight monsters, so... watch where you're going!"

Then the girl had snapped, "Hey, I said I was sorry, princess!" That had quickly shocked her out of her rant, shit, she had just making more of a scene. At least it was a sort of scene where she could easily appear to be in the right? She had to hope that that would placate him when news filtered back. When, not if.

Then another voice had interjected from behind her, “It's heiress, actually." Looking over at the newcomer she had seen an admittedly good looking black haired Faunus with the most obvious human disguise she had ever seen, and she had seen quite a few. "Weiss Schnee, heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, one of the largest producers of energy propellant in the world." If the nametag on the new girl’s satchel was accurate it would have been more accurate for Weiss to have called her Princess, (she had to think now, was that girl really trying to be incognito? If she was she had been doing a terrible job).

Now she had come somewhat back to level-headedness she had been able to tell where this conversation was going to go, she had been in it before and so had cut it off at the pass. Really these people should realise that they should pick their verbal battles with the care they pick their physical ones, she had heard it all before and she'll hear it multiple times going forward, it's not like she could change anything! If they wanted to get in a debate they should take it up with her father who had actually done something to gain their grudge.

“Yes, Princess, I've heard the whole spiel before, the Schnee Dust Company is allegedly operating on the extreme grey side of the law, and while frequently toted as paying certain groups less than others, all mining staff, as stated in official documentation, are paid the same. Unfortunately the documents do not give the demographics of the miners' races and so for an official and informed statement you will have to take it up with my father.” she had given the Faunus a meaningful look as she walked off toward beacon, the school porters carting her bags along behind her.

Now she was fretting, in one fell swoop she may have ruined many years of work, alienated two girls and possibly started several unflattering rumours about herself. Not the first day she was hoping for. Luckily, she seemed to be catching a break, a certain very recognisable voice was babbling away very close by.

“-tripped over some crabby girl's luggage, and then she yelled at me, and then I sneezed, and then I exploded, and then she yelled at me again, and I felt really, really bad, and I just wanted her to stop yelling at me!”

Unfortunately Weiss was kind of distracted by 'crabby girl’ and didn't immediately process the rest of the spiel. Then before she could catch herself she found herself reacting, even as she berated herself for doing so.

“You!” she shouted. Internally wincing as she probably began yet more rumours and drove the chances of a peaceful school year further into the ground. “Ummm... At least neither of us went over the cliff?” her attempt at smoothing over the earlier issue sounded kind of hollow in her ears... And she immediately noticed the young girl had jumped into another's arms at her earlier exclamation.

The young girl was looking at the ground not meeting Weiss’ eyes, instead the person she’d been talking to, and now was in the arms of, decided to interject... This had the problem of drawing Weiss’ attention to her and... Well... Let's just say she was immediately pretty jealous, she'd only ever seen one person with a body like that, scratch that, two people. Though as one was her sister and the other was around 40 (maybe?) and her teacher anyway, thinking of them that way was just weird. Seriously, what was with the girls here? She’d only 'met' three of them so far and all of them had made her feel inadequate in her looks in some way.... She was going off on a tangent again. Anyway, shaking her head a little she refocused on the conversation.

“Oh my god, you really exploded. Again.”

“Wait, again?” Weiss wasn’t sure if she was shocked or not.

“It was an accident!” the young one shouted at the one who was holding her. She then jumped down from the girl’s arms and stared into Weiss face with those big adorable silver eyes “It was an accident!”

Then Weiss decided to take a little risk, was it a risk? She wasn't sure. Probably. Hell, almost everything she'd done today had been a risk, everything that had led up to this had been a risk and she couldn't possibly do more damage to her situation than a crater in the front courtyard. Screw it, she didn’t want to be stepping on eggshells everywhere for the next four years, she needed to be building bridges, not blowing them up. Screw the annoyance back home. Fostering good relations in her current situation shouldn't be seen as a bad thing, even if the people here we definitely quite different bedfellows than those he would have approved of.

“I can understand that. Um, sorry for my earlier conduct, the last few hours have been rather stressful and I needed to vent. Unfortunately, you were the first target for that that appeared. No hard feelings?”
She extended a hand to the small girl in red.

“Hello, I'm Weiss, we got off on the wrong foot, but I hope we can put that behind us in the future.”

The girl looked at the hand with what could have been suspicion, Weiss wasn’t sure, the girls face flitted through so many emotions it was kind of hard to tell. Eventually her face settled in what Weiss interpreted as determination, guessing by the slightly furrowed brow, set lips and intense stare at the hand. She then grabbed Weiss’ hand and have it a few extremely vigorous shakes, she smiled at Weiss.

“Hello Weiss, I’m Ruby! Um... Wanna hang out? I um... Don't really know what that means for you, I mean, you don't really seem the kind of person who’d enjoy running around a weapons convention, but you never know. Anyway, invitations open...”

After the initial exuberant introduction she had become shyer and shyer, dropping eye contact and developing quite an impressive blush. Weiss smiled at her, she reminded Weiss of a small puppy, lots of energy but kind of nervous around people she didn't know. The taller blond girl Ruby had been talking to before then decided to interject, and she was not puppy-like, she reminded Weiss more of a... Well she couldn't think of one animal that fit, maybe... Maybe a lion mixed with a bird of paradise? She wasn't sure. Brusque and extremely self confident was Weiss' first impression. Though she realised she had little to go off, she got the impression that the girl had never had a moment of social anxiety in her life.

“And I'm Yang, Ruby's older sister! Oh, it's so good to see her making friends already!”

Yang had thrown her arm around Weiss’ shoulders in time with an exclamation of “Hey!” from Ruby but this action had caused Weiss to freeze. This contact was making her kind of uncomfortable. Surprisingly, at least to her, the boisterous blond noticed this and quickly removed her arm with an apologetic look.

With a smug expression Yang quipped “Well anyway, I'm sure we'll all get on like a courtyard on fire.” Prompting groans from both other girls and an expression of sympathy towards Ruby from Weiss, “Does she do that a lot Ruby?”
“Yes she does. That one was actually... Pretty tame. For her standards.”

Any further conversation was cut short by movement from the stage at the front of the auditorium as Professor Ozpin walked on stage, Weiss had heard many descriptions of the man, from her father, her sister and her sister’s superior, General Ironwood, while her sister and the general had generally shown respect bar a little bit of disapproval, her father had always been openly critical, then again, he was openly critical of most everyone, so that meant little. The man looked far younger than she had expected except for the silver hair.

“I'll... keep this brief. You have travelled here today in search of knowledge, to hone your craft and acquire new skills, and when you have finished, you plan to dedicate your life to the protection of the people. But I look amongst you, and all I see is wasted energy, in need of purpose, direction. You assume knowledge will free you of this, but your time at this school will prove that knowledge can only carry you so far. It is up to you to take the first step.”
Though Weiss was going to stay respectful, she couldn't help but be annoyed by this. If she had anything, that could truly be called hers, it was purpose and direction, she wouldn't be here if not for that, she had taken the first step many years ago, she had been taking those steps for almost a decade.

Ozpin’s assistant, who incidentally was one of the two women Weiss had seen with a body on par with Yang's, then stepped up to the microphone.
“You will gather in the ballroom tonight; tomorrow, your initiation begins. Be ready. You are dismissed.”
Weiss did somewhat question for a moment the decision to room both genders in the same room that night, but was distracted by Yang and Ruby.

“He seemed kinda... Off”
“It's almost like he wasn't even there.”

That evening Weiss was sat in a corner of the ballroom decidedly not trying to sleep. She would not try and sleep while there were others still awake, too much on the line. She could hear the loud voices of the sisters she'd met previously from the other side of the ballroom, though she was getting fond of them right now she really only wanted them to quieten down. Walking over she caught the trail end of their conversation. Though an exclamation of “Cut it out!” from Ruby which devolved into a sisterly fistfight couldn't really be called a conversion. Weiss then noticed who the sisters had been talking to.

“Hello again Princess” said Weiss as the hiding Faunus looked at her annoyed. “Anyway, Ruby, Yang, I understand wanting to meet people, but it's almost half ten, most of us are trying to sleep and the lights are going to turn off in the next few minutes, so could you keep it down a bit please.”

Ruby's eyes widened “Shh guys, she's right, people are trying to sleep.”

Weiss turned to walk back to her corner while saying over her shoulder, “Well, I'll see you tomorrow.” As she did so the lights turned off and the room fell into deep darkness. Weiss could hear the sisters stumbling around as they tried to find their sleeping spots in the darkness, Weiss had no such problem and found her way to her corner with ease. Laying down she spent an hour or so thinking over the day’s events, going over every success and mistake and planning her direction for the future. Ideally she wanted to end up on a team with one of the sisters as she knew them and got on fairly well with them, however she was loathe to split them apart... Well she still wasn’t sure how the formation of teams happened, so she would have to put that aspect of planning on hold for now. Slowly she drifted into sleep.

Chapter Text

Weiss woke up early, stretching her arms above her head she yawned before surveying the ballroom. The majority of sleeping bags were still occupied, but some, notably Yang's, were empty.

She quickly got up and put back on her bolero, briefly cringing at wearing the same clothes two days in a row, but unless she managed to locate a proper bathroom she wouldn't risk changing. She knew practically nothing about the campus but she wanted to, and so she began investigating. She quickly found the canteen (not yet open) and, after an hour or so, some training rooms. Regretfully she couldn't do much, breakfast would start in about half an hour, so she only spent 15 minutes or so on pull ups and sit ups.

Breakfast was as basic as she had expected but there was quite a lot of it. Some of the food items were odd, seriously, since when have swordfish and raw leeks been breakfast items? But none of them had been prepared in any meaningful way. Luckily she found some kippers and managed to sneak a bit of swordfish before the canteen became crowded enough that someone would have seen the odd decision.

Weiss finished while the canteen was still mostly empty and proceeded to the locker room where they had stored their weapons the night before. She quickly retrieved Eisozean from her locker and attached it in its rightful place at her waist before realising she now didn't have much to do, she took out her scroll and sat on a bench in the corner of the room. They had been given practically no direction the previous night, so there was nothing for it but to wait for instructions.

Eventually others did filter in, Weiss recognised a few from the ballroom, but none of them were people she knew. She contemplated introducing herself to some of them but she was put off by one particularly odious individual who had tried to flirt with her. That is, until someone she recognised came in. Well... By recognised she meant 'had seen on TV and used to have a bit of a crush on’.

“Um hello?” she mentally kicked herself, that was not a good way to start a conversation, “I'm Weiss”

The tall redhead turned on her heel to face Weiss, “Hello! I'm Pyrrha.”

“I just wanted to say I really enjoyed watching your matches in the Mistral tournament, especially the semi final from last year, I just... Sorry, you probably get far too many people acting like that... I'm just glad I got to meet you... Would you mind a sparring match sometime?” again Weiss mentally kicked herself, why was she fangirling now?

Over the course of this spiel Pyrrha's face had gone from happy to depressed to confused to happy, Weiss however had missed most of this.

“Thank you Weiss, I’d be happy to spar with you later... Though I expect we'll end up doing that anyway in class at some point and thank you for realising I get that kind of thing a lot, not many people do. Apart from training a bit too much I'm not that different from anyone else.”

“So Pyrrha, do you have any idea who's team you want to be on?”

“Hmm... I'm not quite sure. I was planning on letting the chips fall where they may.”

“Well, should it happen, I would be very happy to be on a team with you.”

“That would be great Weiss.”

At that point a blond boy inserted himself between them, “Hey, um, do you have any idea where locker 636 is? I've been looking for the past few minutes and... Well, it's a bit embarrassing but this place is like a maze to me. Oh, I'm Jaune Arc, short, sweet, ro- actually better stop that now, didn't turn out well last time. Anyway, I'm Jaune, pleased to meet you both.”

He held out his hand to Weiss, who shook it awkwardly and then to Pyrrha, who shook it with a slight blush.

“Nice to meet you Jaune, I think the 630s are two aisles that way.” pointing deeper into the locker room.

“Thank you. Um, I couldn't help but overhear you talking about teams, do you have any idea how those are formed?”

“I don't at least. Pyrrha?”

“I'm sorry, not much, all I know it's the teams are comprised of four students each.”

“Oh, well, thank you both, some information is better than none I guess, anyway, if we end up on the same team I look forward to working with you.”

He waved at them as he walked off.

Weiss was about to restart her conversation with Pyrrha, but was interrupted by an announcement.
“Would all first-year students please report to Beacon Cliff for initiation? Again, all first-year students report to Beacon Cliff immediately.”

Weiss wasn’t sure whether her meeting with Pyrrha could be described as going well or not. I mean, she seemed to be receptive to friendship? Weiss had completely and utterly bungled the initial introduction and the interruption by the boy, who was far better mannered than she had expected based on his attire, wasn’t really entirely wanted, but elsewise it had gone fairly well.

 

About ten minutes later Weiss was standing at beacon cliff on a rather suspicious metal platform with many other teens looking at their new headmaster.

“For years, you have trained to become warriors, and today, your abilities will be evaluated in the Emerald Forest.”

Well at least this time Ozpin had acknowledged the massive amount of work Weiss, and others she supposed, had undertaken to get here. Still underplaying it in Weiss' opinion, but she had no idea how hard everyone else had worked.

Ozpin's assistant from yesterday, Professor Goodwitch if Weiss remembered correctly, stepped forward.

“Now, I'm sure many of you have heard rumours about the assignment of "teams." Well, allow us to put an end to your confusion. Each of you will be given teammates... today.”

Weiss expected that, why else have an initiation when everyone involved had already been accepted?

Ozpin again addressed them.

“These teammates will be with you for the rest of your time here at Beacon. So it is in your best interest to be paired with someone with whom you can work well. That being said, the first person you make eye contact with after landing will be your partner for the next four years.”

... That Weiss was not expecting. What lunacy caused him to think that was a good idea? What if a Faunus ended up on a team with a Faunus hater? Or if a team ended up with a one to three gender ratio? She had to admit this was lowering her opinion of the man.

“After you've partnered up, make your way to the northern end of the forest. You will meet opposition along the way. Do not hesitate to destroy everything in your path... or you will die. You will be monitored and graded through the duration of your initiation, but our instructors will not intervene. You will find an abandoned temple at the end of the path containing several relics. Each pair must choose one and return to the top of the cliff. We will regard that item, as well as your standing, and grade you appropriately. Are there any questions?”

Weiss could hear the boy from earlier giving some rather valid questions but was launched by that suspicious platform before she could process them or hear the answer.

Weiss easily recovered from the dramatic spinning the platform had caused and used a few well placed glyphs to lope down to the forest floor. Simple enough task, move North. As the beacon cliff ran mostly North-South, facing east, she knew which way to go and set off at a leisurely pace.

Of course the peace didn't last for all that long as she was met with a little red blur. Once the blur had stopped and recognised the person she had almost run into her face lit up.

“Weiss!”

“Hello Ruby, I suppose this means we’re partners then?”

“Yup. Good its someone I know...” the last part was whispered but Weiss still heard it, she chose to ignore it though as she was sharing similar sentiments.

The two began to walk North, Weiss trying not to have too happy of an expression at seeing Ruby dart around the forest alternating between expressions of determination and happiness, both of which were far more adorable than they had any right to be.

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Jaune was on a tree. Not in a tree, noooo, he has the very esteemed position of being Pinned to a tree. This entire 'beacon’ thing wasn’t going entirely to plan. He was kind of thankful for being Pinned to the tree, because it replaced being splattered on the ground, but it was still rather frustrating.

Jaune was snapped out of his musing by movement from below his tree. There was one of the girls from the locker room looking around, if he was correct she was the one to whom the spear currently pinning him to the tree belonged.

“Hey, um, Pyrrha? Was it? Up here! Um... Can you get me down please?”

The redhead looked up and smiled.

“Hello again Jaune, I suppose I'm on your team.”

Chapter Text

Weiss

“Sooooo... Weiss? Did we cause this mess, or was this entirely beyond our control and totally not our fault?”

Pulling back about ten minutes, Weiss and Ruby were manoeuvring through the forest. They had encountered a few beowolves, but Weiss hadn't even needed to draw Eisozean. If there was one thing that could be said about Ruby, she was quick. If there was another thing it would be that, despite how erratic her movement was, she was remarkably efficient. Weiss wasn’t sure whether she should be impressed by Ruby's actions or annoyed by them, as not doing anything was getting slightly frustrating. She was, however, thankful that the region of forest they were traveling through was fairly devoid of underbrush, she may be used to heels, but even she realised that wearing them in a forest was not exactly sensible.

Maybe now she’d actually be able to buy a pair of sensible boots, now that there wasn’t someone else arranging her wardrobe.... Actually, that train of thought, while she would love to follow it some more, was getting dangerous. As long as he could still pull her out of Beacon she couldn't change too drastically... But maybe some boots would be ok? She'd have to find posh ones and put some considerable spin on it... She really had to find a loophole in the guardianship laws soon. She just hoped Valean laws were less airtight than Atlesian ones.

Weiss was broken out of her musing by a much louder growl than any she had so far heard in this forest. Either whatever caused it was much larger or much closer... Or bo- Weiss snapped into action as she rolled out of the way of a large paw that slammed down from behind her. Out from the bushes came a very large alpha beowolf. And his posse. His very large, very hungry, posse.

“How the hell did we miss that?”

She quickly pulled out Eisozean and entered her fencing stance. Big boy, hereby christened Robert, decided to just stay back and send his mates in. Robert showed signs of old age, his mask was cracked and worn, the red markings faded. There were obvious scars on its left arm and torso which indicated extensive experience.

Eisozean was not complex, at least in appearance, right now it was merely a rapier with a dust revolver sporting a few flanges above the hilt. Simple but effective, as the two attacking beowolves found, one quickly finding his limbs separated from his body and the other finding the rapier lodged into its throat. The mutilated beowolf tried his best to use his chin to inch towards Weiss, failing miserably.

At this point Ruby returned, finishing off the disarmed (and dis-legged) beowolf with her frankly ridiculous gardening tool. As much as she found it ridiculous, Weiss had to admit, Ruby throwing around a weapon taller than her was yet another adorable thing to add to Weiss' list of adorable Ruby things.... Which was getting far longer than it had any reason to be.

The two of them set to disposing of the Grimm in earnest, there were a total of 15 beowolves plus Robert and it almost became a game to see who took out the most. Ruby had the advantage in speed... And power... And weapon damage.... Ok she had quite a few advantages, but Weiss was accurate, always hitting vitals, and had a much more versatile semblance if she said so herself... This wasn’t the sort of mental monologue the majority of people have while body parts fall around them was it?

Once again breaking out of introspection, Weiss kicked off a glyph twisting through the air onto the shoulders of an approaching Grimm, the rapier landing buried down through the eye socket. As the body began to keel over she extracted her blade and used the forward momentum of the falling body to slide into a roll between the legs and flailing arms of another, before burying the sword into the gut of a third. Seeing the one she rolled under lose his head to Ruby's scythe she whirled around searching for her next opponent.

By now the pack was down to two normal beowolves, Robert began to step forward. Weiss diverted attention to the alpha, leading ruby to take care of the remaining two.

Weiss tried engaging Robert. It didn't go all that well. Robert was unreasonably good at deflecting Eisozean with the bony plates on his forearm, being a rapier, it was not good at dealing with armour. She only managed to create small, effectively superficial wounds. This was getting slightly aggravating.

After Weiss suffered one particularly bad swipe that knocked her to the ground, she thought; enough is enough. She transformed Eisozean.

The blade shortened and connected to the flanges on the revolver as the hilt lengthened massively. A small wire extended from the top of the new haft and connected to a metal cuff on her wrist. It was now a spear, a spear with a large almost conical head, but a spear none the less. Jumping back a few metres she held it above her shoulder. At a flare of aura the fire and gravity dust within the revolver system ignited, fire swirling down patterns engraved on the head and the black-purple glow of gravity manipulation bursting out the back of the revolver, turning it into a red and purple Nova on the end of a stick. Winding her arm back she threw the spear at the charging beowolf.

The force emanating from the back of the revolver hurled the whole structure forward at tremendous speeds, the flaming head bored directly through the beowolf from skull to tail before eventually impacting and embedding itself halfway through a tree. Weiss turned to see how Ruby was doing with the other two wolves only to find the girl looking at her in complete wonder, her eyes... Weiss had never seen eyes that wide.

“Awesome.....”

“Um... Ruby?”

“Weiss...”

“Yes Ruby?”

“Please let me look at that!”

Her tone had shifted on a dime from awestruck back to hyperactive

“...Ok, but not now, we are still in the middle of a Grimm filled forest.”

A cracking noise from the right drew Weiss’ attention back to her weapon, only to find the tree it was embedded in was now a roaring inferno. Quickly activating a mechanism in her cuff the wire attached to Eisozean pulled it back to her hand where she reverted it back to a rapier and hung it on her waist. Both of them ran off, away from the fire.

Once they reached the top of a nearby hill they turned to look back at the burning forest below. The fire had spread dramatically, the pillar of smoke it created was massive.

...

Ruby turned to Weiss.

“Sooooo... Weiss? Did we cause this mess, or we this entirely beyond our control and totally not our fault?”

“Ruby. This was not our fault. Remember that. No matter what anyone says we did not cause this.”

If course they both realised that it was their fault... But, well, this was kind of bad and both didn't really want to get in trouble, Ruby because she was already at Beacon two years earlier than normal and was still worried about being kicked out and Weiss because, well... She'd already caused far more commotion over the last two days then she was happy with.

Weiss heard a caw from far overhead and a large feather drifted down towards them.

“Well, there's our ticket out of here Ruby.” Said Weiss, pointing up. Above them was a particularly large nevermore which seemed to be paying them no attention whatsoever. It was interested in the smoke pillar, but didn't seem to even realise they were there.

“Um... What do you mean Weiss?”

“This”

Weiss drew Eisozean and grabbed Ruby round the waist, her brain then almost short circuited as Ruby let out a small “Eep!” which was one of the cutest noises Weiss had ever heard. With both of them blushing, Weiss proceeded to transform her weapon and aim it at the nevermore, this time activating earth dust instead of gravity, this caused large hooks to form on the head, instead of it bursting into flame. She then once again launched it.

The spear buried itself deep into the Nevermore’s breast and the hooks caught. Weiss quickly activated the mechanism in her cuff, pulling her and Ruby up towards the flying Nevermore.

Ruby was remarkably silent while they were pulled up to the Nevermore, Weiss was actually kind of worried, so once she could grab direct hold of her spear's haft she looked down to check on the girl she had wrapped her arm around. She almost dropped Ruby right there, she was staring up at Weiss with a look of total adoration on her face.

“So cool...” Ruby whispered, Weiss couldn't hear this over the Nevermore's wingbeats, but she could read Ruby's lips easily.... And at that thought she pointedly looked away from Ruby's lips.

Luckily the Nevermore appeared to be flying in the direction they wanted and, though it could obviously feel the giant spike in its underside, it realised it could do little about the two people hanging from its underside, as neither it’s talons or beak could reach them.

In a few minutes they were above a circular ruin which Weiss could only guess was the temple they were meant to be reaching. Weiss’ arms were getting tired from holding herself and Ruby, aura may make it easier, but holding up two people’s weight on one arm was still hard.

“Ruby? We are going to drop now.”

“Wait, what?”

Weiss transformed her weapon, which cracked off the earth dust and made it come loose from the Nevermore. They fell.

 

Jaune

In Jaune's opinion, the whole Beacon thing was looking up, he was partnered with a nice and frankly beautiful girl who actually seemed happy to be partnered with him, which was unexpected. He was so busy thinking about what he should do (keep going with the Beacon thing? Cut his losses and run? Pray for forgiveness on his knees?) That he wasn't entirely looking where he was going. He really should have seen the tree branch coming. But he didn't. And it hit him in the face. What was it with trees today? Did he offend some eldrich tree god or something?

He wiped away the blood from the scratch on his face. “Another one for the collection I suppose.” He glanced up to see Pyrrha looking at him puzzled.

“Um Jaune? Why didn't you activate your aura?”

Well shit. Jaune knew what aura was of course. He wasn't an idiot, he did research before coming to a Huntsman academy. He knew how to utilise it, obviously knowing the theory didn't mean he be able to actually do anything, especially because he'd been unable to find anyone to activate it for him.

“Um... Well... No one ever actually activated it, so... I.. Don't... Actually.. Have it?”

Pyrrha looked at him. Here it is, here’s where she doesn't want to partner with him.

“Jaune, close your eyes and concentrate.”

.. What... This was unexpected. What should he do? Just... Run with it? Best option he could see.

“For it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all, infinite in distance and unbound by death. I release your soul, and by my shoulder protect thee.”

Was that what Jaune thought it was? Judging by the glow surrounding him and the fact that, unless he was mistaken, Pyrrha had been speaking in his head, it was.
Noticing Pyrrha bent slightly over and panting Jaune became slightly worried.

“Pyrrha! Are you ok?”

“Yes, that just, took quite a bit out of me.”

“Thank you! I've been trying to find someone to do that for over a year.”

Jaune didn't notice the odd look Pyrrha have him at that.

The pair just kept walking for several minutes, they were eventually interrupted by a lone beowolf.

“Pyrrha, can you let me handle this one please?”

Jaune could barely believe he'd just said that. What the hell was he thinking? He tried to motivate himself a little as he stepped forward, 'Come on Jaune! It's not that hard, you've done this before!’ His mind reminded him that he had done it before only once. And he had an unrealistic advantage then, most beowolves, including the one that was currently pacing around him, still had arms. At least he had aura now though.

Crocea Mors may have been simple, but at least it was sturdy, which came in rather useful as the Grimm lunged at him. Jaune lodged his shield under the wolf’s chest and levered it over his body from where it smashed into the ground on its back. Ok, aura makes you stronger, how could he have forgotten that, this was going better than he thought. The Grimm was more wary now than last time and didn't recklessly charge, well, it did, but it slammed on the brakes before reaching him and swung in from Jaune's left. Jaune's shield intersected the swing and stabbed forward, he would have hit it dead centre in its chest, but the impact against his shield knocked him to the side so he only scratched it's side. Recovering as quickly as he could he steadied himself and prepared for the swing he could see coming from his right, he raised his sword into the swing's path and ducked. The sword was perfectly placed to separate the swinging limb from the beast, and his duck allowed the severed limb to fly over his head, instead of smacking him in the face.

He took advantage of its staggered form and lunged forward, jamming the edge of his field into its throat and forcing it to the ground, choking it. Before it could recover he rammed his blade under its ribcage.

As the corpse slowly disintegrated he stood. That was pure luck. It was a very young and inexperienced Grimm. However, despite this he was utterly elated. He then decided that yes, he would continue with this Beacon thing, he had a chance!

At least, he was sure of that for a while.

After a few minutes they came across a cave surrounded by odd markings.

“Pyrrha? Do you think this is it?”

Pyrrha put a hand to her chin and thought a moment.

“Possibly, he said a temple, he never specified what era but it would strike me as odd if they used one old enough to be in a cave. Either way, it may be better to check it.”

Here was a place for Jaune to shine, he knew all those camping trips would count for something! He quickly found a dry branch under the trees and wrapped the end of it in a scrap of cloth from his Pouch Of Things. Sprinkling on some diluted burn dust he had a rudimentary torch which was easy to light with the lighter he stole from home, Marigold going a few days without cigarettes could only be a good thing. Jaune probably shouldn't be so proud of just making a torch, but as the two of them walked into the cave he couldn't help feeling smug.

A feeling which lasted for all of thirty seconds until they both ended up sprinting out of the cave at top speed. Of course it had a Deathstalker in. Of course it did.

After they burst out of the cave Jaune threw the torch into nearby bushes, hoping the blaze would distract or deter the Grimm. Of course they had no such luck.

When he decided to come to beacon he didn't expect to spend his first day pelting head first through an unknown forest with a giant death monster on his tail. Maybe this Beacon thing wasn't everything it was cracked up to be, but hey, at least he had a nice partner to share this misfortune with.

 

Yang

Yang was kind of worried, sure, she was happy she had a partner she knew to an extent, even better, a partner who could hold her own in a fight, but she was worried about Ruby. What if she'd ended up with a jerk? She wasn't very worried until that morning, she'd woken up early, like normal, and headed to the gym, like normal, thankful that she'd asked her dad where it was before coming to Beacon. Then while doing her daily routine she'd been interrupted by a total creep, he seemed to think he was some sort of big shot, maybe he was, she didn't know. The guy had acted like she didn't have a choice whether she went out with him. Unfortunately for him, she wasn't gonna take that crap, and she decked him in the face. Unfortunately he had aura so it didn't hurt much and she didn't want to do something too extreme till she had tested the waters and found out how far she could push the rules without being expelled.

She fiddled with the gold chess piece she'd picked up a few moments earlier before placing it in one of her pouches. Her black haired partner poked her in the side, at which she realised the girl had been trying to get her attention for a few seconds. When she looked over it was to find the girl looking up and pointing at the sky. Following her line of sight Yang looked up.... To see her sister falling from the sky straight towards them... Was that Weiss as well? Well at least Ruby had found a decent partner... oh shit!

Ruby landed right on top of her.

Chapter Text

Weiss

... Drat. That wasn't meant to happen.

Weiss was quite annoyed at herself, she'd relaxed her grip as she fell and well... When she landed on a glyph to slow herself she kinda... Dropped Ruby?

At least Ruby had had a soft landing? Wait, was that Yang? Crap, now they'd both be pissed. Well, better face the music she supposed.

She quickly hopped down to the ground using a few more glyphs and rushed over to a slightly dazed Ruby, who was still sitting on top of Yang.

“Ruby! Are you ok?” Weiss quickly pulled her off Yang and began checking for injuries, she was hopeful because of Ruby’s aura but she still wanted to make sure.

“Yang, did your sister... And Weiss, just fall from the sky?”

Oh, so the Princess was here as well. Yang, still woozy, made a sort of grunt in affirmation before sitting up and shaking her head a little to clear it.

Weiss’ focus on the quickly recovering Ruby was interrupted by a loud bang from behind her. Spinning on a dime she saw an Ursa staggering out of the forest into the clearing, ordinarily she would have rapidly engaged it, but it didn't seem like that was necessary based on the happy yells and repeated bangs from behind it. These culminated in the Grimm falling forward and a figure which Weiss’ mind only labelled as 'pink’ rolling off its back.

“Aww, it's broken.” Well that one line would seem to describe the new person perfectly as she dashed around the corpse much like Weiss could only imagine ruby would act on too much coffee and sugar.

Another figure, this one green, stumbled out of the trees.

“Nora! Please... Don't ever do that again.”

Unfortunately for him, the pink blur had already sped past Weiss to the ruin. Weiss could only offer sympathy for who she could only assume was Blur's partner.

“Nora!”

Yes. Sympathy.

“Coming Ren.”

Well... Maybe he wouldn't have it too hard... provided she continued to listen to him.

“Did that girl just ride in on an Ursa?”

“Yes she did Princess. Not easy, but not the hardest of things, boarbatusks are the worst, they'll just try and spin when you get on them.” Weiss had tried multiple things over the years, Grimm riding was not one she would willingly repeat soon... The nevermore didn't count, that wasn't riding, that was... Hanging on?

Weiss looked over at Yang and Princess and both were looking at her with expressions of surprise. Probably at how she indicated she had ridden Grimm, which, she supposed, wasn't the sort of thing people would expect of her at first glance or from reputation.

Yang began to say something but was immediately interrupted by yet more crashing from the forest and two figures running into the clearing. Weiss recognised them as Pyrrha and Jaune from earlier, Pyrrha seemed fine but Jaune was noticeably tired... And she could immediately tell why as a massive Deathstalker burst its way out from the shadow of the trees.

Weiss could tell that, though Pyrrha would be able to keep running for quite a while, for Jaune that pace was unsustainable. The two split up as they entered the clearing, the scorpion followed the Spartan allowing Jaune to run to the group and hunch over panting.

“Impressive Jaune, outpacing a Deathstalker of that size.”

Weiss was genuinely impressed. Now all of the eight, well, excluding Pyrrha who was still leading the scorpion around, were grouped together. The sisters had recovered and were off having a hug.

“What do we do now?”

Yang actually postulated a good question there, should they deal with the Deathstalker or just-

Weiss was then surprised at this point by a voice she had only really heard making cute exclamations and brief statements, the voice certainly had not been sensibly talking strategy before.

“We have two choices, either we deal with the Deathstalker, and likely the Nevermore me and Weiss annoyed, now, or we try and make it back to the top of beacon cliff without being attacked. Votes?”

Ok, not the most complex of strategic decisions, but how did she make even that adorable... It's the face, that's what it was. The expression of determination and serious speech with a face that would seem more at home.... Actually she wouldn’t go into that, as much as Ruby couldn't hear her thoughts, she wouldn't belittle her partner by thinking of her as a child, even though she was the youngest there.... Wait, oh, the others had been having a discussion.

They seemed to be voting on the two options, so far there were two votes to run, Jaune and the green boy, and two to fight, Yang and pink blur.

Princess then placed her vote to run as well so Weiss' interjected.

“I’d say we head to the cliffs, we may have to fight them anyway but might as well try escaping, and I don't want to leave Pyrrha being chased by a Deathstalker for too much longer.”

The seven of then looked over to Pyrrha.

“Ah. That's a point, yes.” Said Yang.

Weiss shot over to Pyrrha using her glyphs, drawing Eisozean as she went. Just as she reached the Spartan the Deathstalker struck, quickly utilising her rapier’s dust stores she froze it's singer in place as it descended.

While Weiss ran off Ruby dashed into the temple and grabbed a chess piece at random, quickly followed by Jaune.

Ruby, now back with the group, rallied them, and ran to the crest of the ridge between the temple and the cliff.
Weiss looked over to Ruby to run back to the group and paused temporarily. Looking at Ruby stood there on the ridge, her cloak billowing in the wind, she realised something that prior events had hinted at. She really should have noticed given Ruby's skill in the beowolf incident, in her defence she was distracted by Robert, Weiss this entire time had still been thinking of Ruby as just a younger girl, small, cute and childish. While, yes, those did apply to her completely, she was far from helpless, she, just like everyone here, was a Huntress in training. She was skilled, intelligent and, admittedly, one of the most adorable things Weiss had ever seen and she couldn't keep trying to ignore that, she had to accept that maybe (ok definitely) she was interested in the girl. Not crushing on her yet, she'd only known her for two half days and had only shared a relatively small number of conversations with her so she wouldn't jump straight into crush. Yet. Though she had to admit she was tempted.

.... She really should have run over while introspecting instead of being struck dumb and not moving. She was lucky the scorpion hadn’t broken out of the ice in the thirty or so seconds she'd been stood there staring gormlessly at Ruby. Quickly rectifying that she glided over to Ruby on her glyphs.

The group began running in the direction of the cliff and soon found themselves running through yet more ruins.

“How did Ozpin expect us to realise that that thing back there was the temple not this?”

Yang raised a good point, but they were a bit too busy running to discuss it. Especially as Weiss’ nevermore was now wheeling back towards them.

Said nevermore let out a hail of gale feathers from their right. Ruby, Princess and Green dodged around any coming their way, Jaune and Pyrrha both blocked one on their shield, Pyrrha keeping her feet while Jaune was knocked over and quickly scrambled back up. Weiss intercepted the two that would have hit her with a glyph and quickly did the same with one that was heading for Yang, she got a smile and a wink in response which made her blush a little. Was that ok? She was interested in Ruby wasn’t she? Nevermind, Yang was good looking, and it wasn't like she was going out with Ruby, she couldn't be faulted for appreciating Yang could she? Another gale feather almost hit her. Oh yeah, bigger problems right now, let's keep the moral quandaries for later.

Speaking of gale feathers, Weiss had no idea how Blur had yet to be hit, she wasn't the most maneuverable, nor did she have a shield.

The group as a whole hid behind ruined pillars to get out of the line of fire and the nevermore landed on a tower a bit further on, between them and the cliff.

“Well, that's great!”

Weiss had to agree with Yang on that one, it was aggravating.

The Deathstalker had evidently escaped from her ice, as it burst into view. If it kept showing up she'd have to name it as well... how about Philip?

“Run!”

Jaune, another person Weiss found herself agreeing with.

The group began to run further into the ruin towards the cliff, as they were now in the open the nevermore, screw it, if Weiss had named the Deathstalker she would name the nevermore... Winston. That works. Anyway, Winston began once again firing his feathers at them.

Ruby immediately began firing her scythe at the bird, Pyrrha and Princess quickly joining in, though Weiss questioned how effective Princess’ pistol shots were. The hail of fire forced the bird into retreat.

The group continued sprinting along the ruined avenue until they reached a pit. This was just unreasonable! Who in their right mind would build something here! Within the pit there was a large crumbling tower with several bridges spiderwebbing out, and of course Winston was sat atop the tower.

With nothing else for it the group sprinted across the bridge towards the tower, they really had to as Philip had caught up, presumably while they were firing at Winston.

Unfortunately Winston noticed them and rained feathers down on the bridge, all eight of them dove in different directions to avoid the projectiles, leaving Weiss, Ruby, Green and Princess on the tower side and Yang, Blur, Pyrrha and Jaune on Philip’s side. The four further from their destination began to attempt to manoeuvre through the maze of feathers on the bridge. Winston screeched down at them from his perch but was met with a grenade to the back of the throat, Weiss turned to see Blur carrying a grenade launcher with a victorious expression.

Winston, momentarily stunned, keeled forward off the tower and fell towards the bridge, pseudo-recovering mid fall he turned the drop into a glide and impacted the bridge between the two groups.

Blur’s expression immediately became less victorious as the bridge shattered, the collapse caused various segments of the bridge to be thrown in all directions. Weiss, Ruby Pyrrha and Jaune were mostly unaffected, being the furthest from the crash as the two shield users had been distracting Philip while Weiss and Ruby had been at the front of the group. Blur, Green, Princess and Yang however joined the bridge pieces in being thrown every which way.

Green had been thrown directly onto Winston and dug the blades of his weapons into its back, Yang and Nora both had rather explosive ways of avoiding falling into the pit. Nora merely transformed her grenade launcher into a hammer and fired a grenade from it, cartwheeling herself back up onto the Philip side of the crevasse. Yang meanwhile had been thrown up into the air as the bridge broke and used what Weiss could only imagine were explosives strapped to her wrists to propel herself all the way to the tower, where she then impacted the side and shot herself up to the top. Princess did some complicated manoeuvring using what looked like a hook on a string, Weiss was too far away to tell for sure, and also ended up on the back of Winston.

Winston quickly recovered and regained the sky. Weiss and Ruby began to climb the tower up to where Yang was. Weiss noticed, from the corner of her eye, Green falling from the sky onto Philip’s side of the bridge. She had no idea what had happened up there but from the considerable squawking noise Winston was making it had been quite painful for the Nevermore.

The red and white pair had just reached the top of the tower, where Yang was, when Princess dropped from above.

“It's tougher than it looks.”

“Then let's hit it with everything we got!”

Now that was a plan Weiss could get on board with.
The other girls all started unloading their weapon's clips into Winston. Meanwhile Weiss transformed Eisozean, activating the ice dust this time, Weiss personal favourite. The ice covered the spearhead, doubling the length off the spike and making the head a spiral. Once again she threw it, the spiral on the head caused it to spin, easing its path through the air and increasing its speed.

Winston hadn't been able to see Eisozean where it had been stuck with it before, but it could guess what the spike barreling towards it was, it tried to evade the incoming projectile but failed. Eisozean hit the bird at the joint of its right wing. The ice covered head buried in deep and immediately sprouted many spikes which pierced the inside of the nevermore deeply. Weiss untransformed Eisozean again and pulled it back to hand leaving the ice in Winston's wing.

Winston, now with a wing crippled smashed through the top of the tower and into the cliff beyond.

Recovering on a ledge Winston examined his wing but it was in a bad way. Meanwhile the four girls were dealing with the falling tower, they all had different methods, Yang as before was using her wrist mounted explosives, Ruby was using the recoil from shooting her scythe to gain elevation, Weiss thought this was incredibly interesting, it was a tactic she would never have thought of, of course she was just using her glyphs. Princess was using a combination of swinging using her hook on a string and what Weiss assumed was her semblance, she was flipping around creating afterimages.

Gaining solid ground again the four surveyed Winston.

“What do we do now?”

Ruby was ready for Yang's question.

“I have a plan.”

After a quickly whispered conversation in a huddle they jumped into action.

Blake and Yang both jumped up to two pillars, between which Winston was visible, Yang hooked one end of Princess’ weapon into a gap between the pillar’s stones then jumped down, Princess stayed on the pillar holding the other end of her string which Weiss could now see was a dust infused ribbon. Ruby jumped into this ribbon, pressing her scythe to it, Yang jumped up and grabbed the ribbon either side of Ruby's scythe and pulled it back.

Weiss then jumped up to Ruby and both grabbed hold of each other, Weiss transforming Eisozean as she did, both blushed at the close proximity but ignored it, unbeknownst to them Yang had noticed but didn't comment.

Weiss this time activated only gravity dust in her weapon.

“Ready”

“Yes”

At the confirmation Yang let go of the ribbon and it shot forward, Ruby added to the momentum by firing her scythe and Weiss flared the gravity dust in her spear. Moving at a very high speed the pair of them struck Winston in the chest hard with Eisozean’s point.
The two of them bored fully through Winston and impacted the wall on the other side, luckily they were braced. The eviscerated Nevermore slowly slid down into the yawning chasm below.

“Well... That was a thing.”

Yes, Yang, Weiss would freely admit, that was 'a thing’.
She then quickly noticed she was still holding Ruby tight to her and quickly leaped away blushing, her face just as red as both Ruby's cloak and Ruby's own face.

 

Jaune

What on remnant was this chaos? Jaune was not ready for any of this. Giant scorpion? Fine, it was slow enough he could run from it, even if he couldn't hurt it. Giant bird? Slightly harder, it was faster than him and had ranged attacks while he didn't, he could understand now why everyone had ranged weapons. Maybe if he survived this he could ask ruby to help him add a gun to Crocea Mors, she said she'd made her scythe so she had the skill.

He was thankful for one thing though, the pink girl, Nora? He thought that was her name, after she split the bridge at least he was on the side with the non-ranged enemy.

He may not have had a large amount of skill, but he still felt absolutely badass simultaneously fending off the scorpion with Pyrrha. He and Pyrrha seemed to work together really well, she was far better than him obviously, but she'd probably had a lot of prior training.
He hadn’t been able to do that much thinking before Nora flew up from the chasm the bird had created and rammed a massive hammer into the scorpion’s face.
The three quickly found a rhythm, Pyrrha and Jaune kept blocking the incoming pincers, Pyrrha occasionally blocking the singer as well, Jaune didn't trust himself enough to succeed in doing that, then when they created an opening Nora would slam it's head with her hammer.

The scorpion's head was beginning to show cracks from the repeated attacks before they were interrupted by Nora’s partner, Ren? Was it? Anyway he fell right down on top of the scorpion and grabbed it's tail as he fell. He then immediately attacked the base of its stinger.

The scorpion screeched and flailed around as the stinger was slowly almost detached, Jaune felt kind of sorry for the boy as he was thrown from the tail... Wait thrown? Jaune jumped into action and leapt up to catch the boy, he was probably the worst of the three available people to try, but that wasn't important to him right now.

The boy hit his chest and Jaune grabbed him with his left arm, his right reaching out and grabbing the edge of the bridge as he sailed over. Thank God for aura.
The boy quickly recovered.

“Thank you.”

“Don't mention it, just please climb up before my arm gives out.”

The boy climbed onto the edge quickly and helped Jaune up.

Jaune noticed that in his absence Pyrrha and Nora we struggling to hold off both pincers, Pyrrha had distracted it momentarily by ramming her spear into its eye, but this did make her weaponless.

Jaune quickly surveyed the fight before jumping forward.

“Pyrrha! Shield, tail!”

Thankfully Pyrrha understood and hurled her round shield at the damaged link between stinger and tail. The singer was quickly separated and fell into the cracked head armour of the thing, it let out a pained screech.

“Nora!”

The girl jumped at Jaune who used the last of his aura-found strength to throw her into the air off his shield, she didn't get that high, but the slight attitude and a few firings of her hammer caused her to hit the singer hard.

With a spike rammed through its brain the scorpion collapsed. As did Jaune.

This Beacon thing... He reserves the right to change his opinion on whether it was a good idea.

Chapter Text

Weiss

Well at least Weiss now knew the name of the ass from the locker room. He seemed far too smug as he stood on the platform before Professor Ozpin.

“Russel Thrush. Cardin Winchester. Dove Bronzewing. Sky Lark. The four of you retrieved the black bishop pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as Team CRDL, led by... Cardin Winchester!”

Well, that would explain his cockiness. The Winchester family had been nobility before the great war caused the disillusion of feudalism. Oddly, for any family outside of Atlas, the Winchesters still acted like they were nobles and expected to be obeyed. They were still riding the coattails of a number of old warriors, despite the fact that the skill of recent individuals had been diminishing.
They could be called wealthy she supposed, by normal standards, but they weren't worthy of any particular respect.

The group descended the stage and were replaced with Jaune, Pyrrha, Green and Blur.

“Jaune Arc. Lie Ren. Pyrrha Nikos. Nora Valkyrie. The four of you retrieved the white rook pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as Team JNPR.”

Ok, Weiss knew Green and Blur’s names already, she'd heard them during the initiation, but now she had to actually use them, she couldn't plead ignorance any longer. Shame, she was getting rather attached to calling Nora Blur.

“Led by... Jaune Arc!”

“Huh? L-Led by...?”

“Congratulations, young man.”

Weiss was kind of proud of the guy, she felt Pyrrha was likely the better choice, but Jaune was a nice guy. She hadn't seen much of him fighting, she was slightly preoccupied with Winston at the time, but she'd caught him blocking a few attacks and saving Ren. That she was particularly impressed with, he threw himself of a cliff to save someone, she could only respect that.
The four of them stepped down off the stage as Weiss climbed up.

“And finally: Blake Belladonna. Ruby Rose. Weiss Schnee. Yang Xiao Long. The four of you retrieved the white knight pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as Team RWBY. Led by... Ruby Rose!”

There it was, Weiss couldn't say she was surprised, but it didn't mean she wasn't distressed. Now Ruby was by no means a bad choice for leader, hell she might even be the best choice, she took charge, strategized and commanded with ease during initiation. Weiss knew little about Yang or Blake really, but she was a mess, a mess that went off on tangents constantly. Despite this she was hoping fervently that she would be made leader, it would be expected of her and she could only break so many expectations before the noose began tightening.

She'd let herself loose in the forest where, for one, they were in combat thus letting loose was expected and, for another, the only observers were a small selection of classmates and two teachers and so it was less likely than normal for her actions to filter back to daddy dearest.

Unfortunately, her last option for maintaining her openness had just gone right out the window, she'd have to tend back to the stiff, closed off nature she used before, at least in public. She hoped that it wouldn't get between her and her new friends? Acquaintances? Whatever was correct. Especially she hoped it wouldn't get between her and Ru- nonono stop, not what she should be thinking now, there were greater things at stake than her nonexistent relationship with a girl she now knew was two years younger. Thinking about it that explained some things and made her skill even more impressive... Wait no, no Weiss, the were more important things to be thinking about right now.

Such as finding a way out from under his thumb as soon as possible.

Weiss was brought out of her thinking by Professor Goodwitch.

“Would all new students look at their academy supplied scrolls, each should possess an application on the home page which acts as your student ID. This application has the room number of your team dormitory on it, please check what it is and follow me to the dormitory building.”

Weiss didn't mind the dorm room itself, oh sure, it was smaller than her bedroom, but that just felt empty and impersonal, she liked the cosier nature of the room. That said, she did have problems with it, most notable of which was that each bathroom was shared by two rooms. There was also that, well, it was a dorm room, it was semi-communal, i.e. no privacy in changing. Weiss had things she didn't exactly want others seeing and this was going to make that infinitely more difficult.
Weiss was surprised at how quickly everything dialed down, it was evening she supposed and they'd spent quite a while fighting, but when everyone pretty much conked out on the beds they claimed without even unpacking it still shocked Weiss.

Yang didn't even really change, she shrugged off her coat, took off her boots and some bracelets (were they the wrist mounted explosives?) And then took off the belt with a scrap of fabric attached which somehow passed for her skirt. She stretched her arms above her head. Weiss’ head went sort of blank at that, this may be harder to endure than she thought. Weiss was quickly relieved when Yang full on faceplanted into her pillow.

While Weiss had been distracted with Yang it appeared Ruby had full on changed into her pajamas behind her back, she was immensely grateful that she had been turned the other direction as she doubted she'd have been able to hide her blush at seeing that. Given Ruby's speed it wasn't all that surprising that she'd be able to change that quickly, or fall asleep as quickly as she did. She was lying on her bed already asleep when Weiss turned, drooling into her pillow.

Princess... She'd have to start calling Princess by her name wouldn't she? Blake was under the covers before Weiss even knew what had happened, but as her bow was still firmly planted over the obvious animal ears it appeared she intended to keep them hidden from the team.

That reminded Weiss, she had things to deal with as well.

She crept away to the bathroom with her nightdress and toiletries. Once in the room she locked it firmly and turned on the shower as cold as it would go.

She slipped out of her clothes as quickly as she could, it still took a little while as the outfit fastened in rather complex ways.

As she stepped under the icy spray she finally allowed a knot that had been sitting in her gut since yesterday morning to unwind. Though not perfect the days hadn't gone too badly, she was on a team with two girls she got on with and one which, well, one which she wasn’t quite sure of. She pointedly kept any developing feelings for the girls out of the picture... Oh, who was she kidding, she didn't think she'd be able to disconnect that from any future decisions relating to them.

The freezing water soothed her greatest secret as well, running down each side of her abdomen in a series of five parallel lines were a set of, very much functional, gills. These little things were both her greatest curse and her greatest blessing. On one hand they brought her father's ire down on her and she had to put in effort to hide them. On the other hand, the fact that her father dyed his hair white to fit in as a member of the Schnee family he married into, while hers was as naturally white as her mother's, showed that she was a Schnee and that that monster was not her father. To be fair, she had no idea who her father was, and her mother was too steeped in drink these days to be able to tell her, but that didn't matter to Weiss.

Weiss supposed that her being a Faunus herself might be the only reason she wasn't as discriminatory as her father but she liked to believe that even if she had been human she wouldn't have been too bad. Bar the gills, being a Faunus did also give her a few other perks, she had the standard better night vision that most Faunus got, hers wasn’t particularly good as it was primarily focused towards underwater sight but it was still decent.

The three most unusual she had came directly from the fact that she was, literally, a shark.

Reaching up to her mouth Weiss removed her dentures and rubbed her aching gums, revealed from the inside of the false teeth were a set of razor sharp shark teeth. Looking inside the dentures she found two more teeth had come loose, her teeth frequently fell out and regrew, she used to keep a collection of them but eventually there were too many and so she stopped. She imagined wearing her dentures felt similar to constantly wearing a set of retainer braces but she had never worn any and so couldn't compare them.

The other two were not physically visible, she could sense electrical and chemical signals around her.

The electrical detection worked far better in water as the signals travel more easily through water, in air she could tell where major electric currents were. Though all remnant technology was predicated on dust, the majority of computerised technology used electric dust, and so she could sense quite a variety of things, in water however, she could even detect the electricity given off by other living things.

The chemical detection at its core was just a very advanced sense of smell, again it was more effective in water, but it was still rather strong in air, thus why she had been overwhelmed with new scents upon arriving in Vale.

She slowly ran her fingers over her gills, the slits were very sensitive, thus why her outfits had hidden protection on her sides to protect them as best they could, they still were incredibly painful if hit. She personally had little idea of how her internal biology worked, how did her mouth link up to gills in her sides? She had discovered that if she tried she could somewhat breathe by letting air in her gills and up to her mouth, this had saved her life in one semi-successful kidnapping attempt when she was younger. Unfortunately doing this dried out the sensitive membranes within, so was unsustainable.

She had done quite a lot of secretive research into different species of sharks to try and find out what exact type she was. Based on her number of gills, her being able to survive in colder water than most sharks or known shark Faunus and her speed in water being extremely fast, slower than normal sharks obviously, she still had feet instead of a fluke after all, but very fast for a shark Faunus, her best guess was that she was some type of Mako shark, probably a shortfin but she wasn't sure.

Sighing she stepped out of the shower and began to deal with her teeth, overall every part of her looked long and gangly, despite her overall being very short. She kind of suspected that a diet of the meals in the Schnee household were to blame, they were definitely not appropriate for a shark Faunus, she'd looked that up. Her thin and straight body, lacking pretty much any curves, was a personal insecurity of hers, despite, she supposed, it being an adaptation to swimming, she knew her sister had been far more... Womanly at her age.

Weiss’ hair was beginning to annoy her. For one, when she was naked (which wasn't often) it had a tendency to get into her gills, which was uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. For another it was incredibly annoying when swimming, she did tie it up but it was still heavy. If she could do whatever she wanted with it she'd cut it short, possibly even shorter than Ruby's, she wasn't sure. But again, it was another thing she couldn't get do.

Weiss put her dentures back in, shivering at the unpleasant sensation, she dried off, patting gently at her gills with her towel then got dressed in her nightgown and walked back to the dorm, the other three were already asleep. She quickly joined them.

 

Weiss woke up at six, roughly when she normally did, and surveyed the room. She was slightly surprised to see Yang's bed empty, Ruby was sprawled in a pile of blanket with her shirt riding up and drool leaking out the corner of her smiling mouth. “Cookies...” Weiss heard her mumble, making her smile. Blake was also still asleep so Weiss quickly changed into the academy uniform, keeping her gills out for the absolute minimum length of time. She still had no idea where any nearby gyms were so she settled for push ups and sit ups on the dorm floor.

Once she stopped, about seven, she sat on her bed and looked over their timetable before continuing with a book are was reading, she would read course material but it was the first day, age would have time for that after lessons.

At about 7:55 Yang came back, the noise of her coming in woke up Ruby and Blake.

Weiss asked Yang where she'd been,

“The gym, dad told me where it was before we came.”

“Could you show me where it is later, I tried to find one yesterday but only found a small training room on the other side of campus.”

“Sure.”

Ruby had shaken herself awake by this point and dressed.

"Now that we're all awake, we can officially begin our first order of business."

Weiss was about to enquire what that was when Yang, who it seemed was used to this, well the two lived together she probably was, shouted “Decorating!”

Weiss supposed she should have expected that.
Then begun a maelstrom of activity as the four girls spread their belongings around the room. Most of Weiss’ bags were just stuck under her bed, the only things she really got out were some books and clothes to put away in the wardrobe and chest of drawers. Eisozean’s maintenance kit was put near a desk in the corner. The other three had been rather more liberal with spreading their stuff, to the point where there was basically no room for the beds.

“This isn't going to work." Weiss sighed.

"It is a bit cramped." Blake agreed

"Maybe we should ditch some of our stuff..." Yang actually sounded kind of pained to say that.

“Or we could ditch the beds... and replace them with bunk beds!" Oh Ruby.... Weiss mentally facepalmed. The idea had merit, but they had no way to actually put them up properly.

“Just, just make sure they are stable...”

 

Oh god, why did Weiss agree to this? Blake's bed atop Yang's was at least supported, supported on books but supported none the less, Ruby's was hanging from the ceiling on ropes.

“Ruby, this evening we are securing that properly.”

“Yes Weiss.” Weiss wasn't sure if ruby was put out our not. “Anyway, our second order of business is classes-“

“Ruby we have Grimm studies in ten minutes.”

Everyone looked at Weiss, then to Ruby.

“Um... To class!”

 

Ok, Weiss had decided, Professor Port was simultaneously an idiot and a genius. His teaching style was utterly idiotic, even Weiss was having trouble following his long winded stories and extracting the relevant information, but that information was very good, he was obviously very experienced. The information in this particular lecture was fairly basic, but it was the first one.

She could understand why Ruby was messing around, she really could, but that was not the sort of attitude anyone, especially a leader, should have.

Port then asked the class whether any of them believed they embodied the traits of a huntsman. Weiss debated going for it but decided not to, ultimately, becoming a huntsman was not really why she was here, it was a means to an end, a way away from home. Had she been able to inherit the Schnee Dust Company becoming a Huntress would have been a stepping stone to taking it over and changing it's business practices but, even so, that would've happened when it happened, she wouldn't have been able to speed it up, well, legally. Unfortunately she was extremely doubtful that her father would let her inherit the company in the first place due to her biology.

While she was thinking Blur, or Nora, had shot down to the front, where Port unleashed a boarbatusk on her. Nora quickly smashed it across the classroom with her massive hammer bringing the class to an end.

Ruby had continued to mess around throughout the day which was beginning to actually annoy Weiss, after dinner she quickly got Ruby on her own.

“Ruby, to be frank, how you have been acting today is incredibly disappointing. Out in the emerald forest you practically embodied what it meant to be both a Huntress and a leader. You were observant, quick thinking, skilled and decisive, this was why I made no protests when you were named leader, despite it being slightly problematic for me, I truly believed you were leader material. However, all of today you have done nothing but mess around. You of all people need to put in all the effort you can, not just because you are a leader but because you jumped grades, you will be behind everyone and will have to work hard to catch up.”

“You... Don't think I make a good leader?”

“I believe you have the potential to be a great leader and a great Huntress, in many ways I’m counting on it, but if you continue to behave like you have today you will squander that potential. Look, you've only been a leader for a day, you have almost four years ahead of you, you will improve, and I will freely admit I would be a... Bad decision for leader.

Everyone will have challenges they have to meet and burdens they have to carry, I have mine, you have yours, but they need to be recognised and faced. I believe you can do that and I will support you as best I can, but you need to support yourself as well.”

Ruby had been looking forlorn from the moment Weiss began speaking but that same expression of determination that made Weiss' heart skip a little stole it’s way onto her face.

“Thank you Weiss, I... I think I needed that. I don't think I'm as good as you're making me out to be, but I will try. Um... You said you had 'burdens’ as well, er, if you ever need help with them, or anything, just ask me?”

Weiss smiled.

“I will Ruby, and so long as you keep trying to be the best leader you can be, I will try to be the best partner you could ever have.

... But we are still stabilising that bunk bed when we get back to the dorm.”

Chapter Text

Jaune

Jaune winced as one of Yang's punches slammed Russel into the arena wall.

“Stop! You may be able to see that Mister Thrush's aura is now in the red and he is outside the arena boundaries. Either of these things, in a tournament style duel, would constitute a loss.”

Professor Goodwitch surveyed the stands.

“I think we have time for one more bout, how about... Mister Arc and Mister Winchester.”

Jaune froze but was broken out of it by a tap on his shoulder, he looked to the left to see Weiss bending over his shoulder from the row behind.

“He acts superior but he isn't much, he's strong but slow, stay on the defensive, don't charge in. You have a shield that fended off Gale feathers and a Deathstalker, you can fend off a little mace swing.”

Pyrrha chimed in from his right.

“She's right Jaune, it'll be a hard fight but you can likely beat him.”

That was easy for them to say...

 

Jaune squared up against Cardin in the arena, shield and sword in hand. This wasn't going to go well was it... Immediately as the whistle blew to start the match, Cardin barreled forward, he was by no means a small person and he swung his mace in from the right as he reached Jaune. Remembering his fight with the beowolf in the emerald forest, he ducked. Cardin's mace passed over his head, the created wind tossing his hair around, he lunged forward, trying to overbalance Cardin with a shield bash.

The shield bash didn't succeed and Cardin used his off hand to push Jaune, unbalancing him, before swinging the mace down on him. Jaune blocked it with his shield but was knocked skidding across the ground. He jumped to his feet as fast as he could and slowly walked towards the middle of the arena, taking Weiss’ words to heart. Cardin came at him again from the left and he blocked with his shield, the arm beneath the shield crumpled, not broken, but unable to hold up against the pressure, and Jaune fell on his side. Cardin stopped to gloat, but before he could Jaune kicked him in the back of the knee, unbalanced, Cardin fell like a tree, slamming to the ground on his back.

Jaune shot up and attacked Cardin as best he could while he was still unbalanced, he kicked Claret Ferity, Cardin's mace, as far away as he could, ignoring the pain it produced in his foot even through aura. He got in a few good hits before Cardin retaliated, but the foot to his gut propelled him backwards.

He landed on his back near the edge of the arena and scrambled to his feet, only to see Cardin barreling towards him, he raised his shield to block the large person, but his bulk carried Jaune backwards and he arced through the air and out of the arena.

“And that's the match. Both contestants still have aura, Mister Arc's has dipped into the yellow. And he has been knocked from the arena. Mister Arc, you need to improve your strength and most importantly your footwork, with proper stances you would not have been knocked down as much. Whereas Mister Winchester-“

Cardin smirked, obviously believing he was going to be praised.

“You need to work on your arrogance and technique. Raw strength will not get you everywhere, especially if you can't make contact, underestimate your opponent and stop to gloat at the slightest victory.

Remember, everyone, the Vytal Festival is only a few months away! It won't be long before students from the other kingdoms start arriving in Vale, so keep practicing! Those who choose to compete in the combat tournament will be representing all of Vale!"

The bell rang and the students began to filter out, Pyrrha gave Jaune a hand up as they left.

 

Jaune hung his head as he sat at the table, Ren and Nora were having some sort of discussion, but to be honest Jaune didn't care much, he was still discussing with himself whether the Beacon thing was worth it. He hadn't run afoul of a tree since initiation, but he had run afoul of the tree-like boy from earlier multiple times.

“Jaune? Are you ok?”

Wait what? Oh, Pyrrha. “Yes I'm fine.”

“It's just that you seem a little... not okay..."

Oh, great now Ruby was getting involved.

“Guys, I’m fine, seriously.”

“Jaune, Cardin's been picking on you since the first week of school!"

Did Pyrrha have to bring it up?

“I will not deny that he has been annoying, but he's a dick to everyone.”

“Jaune, if you need help, just ask.”

Nora then decided to chime in with:

“We’ll break his legs!”

Jaune facepalmed.

“Yes, Nora, that is an option... And looking at what he's doing now, it's becoming more tempting.”

Behind Nora and Pyrrha Jaune could see Cardin once again bullying, or in this case full on assaulting, a rabbit Faunus. His big hammy fist was clasped around her ear and he was full on yanking it around.

“Ow, that hurts! Please stop!”

“I told you it was real!”

“What a freak!”

Jaune was seeing red at this, but he wasn't the only one. Blake's hands were tightening on the edge of the table and appeared to be cracking the wood, pretty much every other member of the two teams were scowling or worse, several looked ready to jump up and attack Cardin. Jaune was surprised at who actually did, as it seemed, so was Blake.

 

Weiss

Weiss full on leapt out of her seat, vaulted the table they were sat at and decked Cardin full in the face. The short girl was stronger than she looked and Cardin had failed to activate his aura due to the suddenness of the attack. His nose gave it a sickening crack as it broke and blood spurted out.

The boy stumbled back, his hand going to his face as Weiss grabbed the Faunus, who had slumped as Cardin let go of her ear. Cardin’s three flunkies were unsure of what to do and had stepped back.

Recovering, Cardin stepped forward, but whatever he was going to do was interrupted by the arrival of Professor Goodwitch.

“What is going on here!”

Weiss was preoccupied with making sure the Faunus was ok, she was probably screwing herself over by not explaining to the professor, but she was more worried about the other girl. Her actions had been entirely instinctive and it would likely have been better for her not to act, this was definitely a black mark against her in his book.

Then one of Cardin's goons, Dove? Maybe? Stuck his foot in Cardin's mouth.

“We were just having some fun when this psycho attacked Cardin out of nowhere.”

Goodwitch looked at Weiss cradling the rabbit Faunus on the ground.

“Yes, I can see what sort of fun you were having. Cardin, you have been here for less than two months and this is the fifteenth time you have been caught bullying another student and the tenth time it had been a Faunus. Not to count the number of times I am sure you have done so without being caught. Maybe getting an immediate punishment like this, one the academy itself cannot give you, will give you reason to stop such behaviour. The Winchester family may be influential and a benefactor of the academy, but that does not mean their support is necessary, should you continue like this we will be forced to suspend you.

Weiss, though I respect you wanting to defend another student, physically injuring someone cannot be tolerated.”

“In my defence Professor, I really thought he would activate his aura.”

“Be that as it may, you cannot be excused for hurting a student, I expect a two page easy on better ways you could have handled this situation on my desk by Monday. Cardin, given the circumstances I don't believe you need additional punishment, just get yourself to the infirmary so they can set your nose before your aura heals it, you should be perfectly fine by tomorrow.”

 

After Cardin and his team had stormed out to the infirmary Weiss turned her attention back to the Faunus in her arms.

“Hey, are you ok?”

“Um yes, thank you. It's just slightly embarrassing, I'm, err, I'm a second year, I just can't deal with guys like that.”

“Oh, err, well, that shouldn’t matter, I'm just glad I was able to help.”

“Velvet!”

A loud voice interrupted them. Weiss looked up to see a brown haired woman running towards them. Weiss could barely make out anything about her except a tan beret before she was grabbing the Faunus from Weiss’ grip and pulling her into a hug.

The woman looked at Weiss with suspicion bordering on hostility until the Faunus (Velvet apparently) assured her that Weiss had helped her.

“Thank you, she's been having problems with this for a while.”

“Coco! Stop embarrassing me!”

“No Velvet, they helped you, you mean a lot to me, I don't want you getting hurt because I'm not around. You’re in almost completely different classes from us this year, meaning we aren't there to stop this. This girl has already helped you once, if she is willing to help you again I will take advantage of that. We can't let what happened last year happen again, a one year gap in a team is difficult enough, we'd have to break the team up if it becomes two years.”

“Coco, if something like that ever happens where I can see it I won't just let it happen, I can guarantee you that.”

Coco smiled at her.

“Velvet can hold her own against damn near anything, but there are some people who she just becomes helpless with. Unfortunately there have been multiple people like that at Beacon over the last few years.”

The eight of them exchanged scroll contacts with Coco and Velvet before leaving to their next class. Weiss was vaguely surprised as Velvet split from Coco and followed them towards History class until she thought back to what Coco had said a short while earlier, it seems Velvet was repeating first year.

 

Jaune

Jaune actually quite enjoyed History class, his family had a long history and you couldn't truly follow a family history back without understanding at least the basics of the surrounding history. Any event in human history could be written like a story. The siege of Gran-Arbor in the Great War, the Trade War of the Mistrali underground, the Emeraldblood Rebellion of Vacuo or the Scaling of the Mantle Ice Cliffs. Oobleck was a little too clinical with his descriptions for his taste, but it was a classroom, so that was expected. He was also a bit fast.

"Yes! Yes, prior to the Faunus Rights Revolution, more popularly known as the Faunus War, humankind was quite, quite adamant about centralizing Faunus population in Menagerie. Now! While this must feel like ancient history to many of you, it is imperative to remember that these are relatively recent events! Why, the repercussions of the uprising can still be seen to this day! Now! Have any among you been subjugated or discriminated because of your Faunus heritage?"

A disturbingly large number of students, including Velvet, raised their hands at this.

“Dreadful, simply dreadful! Remember, students, it is precisely this kind of ignorance that breeds violence! I mean, I mean, I mean just look at what happened to White Fang! Now, which one of you young scholars can tell me what many theorize to be the turning point in the third year of the War?”

Weiss raised her hand and was called on.

“The battle at Fort Castle.”

Another one Jaune knew, the Arc family had kept out of the Faunus war, they didn't feel they could support either side, but stories from that war were often more detailed than older ones.

“Precisely! And, who can tell me the advantage the Faunus had over General Lagune's forces?"

While Jaune was still thinking back to the story something hit the back of his head, he reflexively exclaimed and raised his hand to touch the back of his head.

"Mr. Arc! Contributing to class again! This is excellent! Excellent! What is the answer?"

Jaune glanced behind himself to see a Cardin trying to act smug with an icepack held over his nose. He sighed.

“While I may be wrong Doctor, as it wasn't said in the sources I know, I would say that, as it was a night assault on the Faunus camp that finally caused the downfall of Fort Castle, it was likely the natural night vision many Faunus have.”

Cardin full on scowled at Jaune, causing himself to go into a wince as this hurt his sensitive nose. He then decided to interrupt Oobleck mid sentence.

“Yes, very good Mr. Arc! As General Legume led his forces out of the fortress, he tried to use his drastically superior numbers to surround the Faunus camp! Unfortunately for him the Faunus sentries spotted the encroaching force almost immediately and the army hid in the surrounding trees! When Legume sent his forces in they were assaulted from behind and-“

“The only advantage they had is that an animal is easier to train than a soldier!”

Oobleck was momentarily speechless, which allowed Pyrrha to reply.

“You aren't the most open minded of individuals, are you Cardin?”

“What? You got a problem?”

“Yes, but more importantly, I know why you are being particularly obnoxious about this. You see, I've been reading around this event and it turns out that General Legune's wife was a Winchester, and more importantly, your aunt. It was war Cardin, the war is over. Stop fighting it.”

Oobleck sighed.

“Mr. Winchester, please see me after class.”

 

A short while later Jaune caught Pyrrha by the arm as she was about to enter their dorm.

“Can, can you come with me for a bit?”

Jaune led them up to the dorm roof.

“Pyrrha, I, I’m not that good at fighting, you've probably already seen that. Um, if it's not too much to ask, could you help train me?”

Pyrrha was momentarily surprised.

“Are you sure Jaune?”

“Pyrrha, I may not have known who you were when I met you, but I have spent two weeks with people who did. You are strong, if you would help me I would be grateful.”

Pyrrha’s face had fallen so he quickly tried to cheer her up.

“Don't worry! I'm not going to change how I act now I know! I've known for almost a week, have I acted any different?”

She was slightly reassured by this.

“Ok, I'll help train you, but remember, you made it into Beacon! That speaks volumes of what you're capable of!”

He sighed.

“Pyrrha, I need to say this now. I didn't get into Beacon.”

“What do you mean?”

Pyrrha sounded worried. Jaune sighed again.

“I didn't go to combat school, I didn't pass the entrance tests, I didn't truly earn my place here!

I practiced for years, imitating my family and any random huntsman who visited the Arc Compound. But I was the baby, the little son of the last branch of the Arc family. The only heir among seven sisters who would carry on the old Arcadia name! I was too valuable to be allowed to risk my life, I had to watch sister after sister go off to live my dream, while I was stuck behind closed walls, not even allowed to activate my aura. Effectively kept just so I could have children and perpetuate my family.

Eventually I’d had enough, I stole Crocea Mors from the great hall and snuck out of the compound following a huntsman, but he was killed in a Grimm attack between there and vale. I killed my first Grimm in the aftermath by a fluke, it had already lost it's front limbs for Dust’s sake. I swapped out the names on one of my sisters' transcripts, sent them in and lied through my teeth.

Every single male in the family line, and most females, since well before the great war, before even the founding of Mantle has been a warrior, either a soldier or a Huntsman, right back to when my family ruled the Kingdom that once stood where Vale does now. And I was forced to learn about every, single, one. Forty generations of warriors that I had to learn everything about but was forbidden from joining. Do you have any idea how crushing that was? ‘Here is everything you have ever wanted and should be able to have, but you are not allowed to ever even try.’ I had had enough, so I ran.”

Pyrrha was speechless.

“Sorry, I shouldn't have dumped all that on you. If you are willing to help me just tell me later, but could you just leave me alone for a bit.”

“O... ok Jaune. Just... Just if you need to talk to anyone again, I... I'm willing to listen.”

She turned and slowly left the roof. Jaune slumped to the floor and hung his head.

Then he started hearing a malicious chuckle.

“Oh Jaune, you shouldn't speak so loudly in a public place, especially not sensitive information, someone might overhear.”

Jaune growled.

“Cardin, I am not in the mood.”

“Jauney-boy, I couldn't help but overhear, so, you snuck into Beacon, eh? And against your family’s wishes no less. Gotta tell you Jaune, never pegged you as such a rebel.”

“Cardin, you know there are things your family has done that the Arc family knows about which your family very much wants to keep silent. You better keep silent as well. You know what I mean.”

“Either way Jauney-boy, you have the most to lose, I'm sure your family wants to get their runaway under control. Should you be kicked out of Beacon, I doubt you would be able to reveal anything before you were back behind the compound walls.

Sooooo, unless you want to become the first wimp of the Arc family, we’re going to be friends for a long time.”

“Friends?”

“Yes Jauney-boy, friends, speaking of, Oobleck gave me an essay to do earlier and I really don't have the time. Can you take care of that for me friend?”

Oh shit. Well Jaune was fucked.

Chapter Text

Pyrrha

Pyrrha wasn’t sure what Jaune was doing, it had been about a week since he'd come to her asking for training and he hadn't talked to her about it since. Actually, he'd barely talked to her since. Or any of the team really. Nora and Ren succinctly summed up the issue.

“How come Jaune gets back so late?”

“He's been rather scarce since he started fraternising with Cardin.”

And there was the crux of it, somehow Cardin had succeeded in getting Jaune wrapped around his finger. Pyrrha had a sneaking suspicion she knew how it had happened and she hoped she was wrong.

“That's weird... Doesn't he know we have a field trip tomorrow? We need our rest!"

“Nora, stop jumping on the bed, you'll ruin the springs. I'm sure Jaune knows what he's doing.”

But she didn't, and she was terrified. Ever since they morning of the initiation when the bumbling fool had asked her for directions with utterly no idea who she was she had been, frankly, smitten.

When she had become his partner she could barely keep from breaking out in a grin as they had walked through the forest.

Then she found out about his family and that he hadn't got any experience or training, actually, hadn't been allowed to have any experience or training and she had actually got angry. She didn't often get angry, but when she heard about Jaune's family she was absolutely livid and could barely keep it off her face, Jaune didn't need anger in that situation, he had enough of his own. After she left however, that was a separate story, there was a fist shaped indentation in the wall a few metres inside from the roof access, and it took a lot of restraint not to punch directly through the wall.

She hoped beyond hope that Jaune quickly got himself out of whatever situation he'd got himself into, for her sake as well as his, because if Cardin had Jaune, he pretty much had her as well.

 

Ruby

Ruby was returning to her dorm room, she'd managed to nab a whole box of cookies and smuggle them out the canteen, she was debating sharing them with Weiss and blushing to herself when she saw Jaune lingering outside of his room.

“Hey Jaune! Did you get locked out?”

Jaune jumped slightly as he spun around

“Oh, Ruby. No, it's fine.”

Ruby began rocking back and forth from her heels to her toes.

“Sooooo, I haven't seen you much lately, what've you been up too?”

He sighed and rubbed the back of his head, he slumped against the wall and sunk to the ground.

“I messed up big time Ruby, I took a risk and Cardin overheard, he has a lot hanging over my head. I can't bring myself to talk to Pyrrha about it and... Well, I think the Beacon thing has well and truly gone to pot.

I'm a fuck up.”

Ok, Ruby may be younger than most people at Beacon, but she had grown up around people who hadn’t exactly had the best lives, she knew where talk like this led. While she hadn't exactly done the reassurance talk herself... Most of the time she left that to whichever of uncle Qrow or dad wasn't the one who currently needed the talk, but she had been forced on occasion to improvise a stopgap.

“Nope!”

“Nope?”

“Nope, you've got a team now, you’re a leader.”

“Ruby, being a leader does not stop me being a fuck up.”

“Nope. You can't be one.”

“You aren't really being very convincing.”

“Nope. Jaune you can't be a, a 'fuck up’ any more, you may have been one when you were younger, or even when you arrived at Beacon, I don't know. But even so, you can't afford to be one now. There are three people who are relying on you, same for me. Weiss told me that everyone has challenges they have to meet and burdens they have to carry, but they need to be recognised and faced. Your team is your burden, you have to carry it. Whatever is going on now? That's one of your challenges, you need to face it, not necessarily alone, but you do need to.

You’re a leader Jaune, and I don't think you're a fuck up.”

Ruby got up and headed towards her dorm room, unfortunately not noticing what happened almost immediately afterwards.

 

Jaune

Ruby's talk had been good for Jaune, at least, he felt so. He wasn't sure exactly how he'd face the Cardin situation without getting himself kicked out of the school. That did then bring up a different discussion, did he want to continue the Beacon thing? Oh, who was he kidding, he couldn't give this up. Like Ruby said, his team relied on him. The decision didn't just affect him anymore. Also, if he left he had to admit he would really miss Pyrrha.

So how could he deal with Cardin? Well... That might take a while, the best option would be to get some dirt on Cardin that was as bad as Cardin's dirt on Jaune. This posed a few problems, primary among which, Jaune wasn’t actually sure if Cardin had an equivalent secret. He also didn't want to stoop to blackmail, he had honour dammit, if he did that he'd be no better than Cardin.

His scroll began ringing, it was from Cardin. Of course it was. It seems planning would have to be put on hold for a little while.

“Hey! It's your buddy Cardin! I know you're probably busy with that Dust project I gave you, buuuut I'm gonna need you to go out and get me a bag of Rapier Wasps. And make sure they've got some really big stingers! It's important, so don't screw this up!"

For crying out loud! Rapier Wasps? Was he serious? It seems planning would be on hold for quite a while.

 

“Yes, students, the forest of Forever Fall is indeed beautiful. But we are not here to sight-see. Professor Peach has asked all of you to collect samples from the trees deep inside this forest, and I'm here to make sure none of you die while doing so."

Jaune was now truly getting annoyed with Cardin, thanks to his talk with Ruby earlier, and a little soul searching, instructions that would have depressed him earlier were now infuriating him. He was being forced to carry all of team CRDL's stuff, which had caused him to get weird and knowing looks from the rest of his team, RWBY and even Professor Goodwitch.

“Each of you is to gather one jar's worth of red sap. However, this forest is full of the creatures of Grimm, so be sure to stay by your teammates. We will rendezvous back here at 4 o'clock. Have fun!"

Oh yeah! Fun! Carrying jars for someone he was growing to hate the guts of.

“Come on, buddy. Let's go.”

Must. Hold. Anger.

Jaune tried to send a reassuring look to his team but was unsure if he got the message across.

 

And of course, they just sat around and made him do all the work. He'd better find a way out of this because any longer and he'd have to just punch the guy. Well, after he punched Cardin he'd probably get beat up, but that wasn't the point.

“Hey, great work, Jauney boy! Now that wasn't too hard, was it?"

Jaune just stayed silent. Cardin scowled slightly.

“So, Jaune, I bet you're asking yourself, 'Why did my buddy Cardin ask me to collect eight jars of tree sap when there's only five of us?'"

“I have been asking myself questions for the past few days, that was one of them.”

“Well then, I'll show you.”

Cardin led Jaune over to the edge of a cliff, looking into the clearing below.

Below them were team RWBY and the rest of team JNPR, as well as Velvet who had become a common companion of the teams when her team wasn’t around. Ren and Nora, well Nora more than Ren, were messing around. Team RWBY were sat at the base of a tree talking with each other, Yang had her arm round Weiss shoulders as the girl in question groaned and Ruby rolled around laughing, evidently Yang was telling bad puns again.

Pyrrha was sat against a tree looking into space, that made Jaune worried, Pyrrha didn't space out, that's just not something she did.

“What are you doing Cardin.”

A note of warning entered Jaune's voice.

“Payback.”

Oh no, no no no no no.

Three extra jars and three individuals down in the clearing Cardin had a 'reason' to payback.

A punch to the face, a vicious tongue-lashing and a set of additional ears seemed to be enough to gain Cardin's ire in a serious way.

“And yesterday, Jaune, you managed to round up a whole box of rapier wasps. Now, these little things used to be in high demand before the great war, you see there was a common... Interrogation method that used these. It seems they made people confess quite readily, and guess what? They can't resist this sap.”

Cardin got to his feet and pulled Jaune with him.

“And guess what, Jauney-boy? You're going to start it. Throw the bait on your little red friend, the heiress and animal are mine.”

Cardin dumped a jar in Jaune's hand.

Ok, this was reaching a line, if absolutely necessary he probably would throw the sap at Velvet, he felt awful at thinking that, but he couldn't deny it was true. He barely knew her, if it was her or one of Pyrrha or Weiss he would have not hesitated to save one of the girls he knew. This situation however? Even if he had been asked to throw at Velvet, he wouldn't. This wasn't a situation where that was necessary.

Jaune took a deep breath. Oh dust, he really was about to stick his foot in it.

Before he could lose his nerve, he wheeled and threw the jar at Cardin's face.

 

As expected the jar shattered, the sticky, red goo covering Cardin from hair to chin. Much like in Weiss’ attack earlier, Cardin, in his arrogance, had failed to activate his aura and the glass shards from the jar severely scratched his face. Cardin stumbled back with a cry, clutching the wounds on his face which had started to sting from the sap before catching himself and leaning forward. Jaune could see Cardin's neck slowly turning the same shade as his sap coated face.
Cardin then began to speak, wincing as the movement of his mouth pulled on the cuts.

“That was probably the biggest mistake of your life.”

Well, Cardin had a point. Jaune jumped back as Cardin lunged for him but he forgot about Cardin's teammates. Russell and Sky grabbed his arms from behind.

“Now, I could just beat you up, and that's probably going to happen later, but right now I think there's something better to do. Thanks to you, I can't exactly release the rapier wasps.”

Cardin began throwing and catching one of the remaining jars of sap.

“But. That doesn't mean this stuff is worthless.”

Cardin turned and threw the jar himself, he quickly grabbed another and sent it after the first. The jars each flew towards one of the girls below.

Weiss and Pyrrha both realised something was flying at them. Pyrrha tried to dodge the jar but she was sat down and it hit her in the shoulder, Weiss formed a glyph in the jar’s path, the jars shattered when they landed, Pyrrha’s front was stained red while the jar that hit Weiss’ glyph shattered and stopped, unfortunately the sap within did not, it passed through the glyph and hit her in the side of the head, coating her white hair scarlet.

Well shit.

“You see Jaune, that sap doesn't just attract insects, for unknown reasons Grimm have been noted to enjoy it and it is one of the primary ingredients in Grimm bait. I reckon those friends of yours are soon going to have some company.”

Jaune was terrified but furious. Wait... The sap attracted Grimm?

Just keep him busy.

“Aren't you petty Cardin? You can't beat them in a fair fight so you do this, it's kind of pathetic.”

Ok, now veins were pulsing on Cardin's forehead, Jaune couldn't tell if the scratches on Cardin's face were bleeding or not through the sap. This was another bad idea. Oh dust.

Cardin planted a punch to Jaune's face, though his head snapped back a little he was surprised at how little it hurt, aura was a wonderful thing.

Almost immediately after this Cardin was interrupted by a growl from behind and a massive Ursa came into view behind him. The Grimm let out a massive roar and swung his paw at the momentarily stunned Cardin. Cardin was knocked several metres to the left and his goons lost their nerve, they dropped Jaune to the ground and ran.

Yup, definitely a bad idea.

The Ursa loomed over Jaune but seemed to be distracted, it turned towards Cardin who was slowly sitting up and jumped at him, growling in his face.

Cardin slowly moved Claret Ferity to point at the bear's chest and pressed a button, a gout of flame shot out of the macehead from the burn dust crystal set within. The Ursa recoiled and roared in anger, Cardin attempted to fight the beast but his attacks lacked any technique, even the giant bear could dodge his wild swings and Cardin was repeatedly knocked down.

Jaune was admittedly tempted to just leave Cardin to the Grimm, but, despite how much of a bastard the Winchester was, Jaune couldn't just leave someone to die.

Jaune jumped in and blocked one of the bear's swings. This started one of Jaune's hardest fights to date, him and the Ursa kept trading blows and Jaune had never been so grateful for aura. Jaune managed to stick Crocea Mors in its gut several times but it barely seemed to slow. In a moment of disorientation he was thrown across the clearing into a tree which snapped under him. Springing up, Jaune met the Ursa's charge.
In a few frenzied instants the two met, the Ursa and Jaune both swung, somehow Jaune's shield blocked the Ursa's swing and Crocea Mors sliced straight through the Grimm’s neck.

Jaune straightened from the fight and shot the dirtiest look he could at Cardin, who was lying on the ground terrified. Jaune turned to see the his team, RWBY, Velvet and, surprisingly, Professor Goodwitch.

 

A short while earlier:

 

Pyrrha

Ok, Pyrrha was really worried now. This was the first time on a dedicated team exercise Jaune had gone with team CRDL. What's worse is that it was obvious coercion, the expression of resignation he'd shot at her as he left was proof enough.

She was sat against a tree thinking on solutions for what she believed to be the situation Jaune was in, she couldn't be sure, but her best guess was that Cardin overheard their talk on the rooftop. She hadn't come up with much to be honest.

She was deep in thought when she felt something flying her way, she tried to dodge it, but being sat down and not really focused she didn't really succeed. The jar that hit her shattered on her shoulder, covering her in sap. Her dust thought was that it was Nora messing around and taking a joke to far, but then this was immediately debunked as Nora was behind her tree, not in front of it and another jar hit Weiss almost in the head, coating her hair. Nora may be boisterous and sometimes inconvenience them, but she was not malicious, and this stuff quickly solidified and stained what it touched, in this case, Weiss white hair.

Weiss screamed after the hit when she realised what had happened, the look of rage on her face was slightly terrifying.

“Who. The hell. Did that.”

Her words were cold and dangerous.

“I don't know, but they must have been up on that cliff.”

Weiss was angry, so was Pyrrha, but Weiss was furious.

Before Weiss could storm off Yang grabbed her by the arm.

“Weiss, calm down, we’re coming with you, but don't just fly off the handle, that's my job.”

Whatever else was going to be said was interrupted by the arrival of a large number of beowolves. Pyrrha understood they were likely lured by the sap, she had asked Professor Goodwitch why they were collecting it and had been told about it's uses in Grimm bait.

For several minutes there was little talk but clipped orders as they fought the Grimm. The battle came to an abrupt end as the Professor arrived.

They attempted to explain what had happened but Goodwitch cut them off and began to lead them to a path to the top of the cliff.

“I know what has happened here, both the Emerald Forest and Forever Fall have hidden security cameras to keep tabs on students for safety.”

They stayed in silence for most of the rest of their run. Eventually they came to the edge of the clearing to see Jaune and the Ursa charging each other and Cardin cowering on the ground.

Pyrrha noticed the Ursa swinging at Jaune’s head, Jaune seemed oblivious to it, without even thinking she raised her hand. Jaune's shield slid into the space between paw and head and blocked the attack, leaving the bear open for Jaune to decapitate it.

After panting for a short while Jaune looked in their direction and started. Glynda addressed him.

“Congratulations Mister Arc, having seen your skills in the arena I must say I am surprised and impressed with this. Many students would have far more trouble enduring a fight with an Ursa of that size.

Mister Winchester on the other hand, please stay with me for the duration of the trip, you will be coming with me to Professor Ozpin’s office after this.”

Goodwitch turned to JNPR, RWBY and Velvet.

“You are permitted to return to the transport you arrived in and go back to Beacon early, unfortunately it is almost certainly too late to get the sap out before it stains, but do your best.”

 

Ozpin

Ozpin looked at the boy sat opposite him across his desk, the boy looked smug and cocky, as if he believed no one could touch him. He sighed.

“Mr Winchester, over the scarce few weeks you have been at my school you have been observed by the faculty bullying individuals on seventeen occasions, twelve of which have been driven by racial differences, there have been at least thirty-six additional accusations of insulting individuals, four of which come from teachers. There have been no less than seven cases of borderline sexual assault reported with you involved. You are under investigation for copying others work, which had become very blatant over the last week.

And now, you have been observed trying to coerce another student into attacking his team and have attempted to severely injure several individuals by luring Grimm to them. An action which is recorded in the laws of Vale as a category of attempted murder.”

Cardin was slowly losing his smug smirk as this went on.

“Despite Beacon's relationship with the Winchester family we cannot ignore such conduct. You were already going to be suspended after today's field trip for your deplorable behaviour, but after today's incident we have only one option.

Cardin Winchester, you are hereby expelled from Beacon academy and barred from its grounds, in accordance with the regulations for individuals of ill repute with activated aura, retinal scans and fingerprints will be taken and added to the central database. In addition a tracker will be placed on you, should this tracker cease function or provide abnormal data you will be tracked down. After ten years your position will be revisited and you may be removed from observation. You have twenty four hours to leave campus grounds before you will be escorted out.”

Cardin didn't look sorry, he looked absolutely furious, however a sly grin snuck into his face.

“Professor, are you aware that Jaune snuck into Beacon on false transcripts?”

So he was trying to drag his grudge down with him.

“Mr Winchester, we are discussing you, not Mr Arc, but for your information yes, I was aware from the moment I saw them. We have had multiple people try to sneak in on false transcripts and have become very good at spotting them. Mr Arc’s were extremely well made, he is from a family long known for its skill and the faculty decided to give him a chance. I can easily say that we do not regret our decision. He is well mannered, a fast learner and, unlike you, has not paraded his family’s position around. When attacked by the Ursa in the forest you completely failed and lay on the ground while he persevered and took it down. He has been properly training for only three weeks and took down an Ursa Major. Let that sink in.

Professor Goodwitch, please take Mr Winchester to have his scans and then back to his old dormitory.”

 

After Glynda and the boy had left his office Ozpin got up from his chair and walked to the windows, looking out over the courtyard below.

What had happened to the Winchester family? Before the Faunus war they had been arrogant but estimable, since however... They had fallen from grace, and it was very obvious in the youngest generation. It seemed even the oldest lights were slowly fading.

 

Weiss

Weiss was simultaneously very angry and very pleased. She was angry because she’d let that idiot land a hit on her, the sap in her hair was unbelievably unpleasant and the smell in her nose was beyond cloying. But she was pleased because here was the perfect opportunity to cut her hair short without too much fuss. Her father would likely throw a fit anyway and blame her for the sap getting stuck in it, but she expected he'd be less annoyed at her walking around with short hair than walking around with long hair that was stuck and matted together and half dyed a reddish-pink.

She had sent a letter to her father to explain what had happened and the solution she was taking. She sent a letter mostly because she didn't want to talk to him face to face over the CCT.

She’d been surprised to find out that Velvet knew how to cut people's hair, but Coco assured her that Velvet cut hers. So now she was sat in a chair letting the rabbit take scissors to her hair, she had specified she would like it quite short, her father didn't know how much of her hair was coated in sap.

By the end Weiss’ hair was very short, in fact it was pretty much the shortest hair she'd seen at beacon, excluding Yatsuhashi, she hadn't been shaved. It was actually longest at the front, the back and sides being the shortest, her bangs were pretty much the same, just shortened slightly and without the hair at the sides obscuring her ears from the front.

Overall she liked it, it would certainly be easier to swim with. The reactions from her team mates were amusing, Yang winked at her and gave her a thumbs up, Blake looked up from her book and smiled (which she supposed was a win, Blake was still kind of suspicious of her because she was a Schnee) and Ruby blushed, eeped, and looked away. Oh dust was she adorable.

 

Jaune

Jaune was sat up on the roof again. News had quickly circulated of Cardin's expulsion, he wasn't sure how he felt about that.

He turned to look as he heard someone else come into the roof.

“Sorry for the past week Pyrrha. I, I should have asked for help.”

Pyrrha sat beside him.

“Jaune, don't worry, i'm just glad it's over.”

Jaune froze as she put an arm around his shoulders. Blushing, he slowly and hesitantly put one around her waist and she leaned into him.

Ok, yes, the Beacon thing was a good idea, let's keep going with the Beacon thing.

She rested her head on his shoulder.

“Pyrrha, um, my request from earlier, it's still there. Would you be willing to help train me?”

Pyrrha smiled.

“Later, but yes. Just let me sit like this for a while.”

They both relaxed, then froze as an all too familiar voice came from the doorway.

“This isn't over Jauney-boy. You're going to regret this later. The Winchesters and the Arcs have fought before, you've restarted something old. You won the first round, but that's no guarantee you'll win the later ones.”

Cardin left them at that and Pyrrha's tightened her grip on Jaune's shoulder.

“Guess I'm going to need that training, eh.”

Jaune smiled and rested his head on Pyrrha's as the sun went down over the horizon.

The Beacon thing was the best idea of his life.

 

Jacques Schnee

Jacques was in an apocalyptic mood, three mineshafts had collapsed in the past week and there had been an organised attack on three different facilities by the White Fang that very day.

As he walked into his office he noted a letter on his desk. Upon reading it his face darkened further.

So, it seemed his errant daughter was continuing with her appalling behaviour. He could forgive excitement when she arrived and the incident in the courtyard upon investigation was not caused by her. He had turned a blind eye at first. Then she became subordinate in her team which was enough of a slap to the face.

Then she attacked the heir to an old Valean business partner and he had to spend most of the last week sorting the mess out. For that alone she was going to receive a punishment when she came back at the end of the year.

And now? Now she was ruining an image perfectly crafted over almost two decades. Worst of all, the beacon contract meant he couldn't truly interfere for a year, truly interfere, there were many things that he could do that went through loopholes, but he couldn't just pull her. Pulling her out would have caused a commotion anyway.

He groaned, if she'd done this in three weeks, what would she have done by the end of the year?

He evidently had been too soft on her. That mistake would be rectified.

Chapter Text

Weiss

Weiss loved the sea. Went without saying. She loved the sensation of water over her skin, she loved the simultaneous deadening and sharpening of hearing, as your entire body becomes the receptor for sound, she loved the freedom of unimpeded motion, but, most of all, she loved the smell. The heady aroma of salt water, fish and something unidentifiable but undeniably Ocean, it shot up her sinuses from her nose straight to her brain and made her feel invincible.

It was little surprise therefore that her most beloved and despised part of Vale was the harbour District, the sea saturated the air until it was all you could smell and Weiss revelled in it. However, no matter how much Weiss longed to, and no matter how much the sea air drove her to, she could not jump in and allow her body to submerge itself in the silky liquid.

Despite the torture that being in proximity to the ocean and unable to swim caused, Weiss visited the harbour as often as she could. It had been six whole weeks since the incident in Forever Fall forest and things had been relatively peaceful, there had been no more expulsions or (significant) student infighting. Ruby was still just as chipper and adorable as ever, bouncing off walls and consuming three times her body weight in sugar and cookies each day. Weiss had noticed that Ruby no longer really needed to be doing anything in particular to get Weiss’ heart to flutter, just by being there she could make Weiss smile, it was an odd feeling.

Yang was still as explosive and impulsive as she had been the day Weiss met her, recently however she had begun to be rather... Affectionate? Motherly? It was an odd behaviour, she seemed to instinctively know when someone needed alone time or a hug, which had been rather alarming the first time Weiss had found herself pressed to Yang's considerable chest. She had to admit that the action, though not anything she had any experience with, was very comforting, though she couldn't deny it made her heart skip a beat every time.

Blake was still reclusive and bookish, unfortunately however, she was still almost as distant as she had been when Weiss first met her. After the incident with Velvet in the canteen Weiss had thought Blake might open up, and to be fair, she did a bit. Blake did now have the odd conversation with Weiss but she was far from truly opening up. She was still extremely sensitive about a lot of topics, especially the Faunus, it felt like Blake was just waiting for Weiss to say something she could criticize her for, as if to say 'Ha, I was right, you are a racist snob’. Frankly Weiss was getting annoyed with her, she had made every effort to bridge the gap and had in no way been derogatory to any Faunus, how could she be? If anything the refraining from bigoted behaviour and acting fairly only seemed to aggravate Blake, as if she couldn't believe that this was Weiss Schnee.

Weiss was also half convinced that the majority of the school body must know Blake was a Faunus by now. Most other Faunus would be able to tell by her smell, many Faunus had very developed senses of smell and could recognise others purely from that, though not all. Weiss sense of smell was not geared towards scents on land and tended to get overwhelmed, either way, she couldn't link any Faunus smells to Blake. Luckily as an aquatic Faunus, one of the rarer groups, Weiss herself was not easily recognised in this way. The rest of the Faunus and some humans should be able to find out by recognising Blake, she was the Chieftain of Menagerie’s daughter. Even if she was now estranged, like most political leaders’ children when she was younger she had been seen in media with her parents a lot. She had not changed enough, and her disguise was not different enough, to stop that. She had also decided to use her real name and Belladonna wasn’t exactly the most common of names.

The most damning sign of her heritage however, was that, despite the effort she put in, she couldn't completely hide the instinctive reactions her ears had. When someone's bow flattens against their head every time someone shoots a gun or shouts too loud it becomes quite obvious. In fact that was how Weiss first realised Blake was a Faunus, when she greeted them after Ruby's explosion her ears were still pressed to her scalp.

Anyway, there hadn’t been many excuses Weiss could give for visiting the docks, but today she had a perfect one.

Yang seemed to have forgotten her excuse however.

“Remind me again why we're spending our Friday afternoon visiting the stupid docks?"

"Ugh, they smell like fish!"

That’s kind of the point Ruby.

“I've heard that students visiting from a different Academy will be arriving by ship today. And, as a representative of Beacon, I feel as though it is my duty to welcome them to this kingdom!”

Blake squinted at Weiss

“Do you just want to spy on them to get the upper hand in the tournament?”

“How could you believe I would ever think about such a thing Blake, but that is admittedly a good idea.”

An exclamation from Ruby, who was behind the rest of them, brought the group to a stop. Following her line of sight they saw a shop with a broken window.

The site was surrounded by police 'do not cross’ tape and there were a few policemen wandering around the crime scene.

“What happened here?”

Trust Ruby to be unable to hold back from trying to help people.

“Robbery. Second Dust shop to be hit this week. This place is turning into a jungle.”

The policemen began to walk over to his partner who was poking around behind the counter in the store.

“They left all the money again!”

All four girls looked at each other, that was very odd.

“Yeah, just doesn't make a lick of sense. Who needs that much Dust?"

Well... Weiss got through a lot of dust, but two dust shops in a week? That was excessive.

"I don't know, an army?"

"You thinking the White Fang?"

"Yeah, I'm thinking we don't get paid enough.”

 

Putting the income of Vale’s law enforcement aside.

“I really don't like the White Fang.”

Weiss didn't really intend anyone else to hear that, it was said under her breath as the group turned away to continue with their original goal, but she forgot about the hearing capabilities of their resident hidden cat.

“What's your problem?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

Blake was full on scowling at her. Oh great, she'd had her suspicions, the White Fang having been set up by the current Menagerie Chieftain after all, but she'd not expected Blake to still support them.

“I have nothing against what the White Fang technically stands for, and absolutely nothing against it as it was first created. In fact, as it was created, I would have supported it if I could. Now however, it is nothing but a terrorist organisation, and you cannot deny that, it is officially listed in all four kingdoms as one. Anyone who believes their current methods could possibly complete their original goal of Faunus equality is insane.”

“The White Fang is hardly a bunch of psychopaths, they’re a collection of misguided Faunus.”

Misguided is not the term Weiss would use, a collection of gullible and/or hateful Faunus maybe.

“Blake, they want to wipe humanity off the face of the planet.”

“Then they're very misguided.”

Putting it mildly.

“Either way, it doesn't explain why they would rob a Dust shop in the middle of downtown Vale!"

Admittedly, no, but it was worrying, whoever had must be planning something. Ruby decided to interject, somewhat reducing the tension.

“Hmm... Blake's got a point. Besides, the police never caught that Torchwick guy I ran into a few months ago... Maybe it was him."

“Maybe, we can hope, as much as I am loathe to imagine it, if it is the White Fang gathering this dust I am legitimately scared. Desperate people can make irrational decisions.”

 

The group was snapped out of any further discussion by a shout from the docks.

“Hey, stop that Faunus!”

They wheeled around to see a Faunus with a monkey tail vaulting off a ship and running up the pier.

“Thanks for the ride guys!”

“You no-good stowaway!”

The Faunus had jumped up onto a lamppost and begun eating a banana.

“Hey, a no-good stowaway would have been caught, I'm a great stowaway.”

One of the policemen from the robbery had walked over.

“Hey, get down from there this instant.”

The monkey just threw the banana peel at the policeman's face and ran off, right past the group of girls.

The group was temporarily shocked into inaction until Yang shocked them out of it.

"Well, Weiss, you wanted to greet the competition, and there it goes..."

“Quick! Follow him!”

The group began to sprint after the Faunus, they hadn't been following far when he darted round a corner. They went to follow him and Weiss found herself running straight into something and falling on it. From the ground she saw the Faunus jump up onto and over a building.

“Drat, he got away.”

“Um, Weiss?”

Weiss looked down to where Yang was pointing to see she was lying on a girl, she must have been what Weiss had run into earlier. Weiss jumped up with a yelp.

The girl, still on the ground, smiled and raised her hand.

“Sal-u-ta-tions!”

...What.

 

Ruby

Ruby didn't understand Weiss’ fixation with the docks, oh she could come up with whatever excuse she wanted, but accompanying Ruby to bakeries and parts shops then wandering off to stare forlornly off the waterfront kind of undermined any chance of Ruby believing them. While Ruby did get a little flutter in her chest whenever Weiss accompanied her it quickly died and left her feeling slightly hollow whenever the shoreline seemed to be what really drew Weiss off campus and not spending time with her.

It has been obvious what Weiss wanted when she had wanted come to the docks today and it had nothing to do with any Vytal festival competitors. Ruby was legitimately scared that Weiss’ interest in the Ocean grew from a dislike of Beacon, and more importantly her, and a desire to go back home. Weiss had become disturbingly distant since she had received a letter from home about four weeks ago, did the letter make her homesick? Ruby could only imagine that the down to earth lifestyle in Beacon was rather unsatisfying compared to the lifestyle Weiss would have been used to back home. Now that the novelty of academy life was wearing thin did she want to leave?

And now this particular trip to the harbour was a lot more action packed than most she had been on, probably a by-product of having the full team there, they still hadn’t worked out most of the niggles in their team dynamic. Ruby had to admit most of their disagreements were due to Blake, she seemed to be carrying a chip on her shoulder, especially against Weiss and Ruby had no idea why. Ruby and Yang had always got on well and at least superficially they got on well with Weiss, leaving aside Ruby's existential crisis about Weiss’ possible desire to leave.

When she said their disagreements were generally due to Blake it didn't mean Blake was mean, she just had her off days, and more often than the rest of them. She reminded Ruby of her uncle, though she had to wonder why, Ruby's uncle had gone through a lot to act like that, she hoped Blake hadn't done the same.

As they ran around the corner following the monkey Faunus from the boat Weiss ran into someone and knocked them to the tarmac.

Yang was quick to point this out and Weiss shot up.
Ruby looked to the new girl.

“Um... Hello?”

“Are you ok?” asked Yang.

“I'm wonderful, thank you for asking!”

“Do you... Wanna get up?”

The girl took a weird pause.

“Yes!”

She flipped to her feet in an unexpected display of acrobatics, the four girls all recoiled slightly in surprise.

“My name is Penny! It's a pleasure to meet you!”

The four girls all greeted Penny, Yang making a little insensitive statement and receiving an elbow from Blake before her introduction. Ruby wasn’t sure entirely what to make of Penny.

“It's a pleasure to meet you!”

Weiss pointed out quite rightly that she had already said that.

“...So I did!”

Weiss, obviously trying to escape from the new girl apologised and began to walk off.

“Well, sorry for running into you!”

Ruby began to follow and threw a farewell over her shoulder.

“Take care, friend!”

She may at least be polite.

Once they were a distance away Yang decided to voice her thoughts.

“She was... Weird.”

Well maybe a little, but all four of them would also be called weird by most people. Weiss had quickly put it behind her.

“Now where did that riff-raff run off to?”

In an instant, to all four's surprise, Penny appeared in front of Weiss.

“What did you call me?”

Yang's face was mortified.

“Oh, I'm really sorry, I definitely didn't think you heard me.”

“No, not you.”

She walked over to Ruby and leant down to her face.

“You.”

Err... What should she do now? Ruby leaned back slightly and stammered for a while until Weiss grabbed her from behind and pulled her back into the heiress’ arms. Weiss gave a short glare at Penny while Ruby blushed.

“You called me friend! Am I really your friend?”

Um.... What? That was what this was about? Blake and Yang were shaking their heads at her, obviously trying to get her to say no. She couldn't see Weiss head to check if she was also shaking no as she was still in Weiss' arms.... Dangerous thoughts Ruby, dangerous thoughts.

Ruby couldn't just deny her like that though, the faint desperation she could hear in Penny’s voice spoke of a complete, or almost complete, lack of friends. She knew what it was like to be friendless. If she was honest, her ‘friends’ at Signal weren’t really friends, she already considered Weiss and Blake better friends than them. However, even at Signal she had Yang. She couldn't imagine what it must be like without her.

“Uuum, sure? Why not?”

Yang facepalmed and Penny began to go off into a few cringey 'new friend’ lines. Luckily, Yang cut her off.

“So... What are you doing in Vale?”

“I'm here to fight in the tournament!”

That got Weiss’ attention. Wait... Why was Weiss' still holding her? Not that she was complaining but...

“Wait, you’re fighting in the tournament?”

“I'm combat ready!”

“Forgive me, but you hardly look the part.”

Blake followed this with a valid point.

“Says the girl wearing a dress.”

“It's a combat skirt!”

Yay Weiss!

“And I wouldn't mind wearing trousers.”

Weiss seemed to have a little revelation and turned from Blake to Penny, wait, Weiss was still hugging her? This must be her lucky day.

“If you're here for the tournament, does that mean you know that monkey-tailed rapscallion?”

“Who?”

“The criminal Faunus from the boat!”

 

Weiss

Weiss was slightly annoyed Ruby had befriended the slightly odd girl but she wasn't petty, she was more concerned with attempting to find the monkey Faunus from earlier.

Though she knew Blake would be understandably supportive of the Faunus, especially as she now suspected Blake's... Unconventional stance on the White Fang, she was not expecting the Faunus’ next outburst.

“Why do you keep saying that?”

“What?”

“Stop calling him riff-raff! Stop calling him a criminal! He's a person!”

Weiss could theoretically understand Blake's point, she did understand how it must be degrading to be constantly labelled as a degenerate, but in this case Blake had no leg to stand on. It seemed this may be where the tension between the monochrome pair would come to a head.

“Blake, think of it this way, Would you like me to stop referring to the trash can as a trash can? Or this lamppost as a lamppost?”

“Stop it!”

“Stop what? Blake he clearly broke the law, you cannot deny that. Frankly I don't care whether he's a Faunus or not, what I care about is that he is indisputably a criminal. And after one crime it becomes easier and easier to keep committing them. It's exactly what happened to the White Fang, peaceful protests began to throw eggs, then rocks, then bullets. Boycotts became attacks then arson. I can't say he’ll join up with them, but it is a possibility."

Blake was clenching her fist and growling at her by now, it seemed that today would be when the tension came to a head. Weiss' was tempted to bring the conflict directly to a head, like popping a zit, quick pain then the displeasure is gone and dealt with. The problem is, much like popping a zit, this may solve the problem or it may instead become infected and far worse.

“You ignorant little brat!"

“Excuse me?”

“You are a judgemental little girl!”

“And what have I said which leads you to insinuate that?”

“The mere fact that you would sort that Faunus boy with a terrorist group solely based on his species makes you just as much of a scoundrel as you believe him to be!”

Weiss was practically facepalming now, was Blake even listening to what she was saying?

“Blake, it sounds like you are reciting that from a propaganda leaflet. Never once did I say he was a criminal because of his species, I called him a criminal because he is, just in case you were not aware, stowing away and crossing borders without going through proper checks is illegal. All I said is that it is a possibility for him to join them, when in a bad situation people will take whatever out they can find and unfortunately, for Faunus, the only real out they have is the Fang. Also, you just admitted that the White Fang is a terrorist organisation.”

Weiss’ time at the docks was ruined and their bickering continued until they were back at the dorm.

 

Weiss was getting seriously annoyed now. What was Blake’s problem here?

“I seriously don't understand what is causing such a problem.”

“That is the problem!”

“Blake, every time you show support for the White Fang you are supporting a terrorist organisation that supports genocide. In their current form the White Fang are the worst thing the Faunus have ever done to themselves.”

“Why do you think the White Fang hate Humanity so much? It's because of people like Cardin, people like you, that force the White Fang to take such drastic measures!"

“I have done absolutely nothing since coming here to any Faunus that was in anyway untoward. I have been only respectful and was the only one among us to stand up to Cardin, at rather severe personal cost I might add. Do not liken me to that brute.”

“You’re discriminatory!”

“No I'm not! I can't be! You've only been hiding your ears for a few short weeks, I've had to hide my animal traits my whole life!”

Oh shit. Weiss realised what she had said a bit too late. No. No no no no no no no. She didn't know what to do. She slowly backed away from the other three girls and bolted out the door.

 

Ruby

... What? Weiss was a... That may explain some things? Wait, thinking about this wasn't the important thing, Weiss was the important thing!

Ruby jumped from her bed and charged out the door after Weiss, unconsciously activating her semblance as she went.

 

Blake

Blake's mind had imploded. What? Weiss Schnee was a... No that's not possible, she must be lying, but that reaction...

“If a Schnee is a... Then what was I fighting for? Why did I support the Fang at all...”

Oh shit, she spoke aloud, she'd just confirmed what Weiss had said, did Yang... Of course she did, Yang was staring at her in disbelief and shock, obviously mouthing the word 'fang’. No, this couldn't be happening.

The higher decision making parts of her brain collapsed, working entirely off reflex and fight or flight, she leapt out the window and ran off into the night.

 

Yang

Yang was momentarily stunned by Weiss' outburst, personally she didn't care if Weiss' was a Faunus or not, but she knew more about the wider world than Ruby, she knew Weiss' father's reputation. She may not know them all that well yet, but she cared a lot for her teammates. She had noticed some rather worrying things about Weiss that she had put off as only little personality quirks, however this new information suggested a much more worrying explanation.

Suddenly Weiss freezing at her hugs yet relaxing into them after a while seemed a lot more telling. It explained the reaction to that letter a few weeks back, Yang had seen Weiss’ face when she read it, that was not the sort of face someone should have on reading a message from home.

She was deep enough in thought that she almost missed Blake's talking to herself, but she didn't quite do so.

Blake was in the White Fang? Was everything she knew about her teammates a lie? She didn't know what to think, she didn't even think to chase after Weiss or Blake, she just collapsed backward onto her bed and stared into the middle distance as she tried to reconcile what she thought she knew about her new friends with the new information she had been granted.

 

Ruby

Ruby was terrified, why couldn't she find Weiss? Was Weiss going to leave? She couldn't, Ruby hadn't told her yet...

Oh where was she?

Where would she go? More importantly, where hadn't Ruby checked? She'd already spent the last hour or so blazing across most of campus. Where did Weiss go when she was upset? Ruby had an idea, she didn't know for sure, but it was her best guess.

Ruby only took about thirty minutes to get where she was going and then about five as she ran around looking for Weiss.

Eventually she found her.

Weiss was standing at the end of a pier, looking out over the sea. Ruby began to slowly walk down towards her. Of course, eventually Weiss heard her and turned.
Weiss’ eyes were wide with fear and tear tracks ran down her cheeks, as she saw Ruby she took a stumbling step back towards the end of the pier and Ruby was scared she would fall off it. Ruby dashed forward and went to grab Weiss to stop her from falling. Ruby's heart almost shattered into pieces as Weiss flinched away and averted her eyes, it was almost as if she expected Ruby to hit her. She'd never acted that way before, it almost seemed as if, now that Ruby knew she was a Faunus, Weiss now saw her as a threat, and Ruby didn't want to think of what she must have been through for that to be her first instinct.
Gently Ruby pulled Weiss into her arms, Weiss had run out of the dorm without putting on her shoes, without her heels she was actually an inch or two shorter than Ruby.

Ruby slowly sat down on the wood of the pier, taking Weiss with her so the heiress was sat on her lap. Weiss didn't fight but wasn’t reciprocating either, Ruby gently kissed Weiss’ short hair.

“I don't care Weiss. I wouldn't care if you had a tail or scales or webbed feet or anything. You'd still be my partner.”

Weiss stiffened in her arms before relaxing momentarily then grabbing Ruby tightly and putting her face into the crook of Ruby's neck.

Weiss' body started shaking with sobs, Ruby began rubbing her back slowly and whispering reassurances in her ear. The two sat there for quite a while as Weiss slowly calmed down, eventually though, she did.

Weiss pulled back and looked at Ruby, her face red and tear stained, but still utterly beautiful.

“Why?”

Ruby was confused.

“Why what?”

“Why do you still care?”

“Why wouldn't I?”

“I lied to you! I lied to all of you!”

“No you didn't Weiss. Even if you did, it wouldn't matter.”

“But why?”

This probably wasn’t the best time for this, but Ruby didn't want to keep silent for much longer and she needed some way to shock Weiss out of this self depreciation.

“I... I, I love you Weiss.”

They both blushed and turned away from the other.

“How could you though? I'm just...”

“Nope! Stop right there Weiss! You are amazing. During initiation you were brilliant, you told me exactly what I needed to hear to buck me up to actually be a leader, you've repeatedly stood up for people, especially with Cardin and Velvet in the canteen and... And you're utterly beautiful.”

Ruby could feel her face burning and she could see Weiss' doing the same.

“But I'm not human!”

“You think that matters to me? I don't care whether you're a, a, I don't know a spider or something! I like you!”

Weiss looked down.

“-ark”

“What?”

“I'm a shark”

“That would explain why you love being down here at the docks so much.”

Weiss punched her lightly in the shoulder.

“But I'm serious Weiss, I don't care.”

Weiss' face became even redder, if that was possible. Her face then set in a determined expression, she gave ruby a quick peck on the cheek before turning away. Ruby jumped sightly and began grinning.

“Soooo, what are we now?”

Weiss thought for a minute.

“Still partners I guess, just now in a bit of a different way.”

Ruby smiled and pulled Weiss back into her arms.

She was happy.

Chapter Text

Ruby

Ruby was kinda panicking inside now. She was currently walking along a street near the docks with Weiss in her arms. Weiss had sort of shrunk in on herself, the stress and panic of recent events tiring her out. In the chaos of their flight from the dormitory neither had remembered to pick up their scrolls, and Weiss had even forgotten her shoes.

Ruby was fretting over her earlier proclamation. She had been sort of, ok, really forward. She couldn't say she actually 'loved’ Weiss. Yet. She certainly did like-like Weiss. A lot. But she'd been wrapped up in the panic of the moment, and had been drawing on times she'd comforted her family, where bandying around 'love’ was a bit more normal. She felt slightly guilty that she was actually glad Weiss was so out of it, because if Weiss was in her normal state of mind she'd likely have been a little less understanding. This didn't mean Ruby regretted her confession though, hell, she'd planned on confessing to Weiss soon anyway. Preferably however, it would have been in a more normal and stress free situation.

The streets the two girls were walking along were abnormally quiet. Ruby didn't spend much time at the docks late at night, but she'd been on enough ferries from Patch that arrived late to know that the shops along these streets were normally open and bustling with Dock workers even this late. Ruby's plan had been to use one of the shop worker’s scrolls to call Yang, because it was late enough that there were no more bullheads back to Beacon and, without shoes, Weiss certainly couldn't make the walk. Aura might protect people to an extent, but it didn't stop prolonged wear and tear. The tiny damage done by walking barefoot on rough surfaces may be quickly healed by aura, but it didn't stop it being painful. This was why Ruby was carrying Weiss, but she knew it wasn't really sustainable. Most people thought Ruby was very strong, short girl swinging around massive oversized sniper-scythe and all. She was by no means weak, but Yang was the powerhouse. Crescent Rose was made of extremely light alloys and certainly weighed a lot less than Weiss.

Ruby couldn't have known, but the shops were shut due to the Faunus boy they'd run into earlier that day. Normally a Dust freighter that large would be unloading all night, but due to the presence of a stowaway it had been temporarily impounded so it could be combed by the Vale police for other stowaways, missing cargo or, even worse, planted explosives. It wouldn't be the first time a Faunus stowaway had planted explosives on a Schnee freighter and detonated them during unloading. Due to this there had been no traffic in the harbour at all that night, excluding a small older area with wooden piers. This was where the small flotilla of Vale's night fishermen, who supplied the city with most of its seafood, stored their boats. Their dock had been left open so as not to disturb Valean life too much. This small area had been where Ruby had found Weiss.
Without the dock workers employed to unload the boats filling the streets, looking for a cheap meal and maybe a pint during their break, there was no reason for the shops to be open whatsoever, so they had all shut their doors.

Ruby wasn't that familiar with Vale, to be honest, so far Beacon had been too hectic to visit all that much. She knew where many weapon shops were of course, but few were going to be open this late. She only really knew of one appropriate business in range and she'd never been there herself, she only knew of it second hand through Yang. Apparently however, the owner was a friend of Yang's or something? Anyway that should help.

Ruby turned off the street and began to wend her way to Yang's “friend”’s building. Luckily it wasn't all that far from the docks. The fairly nondescript building had two entrances, one had bouncers posted outside. Ruby jumped and almost reached for Crescent Rose, which wasn't present. The bouncers were dressed identically to some goons she'd run into robbing a dust store a few weeks before term started. She quickly relaxed again, that attire seemed to be the standard for civilian security in Vale, personally she thought the black and red suit, hat and shades, while it was something she would probably wear, wasn’t really appropriate for security, but it didn't really matter.

There was loud music reverberating from the guarded door, so Ruby walked towards the other one. A small sign to the right of the door denoted it as the hotel she was looking for.

As she entered she maneuvered Weiss back to her feet, put her arm over the girl’s shoulder and led her to the reception desk. The brown haired woman behind the counter was wearing identical clothes to the bouncers outside, up to and including the hat and shades. The clothes fitted rather differently on her female figure however.

Once ruby reached the desk the woman looked at her over the rim of the glasses.

“Can I help you?”

Ruby was sort of embarrassed, she was going out on a little bit of a limb here.

“Hello! Um, we need a room and, um, I was told to tell the owner that I'm 'Blondie's Sister’... Not... Sure... entirely what that really means but...”

Ruby's head was bowed and she was blushing. The receptionist gave a look that was a blatant 'Are you serious?’ but she picked up the phone behind the desk and dialed a number anyway.

“Hey, Junior? Got two girls here, one of them told me to tell you she's 'Blondie's sister', wha-“

She yanked the phone away from her ear, as an extremely loud expletive blared from it. Ruby's worrying increased. Was this a good idea? Dust, Yang, what had her sister gotten her into?

 

Junior

Junior was having a good day. The club was busy, the booze was flowing, money was flying in. There hadn’t been a fight in the club for several weeks and, even better, none of his goons on the less above board side of his business had been busted since that unfortunate incident with Roman Torchwick. It had been a stroke of genius to lend his men as security, there were enough around town that someone using his uniform in a crime wasn’t able to be directly linked back to him.
He was stood on a balcony overlooking the dance floor, awaiting guests for an appointment. Junior had his fingers in many pies, along with the perfectly legal club, hotel and security work, he also provided service as an information broker. Many Huntsmen used his services, all his clients understood that all information he had was for sale, unless you paid otherwise. Most Huntsmen and high-status criminals freely paid a fee to keep specific info secret. Due to his usefulness to the hunter community, Junior’s building was pretty much a no-go zone for the police.

Yes, business was good.

He was brought out of his musing by his scroll ringing, he'd have to remember to turn that off before his meeting.

“Sepi? What is it?”

Sepi was one of his very few female ground staff, he'd had some serious problems when he staffed the bar with female bartenders, so he more often had his female workers perform behind the scenes jobs and let his more intimidating male suits work the floor. Ironically, the female guests seemed to like this change, and his traffic had increased, with the male guests following the female ones. The uniform suits had become a bit of a gimmick that allowed his club to form an identity.

He had a few female workers however, like Sepi, who were tougher than his suits, woe betide any who thought they could mess with her. There was a reason why she was the only security on duty for the hotel.

“Hey, Junior? Got two girls here, one of them told me to tell you she's 'Blondie's sister', wha-“

“SHIT! I'll be there in a moment!”

There went Junior’s good day. Blondie was an unhinged menace, he didn't know what her sister would be like, but he was taking no chances. His shout had been loud enough to cut through the music on the dance floor, and the guests were looking at him confused.

He spun around and leapt for a door, scanning his scroll to the panel he dashed into the backrooms. He thundered down a spiral staircase, the insulated walls dulling the sound of the music. Darting around several chairs and other furniture that littered the room he made his way towards the hotel side. Once he reached the door he skidded through to the hotel reception, briefly neatening his hair and suit, the tall man came into view of the desk.

There were two girls stood there, nether bore much resemblance to Blondie, having neither her golden hair or her... Proportions. Few knew how much sway that name had with him, but he wouldn't put it past these two having just overheard and decided to take advantage.

“Which one of you is Blondie's sister?"

The redhead jerked

“Umm I am? Ruby Rose, sister to Yang Xiao Long, tall, punchy, really hates people touching her hair?”

Yup, that described Blondie alright, he just had to hope the sister was slightly better put together.

“Miss Rose, I am Junior, the boss if this place. If you want a room, you will still have to pay, but I can give you a discount for your sister. A room normally costs 50 Lien per night, but I'll let you have one for 25.”

While less than he'd like, that discount wouldn't break the bank, hopefully however It'd be enough that Blondie wouldn't break the bar in retaliation.

“Thank you, um, Mr Junior. Is that a name or a title? Is it Mr Junior or is it like Jr Blue or something?”

Oh god she was a rambler.

“Just pay the money, take the key, go to the room and try not to cause trouble.”

The sister quickly forked over the cash grabbed the key and led the other girl to the staircase. Junior called back to them.

“And you and your little white girlfriend better try to keep the noise down! That room's walls aren't all that soundproof!”

He just hoped his building would still be standing tomorrow.

 

Ruby

Ruby was a little confused at Mister Junior's last comment, why would they be noisy? It was a hotel, they were going to sleep! She didn't focus much on this however as she was embarrassed that she'd had verbal diarrhea once again. Once she opened the door to the room she understood however and immediately called Yang some rather rude (for Ruby) names in her head.

The room was done out all in white and red, Ruby's boots and Weiss’ bare feet sunk into a thick red carpet. The bed, singular, was in the middle of the room and was shaped like a massive heart, in addition, the room was carpeted in rose petals, it looked like Ruby had spent fifteen minutes zooming around with her semblance.

Ruby's face was slowly changing to the same shade as the floor, she was sure Yang had known what this was, though she'd never used one herself. Even though Ruby was innocent, she wasn't naive, she knew what this was, but hadn’t intended to take anyone, especially Weiss, to one. For a few years at least... It was, obviously and blatantly, a love hotel, and Ruby was incredibly grateful that Weiss was not entirely together.
She quickly led the faunus to the bed and sat her on the edge. She had to have this conversation now, even though Weiss was unlikely to remember it in the morning.

“Weiss, I really like you, like, like-like, but I don't think I can call it love yet and-“

Weiss’ face fell and tears started leaking out of the corner of her eyes.

“Weiss! I don't regret confessing! Actually I’d kinda planned on doing it in a few days anyway, though not in this sort of situation. E-even though I can't say I love you yet, I’d like to get to that stage eventually. Um, I'm sorry for making you sad and I don't regret anything else I said at the docks, um, can you forgive me? I want to see if we can make this work.”

Weiss was looking glumly down at her lap but after a few seconds the morose expression shifted to determination. She turned to face Ruby. Ruby was startled and worried that Weiss was about to reject her. Instead Weiss darted forward, her lips pressing to Ruby's for the briefest of moments, not really enough to be called a kiss, but both girls blushed to the roots of their hair.

“Soooo... Am I forgiven?”

Weiss smiled

“Dolt.”

 

Blake

Blake had fled in panic, her mind firing on all cylinders, she had let herself get attached to her team! She'd told herself day one not to get attached, it was temporary. But somehow, without her noticing, they'd wormed their way into her heart. She'd enjoyed reading and talking about books with Ruby, even if most of the redhead's had been comic books. She'd let Yang become her rock, the constant she could return to, how did that happen? And Weiss... She skidded to a halt at the base of the statue in Beacon courtyard.

Had she allowed herself to become attached to a Schnee?! They were the enemy! The epitome of the hatred she'd fought against for years! How could she have let herself become attached to one? Even if... No! Being a faunus didn't matter, even if she was, she'd let her family crush thousands under their silvered heel.
Her mind still couldn't properly comprehend Weiss being a faunus, it went against everything she knew. How could Weiss have been so awful to the faunus if-

Wait... What had Weiss actually done or said that made Blake think that? She couldn't... No! There must be something, she was a Schnee! That's what they did.
Every time she'd found herself enjoying herself with the Schnee her smile had quickly faded, a little voice at the back of her mind growling away

“She's just like her father, they're evil, white devils.”

Over and over, beating a tattoo at the top of her spine.
Blake's brain couldn't reconcile with the information she now had, to do so would question everything she knew. Discrimination was everywhere! She'd seen the hateful glares from humans at protests, hell her semblance had been ignited by a rock thrown at her during a demonstration in Mistral.

This information, gleaned from years in the White Fang, in actuality, wasn’t quite true. Scars in the mind heal slowly, if at all, and this one had been encouraged to fester.

Racism is a double edged sword. While true racism and other discrimination is abhorrent, it is very easy to use discrimination claims as a weapon. When something negative happens to you it is far more satisfying to think “they did it because if my race, not me” and so claims of racism and sexism get thrown about because it's easier to blame others. Equality in and of itself is technically impossible due to physical differences, but people crave it desperately. Many Faunus despise being picked out by their animal traits, but they don't complain when their night vision gets them lookout jobs. Unfortunately some individuals have become adept at using false discrimination claims as deliberate weapons rather than as subconscious reactions, and these individuals had begun to gain traction in the White Fang
As it was originally set up, the Fang was necessary, in the wake of the war tensions ran high and actual racism was rampant, the Fang was needed to smooth over the tension and it worked. You need only look at Vale, there was very little discrimination in the Kingdom, of course it wasn't eradicated, you can look at Cardin to see that, but it was drastically reduced. This was especially obvious comparing it to Atlas and, to an extent, Mistral, were it had been curbed less. Now however, the Fang was not useful, leadership and practices had changed and the organisation was controlled by the very people it had been set up to combat. People who judged another based purely off race.

There was a reason why White Fang protocol dictated the toting of weapons and wearing of masks. If you open your door to see an armed, masked, uniformed stranger, you would be far more wary and even hostile, than you would be to a normally dressed person. The Fang used this, among many other things, to trick their agents into believing discrimination was widespread. If you believed you were promoting equality, only to be met with hostility, you would quickly think the problem was worse than it was. Ironically, for years most Valeans didn't care whether someone was human or Faunus. After the Fang changed tack the distrust and fear of the rapidly militarizing organisation grew, and with it, the fear that any Faunus you met might be a member. Recently discrimination in Vale was on the rise. The White Fang were causing more discrimination from humans than they prevented.

Of course there was the occasional bout of violence before the leadership change, but nowhere near as much.

For Blake, this all meant her perspective was dramatically skewed. When she left the Fang, she'd done it due to the increase in violence getting too much for her, but that didn't mean she hadn't participated in trashing shops and stealing goods. Nor did it mean her perspective was suddenly changed. A little loss and injury was in no way equal to years of hate. But if that hate was entirely manufactured? How would you live with yourself? Blake still was unaware of how little hate there had been. Blake was not questioning this, she had hated Weiss Schnee for years, after entering a team with her she'd pushed it down and got to know her.

And she’d almost forgotten that hate. Now, she had to think, what had Weiss done? She'd lumped her in with her father without thinking due to their relation and race, but now part of that was gone. The shock made her scour her memories and she came up with nothing. No single event that painted Weiss in a bad light. A pillar of her thinking for years had crumbled, and with it everything else came tumbling down. If she was wrong about this, what else was she wrong about?

Stop! No! That wasn't important! At least, not now. There were more important things to worry about.
Blake couldn't stay at Beacon now! She had to get out, her secret was exposed, not just her race, but her former affiliation. Where could she go? She certainly couldn't remain in Vale, people wouldn't keep quiet, especially Weiss, faunus nature aside, people would be looking for her within days. Atlas was certainly out of the question and Mistral wasn’t much better. She couldn't go home to Menagerie, that left Vacuo, probably her best bet.

She couldn't risk using transport, too easy to track, she'd have to run the Grimmwilds again. She reached up to her head and slowly undid her bow. Probably a bad idea but she hated the thing, it was itchy and pulled on her ears awfully, it pained her to wear it.
As she drew it down and placed it in her pocket she heard a voice from behind her.

“I knew you'd look better without the bow!”

She jumped, ears plastered to her skull, her eyes wide. Already very confused and scared, this tipped her over the edge. Someone else knew, someone she didn't know, the spread would be even faster. Higher brain function collapsed.

In that instant Blake had never been more catlike.

She fled the courtyard to the building line and jumped to the roofs. Someone followed her. This began a long chase across the rooftops of Vale.

 

Yang

Yang lay on her bed unmoving, staring at the bunk above. She didn't care that Weiss was a faunus, hell, it actually explained a few things. Weiss looked well put together on the surface, but Yang lived in one of the most dysfunctional families she knew. It was easy for her to find little tells that something was wrong, and something was very wrong. Most assumed Weiss was just a swot when she seemed worried over marks, but Yang recognised that fear, it wasn't a fleeting fear of a bad mark, it was a great of retribution, a fear of violence, and Weiss showed it too often in too many situations to be healthy.

Yang knew more of the real world than Ruby, she knew what it was like in Atlas, being a faunus there... It's one of the few places where that was still a terrifying prospect. If Vale was heaven for faunus (which it wasn't, it was more sort of purgatory, just as good for faunus and human) then Atlas was hell, and lording over it was Jacques Schnee. No red skin, horns or tail here, those were for the lesser folk.

And Weiss had grown up right in his lap.

To be honest, all revealing Weiss was a faunus had done to how Yang would treat her is she'd be getting a lot more hugs in the future.

 

Yang didn't care that Blake was a faunus. Well, she already knew. Blake wasn’t exactly the most expressive of people, however there was one exception, when she was reading. With her nose buried in a book her face became incredibly expressive, and with it, so did her ears. It was hard not to figure it out with her bow flicking back and forth constantly on her head.

No, whether someone was a faunus didn't matter to Yang one whit. What did matter, was that Blake either was, or had been, in the White Fang.

Yang didn't exactly have the best experiences with the Fang, in fact, they were one of few groups she could say that she hated.

Many years before, when Yang was nine, there had been an incident. She had just begun at Signal academy, which lacked much combat training till later years. Ruby went to a nearby primary school, well, Patch was so small that there only was one primary school and it was a stone's throw from Signal. Normally their dad would pick them up and take them home, but a pack of beowolves had been sighted close to the settlement and he had been drafted in to deal with them. As he would be late, and Yang was a big girl now, she was supposed to look after Ruby in the village square.

The two girls were playing in the dirt around one of the trees in the square, this mostly consisted of poking at it with sticks. As children are wont to do, they became so engrossed in this that they lost track of what was going on around them. Yang looked up, only to find that the square was a lot busier than normal, in fact so busy that she couldn't see much. There was a crush of people around them that only just skirted their dirt patch. Quickly getting worried, as that was more people than should be in Patch, Yang jumped up a little to see over the heads of the crowd. She recognised a few people she’d talked to in the market or seen at parent’s days, but most she didn't recognise. Many of them were holding signs and most seemed to have animal parts like Mrs Fuschia or Mr Olive.

Unknown to Yang, at the edge of the crowd a line of police officers, patrolmen and Huntsmen had formed in case of violence. The patrolmen were a group of people who manned lookout towers and scouted the wild for Grimm that needed taking down. On a relatively wild Island like Patch, there were more of them than you'd expect.

Slowly angry voices began to grow in the crowd, causing Ruby to look up, her eyes widening slightly at the sight. Alarmed now, Yang pulled Ruby to her and pressed them to the tree trunk.

The voices built, Yang could never remember what was being shouted, but the atmosphere was frightening. Placards clacked against each other as chants rose up and died under new ones like waves on the shore. At the edges of the crowd it was getting particularly unstable, certain individuals especially were blatantly harassing people in the line. Eventually one young policeman snapped, his nerves frayed and twisted by this event which was entirely new to the small settlement, nothing like it had happened before. The policeman gave one particularly vitriolic faunus, who was shoving his tusked face right into the policeman's, a sharp rap to the temple with a baton.

The faunus collapsed unconscious to the floor, a wave of silence spread out across the crowd from the incident, before returning as a roar.

The semblance of peace had been broken and fists flew at the line. The presence of Huntsmen didn't really help as they were prohibited from using their aura against civilians. This was particularly aggravating for Taiyang, who was in the line, as he was very worried that his daughters might be in the mob.

Yang was actually scared now. The noise and heat in the mob were hellacious and the motion had dramatically shrunk their clear space. Eventually it was inevitable that someone would bump into them and eventually they did. The man tripped over them as he backed up and went sprawling to the floor.

Those eyes would haunt Yang for years. Swirling emberous pits of amber, searing into her brain. Hate and anger epitomised in two, almost glowing, orbs. If eyes be the windows to the soul, this soul was a demon.

The man's expression barely changed, fixed as it was in a brutish grimace, he merely got up and walked towards the fallen children. Yang was panicking, the first thing on her mind was Ruby.

As a signal student, Yang's aura had been unlocked, though it was still weak she could use it. Ruby's aura wasn’t.

Yang dived for Ruby and pulled the smaller, now crying, form to her chest and hid her as best she could.
The man began to kick them, no restraint at all for being children, if not for Yang's aura they would have lasted mere minutes. She could feel the tears appearing in the skin of her fingers as she tried to keep her grasp on the ground under the assault.

Soon the flailing of the man and Ruby's cries brought them to the attention of others, who quickly joined in. Yang could feel the pain flaring in her skin, but she had to endure. She was burning through her aura fast and it was remarkable she had held out as long as she had. A roaring filled her ears as her skin began to burn. Every kick added fuel to the fire.

She exploded, literally. Protesters were flung in all directions as flames erupted from Yang, Ruby protected under her. Before the mob could recover, Yang dashed up the tree with Ruby. She was out of aura, out of options.

Taiyang had seen the explosion. To hell with not using aura. Those were his little girls. Taiyang dived into the mob, faunus thrown left and right as he rushed to the tree.

 

This event left scars in both sisters. Ruby was mute for a week, but overall, her scars healed fairly quickly. She could still be told that it was just a few bad people, the world was still good. Within a month Ruby was mostly back to her old self, but with Yang... The problems ran deeper.

This was the end of Yang's innocence. There were people there that she had known, spoken to even. Normal people who lead ordinary lives, and yet, for some reason they turned into monsters. What could possibly cause someone to become that violent?

After a few months, when things had calmed somewhat, Yang began to investigate. She couldn't remember what was said, but she remembered a symbol being waved around. Eventually she found it as the symbol of the White Fang. Their website listed their activities which seemed fairly normal, but Yang didn't trust it, and when their policies changed it was no more than she expected. No matter what other variables there were, the White Fang drove good people to violence.

She still didn't quite understand what could cause someone to attack like that. Well, that wasn't entirely true, she'd fight anything for a short list of people. Ruby, Uncle Qrow, Dad. Weiss and Blake had been crawling their way onto that list, and now she finds out Blake was affiliated with an organisation that brought pain wherever it went. It was far too easy to grow attached to people who may cause you harm later. However Yang couldn't bring herself to regret getting close with them and, if she could admit it to herself, wanted to continue doing so.

And that scared her.

 

Ruby

Ruby woke up slowly, she was surrounded by a comforting warmth and a pleasant weight lay on her chest. Once she finally opened her eyes that registered and she startled fully awake with a muted “Eep!”, Weiss lay with her arms around Ruby and her head on Ruby's chest. Weiss’ short hair revealed her nape and upper back to Ruby, the pale expanse of skin mesmerising her for a good while.

They'd discarded an amount of their clothing, but ruby was thankful that Weiss still wore her shift and that she still had on her shirt or otherwise this would be very awkward when Weiss woke up. Speaking of, oh dust, she'd probably have to give Weiss the talk she gave yesterday as she highly doubted Weiss would remember.

Ruby was brought out of her fretting by Weiss shifting her head, ruby quickly got a view of Weiss brilliant pale blue eyes and both were momentarily frozen. Weiss then realised what she was doing and, with a fierce blush, quickly separated herself from Ruby.

“Um... Good morning?”

Not the best of ice breakers but ruby was doing her best.

“Why was that a question?”

“Errr...”

Weiss sighed slightly

“Never mind Ruby, good morning.”

Ruby's worry about having the talk again was obvious on her face, but luckily Weiss quickly assuaged that fear.

“Don't worry. I remember what we talked about last night. I apologise for being so... Improper”

Ruby's expression solidified.

“Weiss. Never. Apologise to me for showing how you feel. Ever. You can tell me whatever you want, whenever.”

Weiss flushed again and began blustering.

“Yes, well, um, well... We don't have a change of clothes but I'm at least having a shower!”

Weiss rushed off to the bathroom and soon the sound of running water could be heard. Ruby had a bit of a look around the room, it was much as she had seen that previous evening. Her eyes were drawn to a small note however which had been pushed under the door.

“Just outside the door you'll find a small briefcase, it has two of my smallest worker uniforms in it, seriously they shrunk in the wash, no use to any of the staff. I doubt you have a change of clothes with you so use those. The clothes are useless to me, keep them, though I would like the case back at some point, combination’s 473. Anyway, put in a good word with Blondie for me would you?

Junior”

Ruby opened the door a crack, grabbed the briefcase and pulled it in in a flash. Inside were, just as junior said, two small sets of his uniforms, complete with hat and sunglasses, though it was hard to tell if they were the male or female version as ruby had seen yesterday that both had trousers.

The clicking of a door closing behind her caught her attention, and as she turned her jaw hit the floor. Weiss stood their with only a towel wrapped round her. A small drop of water slowly made its way down her neck and across her collarbone.

Ok. Nope. Brain is not functioning. 404 Ruby not found.

Weiss, blushing, quickly led Ruby to the bed and sat them both down on the edge of it.

“Ruby, i-i'm a faunus. You knew that but... You don't really know it yet. I look really human and... You need to know I'm not.”

Weiss slowly reached up to her mouth and pulled out a very high end set of false teeth, revealing a mouth of sharp blade-like real ones.

Ruby reached forward in awe, slowly brushing her fingers over one of the teeth, not really realising how forward it was to be sticking her hand in Weiss' mouth. Suddenly this knowledge hit her and she jerked her hand back, catching the back of the tooth as she moved.

Ruby's fingers were fine, they didn't get cut, but the tooth easily came out and fell to the floor. Ruby was mortified and turned away, expecting to get yelled at, but Weiss just put her hand on Ruby's shoulder.

“Don't worry! They fall out all the time. Just look in the dentures, there are three in there just from the last 24 hours, it really doesn't matter.”

Ruby looked back and determination stole onto her face, she reached down and picked up the tooth she had knocked out.

“Weiss? Can I have this one?”

Ruby hoped that would show Weiss that she was fine with the teeth, it may backfire but...

Weiss looked away blushing and Ruby thought she'd blown it.

“Okay.”

The reply was quiet and more of a squeak than anything. Ruby gently put her arm round Weiss shoulders and pulled her closer.

“I don't mind Weiss. You are beautiful, some teeth won't change that. We’ll just have to be a bit careful kissing without the fake ones.”

Red slowly slid up Ruby's face as she realised what she'd said and she made a small squeak.

Not much more happened as the two dressed in junior’s suits and prepared to leave, neither could meet the other's eyes and it was too awkward to speak.

 

As they left Junior breathed a sigh of relief. His club was fine. Maybe the sister was a bit better put together than Blondie herself.

 

It didn't take long after their mad dash away from the hotel to reach the bullhead back to Beacon. They stayed mostly silent, Weiss hand slowly threading its way into Ruby's as they flew back. Beacon was still quiet, it was the weekend so classes were on hold and many students slept in. There were of course several training, the two girls both caught glimpses of Pyrrha and Jaune as they ran around the corner of the building.

 

Weiss

Weiss was slowly getting more panicky as they entered the dormitory building, she'd have to explain things to Blake and Yang wouldn't she? Her hand began to tighten on Ruby's as a buzzing enveloped her brain.

Ruby had completely shattered her fears that she'd be rejected, but now, in the face of two of the other people she cared most about (well, one she cared about and one she honestly wasn’t sure of right now) they were rising anew. By the time they approached the door to their room her thoughts were in total disarray. They were barely even coherent, careening on the jagged edge right at the precipice of a fall into total incomprehensibility. The buzzing reached a fever pitch as she pushed open the door.

The door opened to reveal Yang, lying exactly where she had been sat the night before, staring unseeingly at the underside of the bunk above, her eyes glazed over and unfocused. She didn't even react to the door opening.

And Blake was missing.

It broke.

It all tumbled down, shard after shard of thought crashing down and shattering. Weiss crumbled and slumped to the floor. Yang didn't even seem to acknowledge it. There was no sound but the buzzing now, it had graduated from an annoying vibration at the edge of her mind to the screeching rasp of a hundred chainsaws behind her eyes. If this was what yesterday's outburst had caused there was no hope left.

Blake had fled and soon everyone in Vale would know, and her father would know that they knew, and they would all react like Yang and, and, and....

Total Shutdown.

Weiss fainted.

 

She slowly rose back to consciousness with the sound of singing, a gentle lullaby her mother used to sing for her before... Before.

"Let's just dream
Quietly
Of what might be
Calm your fear
I'll be near
To you, I'll cling
Rest, my friend
Time can mend
Many things”

Weiss slowly relaxed into the grasp of someone holding her, she hadn't felt like this in years. It brought back memories of peaceful days when her family cared, when she could sit in her mother's lap and everything that scared her would just melt away, like snow in the summer sun.

"I don't know the answers
Tomorrow's still unknown
But I can make this promise
You won't be alone

I don't know where we should go
Just feeling farther from our goal
I don't know what path we will be shown
But I know that when I'm with you I'm at home
Yes, I know that when I'm with you I'm at home”

The voice singing to her was far from her mother's beautiful soprano, but even as notes were missed and it was plagued with the occasional voice crack, she could feel herself smiling. It was the most beautiful thing she had heard in years.

"There's a quiet place
In my embrace
A haven of safety where
I'll dry your tears
Shelter here
In my care

But even when we stumble
And someday when we fall
What I will remember
That I had you through it all”

Even as silent tears leaked from the corners of Weiss' eyes, she was both comforted and scared at the emotion in the singer’s voice. Weiss could tell, after years of a singing career, singing both her own songs she believed in wholeheartedly and propaganda pieces she couldn't care one whit about, it was child’s play to read emotion in song, and this rendition was full of it. Picking up her courage, she joined the singer for the last chorus, the singer stumbled a bit at another voice, but quickly recouped itself.

"I don't know where we should go
Just feeling farther from our goal
I don't know what path we will be shown
But I know that when I'm with you I'm at home
Yes, I know that when I'm with you I'm at home

Yes, I know that when I'm with you I'm at home”

Weiss slowly opened her eyes and looked at the one holding her who had been singing so beautifully, she was simultaneously surprised and completely not surprised to find that it was Ruby. A Ruby who was slowly blushing as she realised Weiss was awake. What she was completely surprised to find however was that holding both Ruby and her was Yang, Weiss on Ruby's lap, sideways on Yang's lap with Yang's arms wrapped around them both.

Weiss almost slipped back into panicking as the buzzing reared its head again, but she beat it down. Yang appeared to be helping her? Yang wouldn't help her if she hated her. At least, Weiss thought she wouldn't.

Once Yang noticed she was awake Weiss could see her lilac eyes beginning to water. The blond pulled Weiss closer, her head over Yang's shoulder.

“I'm so, so sorry Weiss!”

What?

“I was to caught up in my own thing and...”

Wait what?

“I didn't think what it could do to you,”

Why was Yang apologising?

“I already knew you were more affected by things than you act but I didn't think what revealing this would do,”

This was wrong!

“and I hurt you and I'm sorry and-“

“Stop!”

Yang pulled back and looked away.

“If you don't want me to talk to you that's fine...”

Wait what!?

“No! No, Yang, i-i... Why are you apologising?”

Yang looked at her as though it was a trick question, even she spoke it was cautious and probing.

“I... Hurt... You?”

“When?”

“When you came in! I-“

“Was lying in bed.”

Weiss was sure now that Yang was at least trying not to care about yesterday's reveal, so.... So she wouldn't hold the incident earlier against her, frankly she wasn't sure if she could, Yang had just been lying there.

“but-“

“No buts Yang. You weren't trying to hurt me, i think, so it wasn't your fault. I just overreacted... Like normal.”

Weiss turned to Ruby, the red girl’s blush had somewhat died down.

“Thank you Ruby, it was... Utterly beautiful.”

And the blush was back in force.

“I-I'm nowhere near as good as you"

Weiss scoffed.

“As much as I can't believe I’m saying this Ruby, skill isn't everything, you need heart, and you have a lot of it.”

Yang smiled and squeezed the two to her.

The three girls spent a while just hugging and enjoying the other’s company and the peace that came with it. Eventually however, Weiss couldn't ignore the Goliath in the room forever.

“I hate to break this up, but it needs to be asked. Yang? Where is Blake?”

 

Blake

Blake didn't stop. Roof to gutter to wall to windowsill to spire to lamppost and back to roof again. A darting shade, flitting over the skyline of Vale, dancing in and out of the shadows. Her pursuer was just as agile though and constantly kept pace.

Eventually, however, reason slowly trickled back into her brain and she began to wonder who she was fleeing from. She jinked round a corner into a dead end alleyway and immediately sunk into the darkness in the wake of a dumpster. The pursuer followed and skidded as they saw the concrete wall at alley's end.

Blake stepped out of the shadows, very much on edge, ears plastered to the skull, eyes wide.

“Who are you!? Why are you following me!?”

The pursuer raised his hands.

“Hey, you seemed to be upset, I just wanted to help.”

“No one 'just wants to help’ you want something. What.”

“Wow, paranoid much? I just saw a pretty girl upset and wanted to help.”

The man turned and Blake could see him properly, his messy blond hair, open shirt and absentmindedly waving tail jogged Blake's memory.

“You're that Faunus from the boat this afternoon!”

“Yup! Got it in one. Though, by now i'd say it's yesterday afternoon.”

Blake just turned away and left, he wasn't worth it, she'd continue with the plan of leaving for Vacuo as soon as she got away from him. As much as she hated it, she retied her bow. Had someone different seen her ears she'd have been ruined.

 

This plan was going to be harder than she thought. Before slipping into the wilds she had to have dropped off everyone’s radar, but still the insufferable monkey Faunus followed her around like a lost puppy. She'd lost count of the number of times she'd told him to leave her alone, but his reply was always the same.

“Hey, something's wrong, and I’m going to help you with it.”

He should realise that, at least in Vale, such behaviour was a criminal offence. She guessed he was from Vacuo, where the term 'criminal offence’ didn't really exist, but still.

 

Yang

Yang deflated at Weiss’ question.

“Blake, ah, Blake didn't take the whole 'you being a Faunus’ thing well...”

Weiss’ face fell and Ruby's hardened.

“I can't believe Blake talked so much about Faunus equality, sometimes too much, only to act like this.”

Ruby was angry, Yang could tell.

“Um, Ruby? You do realise Blake is a Faunus right?...”

“What?”

Oh dear.

“She wasn't exactly good at hiding it sis.”

“She does like tuna a lot.” Ruby mumbled under her breath.

“But then why!”

“Ruby, what's Weiss' last name?”

“...Schnee?”

“How do the Faunus view the Schnees?”

“Oh.”

 

There was no getting around it, so she may as well just blurt it out.

“Anyway, it turns out Blake may have quite recently been a member of the White Fang.”

Yang's head was bowed and she'd averted her eyes.
Ruby's eyes widened and she pulled Yang into a deep hug.

 

Weiss

Weiss had been shattered and put together so many times over the past twenty four hours that what was another one to add to the list. This would explain Blake's vehemence yesterday. But right now she was worried about Yang. The blond was crying. Yang didn't cry.

Not really knowing what to do, Weiss joined her girlfriend in hugging the girl.

“Th- thank you Weiss, I-I have some history with the Fang, and... It's not good.”

Weiss had herself of course run afoul of the Fang before, she was officially the heir to the SDC, of course she'd been a target, but Yang? Yang, in the grand scheme of things, was just a nobody.

“It was just wrong place at the wrong time really, but... The Fang corrupts good people. I think Blake is a good person but...I don’t know whether she really is.”

Weiss wanted to believe in Blake, she'd seen some glimmers of hope at a friendship when Blake let down her guard, but the general mood towards her was souring.

“I suppose... We'd better make sure then. We ask. We are going to find Blake. And we are going to see whether she is a good person or not.”

 

Blake

She had been trying to escape from the damn monkey faunus all day. It was now mid afternoon and Sun, as he'd introduced himself multiple times, was sat across from her at a small cafe. The insufferable fool hadn't let up with asking her questions. She'd had enough, she couldn't believe she was caving, but her secrets were already out. What did it matter.

“So, you want to know more about me.”

The monkey rolled his eyes at her.

“Finally, she speaks! Nearly a day and you gave me nothing but small talk and weird looks!"

Blake shot a baleful glance at him.

“Yeah, like that."

Now, try and scare him off or try to win him over? Either way...

"Sun... Are you familiar with the White Fang?"

The boy’s face turned sour.

"Of course! I don't think there's a Faunus on the planet who hasn't heard of them. Stupid, holier-than-thou creeps that use force to get whatever they want. Bunch of freaks, if you ask me!"

Blake was livid.

“How can you say that!? How can you turn your back on the only people trying to help the faunus?”

The monkey glared at her.

“The Fang hasn’t been helping the faunus for years. Of course I’d hate a group of people dragging the name of our very species through the mud.”

No... No, no, no! Was it really? Why... Then what... What had she been doing all this time? All that pain... Even after it had become too much and she'd run away, she still thought that everything she'd done before had been for something. Was it really for nothing?

“I... I was once a member of the White Fang.”

The monkey sighed.

“I thought that might be what this is about. You see them every now and again, former White Fang who fled when all the bloodshed grew too much, completely out of touch with the real state of the world outside. Still believing all the crap they were fed even afterwards.”

He sighed

“Well, come on then, tell me about it. I can't point out what you've got wrong if you don't tell me.”

Blake was almost speechless. How dare he! Although... If she really had been mistaken, and she was beginning to think she had, going along with this was likely beneficial.

“Well... I was a member for most of my life, actually. You could almost say I was born into it..."

Sun nodded

“So you never even knew what it was like outside at all.”

"Back then, things were different. In the ashes of war, the White Fang was meant to be a symbol of peace and unity between Humans and the Faunus."

“And it was. Faunus and human alike saw it as a grand step forward. Did you know that the Fang originally had human members? You can't promote equality while excluding half the people you're trying to make equal. It's fine having a group, or something, for specific types of people, but you can't do that in one with the sole purpose of bringing different groups of people together.”

Blake looked at him confused, no that couldn't be, they would never... At least... They wouldn't now... Not knowing what to do, she pressed on.

"Despite being promised equality after the war, the Faunus were subjected to discrimination and hate. Humanity still thought of us as lesser beings. And so, the White Fang rose up as a voice of our people. And I was there."

He sighed.

“Conflicts won't cause immediate change like that. People needed to work at it and... Eventually the Fang got impatient.”

"I was at the front of every rally. I took part in every boycott. I actually thought we were making a difference. But I was just a youthful optimist."

Sun leaned forward and looked straight at her.

“Here's the thing. The early Fang did make a difference, a big one, faunus were being treated pretty much normally across Vale, the massive changes were in the news quite often.”

Blake could feel her heart slowly breaking, was he really telling the truth? It was just one person's opinion but... Tears began gathering in her eyes.

"Th-then, five years ago, our leader stepped down, and a new one took his place. A new leader, with a new way of thinking."

“And here's where everything drops into the shitter.”

"Suddenly, the protests were replaced with organized attacks. We were setting fire to shops that refused to serve us, hijacking cargo from companies that used Faunus labor. And the worst part was, it was working. We were being treated like equals. But not out of respect... out of fear."

“And that is where you are most wrong. It got you no more equality, it took it away. You were being feared, and that fear bled into a fear of all faunus. To quote Professor Lunus, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” The Fang brought the fear, and with it came the suffering. Atlesian and Mistrali laws against faunus labor and the police’s attitude towards faunus suspects tanked. Now even in Vale you have shops that refuse to serve faunus, something that was unheard of seven or so years ago.”

Blake was a mess, her last few sentences came out stuttered and interspersed with gasps, tears running freely down her face.

"I always thought a few people inconvenienced for change was worth it, but... There was too much, too much damage to other’s livelihoods. I never killed anyone but...I could feel blood on my hands, so I left. I decided I no longer wanted to hurt anyone, so I ran, and stumbled here, into Beacon. I fell asleep on the doorstep of the Beacon entrance exam and somehow ended up taking it. So here I am: a criminal hiding in plain view, all with the help of a little black bow."

She curled up, had she really caused all that? Really?

... What should she do now? How could she go on? She really didn't know.

 

Weiss

Ruby, Weiss and Yang were walking through the streets of Vale, looking out for their teammate. Both Ruby and Weiss were still wearing Junior’s suits, they hadn't taken time to change... Weiss was also finding that yes, she enjoyed wearing trousers instead of her skirts.

Initially the sisters had taken to shouting Blake's name as they walked around, but after many annoyed looks, and a lecture from Weiss about how a person trying to hide likely wouldn't come out when their name was called, they had been persuaded to stop.

Ruby scratched her head.

“Maybe we should ask the police for help?”

She'd asked this question a few times now so even Yang chipped in, joining Weiss' response.

“And what happens when we have to explain that she ran away because we found out she was a White Fang member?”

Frankly Weiss was beginning to lose hope in finding Blake.

Weiss was startled out of her thoughts by a call from behind.

“Sal-u-tations!”

Weiss felt relieved as, for the first time in hours, a smile crept on to Ruby's face.

“Penny!”

“Ruby!”

The two girls hugged and Weiss had to admit that she felt a small twinge of jealousy.

“Hey guys! What are you up to?”

Yang was the first to answer.

"We're looking for our friend Blake."

"Ooooh, you mean the Faunus girl!"

Ruby looked dismayed

“Was it really that obvious?”

Penny pointed at her head.

"Uhh, Yeah? the cat ears? ...So, where is she?"

Weiss sighed

“We don't actually know. She's been missing since last night."

Penny gasped and turned to Ruby.

"That's terrible! Well, don't you worry Ruby, my friend! I won't rest until we find your teammate!"

Weiss would really much rather that Penny didn't walk around with them, she'd rather be walking around with just Ruby. Ruby's reaction seemed to betray that she had a similar thought pattern.

“Uh, that's really nice of you, Penny, but we're okay! Really! Right, guys?"

Unfortunately Yang had begun sneakily dragging Weiss off and hid them behind a wall.

“What are you doing Yang?”

“Ruby doesn't have many friends Weiss! I want her to make some more.”

Well crap, Weiss forgot that Yang didn't yet know of her and Ruby's new situation. She was not having the big sister talk in the middle of Vale. She may as well go along with it for now.

 

Blake

It had been about an hour, the sun was beginning it's approach to the horizon, and Blake had finally somewhat recovered from her shock. In this case ‘recovered’ actually only means got to the stage she wasn't crying in a ball. She still didn't believe everything Sun had said.

“Even if the White Fang has caused all these problems, I can't see them being involved in these dust robberies.”

Sun looked puzzled.

“Why? The Fang hate the SDC and most dust comes from them.”

Blake shook her head.

“The robberies have been indiscriminate, Schnee Dust or not. More importantly, it doesn't fit what we normally did. We went in, trashed the shop and then took the money and enough dust to keep us supplied. Here, most of the time, they are not destroying the shop, they are milking it, of dust and only dust. They don't take the money, they let the shop restock and they hit it again, we never wanted the shop to restock. I expect the strain of additional production has made situations in the mines even worse, also, far more dust has been stolen than the Valean White Fang has ever needed.”

Sun thought for a moment.

“What if they did need that much dust?”

Blake looked at him quizzically.

“Look, if the Fang for some reason needed a massive amount of dust, they'd go to the place they could get the most for the smallest risk.”

“But where would that be?”

“You said they've been hitting dust shops, small, mostly defenceless, high payout, the perfect target. While they’re going for those it would be a nightmare pinning down which shop they'd hit next, but now the dust shortage has caused something else.”

“What?”

“The Kingdom is running low on dust, so what do they do? They call for more. A big dust ship, coming into port. Due to... Circumstances, it was crawling with security last night, so if the thieves were going to raid it they'd postpone it. When we went past the docks earlier I noticed they were unloading it, so it's going to be fully unloaded about... Now actually. Many tons of dust lying in a harbour cargo yard with minimal security? Gold mine, right there. Biggest target for miles. Best of all, it's Schnee Dust, logo printed everywhere.”

 

Ruby

“So, Blake is your friend?"

Ruby looked down, Penny had been giving her these sort of questions continuously. Ruby liked the odd girl, she really did, but she was quickly getting tired of this.

"Yes, Penny."

"But you're mad at her?"

"No, we’re worried about her, well, and slightly mad that she's run off like this.”

"But why did she run off?"

"Well, you see, Blake might not be who we thought she was..."

"Is she a man?"

"No! No, Penny. She's... It's complicated”

"I don't have a lot of friends, but if I did, I would want them to talk to me about things."

"Me too Penny, me too...”

 

Blake

The sun had finally set, Blake was lying on her belly on the roof of a building overlooking the storage yard where the dust containers were being kept. Every crate was emblazoned with the Schnee Snowflake. The yard was completely deserted bar her.

“Did I miss anything?"

Sun jumped up onto the building beside Blake.

"Not really. They've offloaded the last crate from the boat a few minutes ago. Now they're just sitting there. With no security. Whoever runs this dock is pretty much asking for it to be stolen.”

"Cool. I stole you some food!"

"And you say the Fang are dragging the faunus down. Do you always break the law without giving a second thought?"

Sun looked puzzled for a moment

“Huh, suppose it is a bit odd.”

He waved an apple around

“Doing this sort of thing is just pretty normal in Vacuo. Speaking of odd things, if you were so driven to get away from Vale, why are you staking this out? Shouldn't you be leaving?”

Blake looked down.

“You gave me some things to think about and... If it really is the Fang stealing this dust I... I need to see it from the outside. See exactly what they're doing.”

The two were interrupted by the sound of engines as a pair of bullheads swept into the yard, their searchlights flickering over the containers. The two faunus pressed themselves to the roof.

Once the bullheads landed Blake gave out a quiet squeak. It really was the Fang, that uniform is unmistakable.

"Oh no..."

"Is that them?"

"Yes... It's them."

Below them a grunt began issuing orders

"All right, grab the tow cables!"

But the two observers were rather preoccupied. Sun sighed.

"You really didn't think they were behind it, did you?"

Blake thought for a moment

“No I didn't. But... But thinking back to the way things had been going I should have done."

Sun turned to look at her.

“Do you still really think that the Fang taking that dust is a good thing?”

Blake shut her eyes.

“I-i...”

Blake was then cut off by a voice from below.

“Hey! What's the holdup!? We're not exactly the most inconspicuous bunch of thieves at the moment, so why don't you animals try to pick up the pace?"

Blake started.

"This doesn't make sense! The White Fang would never work with a Human who talks like that!”

Blake slipped to the ground and hid in the shadows below. Sun almost let out an exclamation but realised that it would very easily reveal their presence.

Blake crept around the edges of crates until she approached the man who had called the grunts animals before. His blazing orange hair, white coat and fairly elaborate makeup for a man bespoke that he was more used to flashy displays than espionage. Blake used a few moments of distraction while he berated a grunt to leap forward and grab him, taking his arms out of commission and pinning Gambol Shroud's blade to his neck.

"Nobody move!"

The White Fang members nearby raised their weapons at her in response. The man she was restraining quickly spoke up in a confident, almost mocking, tone.

"Whoa! Take it easy there, little lady."

Blake quickly untied her bow, making sure to keep the human restrained.

"Brothers of the White Fang! Why are you aiding this scum?"

Some of the Fang seem to question why they are following him themselves, lowering their weapons and murmuring to each other. Before they take much action however, the human began to laugh.

"Oh, kid, didn't you get the memo?"

Apprehension slid into Blake's tone.

"What are you talking about?"

The man smirked, though Blake couldn't see it, his voice becoming even more confident and self-assured.

"The White Fang and I are going in on a joint business venture together! All above board, strictly a business relationship if you know what I mean. Well... Above board for folks like us.”

Something big going on? What could that be? Blake was becoming increasingly unnerved. The Fang members, though she couldn't see their faces behind the masks, seemed increasingly hostile. Was this what it was like to be greeted by the masks? Dust, how had she expected to be treated normally while masked?

“Tell me what it is or I'll put an end to your little operation."

A whining sound and the thump of turbines on the air predicated the arrival of three more bullheads. The smirk on her captive's face widens as he looks up.

"I wouldn't exactly call it a little operation..."

The man then fired a shot from his cane at his feet, just after the explosion knocked her flying Blake mentally berated herself for not considering that maybe the cane was more than just a stick.

 

Ruby

A relatively short distance away Ruby was walking with Penny, still trying to get her to understand the situation. Now that she'd been abandoned by Weiss and Yang she had three people to look for.

Ruby was never one to ignore something happening, so when she heard an explosion nearby, she had to investigate.

 

Weiss

Weiss was in a little bit of a panic, less than she had been earlier, but still. It turned out that Yang did know of her and Ruby's new... Situation. Apparently Ruby had blurted it out while Weiss had been passed out that morning. Yang, on the whole, seemed remarkably ok with it, Weiss had been expecting her to fly into a rage at Weiss being presumptuous enough to get in a relationship with her sister.

“Weiss, so long as you are both happy, I'm fine with it. That's all that really matters in a relationship. Me and Ruby don’t exactly come from the most normal of families anyway, so I can't really complain. I like you both, if this makes you happy go for it. Just make sure you realise that if at some point you hurt her, and I mean either deliberately do something too hurt her or make an incredibly dumb decision that hurts her, not accidentally bruise her in training or something, I will get on your ass about it. I'll also get on her ass if she hurts you but, y'know, sister, I'll likely go easier on her.”

After this talk Weiss was actually enjoying spending time with Yang, even the godawful puns managed to produce a few laughs. Unfortunately they were pulled out of their fun by an explosion from the direction of the docks. They spared a brief glance at each other before taking off in that direction.

 

Blake

Blake recovered from the explosion quickly, her head was still ringing slightly and her ears were really quite painful. Other than that however she appeared to have got off fairly lightly. The orange haired human, who she had recognised as Roman Torchwick from seeing him on the VNN, continued to fire at her. Rapidly dodging out of the way of the violent orange explosions that were sending shards of concrete dock in all directions, she took shelter behind another container.

Roman continued to use the same tone he had earlier, mocking her as he approached.

“Here, kitty, kitty, kitty..."

He was interrupted by an apple knocking his bowler hat off, he quickly caught the hat on the butt of his cane and turned to face Sun who had just leapt down from the roof.

"Leave her alone!"

One of the bullheads hovering above moved over and dropped a contingent of White Fang around Roman. The other four merely continued to work on taking dust. Cargo holds were being stuffed, containers were being wired up to undercarriages. In the grand scheme of things Sun and Blake's interruption was barely worth considering. Roman remained smug and continued his jokes.

"You're not the brightest banana in the bunch, are you, kid?"

The Fang mob began to approach Sun, before they could initiate a fight Sun jumped right into their midst with fists flying. Few if any of his opponents had aura and his attacks left broken bones and bloody noses in his wake. The press of opponents did eventually begin to overwhelm him so he pulled out a collapsible red staff and set upon the foes anew. The crack of dust infused wood against skulls and limbs rang out through the yard, until eventually the last one fell with a thrust under the chin.

Blake was biding her time behind the container, hoping Roman would drop his guard. A second bullhead's worth of grunts had joined the fight, seeing that the battle wasn’t going too well for their comrades. Even with these reinforcements Sun was doing remarkably well, his skill in mob fights honed by many years involvement with Vacuan street combat. Blake could see Roman obviously getting angrier as he growled under his breath. Eventually he broke and fired three shots at Sun, throwing the stone around his feet in all directions and sending Sun staggering until he tripped and fell backwards.

Blake took this opportunity to get in close, maintaining her silence so as not to give away her attack. Unfortunately it seemed Roman was expecting an attack as he blocked Gambol Shroud with his cane without even looking in her direction.

Wary of his skill and detection ability Blake upped her speed, darting around him and sending in probing attacks. No matter what she threw at him, that cane was always there to block it until she was stuck directly across the belly from a particularly vicious swing and flew into the side of a container, denting the metal.

Sun was slowly recovering from the blasts he'd suffered, his balance was shot and he was quite unsteady for a few moments. He recovered just in time to see Blake get thrown into the container and quickly occupied Roman so he couldn't finish the job. Sun hadn't been holding back earlier per se, but he certainly pulled out all the stops this time, hammering into Roman with his staff. Using the momentum from one swing which cracked over the ginger's shoulder, he split his staff into a set of four guns, each pair chained together like nunchucks. These began a hail of assault directly in Roman’s face, strike and shot alike thundered at him but again they were almost all blocked by that infernal cane. A few good hits did land, but nowhere near enough. Blake dashed forward and managed to get in a good slash on Roman’s back although it didn't do much through the man's aura.
By now Roman had had enough, he flicked a switch on his cane and fired two shots, one at each opponent. The explosions from these shots were much larger than the previous and sent both faunus skidding across the concrete surface, Blake again impacting a container and sun coming to a halt a meter or so from the water’s edge.

In her delirious state Blake was fairly defenceless, but she did hear a rather distorted shout from a voice she recognised.

"Hey!"

It was Ruby, Blake wasn't sure whether to be happy or apprehensive.

 

Ruby

Ruby had jumped onto a nearby roof, she had decided that there wasn't enough time to find a proper entrance. Better to get there quickly via a dubious route than take ages and get there far too late. She reached the roof just in time to see Roman blowing Blake and Sun away. Let's just say that Ruby didn't exactly appreciate seeing her friend get semi-exploded so she shouted.

Ruby had immediately recognised Torchwick, not only had she seen him on the news, she had had a bit of an... Altercation, with him a few months ago. In an odd way she was actually slightly thankful to him, because without him she wouldn't have been allowed to attend Beacon when she did. She also recognised the other people moving around the yard, well, it took a little while, but she did. And like that any doubt about Blake vanished. Blake was fighting Roman. Roman was nicking dust. The White Fang were helping Roman. Therefore, Blake was fighting the White Fang.

Roman was no less mocking to Ruby than he had been to any of the faunus.

"Well, hello, Red! Isn't it past your bedtime?”

Penny didn't seem to have much idea of the situation.

"Ruby, are these people your friends?"

Penny why!? The situation is a little complicated...

“Penny, get back!"

While Ruby was distracted Roman sent a blast her way, she was blown over backwards and skidded across the roof. Crescent Rose was sent skittering away, it wasn't far away but wasn't exactly within arm’s reach.

 

Roman Torchwick

Dust this wasn't going to plan. Why had there been so many interruptions? It was a simple job, in with the grunts, grab the loot and fly out. Thus far this new gig had been going fairly well. Pay was kinda crap but... There were more important things.

Roman’s intuition was his most important asset and it was screaming. He could tell this whole thing would crash and burn, well, at least for the boots on the ground.

For now however... Now the priority was deal with the interlopers and get out. So. Keep up the facade and do what you always do. Bluff the hell out of i-

Roman's train of thought was completely catapulted across the wasteland as a fist impacted the side of his face. He somersaulted several times as he flew across the dock until he smashed into a container for a change.

 

Yang

Yang and Weiss reached the docks only a short while after Ruby, they were just in time to see Roman’s shot towards Ruby. To say Yang was pissed was an understatement. Before Weiss could grab her and try to arrange a proper plan, Yang charged across the yard and socked Roman as hard as she could. Her eyes burning crimson all the while. Weiss just facepalmed as Yang ran off.

“Have a little tact Yang!”

Yang didn't much care at that point about tact. All she really cared about was planting her fist into this fop's face.

 

Ruby

As Ruby slowly got up from being thrown she looked up right into a pair of bright green eyes.

“Aaah! Penny!”

She recoiled at the slight shock.

“Um... Ruby? It's become a little bit more confusing. Which ones are your friends?”

Ruby scrambled to the edge of the roof and looked down into chaos.

Yang was beating on Roman, Weiss was doing her best to disable the bullheads while keeping the Fang off her back, made a bit easier by Blake and that monkey faunus from earlier taking the fight to them.

“Err.... The ones in the masks and the guy in the hat aren't my friends.”

Penny stood up at the edge of the roof and looked like she was going to jump down. Ruby was a little worried, Penny didn't exactly seen like someone who would be that good in a fight. Ruby supposed she was kinda being a pot calling a kettle black, but even so.

"Penny, wait! Stop!"

“Don't worry, Ruby. I'm combat ready!"

Ruby gaped as Penny's small backpack quickly opened up, from within rose a single sword, suspended on gossamer thin wires. This sword then split into nine as Ruby’s mind raced through ideas for how that level of compaction was achieved.

Penny sprung from the roof, she seemed to float somewhat during the descent, almost as if the floating swords were generating lift. She then began to direct the wired swords in a puppetry display of absolute precision. Swords sung across the battlefield, finding Fang and only Fang. Penny pirouetting and cartwheeling as they went. Bullets either flew past her or impacted perfectly placed swords.

Sun's reaction, an awed “Woah...” pretty much summed up Ruby's reaction as well. Probably what the other girls were feeling as well. The sight was so mesmerising that Yang's fight with Roman had sort of ground to a halt, as Roman realised quite how screwed he was.

Weiss had succeeded in disabling a bullhead, but three of the remaining four turned their guns on Penny, the machine fire tearing up the concrete surface. Penny jumped back out of the firing line and arranged her swords in a circle, within which formed a massive glowing ball of green light which was unleashed in the form of a laser at the three bullheads.

Two of the bullheads were completely bisected, one spilled out a full crew, one individual unfortunately as bisected as the vessel, the other only dropped the pilot as the measure of the troops had been taken out by Sun earlier.

Penny then skewered the third bullhead with four swords and the ground with the other five, she then grounded the vessel using purely her own strength pulling on the cables.

Ruby was impressed enough that she voiced her thoughts out loud.

“Whoa... How did she do that?"

 

Roman

Ok this was a lost cause. Cut the chaff and get out, you aren't the only one who needs you nicking stuff. As he fled to the final bullhead, Roman too couldn't restrain himself from voicing his thoughts out loud.

"These kids just keep getting weirder..."

 

Blake

Blake wasn't sure whether to panic and flee, or try to blend in. Being in the presence of cops at the scene of a crime which involved an organisation you were recently part of would do that to you.

She'd kinda just sat herself in the shade of some creates against a wall and decided to wait out the figurative storm.

Her team being there was another worry, she fully expected them to blab to the police and frankly? She was beginning to think she'd deserve it.

Her musing was shattered by a flying hug.
Blake, now keeled over from the force of the hug, looked down (or was it to the side since she was knocked over?) To see Ruby clinging to her tightly.

“Please don't run away.”

Blake froze.

In her stunned state she didn't notice Weiss and Yang's approach till they too had their arms around her.

Blake was surprised that it was Weiss who broke the silence, and shocked by what Weiss said.

“We’ve had a discussion Blake, and we don't care. You made it obvious tonight that you aren't part of the White Fang anymore and frankly that's good enough for me.”

Yang then continued.

“To be honest Blake, I'm still kind of worried, I've seen what the Fang can do to people but... If I can help you I will.”

Blake wasn't sure entirely what to do. Should she go back to Beacon with them, or should she run away? She briefly entertained flight, but then she thought back to her conversation with sun. Was it all true? She wouldn't find out in Vacuo, the Fang had little presence there, if she really wanted the truth, there would be no better place than Beacon.

Blake slowly reciprocated the hug, and a few silent tears trailed from closed eyelids to the corners of her mouth as she gently smiled.

 

Ozpin

Ozpin was stood in his office, smothered in the clicking of gears, anything to remind him that time still turned, that the world was not quite stagnant. The events on his scroll intrigued him, he knew that this particular team would be effective, but to this extent? It was a pleasant surprise. A rather more unpleasant surprise was the presence of what he could only assume was Ironwood’s little project. The weapons were identical to those of the prototype Ozpin had been shown before he ordered the program terminated. These things were an unwanted and uncontrollable variable. A whole new pendulum being added to a clock that was already far too complicated and drifting on the edge of control. How was he expected to turn the key and wind up society if the turn combination kept changing?

Another message popped up in the corner of his scroll.

TOP QUEEN HAS MIDDLE BOARD PAWNS, QUEEN, KNIGHT AND BISHOP SET TO CROSS MIDDLE BOARD.

 

Roman

Roman had retreated to one of his warehouses. That operation had been a colossal failure, and what's worse, his intuition had yet to stop screaming at him.

“How very disappointing, Roman."

And here was probably why. His bitch of a boss.

“Well, I wasn't expecting to see you guys so soon.”

“We were expecting... more from you."

"And I was not expecting grunts who get taken out by children. Again."

“You will continue with your work.We have big plans, Roman. All we ask is... a little cooperation."

If not for... Extenuating circumstances, this was a job he wouldn't touch with a barge pole. But needs must.

Chapter Text

Glynda Goodwitch

Why in the name of dust had Glynda agreed to this job? This annoying, frustrating, repetitive task of cleaning up after students who should know better. She had spent the last five hours in a meeting with Vale’s Harbour Supervisor as he droned on about how Beacon should control it’s pupils. Eventually she lost patience.

“With all due respect Mr Atalan, this situation would never have occurred if you had just done your job.”

The portly man gaped at her flabbergasted.

“Well I never... We are here to discuss your students breaking into and fighting in a Kingdom owned facility while in the process destroying several thousand lien worth of Dust, and yet you have the audacity to try and shift the blame onto me?!”

The man's face had turned an odd shade of puce. Unfortunately for him, his bluster washed over Glynda without even making her flinch.

“Yes I will blame you. Beacon’s students combatted and repelled a White Fang terrorist attack, on territory you were responsible for, when you failed to arrange security. This would all have been prevented had you performed your duty to an acceptable standard. I shall be providing a full report of this incident to the council and simultaneously submitting an application to have you replaced by someone who can actually run the docks properly. The council had already had many complaints about you, this is likely the straw that will break the camel’s back.”

Glynda then stood, turned on her heel and quickly walked out, leaving Mr Atalan gaping at her retreating silhouette.

 

Roman

Roman sprinted away from his first attempted robbery since the docks, his intuition had been burbling away at the edge of his mind ever since. It was as he feared, security was up. That attack had opened up a can of worms for Vale’s underbelly, too big, too bold, it was the sort of thing under the purview of the Mistral Cartels, not an independent contractor like Roman. Dust theft would be harder than ever now.

Roman ducked into an alleyway and pried up a flagstone, dropping into a tunnel below. The Ratpaths, Vale’s original sewer system, dry and disused now. Few knew of the Ratpaths, they only ran under the city's older districts but most were large enough to walk through and as such were extremely useful to a guy like Roman. As he walked through the dark tunnel, tapping his way with his cane as a blind person would, he came to a decision. As much as he stood by his choice to send her away and keep her out of this mess, he needed her now. What the plan was after she arrived, well... He'd think of something.

Roman pulled his scroll out, the light viciously bright in the dark tunnel, a few things Roman would rather not know about skittered out of the light. He navigated through hidden menus until he came to his contacts page.

Bonaparte

Cheap groceries are becoming harder to find, big accident in the supply chain I think. Could use your help keeping the missus off my back. Sorry to cut into your free time but assistance world be appreciated.

Candles.

 

Jaune

Jaune was slightly annoyed when he heard what had gone down at the docks. Not because he particularly wanted to participate himself or he believed team RWBY couldn't handle it, more because, well, he was worried what would have happened if they hadn't been able to handle it. Just as Ruby had once done for him, he gave her a little talking to.

“Ruby, if something like this ever happens again, at least make sure people know about it. What would have happened if one of you was seriously hurt? Fighting humans isn't like fighting Grimm, Grimm are simple and incapable of cruelty, humans are complex and we can be real spiteful when we want to be.

Team JNPR will be there to help you if you need and, well, none of us want to see any of you hurt.”

Team JNPR as a whole had roughly shared his sentiments, Nora nodding along with his short speech.

There was rather more of a reaction when Ruby and Weiss decided to reveal their new relationship.

Nora practically became a cruise missile as she launched across JNPR's dorm room into the two girls, a loud 'Squeeeee!’ pretty much summed up her thoughts on the matter. Ren, stoic as always gave them just a smile and a nod as they struggled to extract themselves from the orange haired menace. Pyrrha gave them a polite congratulations and a smile but she seemed kinda awkward with it, as if she wasn't exactly sure how to react.

Surprisingly to Jaune, Blake had the biggest reaction, stopping and staring at them, Jaune was slightly surprised that Blake didn't already know, but eh, no matter. Based on how they were acting there were new untested bonds within team RWBY. Blake was eventually brought out of her surprise by heckling from Yang.

Jaune himself had an unusual reaction to the relationship revelation, resolve. Jaune had always been different from the others in the Arc Compound, kept separate like a statue of glass. He hadn’t known how to interact with the others in the compound. In Beacon he'd forcibly ignored his inexperience and dread and pushed on, but he recognised something familiar in Pyrrha. Detachment. Pyrrha was world renowned, how likely was it that she'd ever been treated normally? Jaune liked Pyrrha, he wouldn't deny it. He merely had to work up the courage to ask her, and if dorky little Ruby could do it, so could he. Eventually.

Not now, obviously, a little too public for his liking.

 

Ruby

Ruby nervously shifted from foot to foot as her team stood within the lift to Ozpin's office. The other members of RWBY were all nervous as well though they had different ways of expressing it. Blake was leant against the back corner of the compartment, bow plastered to her skull. Yang paced the short distance she could in the confined space, i.e. roughly two steps wall to wall and Weiss just stood almost to attention staring blankly ahead. She seemed all too used to the sensation of traveling to what they were all sure would be a viscous tongue lashing.

Eventually the lift binged and they stepped out of the opening doors. The four arrayed themselves before Ozpin's desk, the sisters unconsciously partially shielding the more disturbed Weiss and Blake behind themselves.

Ozpin was stood behind his desk, mug in one hand and the other on the cap of his cane. He was looking out of his window with his back to the girls. It was obvious that, within his excellent view of Vale, it was the docks miles away that was his focus. Though there was little outward sign of the ruckus that had occurred the night before, no fires burning or collapsed buildings, there were most definitely consequences. A large number of dust containers had either been dealt enough damage to put the dust within into a highly volatile state, making the dust useless for most everyday applications, or fallen into the sea after Penny brought down the bullheads, turning the powdered dust into an unusable slurry.

The docks were under major investigation by the council, who were none to pleased with Beacon for the incident. It seemed like a large overhaul of Vale's security systems was underway also.

But this didn't really matter to the girls, all they really cared about was how much trouble they were in, and what ladders were available to climb out. Whatever happened, they had all decided, there was too be no crab bucket in this situation, either they all got out, or they all stayed in.

“I suppose some form of congratulation must be offered, you did succeed in stopping what could have been the single largest robbery on Valean soil in over thirty years. At the cost of a massively increased workload for Vale’s council of course, but you should still be commended for it.”

Ozpin turned to face them and placed his mug on the desk before sitting in his chair and leaning forward.

“On the other hand, you did break many of Vale’s laws doing so. Trespass, property damage etc. And of course, you increased the council's workload. Needless to say, they aren't too happy.

As protocol demands, I have sent letters to your parents, where applicable, and will be expecting a response eventually. Beacon will be sticking to the academies' policy however, and as accepting admission to an academy is tantamount to signing a non-disclosure agreement about huntsman practices, only individuals who have signed a similar document, a group which basically only consists of graduated individuals, will be allowed onto the grounds. As such unless your parents are Huntsmen you stand no risk of being subjected to a parental visit. In addition, as all your parents live overseas, and Huntsmen trainees are likely to attempt to perform as Huntsmen while traveling, you also cannot be permitted to return, or be forcibly summoned, home until the end of the year. Just as ordinarily students are expected to stay within the city of Vale’s borders while on holiday, unless they would be under a huntsman’s control at home.

In terms of punishment, the council wanted me to levy considerable punishment upon you, but this school is my domain, and, though you perhaps didn't go about what you did in the best manner possible, you still performed a great service to Vale.

As such, for the duration of the holiday, you are confined to Beacon grounds and prohibited from visiting Vale proper. You are expected to report every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at eleven am to the combat classroom for extra lessons with Miss Goodwitch. As I expect you will likely get into more incidents like these later in your schooling we may as well make you as prepared as possible.”

Yang squinted at him

“Sir... Is that it?”

“Miss Xiao Long, I am sure that if I put my mind to it I could find additional punishment for the four of you. If you would prefer that, I will oblige.”

“No! No, it's fine.”

He took a sip from his mug as they filed out, Ruby had noticed a worrying shift in Weiss stance at mention of letters sent to parents, she had grown even stiffer and was almost marching as the team filed into the lift.

 

Team RWBY

It seemed Ruby was not alone in noticing Weiss mood, once the lift doors closed Yang wrapped Weiss in a hug which Ruby quickly joined. Blake wasn't exactly sure why they were all hugging, but when Weiss began to shake and grasp harder at the sisters she quickly realised that something was wrong. Despite all the recent drama, Blake had spent some time to analyse her interactions with Weiss and had still turned up a blank for any negative action from her. So Blake too joined the hug, awkwardly as she wasn't used to that sort of thing, but no less genuinely.

 

The four girls eventually returned to their dormitory, emotions running the gamut from relieved to terrified.
Yang and Ruby, who had been the initially relieved ones nodded at each other, the situation needed to be marked out. Ruby shut the door and Yang led the monochrome pair to Weiss' bed.

“Well. We've got some stuff we haveta go over now. First, Weiss. Note that I don't care whether you are a faunus, however, I do care about you. I have noticed various... Oddities as the term's gone on. No matter how good you are at hiding them, sometimes they slip through. You froze when Ozpin mentioned sending letters home.”

Weiss went perfectly still.

“Weiss, no matter what is going on in your family, me and Ruby will help you. We know what is like to not exactly have a perfect family. If helping you involves us fighting someone, well, Ruby'd definitely jump in to save you, and I won't let her jump into danger on her own.”

Weiss wasn't exactly sure how to feel, the offer was appreciated but she was terrified her father would hurt them, he certainly had the political clout.

“No! You can't anger my father! He’ll...”

Her voice petered out and she curled into a ball on edge of the bed. Ruby immediately moved forward to comfort her, surprisingly she was beaten to the punch by Blake, who wrapped Weiss in her arms. Blake may not understand most of what was going on or be able to understand Weiss’ situation, but she most certainly understood what it felt like to be afraid of Jacques Schnee. Blake's hug didn't stop Ruby and Yang from joining in.

Eventually they all pulled away, the situation wasn’t fixed by any means, but now at least they knew where everyone stood.

“Blake, much the same as Weiss, I don't care that you are a faunus, what I do care about is that you were a member of the White Fang. My experience with the Fang isn't exactly positive, and I can't trust anyone who is currently a member. I need you to tell me where you stand.”

Blake looked into her lap for a few moments.

“I-i can't say that I regret the Fang forming, or even joining. However... I can't pretend that I didn't see what happened at the docks and... And looking back I see that a lot of what we did was more out of anger than trying to make a difference. I... I can't say I support the Fang as it currently is.”

Blake tensed, ready for Yang to shout at her for still in some way supporting the group, she was quite surprised at Yang's reaction.

“Well then! Good enough for me! Now. Weiss, Blake, you two need to have a little talk, sort things out.”

Yang very quickly ushered Ruby out the room, leaving the monochrome pair alone.

 

Weiss & Blake

Neither Weiss nor Blake really knew what to make of being left alone together. There was an awkward silence, bridged only by even more awkward looks at each other. After about a minute they both jumped as Yang stuck her head back through the door.

“You know, to sort stuff out you haveta talk!”

After Yang retreated, Weiss started the conversation as someone had to.

“Blake, I've known who you were since the beginning, pretty sure you knew that, and if you look back you should realise I've never treated you differently.”

Blake had realised that and, separating the whole Schnee situation from the equation, Blake had to admit she'd been a bit of a bitch. And not just to Weiss, to... Pretty much everyone. The longer she spent away from the Fang, the more her hatred and anger towards how faunus were treated seemed to mellow. She still believed they should be treated well, but she couldn’t see why she had been so vitriolic about it.

“Weiss, i-I'm sorry. I've treated you awfully and it was all really due to your father-“

“No relation.”

“What?”

“No relation to Jacques Gelé. I have the Schnee bloodline semblance, the Schnee bloodline hair, something he has to dye in, and do you really think that the Hyena would deign to lie with a faunus?”

Blake was surprised by Weiss use of Hyena, a fairly popular name to call the head of the SDC among faunus. Hyenas are animals known for killing just because they feel like it and also for stealing from the work of other animals. Many faunus thought this suited Jacques perfectly. The same stereotype had actually been true of the small tribe of Hyena faunus who were later almost obliterated in violent interclan warfare over a century and a half before the SDC was even formed. This gave the benefit of there being few Hyena faunus around to get annoyed at the name.

“Look, Blake. We got off on the wrong foot, thanks to preconceived notions and more than a little stress. We've worked out some things and some secrets have been outed. Let's just put what's happened behind us and work towards what is coming. Oh, we’ll probably muck it up multiple times, but I'm going to try.”

Weiss held out her hand to Blake.

“Nice to meet you, I am Weiss Schnee.”

Blake smiled and took the hand.

“Nice to meet you Weiss, I'm Blake Belladonna.”

 

Jacques Schnee

Jacques was ballistic.

He was ballistic at quite a few people, for quite a few different reasons. The Vale council, for letting his cargo get attacked, though that did just mean that they would buy more. The White Fang, for attacking something that was still technically under his control. The mutts served a purpose, keeping opinion of their kind were it belonged, but sometimes they could be so aggravating.

But most of all, he was ballistic at his so called daughter. Yet another incident, and this one at a national level! At least it shined some positive light on her, “Schnee heiress protects against terrorist attack!” could be spun well into a story, but so could “Schnee heiress breaks into Vale docks then assaults people and damages dust”.

In addition, it went completely contrary to the image he'd spent years cultivating for her of the prim and proper highborn heiress. From the security footage he'd seen she looked like a criminal! Wearing a male suit, in red and black for dust’s sake! Her colours were white and light blue, the Schnee colours! With the short hair and male attire she looked the part of any two-bit backalley thug.

He knew letting her go to beacon would be a disaster, and the damn terms and conditions of accepting the offer of admission were a legal minefield. He'd as of yet found no loophole for extracting her early bar expulsion, he refused to use that option, as expulsion would also seriously mar her reputation.

Mark his words however, she would regret this when he could get his hands on her again.

Chapter Text

Blake

The holiday was now in full swing. The girls had three weeks of almost classless time to themselves. While this allowed them time to mess around and have fun, it also gave time to let minds wander, and not necessarily to good places.

Blake was probably the most affected, no matter how hard she tried, she kept on having to catch herself as she almost assumed something. She had pledged to herself to consider each situation’s circumstances before coming to a decision and she had noticed some... Disturbing things.

Most majorly, apart from a few problem individuals, including team BSR (Bistre), the remainder of team CRDL, she had been unable to find much discrimination towards the faunus. Of course there had been the occasional dispute and angry comment between individuals which in the past she would have labelled as discrimination. Now, it was universally known that the academies, perhaps barring Atlas, were far more egalitarian than elsewhere in the kingdoms, so the levels of discrimination within Beacon likely didn't represent that within Vale itself, but still.

This wasn't the thing that scared her the most however, though very rare, she had noticed a tendency among a few faunus to label anything happening to them they didn't like as discrimination. It was a risk free way of getting what they wanted.

Within the team, Blake had reached a sort of unstable balance. Ruby, as always, didn't really care. She wasn't being malicious, she just didn't change how she treated people.

Yang... Yang had been a lifesaver. Blake wasn't sure she'd have been able to re-adjust as quickly as she did without Yang. She was just... Always there, a hand when you needed it, a hug when you were down, an ear when you needed to vent or a voice when you just needed to hear someone. Blake didn't know how she managed it, came with being a big sister she supposed, but even so Yang was amazing.

Although it had been painful for the both of them, no questioning that, Blake and Yang had begun to discuss their conflicting experiences of the Fang. Though the Patch Protest, as it was known, was the first time Yang encountered the Fang, it was not the only time. In actuality, that protest was one of the many factors that led to the Fang’s change in leadership. Multiple times, before Blake's transfer from the Mistral branch to the Value branch, the Fang had attempted to set up a presence on Patch. The island was a natural fortress and was placed on multiple trade routes, it's strategic placement was undeniable. Eventually, just after Blake transferred actually, the new leader of the Vale branch decided that they had wasted far too many resources on such a small population and abandoned the island.
Blake's experiences of friends and comrades clashed horribly with Yang's experiences of fanatics and zealots, but the more Blake began to see both sides, the more she noticed things lining up. Nothing is black and white, but nobody finds attempting to work on a greyscale gradient particularly enjoyable. Us and them is far more palatable.

Blake and Weiss relationship was... Ok? Both had taken their earlier discussion to heart and for pretty much all intents and purposes rebooted their relationship. Of course neither could just forget earlier events, but situations were different now. Blake tried as best she could to think of Weiss as Weiss, and not a Schnee, but sometimes the whisperings of that voice in her head managed to influence her actions. Weiss was extraordinarily accepting of these slip ups, far more than Blake would be, but they still put a damper on their interactions.

Blake found it strange, the longer she spent outside of the Fang, the more her anger seemed to fade. She was still highly supportive of faunus equality, and even if Vale was better than she thought, there was still Mistral and Atlas.

As Sun had told her, change takes time, but things were changing. Prime objective now was to find out what the Fang's 'operation’ with Roman was, but they had been disturbingly quiet since the docks. With the kingdomwide tightened security the thieves couldn't really afford to make many attempts. So it was a waiting game. Next time they started moving, she'd be ready.

Until then, she supposed she could have a little fun. Try to normalize the situation again.

That was why, somehow (seriously, she had no idea how), Ruby had managed to rope her in to playing one of the sisters’ inane scroll games. She and the sisters were sat in the common room they shared with the other three teams on their floor. Both Ruby and Yang were intensely focused on... Whatever was happening on screen. Blake could barely tell what was happening and was just hitting random buttons. Thinking of which... That might explain why the humanoid cat with boomerangs on the screen kept jumping off the edge of the platform. Whatever, the sisters were enjoying themselves.

Ren and Nora were sat together on an armchair a little way away. No matter what Nora insisted, 'just friends’ who weren't 'together-together’ did not sit that close to each other. Or fall asleep on each others shoulders. Or did they? Blake realised that she wouldn't know would she, she hadn't really had 'friends’, well friends who were normal people, for a long time.

...

Nope! Depressing thoughts! No depressing thoughts right now thank you very much.

Casting her eyes around the rest of the room Blake saw a few faces she didn't know from the other two teams on the floor. The only one she recognised was Stoir Van Drummond, the fairly timid faunus leader from team SPRK. Luckily it seems his teammates were all good people. Would his opinion of the Fang be like Sun and Yang's?

...

Dust Damnit Depressing Thoughts!

 

Blake was snapped out of the spiral of thoughts by a whine from Ruby, it seemed Yang had won.

“Fifty-seven to three Ruby! You need to pick a game you’re better at.”

“But it's fuuuuuun...”

“I know. And all the more fun for me when I win.”

“Yang, you got an achievement!”

“Wait, for what?”

The two sisters looked at the little popups.

‘Take Me Now
Achieve more than 250 deaths in a single 5 minute match.'

'Terminal Velocity
Die more than 100 times by falling off the map.’

 

The way the sister’s heads panned in unison from the popups, to the three scoreboards, to Blake's face was priceless. The expressions of utter disbelief and pity in their eyes made it all the more funny.

“I've lost faith in the world.”

“It's so, so tragic, I'm sorry Blake, we’ll help you all we can.”

“I just didn't know what I was doing...”

 

A look of horror slowly slid over Yang's face.

“Wait... We were playing under my account! People are gonna think I earned those ‘chieves!”

Ruby tried to stop herself from laughing and failed spectacularly, Yang took offense to that.

The two quickly ended up in a pile on the floor, fingers trying desperately to tickle the other into submission. Eventually, wheezing and panting, ruby yielded.

It took a little while to calm down after that, but the two of them quickly started to another game, Yang making sure to switch to Ruby's account this time. Yang was beginning to regret the game change though, because Ruby was winning. But she had a plan.

“Sooooo... How's breaking the ice going with the Weiss Cream Ruby?”

Blake, who to her great relief was not playing this time, could see an immediate blush on Ruby's face.

“Yang!”

“What? You’re my sister, your love life is my love life... Wait that came out weird.”

“It's only been about a week!”

“And have you done anything yet? Gone on a date?”

Ruby tried to answer but was quickly interrupted.

“The docks and that five minute trip to the convenience store don't count.”

Ruby pouted, attention completely off the game so she didn't notice Yang racking up a considerable score.

“No...”

“Then do it. Take her out for lunch this weekend, have some fun together. You can ask her in a few seconds after I've beaten you.”

Ruby glanced back to the screen before punching Yang as the screen showed Yang's victory.

“Meanie.”

The crimsonette quickly left the room towards their dorm. Blake heard Yang whispering to herself, faunus ears again coming in useful.

“Ruby is very lucky, very lucky indeed.”

Blake had to agree, Ruby was very lucky, so was Weiss.

 

Ozpin

This was not how Ozpin had expected to spend the last few days. Since the incident he'd expected to be embroiled in placating the council, not chasing down an errant monkey faunus.

“Do you understand how much extra paperwork you've made for me recently young man? Let’s just list your transgressions. Leaving an academy during term time; breaking the terms of enrollment in the process, traveling cross kingdoms as a stowaway on a nation level dust transport, shutting down the docks for a night then later breaking into the docks and getting in a fight.

Not the best resume for a first year student, is it, Mister Wukong?”

“I suppose not professor.”

“Is that all you have to say about your actions?”

“To be frank Headmaster, I'm from Vacuo, and I'm sure you know what that means. I'm not exactly a fan of 'following the rules’. The boat? That was simple curiosity. Slept on the roof, woke up at sea. Couldn't exactly jump ship when we docked at Argus or Atlas to refuel or take on the dust could I? Atlas isn't exactly fond of people like me.”

He waved his tail.

“And Cordovin isn't much better. First safe port to leave was vale, and since I was headed here anyway in a few weeks, I thought 'eh, screw it.’ Now, trespassing at the docks? I chose to do that and would again to stop those masked creeps.”

Ozpin sighed.

“As you are not enrolled in my school I, personally, have no control over expulsion or such for you, and Headmaster Lionheart is too softhearted for that. As such, the punishment for your actions will be that you have to work at the docks you disrupted until the other haven students arrive for the festival. You will not be paid and will not be permitted to live on beacon grounds, instead being provided basic accommodation and necessities in the city itself near the waterfront. Failure to work properly may result in your team being banned from the festival competition. Goodbye mister Wukong, and be thankful you are getting of this light. If your actions hadn't saved several of my students I would be insisting on Lionheart expelling you.”

 

Jaune

Well, if he was going to do it at some point, it may as well be over the holidays. Would be really awkward if she said no though.

He'd been building up to this for a while, Pyrrha was a godsend, really she was, under her tutelage Jaune's swordplay had increased by leaps and bounds. Of course he was still behind most of his peers, but going from nothing to where he was now? Miraculous.
It had been a bit too much of a struggle just to get him and Pyrrha alone together outside of a training session, if Ruby wasn’t dragging him off to play a game or something Nora was badgering Pyrrha for something, generally coffee as she knew she'd never get any from him or Ren (not after last time). Eventually he just decided to take the easy route and ask her after one of their spars.

This particular session had been rather... Intense. Pyrrha had obviously been holding back most of the time, Jaune wouldn't learn anything if he spent the entire time splayed on his back. Unfortunately for Jaune, he'd been a bit too good last time, and Pyrrha had eased off the brake a bit. Jaune had lost count of how many times he'd 'died’ today.

He let out a grunt as he was knocked over again.

“Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow.”

Jaune rubbed the back of his head a little.

“I’m sorry!”

“No, don't worry Pyrrha, I'm fine. A little shock is all.”

“Do... You want to end for the night?”

Jaune pushed himself up to a sitting position and thought for a moment, before reaching for where Crocea Mors has fallen and getting to his feet.

“One more round. Just, please let it last longer than ten seconds this time.”

The two squared up from either side of the training room they'd booked. Pyrrha was restricting herself to just Miló for the night, but the lack of her shield wasn’t really hampering her. Jaune was slower, and his attacks dealt less damage than Pyrrha’s, but with his shield and aura level he had better defence. Also, while he couldn't get the momentum Pyrrha could behind her swings, the constant pressure he could enforce onto locked weapons was far more. It's like comparing a jackhammer and a pneumatic press.

Jaune had learned not to recklessly rush in, he needed to attack after his opponent was left open. So he let Pyrrha engage first.

The first hit against his shield had sparks scattering but she retreated to fast for him to land a hit. Pyrrha pressed her advantage, pummelling at him, but Jaune kept his shield in the way. On one particularly strong hit, he swept his shield to the side, knocking her sword away and hopefully staggering her. His sword darted in towards her abdomen. Of course Pyrrha managed to backflip away, but Jaune felt the tip of the blade slice through Pyrrha's aura, the very edge of it, it didn't even hit her, but it would at least have caused a tiny amount of damage.

Jaune, not willing to lose the initiative, barreled forward in a shield charge that Pyrrha's wasn’t quite ready for, it hit her as she landed from the backflip but she very quickly jumped and cartwheeled over Jaune's shoulders before he could slam her into the wall. Keeping a grip on his shoulders, Pyrrha's pulled him backwards offer her back, he hit the ground face down and quickly felt her blade on his neck.

“Fine, fine, you win. Face this time, eh? Not sure if it's a welcome change from the back or just really really uncomfortable.”

“I think you actually did more damage to my aura than I did to yours this time Jaune.”

“I'm still the one on the ground, speaking of, could you... Get off me? It's kind of hard to speak with my face in the floor.”

Pyrrha's face quickly reddened as she leapt up off Jaune.

“You are improving Jaune!”

“Thanks, I can almost feel it.”

This was always the kinda strange part of these lessons, once the sparring was done there tended to be an awkward silence, one which Jaune was determined to break this time.

“Pyrrha?”

“Yes?”

“I don't know what it’s like to be the four time winner of the Mistral Regional Tournament, but that sort of thing, doing something outside of what a 'normal’ person can do, BEING something a 'normal’ person cannot be. I know it drives people away.”

Jaune, sat cross legged on the floor, turned to look at Pyrrha.

“The Arc Compound isn't just a little holdfast a short way outside of beacon, it's the largest settlement on Vale’s South coast. Several thousand people live there, and my family has run it for years. It's a nice place really, but... The Grimm are less sparse on the south coast, and the compound lacks Vale’s natural defences, the normal people there revere Huntsmen. To an incredible degree. They are quite literally the only thing keeping the city from being eaten alive. Huntsmen, and the families of Huntsmen, are considered as higher citizens. Not by the people in charge, but by the general populace.

Now, think how that transfers to the huntsman family who practically rules the city, and their only son, who is rarely seen outside their little walled off home. So guarded by his family that everyone assumes he's incredibly important. No-one outside my family, aside from the occasional huntsman who came to visit, ever held a conversation with me until I left. The rest just excused themselves and ran.

I know how much it can hurt to be excluded for being 'too good’, even if I'm actually pretty crap at most things, but just so you know. I will never do that to you.”

Pyrrha's face had gone stiff when he started to talk, but relaxed as he spoke. The final part had tears beginning to fill her eyes.

“I mean it Pyrrha. I really do. I like you, I like you a lot.”

He looked down and muttered to himself.

“Oh yes, it's easy telling yourself to do it, but it's flipping terrifying actually saying it.”

He looked back to Pyrrha.

“I've wanted to ask this for a while Pyrrha.
Will you go out with me.”

 

Weiss

Weiss was... Conflicted. She was enjoying the holidays, Ruby was wonderful and she hadn't had this much fun in years. Yang was supportive and understanding of when she just needed some time alone. Even her relationship with Blake was improved, yes Blake slipped sometimes, but Weiss was willing to put up with it, Blake could understand somewhat what Weiss’ life was like and they had bonded over having to hide their traits and, as it turned out, a mutual love of fish.

Then on the opposite side from all the happy stuff, were two looming problems, probably the least of which was whether she should tell team JNPR that she was a faunus. Actually, Blake was facing that problem as well. Weiss and Blake got on well with the other team, but they weren't really close. Ruby was fast friends with Jaune so they interacted a bit, the two teams ate together at lunch and such, but Weiss wouldn't say she was good friends with any of them. Yang got along with Nora while Blake and Ren could both appreciate the quiet, so they got on fairly well. Weiss certainly wouldn't mean ill to any of them and respected both Pyrrha and Jaune greatly, the Spartan for her prowess and the Knight for his drive and selflessness during the initiation. However, respecting them didn't mean she trusted them with a secret this important.

This issue however was not first in her concerns, that was the matter of the letter.

Ozpin had sent a letter to her father, and though Klein would attempt to waylay the post, eventually it would reach him. She had been living in fear of the day he finally replied, and today was that day.

Sitting on the desk in front of her, was a small rectangle of off-white paper. The fact that it was addressed merely with the Schnee logo, no stamp or address, meant that it had been delivered specially to the school by an SDC employee so that there could be no question of tampering or the letter getting lost in the mail. The paper sat on the desk, the embossed Snowflake slowly freezing her insides as she reached forward and picked it up. The crinkling as the flap was opened sounded deafening to Weiss ears, and more akin to a death knell than the mere shifting of paper. The milky parchment eased open with a rustle as a hand penned letter slowly slid out. First Grade SDC Sapphire Scorch Dust Ink, Weiss brain informed her, probably penned by her father's favourite pen fashioned from shark vertebrae, deliberate choice.

“Dear Daughter

Several rather worrying rumours have reached their way back to me over the last few months. While generally I would ignore such talk, the frequency of these rumours has grown increasingly disturbing, and recently even photographic evidence of your appalling conduct has made its way to me.

I must say Weiss, I am exceedingly disappointed in you. I accepted your desire to attend that academy, but it seems that you have let that kindness go to your head. At the end of this year, if not earlier, you shall be pulled out of that school and will begin to make the social rounds, as befits an Atlesian lady of the Upper Circles. That infernal skewer you are so fond of shall be destroyed in order to cease it's temptation, the bearing of arms is no place for a Schnee lady. Mayhaps you will be allowed to keep it in some other form, dust infused Geisteel being such a precious commodity after all.

To remind you that this whim of yours has become folly, as I thought it would do, your allowance shall be reduced to one third of its standard amount for the duration of your term abroad.

Be aware that, should news of further transgressions against either the Schnee name or your future standing reach my ears, greater punishments shall be levied on you.

Your loving father

Jacques Schnee, CEO of the Schnee Dust Company and Affiliated Particulars.”

 

There were no words. It was over. Her last and only chance, gone. What was the bloody point.

Weiss left the letter on the desk and slipped off the chair. She slowly and silently curled into a ball beneath the desk and shook with silent sobs.

Chapter Text

Ruby

Ruby was muttering to herself as she fled the common room.

“How do you take Weiss out on a date? She's... Weiss! It's not like I can just take her somewhere! We're stuck on campus all holiday.”

Ruby wasn’t really that experienced at the whole dating thing. She'd had a few crushes in the past of course, both male and female, including one rather embarrassing one on a certain red haired champion, but an actual relationship? No clue.

It wasn't like she could look to her family for help, Yang'd had a few little flings but nothing serious. Dad and Uncle Qrow on the other hand... Yeah she wasn't touching that minefield.

Ruby had to cram the lid on the internal ramblings, she'd reached the door.

Once she entered she had a little look round, she knew Weiss was in the building, you had to pass through the common room to leave, but she couldn't see her.

“Weiss? You here? Weeeiiiisss?”

There was no response.

“... Well her scroll's still here...”

Where could she have gone? The bathroom was always a possibility...

Ruby was brought out of her thoughts by a quiet knock of wood from the desk by the door. She spun around but there didn't seem to be anything off at first glance.

“Weiss?”

A step towards the desk resulted in a subtle shift below it.

“Weiss!”

Ruby had seen Weiss below the desk, but something was wrong. Weiss was pressed in the corner as far as she could go, arms round her knees and face pressed to them as she slowly rocked backwards and forwards. Ruby didn't need to see Weiss face to see the scale of her distress, it was evident from the wet patches of tears running down the sides of Weiss’ leggings.

It didn't matter to Ruby that Weiss was hiding under the table, Weiss was in pain, she needed help, and ruby would help her. The crimsonette rushed under the desk and gathered Weiss in a hug, resting the faunus on her lap and pulling Weiss to her chest.

“Shh, shh, it's okay. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere.”

Ruby kept talking quietly to Weiss like this for a long time, she didn't know quite how long as she didn't look at her scroll, but eventually Weiss seemed to relax.
Weiss’ arms released her legs and wrapped round Ruby, her damp face pressing into Ruby's collar.

“It's ok Weiss, I'm here, you’re safe.”

The whine that escaped Weiss was heartbreaking, Ruby held her even closer, gently running her hand through Weiss’ short locks.

“It's not ok, it will never be ok.”

Weiss’ words were so faint that ruby had to strain to hear them.

“Shh, shh. Whatever it is, I'll help you with it. I'm sure Yang and Blake will too. And JNPR if you ask them to.”

“But you can't help! I can't let you. You'll be crushed, nothing can stop this, nothing can stop HIM!”

Ruby's face hardened, and though Weiss couldn't see it with her face pressed to Ruby, the uncharacteristic anger on Ruby's face was enough to terrify anyone.

“Weiss?”

Ruby's voice was cold and hard, nothing like her normal bubbly self.

“Did your father cause this?”

Weiss was scared, slightly due to Ruby's tone, but more towards what it represented, that voice was determined and it was angry. Ruby wouldn't survive contesting the Schnee Dust Company, bigger people than her; physically, financially and socially; had all been ground to dust by the conglomerate.

“Ruby you can't go after him! He's not some weak Beowulf who can be taken out with one swing. He's-“

“He's just a man, Weiss. Behind the money and the mercenaries, he's just a man, a man who's hurt someone I care about, and unless you tell me exactly what he did I have to assume the worst.”

“Th-there's a letter on the desk. Just read it, it'll explain everything.”

Ruby extricated herself and Weiss from below the desk and carried her over to one of the beds. Weiss face didn't move from the hollow of Ruby's shoulder, her tear tracts staining Ruby's top.

 

Team RWBY

Before she could read the letter, the door opened as Yang and Blake entered, evidently Yang had grown bored. The joking expressions vanished as soon as they saw what the situation was. Yang immediately rushed over and sat herself behind Ruby, arms around the pair of them. Blake was more tentative, still unsure of how to act around Weiss, but genuinely concerned. She sat down on Ruby's left at Weiss' back and placed a hand on Weiss shoulder in what she hoped was a reassuring gesture.

“Weiss, are you ok with Yang and Blake seeing what's in here?”

The barest of nods answered Ruby's question after a brief pause.

As the crimsonette unfolded the paper Weiss shivered and flinched, as though hearing it was truly painful.

A paragraph in Ruby was annoyed, two, and she was furious. A parent should be congratulating their child for stopping criminal activity, even if they were also worried that the child would get hurt, not making them think they were wrong for it! At reading he was pulling Weiss out of Beacon Ruby tensed, her arms tightening further around the shivering girl. Then there was that insult at the end of the second paragraph. A Huntsman’s weapon was part of who they were, effectively Jacques had said “We will cut off one of your arms, maybe you can keep the Knucklebones as earrings.”

Ruby was rather surprised by how more violent Yang and Blake reactions were, Yang stood up, walked to the desk in the corner and smashed it with her fist, a punch stronger than most she used in sparring, the desk collapsed, split down the middle. The area around the impact had been rendered into sawdust as it smoked. Yang had to seriously restrain herself from continuing with the destruction, pacing backward and forward with a face like thunderclouds. Blake on the other hand began to hiss, her hands wrapped around the wood on the edge of the bed as it creaked ominously.

Ruby was unsure as to what part of the letter had upset them so much. Ruby was very pissed, ripping Weiss out of Beacon against her will and destroying her weapon was enough to have Ruby's opinion of the man completely set forever, granting him the rare position of 'meat shield’ if she was ever in a Grimm attack with him, but their reactions seemed slightly excessive.

Yang seemed to clue in to this confusion and quickly explained.

“’Making the social rounds like an Atlesian lady' is basically shorthand for marrying a daughter off. You parade them around the owners of businesses you want to make alliances with, they 'observe the goods' so to speak and then make offers to the parent in private. The business owner who the girl’s parent decides on then lets any sons he has choose among themselves who 'wants’ the lady or sometimes even takes them for themselves. It's barbaric and illegal everywhere, even Vacuo, except for the richest in Atlas who the law can't touch. The daughter has absolutely no say in who she ends up with or how she is treated, often these marriages are technically illegal for other reasons as well.”

Ruby completely stilled and her face went totally blank. She picked up Weiss and set her on the bed.

Ruby picked up Crescent Rose from the desk and left the room. She needed to kill something. Or else she might just get on a flight to Atlas RIGHT NOW.

 

Yang

Yang watched her sister storm from the room, she'd seen Ruby act like that a few times, generally when things in their family hit a breaking point, but never had Ruby's face been that blank. As much as Yang wanted to follow Ruby, she knew from experience that Ruby didn't want her near right now. Anyway, Weiss needed her more.

She walked over and took Ruby's place holding Weiss. The expression the faunus wore quickly clued Yang into her thoughts.

“Weiss, stop.”

“But-“

“But nothing. Ruby cares for you a lot, she's just dealing with her anger.”

She sighed.

“Weiss, I'm incredibly jealous of both you and Ruby. You have someone like Ruby, who cares so fiercely that she will stand against anything for those she cares about, and you've made such a strong bond in so little time. Then Ruby has someone like you, to be honest, had Ruby not, I’d likely have asked you out over the holiday. You're brilliant and a little terrifying. Even if i'd have preferred you to enter our little dysfunctional family on my arm not Ruby's, you are family now. And we protect our own. I guarantee you we will find a way to get you away from that man, even if we have to resort to technically kidnapping you.”

To be honest, Yang hadn't considered Weiss a part of her family till now. She was kinda hoping Ruby and Weiss' relationship would be a quick fling so she could ask the faunus out afterwards, and all the while hating herself for doing so, but even if Weiss hadn't been going out with her sister, Yang would have adopted her after reading that letter. That was not family. Well, Yang's family wasn't much better at times. Although.... If there was one thing her family had taught her, she was still, possibly, in with a chance at Weiss. So was Blake, provided they could figure out how to avoid it all going to pot.

Weiss’ face had flushed at Yang's speech, the slight relax of her facial muscles was a relief to Yang. She reached out to Blake, who was standing awkwardly a foot or so away, and hooked the faunus’ arm.

“Both of you have been through too much, and things are still probably gonna be rocky for a while, won't lie, but you are both part of me'n Ruby's lives now. And, fair warning, we don't let go easily.”

She slowly drew Blake in towards the bed and pulled her into her side. Blake was a bit nervous and twitchy at first.

If they were going to get together in that way, barriers had to come down, if there was one thing that caused her family's disaster, it was secrets.

“C'mon kitty cat, big family hug time.”

Eventually Blake relented and joined the ball, putting her arms around Yang and the still curled up Weiss. It was getting late and the three girls softly slid towards sleep together. Just before Yang finally passed out she heard a soft, sleepy murmur from a certain black haired person.

“I would probably've asked her out too... Had I not been so stupidly antagonistic.”

Yang's sleepy smile widened as she heard that and judging by the slight stiffening from the white haired girl on her right, followed by her snaking an arm over the cat faunus’ back, so had she. Blake would never have said that while she wasn't tired, and probably wouldn't have actually asked Weiss out in any circumstance before this, but at least the feelings were there.

 

Pyrrha Nikos

Pyrrha was stunned, elated and terrified all at once, she'd never been confessed to before! At least, not by someone who wasn’t a rabid fan too preoccupied with wanting the prestige and bragging rights to actually see her.

On the one hand she'd kinda been trying to get him to ask for a while, he may be a bit dorky at times but he was reliable when he needed to be.

But that speech was heavy. Pyrrha's had suddenly realised, she knew next to nothing about him, only what he'd told her and now... And now it turned out he was practically set to inherit an entire city?

Could she really just accept going out with him just like that, when for all she knew, he was just doing some big scheme to... No, she remembered how they ended up on a team, pure chance, he couldn't have arranged it, no, he had no idea who she was at first. This was an opportunity she couldn't pass up.

Wait how long had she been thinking? Oh crap. Jaune was looking down at his lap, his face utterly despondent. She could only guess how bad it had looked for her to freeze blank-faced like that.

“Yes! I'm sorry! Yes!”

That apparently took a few moments to filter into Jaune's head, but when it did, a wide smile bloomed across his face.

“Sooooooo... What now? I don't really know what comes next.”

... Oh Jaune.

 

After that, rather anticlimactic, ending, the two walked back to their dorm. The sun had set while they were in the training room and the students were mostly heading home. As they entered, a stone-faced Ruby stormed past them, not paying any attention to them. To say Jaune and Pyrrha were perplexed was an understatement. They hadn't seen Ruby that mad before.

Though Pyrrha wasn’t on 'best friend’ terms with Ruby like Jaune was, she still cared for the younger redhead, and it was slightly disturbing to see her so unlike herself.

They quickly made their way back to their room, only to find a rather despondent Nora and a Ren who... Ok Ren looked like normal, but he could have been despondent too for all they knew.

“What's wrong?"

“Something might be going wrong with team RWBY.”

Jaune looked decidedly alarmed.

“Wait what? What happened?”

Nora's gaze was fixed firmly on her lap.

“There was a big bang and then Ruby stormed off... I've never seen her look like that Jaune! She looked- she looked-“

“Like she wanted to kill someone.”

Finished Ren.

Jaune and Pyrrha were stunned, but thinking back, the Ruby they had seen leaving the dorm was not the Ruby they knew, was something really going on?

The dark mood was broken by Jaune.

“Ok. We can't jump to conclusions. Something must be going on, but it doesn't mean it's being caused by one of the team, or that it is something serious. We wait till morning, we observe the situation and if need be we ask. They are our frie- or, well, Ruby's my friend and I at least consider the others friends too. I at least hope we’re amicable acquaintances.”

 

Ruby

To say Ruby was mad was the understatement of the century. She was apoplectic.

That man was in no way family to Weiss. Even if he had been once he had thrown it all away.

Those who knew Ruby mostly knew her as a bubbly cheerful girl, but those who got close to her eventually discovered that those little shoulders were carrying far more than they should be. Ruby blamed herself for far too many things that she couldn't help. She blamed herself for Yang's mother leaving, she blamed herself for her own mother's death, she blamed herself for her father and uncle’s shattered relationship, she blamed herself for Yang almost dying.

Sometimes it grew too much and she had to relieve the grief and anger, so she turned off her normal personality and let her darker emotions out. This was part of the reason she was more skilled than others her age, when you live outside a settlement and periodically become a glowing beacon to the creatures of Grimm you must somehow deal with the challengers that come.

Tonight however, she was not fueled by old grief, but fresh anger, white hot and screaming.

She fell into a simplistic thought loop whenever this happened, working mostly off instinct as her head clouded over. Normally these clouds were a dark red, rippling stiffly like drying blood, but today they were white, a blizzard through her mind.

This is not to say that her normal personality was a fake front, it was just as real a part of her as this darker side, and it spent far more time in evidence.

 

It was very late by the time she relaxed again, the anger not gone, but under control. She had made her way to the Emerald Forest, the moon was high overhead. It was hard to tell how many Grimm she had slain, their dissolving bodies made that complicated.

She sighed and began the walk back to the dormitory, hoping Weiss hadn't taken badly to her storming off.
Once she got back, tiptoeing to try and not wake anyone up, she was surprised to see the pile the other members of her team had fallen asleep in. Surprised, but not in any way annoyed, the peaceful smiles on all their faces, even Weiss, who Ruby had been sure would be having a nightmare, made her very happy. If her team could get on like this, then they should be able to work through any other big revelations that may come up later.

Gently, so as not to wake them up, Ruby joined the pile, her head resting on Yang and her arms round Blake and Weiss. Even though Blake wasn't her girlfriend, she could always use a hug. Judging by the sleepy arms creeping behind her back, they thought the same of her.

 

Ozpin

Ozpin watched on his scroll as a red blur tore apart Grimm after Grimm. He knew he'd been correct to let her in early. She could possibly be a good candidate for that project, but he was hesitant, he had no idea how it might react to what she already had. He had been confirmed she had it now, the flashes of light as she fought were proof enough. He doubted however, that she knew of her gift. The lack of use normally was, in and of itself, no sign of this, she could just be cautiously hiding it, smart decision. However, Ruby's personality, and the fact that Ozpin had seen similar battle-trances in the past led him to believe that the usage before him was purely instinctual.

What she knew or not, and whether she became the main candidate for the project or not, no matter how good a piece a pawn may be able to become, it had to cross its board first, and even on the lowest board there were many enemies in the pawn's way.

It was Black’s move now though. What was her formation this time? He was worried, this was altogether to close to the festival.

But, no matter what she sent, he must react as best he could, he owed it to everyone fallen.

Chapter Text

Weiss & Blake

The day dawned bright and early. So did Weiss and Blake.

...

On the other hand the sisters didn't.

This left Weiss and Blake looking at each other in the middle of a particularly affectionate hug. It also seemed that the sisters slept the sleep of the dead as the faunus completely failed to wake them. They didn't try anything that would hurt the two, but still. Unfortunately this meant they were trapped in the embrace until such time as the girls woke up.

This left the faunus a few hours to talk to each other.

“Are you ok Weiss?”

Weiss sighed slightly.

“No, I'm not, and I don't think I will be for a long time. I've always been planning, I've had nothing but time, and now... Now I have less than a year to find out some way to get out of parental control.”

“Won't you be eighteen by the end of the year? You'll be legally an adult in Vale then.”

Weiss shook her head.

“Not quite, my birthday is in the holidays, I'll still be seventeen at the end of the year, and in Atlas you aren't an adult until twenty one, by which time it will be too late.”

“But Jacques must have known Vale had it at eighteen, why did he let you come to Beacon?”

“Honestly? He probably knew all about my plans. He probably never intended to give me the chance to become a huntress. I'd wager he knew exactly how the time would fall and used it to keep me from looking into what he was doing as he arranged that appalling slave auction he's trying to push me into.”

Blake was kind of restricted by the sisters, but she managed to extract an arm and reach it out towards Weiss. The only part of Weiss she could get her arm to was Weiss’ face, so she put her hand against the other faunus’ cheek.

“Weiss, I still really hate the Schnee family, I don't think that will ever just go away, but even if I still thought you were a stuck up bitch I would not ever let you go back to that. If there was one thing the Fang got right, well, until recently, it was that we never left comrades behind. I will not leave you behind.”

She smirked.

“I haven't got a full read on you yet after all, and I never leave a book unfinished.”

Weiss groaned.

“That was almost as bad as Yang.”

Weiss’ brow furrowed momentarily.

“Blake... Speaking of the White Fang, how are you taking that whole situation?”

It was Blake's turn to sigh.

“Not very well to be honest. I mean- Imagine you have had something that you have been able to rely on for your whole life. Something that was always there to catch you when something went wrong, something that gave you a purpose in life. Then you find out that it was all a lie. Or at least, it had become one. Looking back on the things I've done some of them terrify me, but I can't say that I would rather have never joined the White Fang.

Now... Even now I find myself more worried that Torchwick has managed to start to work with the Fang than the fact that it was the Fang involved in the docks. What does that say about me? Am I really that wilfully blind?

I want nothing more than to go out and catch the Fang working with him, but it's not because they are Fang members and thus have been involved in the illegal activities the Fang has undertaken, instead it's because of one attempted dust robbery... It's shameful.”

Weiss gradually extracted one of her own arms from their pile and mirrored Blake's earlier gesture.

“Blake, it's not going to be easy for a long time, but the fact that you are trying is enough. I know who you are, so I know who your father is, and know what he did. He made one of the greatest equal rights organisations in the world, and what has been done to it since doesn't diminish it's actions or prevent it from being able to return to its prior status.”

There was a period of silence for a few minutes, before Blake voiced an issue that had been on her mind for some time.

“Weiss? I'm surprised how quickly I've managed to change how I think of you and the Fang. During the Docks incident I couldn't comprehend that the Fang was hurting people, I mostly went on with the thing to prove the Fang weren't involved and then to deal with Torchwick, but now... Now I'm openly questioning what they've done. I just... Don't feel all that anger and hatred anymore. There was always this voice in my head, I thought it was my conscience or something telling me I was right, but now I'm not so sure. I'm worried Weiss, things are changing so fast and.... I'm scared. I don't know what to do. I have friends in the White Fang, or had friends at least. I'm not sure I’d be able to fight them.”

“Blake, being open minded is not a bad thing. It may be going faster than expected, but recovery is good. As to being scared, well, I highly doubt you'd be able to get rid of the three of us now, even if you tried. I highly doubt Ruby would let you go away and... And I’d miss you too, even if we got off to a frosty start.”

Blake blushed slightly.

“Thanks Weiss. Um... Of you don't mind me asking, what type of Faunus are you? It's never come up.”

“Oh!”

Weiss pulled back her hand and carefully removed her teeth, reaching behind her to put them on the bedside table, she bared her sharp teeth at Blake.

“I'm a shark.”

“I guess that would explain why you also like fish. Well! I can't say it would really matter to me what you were, so long as you weren't a dog.”

The two Faunus just enjoyed each other’s company for a while, until the sister’s lie in began to get totally ridiculous.

The two were just beginning to get a bit too annoyed when the sound of the door opening rang out through the room.

“Heeeelloooo!”

It was Nora, which explained the banging of the door, and she was backed by the rest of team JNPR. Pyrrha and Jaune were both wincing and Ren was facepalming.

“Nora...”

The ginger looked at the pile of four girls on the bed.

“Huh, well, I guess nothing was wrong guys. Though... What could it have been yesterday?”

Nora looked at the pile of bodies again.

“... Lover’s spat?”

Both Weiss and Blake blushed.

“Help us you guys! Get Ruby off!”

JNPR couldn't stop giggling as they moved Ruby across to Yang's bed, it didn't help that she finally woke up in the process, flailing in disorientation. At last Blake and Weiss were able to get up.

The two faunus slowly pushed Yang to the edge of the bed and let her fall off.

“Whaaaa! Where's the fire?”

Yang was met by six sets of amused eyes and one very sleepy pair.

“What time do you call this?”

“Uuuh? Very early morning?”

“Ten Fifty-five Yang!”

“Uuuh...”

JNPR had been silent for a while but Nora couldn't hold herself back any longer.

“Wow! I know it happens in cartoons, but I've never seen anybody's teeth go sharp when they're mad in real life before! Renny, can you do that?”

Weiss realized her mistake, she hadn't put her false teeth back in.

“Blake, lock the door, Yang close the curtains, Ruby, look threatening... Or try at least-“

“Hey!”

“Now look here you four. You've seen too much.”

“Renny! She's going all Blond villain on us! This is exciting!”

“You will not speak of what you see in this room to anyone.”

After she spoke Weiss bared her teeth at JNPR.

“Since everyone but Nora appears to have worked it out, I'll use small words-“

“The best words!”

“... Anyway. I am a faunus. A shark. Do not say anything about this on pain of a very swift and scythe shaped death.”

Nora seemed about to go on another hyperactive tirade but Ren quickly covered her mouth. Jaune stepped forward.

“As many questions as this raises, first and foremost...”

He stepped forward and pulled Weiss into a hug, to everyone's surprise, not least hers.

“I am so sorry Weiss.”

“W-What?”

He sighed.

“I haven't met him personally, but your father came to the Compound once many, many years ago. I don't remember why, if I ever even knew, but I do remember him being an utter twat to any faunus he came across. You'd seemed different to him so I’d put it out of my mind, but I can't imagine what it was like growing up with him, especially as a faunus.”

Jaune released Weiss, good thing too, Ruby was beginning to look at him askew.

Blake stepped forward.

“Might as well, I'm not leaving Weiss in the lurch.”

She reached up and untied her bow.

“I'm also a faunus. Some type of cat, it's hard to tell which.”

Nora managed to remove Ren's hand from her mouth.

“Anyone else? Is Ruby a Wolf or Yang a lizard?”

“Lizard!?"

“It's the closest thing to a dragon isn't it? Anyway, I know Ren is one but it'll be really odd if everyone but me suddenly comes out about their race.”

“Wait, Ren?"

Ren sighed.

“I wear contacts for a reason Nora...”

“But they’re RWBY Ren! It's not like they're gonna attack you for it.”

She turned and squinted at team RWBY.

“Well, they won't if they want to keep their legs unbroken.”

Ren reached up and removed a contact lens from his right eye. The colour of his eye didn't change, but the removal revealed a slit pupil.

“I’m a snake. I guess if we’re all coming clean I should join in.”

Both Weiss and Blake were slightly confused at how they hadn't been able to smell him, Blake not smelling Weiss was understandable, oceanic faunus always smelled different from most faunus, but not Ren?

He quickly picked up on their puzzlement.

“I'm very good at tricking senses.”

 

Jaune

Jaune was becoming slightly flustered at the sudden reveal of so many secrets.

“Can we all just stop talking before some other world shattering revelation comes to light?”

The room calmed slightly as everyone turned to look at him.

“Soooooo... What're we gonna do now? I mean, the whole 'half my friends were secretly faunus’ thing doesn't bother me, but is anything going to change now?”

Everyone looked at each other for a moment before Blake decided to take charge.

“Team RWBY will be going to the library. We have some things we have to work on.”

“Ren and I, um... Have some things to do.”

“And you owe me a date Jaune.”

Weiss smiled and stood up.

“Great, now we've decided that, let's-“

“WAIT!”

With a shout, six heads turned in Pyrrha and Jaune's direction.

“You're together?!”

Weiss looked happy, Ruby ecstatic, while Yang and Blake looked surprised.

“Fiiinalllyyyyy”

Said Nora.

“Do you have any idea how hard it’s been, having to see you pine at each other across the dorm?”

“Whaaaaa... Oh shoot, we probably were weren't we...”

Jaune and Pyrrha both had red faces.

“And you didn't want any more earth shattering revelations Loverboy?”

Yang's smirk was smug.

“I don't know what you have to be smug about Xiao Long.”

Jaune snapped back.

“Ok, everyone out! No more shouting! Team RWBY to the Library.”

 

Team RWBY

The four were sat at once of the tables in the library, Yang looking perplexed.

“Why are we here? I mean, it's the holidays, it's not like we have any work.”

Blake was maintaining charge.

“It's simple. We are not letting Weiss go back to Atlas under any circumstances, I refuse to let the Hyena get his claws into her again. So, we need to be able to legally keep her here.”

Yang began to smirk again.

“I think I get where you're going, we need to find a loophole right? Well, I tend to be pretty good at that.”

“Laws tend to be more airtight than school rules Yang. The easiest way would be to search for alternate ways for someone to be Emancipated. Unfortunately, the law is rather convoluted. After the Great War all the kingdoms sat down and devised a basic legal system, this means that for the most part, laws are fairly similar between kingdoms, bar specific differences such as Atlas’ age of adulthood being 21 instead of 18.”

“You sure seem to know a lot about this Blake.”

“Thank you Ruby, let's just say that the Fang also looked for loopholes in the law.

Anyway, the most important part, is that this framework was not comprehensive, and so, instead of completely replacing the law, it was just propped on top of it. This means that many esoteric Kingdom specific laws still apply. Essentially, unless a law was specifically overwritten by the new system or relied on elements of Feudalism that are no longer supported, it tends to still apply. Thus why, in Vale, should someone steal your chicken, the issue can legally be settled with a cockfighting match.

This means there could very well be an old Valean law that would enable Weiss to be considered an adult before the end of term and thus before her father can get to her again. So, I assume everyone can tell what needs to be done.”

“Yes, I need to go find some chickens.”

“Yang!”

It was easy to tell from the unrepentant smug on Yang's face that she was not sorry.

Ruby's face was screwed up in concentration.

“Blake? What sort of thing would we be looking for?”

Blake put her hand to her chin as she thought for a moment.

“Generally you would assume it to be things associated with increased responsibility; Last of the Line, Pregnancy, Marriage, Knighthood or a successful abuse case would be the most likely. Now most of those are undesirable, and may very well not even exist, but ancient law was nothing if not strange, so there may be something unrelated. For example, in Mistral there is a still applicable law stating that 'If apples are stolen from a bar on the seventh tier of haven, the owner may either have the perpetrator strung upside down under the waterfall for three days or have the perpetrator marry his oldest unmarried daughter.’ It was created so a noble could escape the scandal when he wanted to marry a commoner's daughter. For some reason it was less of a scandal to be forced to marry due to crime than through love, but that was Mistral, things are weird there.”

Weiss was very happy that her friends were willing to go this far for her, but she felt she had to speak up.

“Remember, I'm doing this to get out of marriage? I'd rather not have to marry to avoid doing so. And I'm not getting pregnant either.”

“Don't worry Weiss, you can just marry Ruby! I'm sure dad wouldn't mind.”

Both Weiss and Ruby began spluttering.

“Yang! We haven't been together anywhere near long enough for that!”

“And anyway, Ruby's even younger than me! I don't think she'll be able to marry even if I am!”

-----------------------------------------------

To be honest, their search that day didn't turn up much of use. Or the next, or the next. Eventually the Holiday was drawing to a close and they still hadn’t found anything really useful.

Outside of the search things had been going well, Jaune and Pyrrha seemed to be going strong, if the rampant handholding was anything to go by. Weiss and Ruby had even managed to go on a date on Ruby's birthday! Well, they'd had lunch together in the canteen, then went for a walk and watched a scary movie in the common room. It wasn't much of a date in Ruby's opinion, but being confined to campus there wasn't much more they could do.

Weiss and Blake's relationship had been proceeding steadily, it was now hard to tell that there had been friction before.

As far as the team could gather, there were only really four ways to become an adult in Vale: Reach 18 years of age, get married (which had a minimum age of 18 years so wasn’t much help), be knighted (which oddly enough was still in the law, despite there not having been a king to Knight anyone for 80 years) or be elected to a position of public office while underage.
None of these really helped, ‘position of public office’ basically just meant council member, and you had to be a Valean citizen to become one.

The four were once again sat at their table in the library, but they looked decidedly dejected now.

“Okay. Let's just go over what we've found, just to see if we've missed anything. Yang and I will look at marriage, Ruby and Weiss, you check public office again.”

Yang brought up the section on marriage again onto the desk mounted terminal.

“Represents the legal joining of partners for matters of custody, finance, possession and legal proceedings... Must be performed under consent of all involved parties... All partners considered equal... May be dissolved by going through proceedings as determined in section 3.65.87.A... Partners must have decided on which of the two will be listed under 'wife’ and 'husband’, note this makes no restriction on the genders or sexuality of the two partners or any other personal details and is purely for ease of documentation...

Wait! Which of the two? Let me check something...”

Yang frantically scanned the document.

“I thought so!”

“What is it Yang?”

The question was almost simultaneous from the other three.

“We stopped looking for things related to marriage after we found the modern marriage law right? We should have kept looking. This one only applies to marriages of two people. Specifically two.”

Blake and Weiss’ faces fell.

“Yang, that's normal. Unless you're a rich Atlesian and can pay off the law, marriages are between two people.”

“Not in Vale Blake.”

“What do you mean”

“Did you ever wonder why there were so many more female soldiers in Vale's army during the Great War than the other three kingdoms? It's precisely because of this.

Way back when we had less tech, many, many people died all the time, you were lucky to live past thirty. Mistral and Mantle both took the same route to get around this, pump out babies. It made sense at the time, males were generally stronger than women, even with aura there still tended to be a difference, so men had shifted into doing the harder jobs, specially in mantle where the cold made ‘em even harder. So the mostly stay at home wives spent most of their time pregnant to keep the numbers up. As tech got better the number of humans dying slowed, but the women stayed mostly under the men. It's changed around some since, but Vale is still more equal. Anyway, as the main idea was to keep your woman pregnant, they tended to just stick to one. Churn out as many kids as possible and hope some of them had kids of their own.

Meanwhile in Vale we took a different tack. Pack defence, larger family groups meant more protection for those most in danger. Families tended to be somewhere around four to six adults. All in one relationship. As tech got better the practice died down, but the non pregnant women had always helped with the work and so were more active than those in the other kingdoms. That attitude’s hung around.
Vacuo on the other hand... I'm not even sure if Vacuo had a concept of marriage before the war.”

“Yang, do you know if Polygamous marriage is even legal in Vale anymore? I'd expect it to have been cracked down on. Though if the other kingdoms didn't practice it they may have not even realised it was there.”

“Of course I know it's legal.”

“How?”

“Well, my mother was still around a year after Ruby was born and we still aren't entirely sure whether Ruby's Dad is my dad, or whether it's my uncle.”

...

“What!”

“Yeah... Things are a bit... Complicated now, but it's most certainly legal.”

“As many questions as this answers, and as many as it raises, some of which I would like to ask later if you're ok with it Yang, get on that people, this may be our best lead.”

“Blake, it's hard enough to accept I’d be getting married to avoid getting married, but getting married twice to avoid getting married is even more ridiculous.”

“Well, one plus to this is that it would piss your father off even more.”

“... You have a point.”

Yang had been scanning through the legal database over Weiss and Blake’s conversation.

“You know, some of these laws are flipping hilarious. I now know how to legally get away with trashing a bar without getting any criminal record. Who knew it would involve three fish and a broomstick. Heeere we go.

"Regulations and Legislation on the matt'r of Polygamous Marriages in the Kingdome of Vale and Surrounding T'rrit'ries

Shouldst a feather-bed enwheel m're than two participants, additional regulations apply. The dissolving of such a partn'rship f'r one memb'r of the partn'rship high-lone requires only the desire of yond individual.

This is due to the intrinsically m're unstable nature of such a relationship, stemming from the natural p'rils of the human condition, the law recommends those consid'ring such a relationship bethink longeth and hard and consulteth with each oth'r bef're embarking upon matrimony.

Shouldst those consid'ring such a relationship device to proceed, so longeth as all involv'd concur to the feather-bed and all participants art of age seventeen 'r high'r, a Past'r 'r Scholar may officiateth such a wedding without furth'r delayeth. As with oth'r marriages, the wedding hast to beest consummat'd on the same night t is p'rf'rmed, unless extenuating circumstances maketh this impossible.

Additional individuals may ent'r into the relationship aft'r p'rmission of all current memb'rs hast been acquire'd. This shouldst beest carried out in c'remony by a Past'r 'r Scholar.

Just as with those involv'd in a couplet feather-bed, participants art consid'r'd adults and free from the guardianship of their pri'r car'r. This designation consists as longeth as the joining continues, shouldst a participant leaveth the relationship while und'r n'rmal legal age, yond individual shall rev'rt backeth to a min'r and shall beest returned backeth to the careth of their lasteth guardian.”

Well, there we go Weiss. So long as you remain married until you turn eighteen, you will be an adult. And you can do this from seventeen! So you are old enough.”

Weiss looked at her hands and mumbled.

“But Ruby isn't...”

“Aww! That's adorable! You want to marry Ruby!”

Both Weiss and Ruby's faces were as red as Ruby's cloak.

“Yang!”

“But Weiss, this only has to be kept up until you are eighteen, then it can be dissolved. Anyway, you have most of a year to decide whether to go ahead with the plan.”

“Even if I do Yang, I have to find two people that I want to marry and who want to marry me, I'm pretty sure that's going to be nigh on impossible.”

“Selling yourself short Weiss. I would be fine marrying you for a while, even if I know you're gonna leave me eventually.”

Yang mimed wiping away tears with a hanky.

“As for the second person...I doubt team JNPR would appreciate being told to marry, they'd probably do it sure, but I doubt their significant others would appreciate the whole 'consummation’ part.”

Blake had been thinking carefully and had come to a decision.

“I'll do it.”

“What?”

“I'll do it Weiss, I'll marry you.”

“What! Blake, do you know what you are saying! I'm still technically a Schnee! Should you marry me, even if only for a few months, the backlash you will receive from other faunus would be huge! You'd be committing social suicide!”

“Weiss, even if I hadn't grown to admire you or... Or thought you... Quite attractive, i would have agreed to marry you purely for the satisfaction it would give me to throw this in the Hyena's face.”

Ruby had stayed remarkably silent over this conversation, and even as the argument continued above she frowned, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth until it was red. She wanted to marry Weiss! She didn't want to be left behind.

She had sort of tuned out half the conversation, but the mention again of 'consummation’ brought her out of her brooding.

“No! Weiss is my girlfriend! She's not ‘consummating’ anything with anyone else before me!”

The conversion silenced as three heads turned to Ruby. Her face blushed scarlet as she realised what she had said.

“Wait! I- I...”

“Hahahahaha!”

The uproarious laughter from Yang brought some levity back to the situation.

“Then you'll just have to 'consummate’ your relationship before we need to!”

Blake again regained control of the situation.

“Ok, so the plan is for Yang and I to marry Weiss before the end of the year, after Weiss is ready, until such a time as Weiss is eighteen. Sound good?”

“I suppose it's acceptable, I’m still not all that enthused however.”

“Okay...”

Ruby was still sounding dejected. So Yang at least attempted to cheer her up.

“Don't worry Rubes! I'm sure Weiss will find a way to make this all up to you.”

Blake had one final thing to say.

“As cruel as this probably sounds, for legitimacy, it will need to appear like Yang and I are in a relationship with Weiss until the wedding. However, Ruby should also be as well. If questioned say we plan to add her to the marriage once she is of age.”

“.... So we all date Weiss?”

“Well... Technically you and Ruby should probably also appear to be dating me, but I can't ask that of Ruby with everything else.”

Yang was quick to adapt to the new situation, and seeing Ruby's still melancholy expression she knew she needed to cheer her up.

“Ok. Ruby!”

“Yes?!”

“We have two more days of Holiday. Given everything that's happened, and all the extra work we've done for this, let's spend them having fun, as a team. So mighty team leader it’s up to you! Choose!”

Yang could tell those words hadn't been enough to cheer Ruby up completely, despite the grin on her face, but it was a start. She needed to get Ruby back to her bubbly self.

Ruby thought for a moment.

“... Gotta go find a binder!”

And she swarmed off in a cloud of rose petals.

End of Volume One

Chapter Text

This is just to tell people that a one shot canon to this story, called 'Angel of the Dark', has been posted in a series with this. I will be posting a short like this between each volume, and maybe a couple of others besides.

Further events in this story may make more sense if you have read the one shot.

Chapter Text

Tukson

Tukson was not an idiot. He'd been playing his game for years. As a founding member, he had quickly seen the direction the White Fang was headed after Ghira stepped down and got out. Fast.

It hadn’t taken long for the whispers to feed their way to him. Ghira’s ideals had encouraged him to give up his previous conman lifestyle, but you didn't do business in Remnant without keeping your eye on the underworld, even if you weren't part of it, else you'd be likely to find a knife in your back. This meant that when other disillusioned members of the Fang’s old guard had begun 'disappearing' it didn't take long to realise why.

It took roughly a year, but he installed his store as a safehouse for operatives. Nothing incriminating, he kept his hands clean, he'd had enough bad scares in the past thank you very much, but if there was one thing the Fang did it was talk. They didn't seem to comprehend that safehouse didn't mean soundproofed-house, luckily his was, but only between the public and private areas, the backrooms were very much un-soundproofed. Either that or they just didn't care if he overheard. Tukson had heard much over the last few years. He had heard more than enough.

Things were shifting in the Fang, the little Kitten had fled, and the Bull was seeing red. There were shady deals with shadier people, and he wanted no more part in that.

He had been careful, anonymous transactions with hidden vendors, secret transports and calling in old favours. No, he wasn't staying in Vale, there was a mould growing on its underbelly and hyenas at its head. No one who had ever looked into the council would trust them, even without the collapse.

By this time tomorrow, he would be far away from here.
But for now he was still Tukson of Tukson's Book Trade, and he had to play the part.

When the bell rung from the shop, he had to act as normal.

“Be right there!”

He walked backwards into the room, arms occupied with multiple books, why had he chosen a book store as a front again? He didn't even like books.

“Welcome to Tukson's Book Trade, home to every book under the sun.”

He placed down the books he was holding.

“How may i-“

He started briefly upon seeing who had entered. Okay then, plan B.

“How may I help you?”

He didn't know the two kids in his shop personally, but he knew them by reputation, they and their boss had recently barged their way into the Valean underground. From what he understood at least, the girl was an accomplished petty thief, while the buy was nothing more than an angsty teen riding his father's coattails. Even if they were well thought of in Mistral, their conduct in Vale had won them few allies, and fewer true ones. As you'd expect, manning a bolthole, he had heard of their recent transactions with the Fang.

Though judging by the direction they were taking this, they obviously thought of themselves as hotshots. Their opinions were clear in how they carried themselves, the girl was at least wary, her eyes darting around the room, but that more spoke of years of street life, rather than her handling of the current situation, what showed her dismissal of him was her smirk. The boy was arrogance, plain and simple, he stood unguarded and not even looking at Tukson, merely playing with one of the books.

“Just browsing.”

And he slammed the book shut.

The tone of his voice told Tukson what this would be, a skit, oh did he know how to act! A conman never forgets his skills. They wanted to play this game? They would lose.

The girl was the next actor.

“Actually, I was wondering, do you have any copies of 'The Thief and The Butcher'?”

A modern take on a fairly standard old fairy tale, popular among young teenagers because they thought a darker book like that made them more adult. If only they knew how dark the original was... Poor Rowan did not deserve to have to live in clothes made only of brambles forever.

... Oh god, he'd absorbed some of these books through... osmosis or something.

“Yes we do.”

The greenhead enthusiastically replied.

“That's great!”

“Would you... like a copy?”

“No, just wondering.”

The boy was starting to annoy him with his slamming shut of books.

“Oh, oh! What about ‘Violet's Garden'? In paperback?”

Before Tukson could reply, the boy did.

“He's got it. Hardback too.”

“Ooh, options are nice.”

“Eh, no pictures.”

Of course there weren't, it was a romance novel popular with women in their forties, not a kids picture book.

“Hey! Do you have any comics?”

Tukson's sighed, just glad to be given an opportunity to move the kid away from the conversation.

“Near the front.”

But it seemed the farce was coming to its conclusion.
“Oh, no, wait! What... about... ‘Third Crusade'?”

Tukson knew what Third Crusade was, but not from being a bookstore owner. The Crusade sequence were a set of Atlesian Government files kept under heavy lock and key, detailing the great faunus purges of Atlas’ early days. A time when Atlas decreed that faunus:

“Has't less rights than the basest of v'rmin yond sucketh the blood from our veins, f'r while those beasts doth so only f'r their owneth survival, the faunus act delib'rately to hind'r Our Gl'rious Nation.”

The Crusades were secret, hidden and punishable by infinite incarceration just for mentioning, which of course meant that anyone from the underground worth their salt had heard of them.

“Um... I ...don't believe we carry that one.”

The boy, who should have been looking at comics, slammed another book shut.

“Oh?”

“What was this place called again?”

“Tukson's Book Trade.”

“And you're Tukson?”

“That's right.”

“So then I take it that you're the one that came up with the catchphrase?”

“Yes."

“And, what was it again?”

"Tukson's Book Trade, home to every book under the sun."

“Except the Third Crusade.”

Tukson's scoffed.

“If you had bothered to read the small print it also says: 'And if you desire a book it turns out we don't have, we will do our utmost to obtain it for you’.”

“So can you obtain the Third Crusade for us Tukson?”

“No. And you know why.”

“So your catchphrase is a lie even with the small print. You shouldn't make a promise you can't keep Tukson.”

The boy began to lower the store's lights and dim it's windows.

“I hear you're planning on leaving, moving all the way to Vacuo.”

Yup, that had been the plan, by this time tomorrow all any curious Valean would find of him is the rumour that he was far above the Viridian Spine, and on his way to the Vacuan town of Quartz.

“Your brothers in the White Fang won't be happy to hear that.”

His brothers in the Fang wouldn't mind, the rest, well... He didn't care.

“And neither are we... You know who we are, don't you?”

“Yes.”

“And you know why we're here?”

“Yes."

“So... are you going to fight back?”

“Yes!”

Tukson extended his claws and leapt atop his counter before lunging at the kids, right head-first into their obvious trap. Had the two kids been as wary as they should have been, they may have noticed the small smirk on Tukson's face as it made contact with Mercury's metal leg.

 

Blake

It was the last day of their holidays, and after making a plan to deal with Weiss problem, Blake had inevitably turned to her own.

So in the gaps between Ruby's strange games yesterday – a pillowfight with added grenades and a cookie eating competition being among them – she had taken to analysing her experience in the Fang as objectively as possible. If she was to find out why they had lowered themselves to working with someone like Torchwick, she needed to work out why they had fallen in the first place. As much as she both expected and feared it, it was still distressing to find that it all seemed to revolve around Adam.

Adam had been her friend once. He came to Menagerie broken and bleeding, taken in by the Albain brothers after a diplomatic mission to Atlas went sour, and, despite being five years older, he latched on to Blake like a rock in a storm.

They had grown up together, practically siblings, but things just seemed to fester in Adam, emotions sticking and maintaining grudges that should have long faded. Blake couldn't really blame him for being bitter, not with what had happened, but... It just seemed wrong! He had been one of the most compassionate people she knew. Now, whether those memories from when she was three or four were correct she couldn’t say, but he was not a cold blooded killer. It was like... It was like something had infected him, grown within him, and twisted his actions into a farce.

Her introspection had not gone unnoticed by the other members of her team, Ruby and Weiss weren't commenting on it, but Blake knew if she stressed too much over it they'd probably both jump in. Yang on the other hand had been trying to distract her all morning, and while Blake generally appreciated the concern, she really didn't appreciate it being so constant. She had been, till recently, a fairly solitary person, and she had still to get used to people outside of her blood family being concerned for her. Dust, if that didn't say something about the current nature of the Fang then nothing would.

“Whatcha doing?”

Blake decided to stop for now, any more and Yang would likely actually become worried. She closed one of her notebooks, the one containing notes on the Fang and a collection of both smutty and non-smutty writing. (No one would tell she'd been White Fang if they thought her notes were part of a smut story!)

“Nothing Yang. Just going over notes from last semester.”

Yang seemed to be in the middle of some sort of competition with Nora which consisted of catching thrown grapes in their mouths? Sometimes they confused Blake.

“Lame.”

“Well, given we spent most of the break researching other things, I thought it was a good idea.”

The Great Grape Game continued between Yang and Nora, Yang almost managed to miss one as Ruby slammed a very overstuffed binder labelled "Vytal Festival Activities, Property of Weiss Schnee". Onto the table, the title had been crossed out and scrawled over in red marker pen, such that it now read: "Best Day Ever Activities"

“Sisters... friends... Wife!”

Across the table Weiss’ face flushed bright red.

“Rubes, ya gotta remember it's just sister and wives now right?”

Yang had been particularly enjoying the whole ‘we’re all engaged’ thing, it gave her so many new avenues to rib people.

“A-anyway! I have a plan!”

“This sounds fun.”

“Ok, Soooo... People seemed to have fun yesterday, so, I came up with lots more things to do!”

She gestured at the bulging arch-lever file she'd lugged in.

“Ruby? Did you steal my binder?”

Ruby looked at Weiss and made a placating gesture.

“I am not a crook!”

“You could have just asked for it.”

Yang then chirped in

“Oh, but Weiss, it's better to ask forgiveness than permission!”

“Yang, that attitude's going to get you, and your wives, in trouble someday.”

“And?”

Weiss just put her palm to her forehead.

“Why am I getting in a relationship with an imbecile?”

Yang just wiggled her eyebrows at Weiss.

 

The four of them were meant to be being open about being in a 'relationship’ but they were really supposed to be avoiding the m-word. Mostly because they were afraid that if Weiss father found out he would find a loophole in the loophole they'd used to avoid his loophole. But waving the fact his daughter was in a relationship, and what's more, a polygamous lesbian relationship, in his face was too good of an opportunity to let go. Weiss was screwed no matter what if they failed, may as well enjoy it.

Despite the fact that they were supposed to be ignoring the topic of marriage, they were finding it rather hard. Ruby was just still ecstatic that Weiss wanted to marry her, even if that particular joining would have to be delayed, Yang found it too good of a teasing opportunity to let go. Weiss mostly kept it silent till one of the others brought it up, Blake could tell that Weiss was just as stoked about marrying Ruby as Ruby was, but she didn't seem too adverse to Yang and Blake being involved too. No outright statements, but... Well, Blake was starting to think she wanted Weiss to be happy about this. Blake was the only one to pretty much avoid the topic, she had enough experience keeping secrets.

Yang's distraction had meant she missed several of Nora’s grapes, Nora had begun to get rather frustrated by this and eventually settled on lobbing an apple at Yang. The fruit impacting the brawler’s face elicited a slight chuckle from Blake, earning her a raised eyebrow from Weiss, Blake wasn't exactly known for showing much emotion. Yang glared across the tables at Nora.

“Pay attention in war Yang!”

Ruby sighed.

“Look guys, we've had a full three weeks of holiday, even though we spent most of it in the library, but between more exchange students arriving and the tournament at the end of the year, our second semester is going to be great! But, classes start back up tomorrow! Which is why I've taken the time to schedule a series of wonderful events for us today.”

“I don't know whether to be proud or scared of what you have in store.”

Weiss could pretend to be worried, but the look of fondness was too obvious.

Yang had been focusing on the Grape Game, and took the opportunity of a moment of distraction on Nora's part, courtesy of Ren, to lob an apple at her instead. Unfortunately, Jaune shifting in his seat meant the fruit clipped the side of his head. The bond have a small cry of surprise before Nora lunged forward and grabbed the apple out of the air with her teeth.

Blake was actually feeling rather down, with her little introspections she had managed to temporarily lose her desire to do... Pretty much anything really. She kinda wanted just to collapse in a heap on her bed today.

“Ruby? I'm not feeling that up to much today. Does that binder happen to have anything fairly non-strenuous?”

“Well whatever we end up doing we should do it as a team. Whether that's something active or just sitting on the sofa-“

Weiss speech was rather cut off by a pie impacting her face. As she had multiple times before, Blake puzzled at the strange collection of food items presented to them for breakfast. It seemed almost like the cooks didn't understand the differences between meals. I mean who had roast turkey for breakfast? And along the same lines, who would think to provide ammo in the form of cream pies for breakfast?

The pie slowly fell from Weiss’ face, remaining superficially calm Weiss wiped the cream from her face with a napkin. Her anger was however visible in her tapping foot. Once her face was clear she fixed the team at the other table with a withering stare. When placed under scrutiny Nora blanched and pointed at Ren. The other team members all seemed to be trying their best to hide under the table.

 

Neptune Vasilias.

Neptune was still a little pissed with Sun. I mean, what kind of leader runs off on his team like that? And on a boat of all things! Frankly, if the official Vytal transport had been a boat, he just wouldn't have gone. Nah, four hours sitting ramrod still in a tiny room in the centre of the airship was fine for him. Just don't think about the water...

Neptune did like Sun, he was cool, but sometimes he was really aggravating.

“Yeah, it was a crazy fight! Could have done without being exploded, but oh well.”

“Nice!”

“I wanna get to know the people here a bit more, y'know? I mean they all seem so cool! Well, I think they did. I haven't actually see much of them, given I was banned from the grounds till you arrived, but still. No offense to you guys.”

“None taken. But you were really asking for that, I mean, attacking a Kingdom facility? That's kinda dumb even for you.”

“Yeah... But! It would’ve been a lot worse if I didn't.”

“Meh, you ain't wrong. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And if you gotta do something bad to create a good result, do it... Within reason of course. Don't go getting any ideas Sun.”

Sun put up his hands.

“Hey, you don't need to tell me twice. Anyway, they should be just in here, if that random student was telling the truth. I'm really excited for you to meet them. So be cool, okay? You're gonna be cool, right?”

“Dude.”

Neptune just stopped and crossed his arms, giving Sun one of his patented winning smiles.

“Good point.”

Neptune followed Sun through some doors into a big hall, and was met with utter bedlam.

 

There was shouting, stacking of desks, and most importantly, food flying everywhere.

Worryingly, there appeared to be a fight going on through the haze of flying soda and ketchup. People were throwing melons at each other, using roast turkeys as boxing gloves... What?

He was pretty sure bread hard enough to be used as swords were not fit for human consumption. Or raw leeks. Or whole raw swordfish.

I mean seriously, they were destroying the flipping room! Pillars and furniture were being destroyed left and right. Most of the noncombatants had either fled, or were cowering in corners and he was pretty sure that anyone actively participating in such a fight must be certifiably insane. Of course this meant that the ones fighting were probably the people Sun had been talking about.

Neptune flailed, dodging an eclair and a raw cabbage, before a splash of some purple liquid hit him in the face. He was not going to taste it to find out what it was. That could end badly.

Whirls of flying cans joined the fray from a row of demolished vending machines, and then the wind started. An almighty pressure flew from one end of the hall to the other, picking up food, furniture and wayward students alike, Neptune trying his utmost not to be pulled along as well.

With an immense cacophony of various different things crashing into the stone wall, including people, the gust came to an end. A spiderweb of cracks splintered across the, now multicoloured, wall.

“I love these guys.”

To be honest? At the moment, Neptune didn't quite agree with that.

 

Glynda

Right now Glynda was pissed.

Just one term of relative peace. One term! That was all she asked for. But no. Year after year there had been major incidents every flipping term.

Last term there had been the incident with students trespassing on Kingdom property, and now, before the term even started, there was a food based demolition of the canteen in progress. All this stress would end up turning her grey.

She stormed into the hall, fortunately the fight seemed to be almost over. Unfortunately it had done a lot of damage, the desolation playing hell with her OCD. She began to move her crop in it’s distinctive patterns, the overly swift and sharp movements belying her anger. The older students that had been caught in the chaos recognised the signs and made themselves scarce. Furniture and masonry reassembled themselves, seams melding together as if they'd never been broken. The food was unfortunately unrecoverable, so she directed that to the bins out the back.

“Children, please. Do not play with your food!”

Her voice was hard and tense, her stress palpable in her tone. Peter had still to send in his revised lesson plans after she rejected his first ones, Oobleck was stuck in the field after the bullhead sent to pick him up from some ruin crashed and Peach was as elusive as ever. She was balancing at least 5 people's work load, as well as making sure Ozpin did his job and acting as the school’s disciplinarian AND part time janitor. The council was LUCKY Ozpin hadn't let her negotiate after last term's incident, she had fifteen years of less than adequate school budget to rant about. She realised that Beacon tuition had to be free, but nonetheless it irked her than the council were so stingy. Especially since a large percentage of its income came from a tax on huntsman contracts, which wouldn't ever be taken without Beacon.

Her internal rant was interrupted by a certain blonde firecracker falling back through the ceiling that she had just repaired. Her eyebrow began twitching and she was growing incredibly close to just throwing said yellow-haired girl through the window and over Beacon cliff.

A hand on her shoulder brought her out of her fantasies of dealing with the school’s problem children, some of which would likely have got her fired if she ever tried to act them out.

“Let it go.”

She sighed, her anger slowly dissipating a little.

“They're supposed to be the defenders of the world Ozpin.”

“And they will be, likely far too soon, but right now they're still children. So why not let them play the part?”

He slowly begin to walk out of the hall.

“After all Glynda, it isn't a role they'll have forever. All children will eventually grow up, but there is nothing worse than losing childhood too fast. You of all people should know that.”

 

Roman

This was going too far. There wasn't any choice anymore, but he couldn't leave. They were in too deep and he wouldn't cut anyone off as dead weight.

The dust robberies were going better than before, not good, but they had improved over the last few weeks, he needed them to. He had never relied on his intuition this much, almost all his decisions had been based on it. The ratpaths had been invaluable.

Even so, he was seriously worried. He'd barely slept all week. He was poring over maps and spreadsheets, this wasn't petty theft anymore, it was a full out criminal operation, and he couldn't afford to let it fall.

A spike in dread made him stiffen momentarily before relaxing. You have your armour, Roman. Bluff. Keep up your fucking facade and play it as cool as always.

“Oh, look! She sent the kids again! This is turning out just like the divorce!”

He moved forward and put his arms around the two teenagers. Repressing a shiver, both from coming so close to two flipping cold blooded murderers and from insinuating any sort of relationship with... Her.

Not that Romans hands were clean, per se, but he remembered every flipping face and avoided it whenever he could. These two... he had seen them in action. They didn't even care. Mercury even seemed to ENJOY it.

“Spare us the thought of you procreating.”

Well... Not directly, but Emerald shouldn't be surprised. The two teenagers pulled out of Roman's hug. Emerald with a shiver and Mercury with a shove.

“That was a joke. And this... just might tell me where you two have been all day.”

Emerald may be a thief, but she just had a semblance that she abused, he had talent and experience. She was a petty thief, he was a master thief. It had been child’s play to extract the paper from her pocket.

“What!? Agh...”

“I'm a professional, sweetheart. Pay attention, maybe you'll learn something.”

He looked at the paper and almost froze. Act! Act you flipping fool!

“Why do you have this address?”

“Wouldn't you like to know?”

Yes he would. Well, he knew, but had to be sure.

“Yeah, I would. Now where have you been all day?”

“Cleaning up your problems. One of them, at least.”

To be honest, Roman was more scared of Mercury than Emerald. There was something fundamentally wrong with him.

“I had that under control.”

“Two packed bags and a ticket out of Vale said otherwise.”

Ok. He had to step it up. Roman was a coward at heart, but he was most certainly loyal where it counted.

“Listen, you little punk. If it were up to me, then I would take you and your little street rat friend here and...”

“Do what, Roman?”

His intuition had been screaming so much at the teenagers that he hadn’t been able to detect hits boss' approach.

“I'd, uh... not kill them?”

Emerald’s happy cry of “Cinder!” Made Roman remember that there may be hope for her, though having latched onto a role model like Cinder, he wasn't holding out hope.

Cinder turned to Roman and he internally quailed, despite a grin slipping into his face externally.

“II thought I made it clear that you would eliminate the would-be runaway.”

“I was going to...”

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

“I think he was some sort of cat, actually.”

“What? Like a puma?”

“Yeah, there ya go.”

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

“I just thought-“

“Don't think, Obey.”

Roman would never give up thought. Thought was life.

"Yes ma'am. It won't happen again."

Cinder turned to Roman, and he prepared to act his heart out.

“And you. Why wasn't this job done sooner?”

Roman gestured around the truly massive warehouse.

“Uh..? Eh..? Eh..? EHHHHH! Sorry if I've been busy stealing every speck of Dust in the Kingdom!”

“You're an inspiration to every punk with a gun and a ski mask.”

Mercury should watch his words. He wasn't an inspiration, he was a fucking Idol.

“Look around, kid. I've got this town running scared! Police camping out at every corner, Dust prices through the roof, and we're sitting pretty on an old warehouse with more Dust crystals, vials, and rounds than we know what to do with! Speaking of which, if you guys wouldn't mind filling me in on your grand master plan, it might actually make my next string of robberies go a little smoother!”

He wasn't even kidding about that. Police were crawling everywhere and Dust hadn't been so expensive since the postwar Grimmshock. But more importantly, he needed to reduce the fallout that would happen after this all went tits up.

“Oh, Roman. Have a little faith.”

Cinder placed her hand on his face, and it was all he could do to suppress a shiver. Beauty doth not an angel make.

“You'll know what you need when you need to know it. Besides, we're done with Dust.”

Roman was partially relieved, but mostly worried.

“O-okay, then what now?”

“We're moving. Have the White Fang clear out this building. I'll send you details and coordinates tonight.”

“Coordinates?”

“We're proceeding to phase two.”

 

Fuck.

 

Later that night saw Roman creeping out if the Ratpaths with a large bag. He snuck into an innocuous grey building near the north of Vale. He slinked through corridor after corridor to a room lined with small metal cupboard doors. He walked over to one particular door, pulling it open gently and extracting a long metal slab.

Upon this slab lies a body.

The side of its head is caved in, obscuring it's face behind a visage of red pulp. Roman gagged. The body was obviously male.

Roman was in one of Vale’s many morgues.

He placed his hand on the body's naked chest and pulsed his aura.

With a gasp the body shot up, knocking Roman away to the ground, the gasp causing a ragged gape to appear in the ruined face. Roman was almost sick.

Before the thief's eyes the broken face before him cracked and shifted, the ruined flesh melting away to reveal unblemished skin. His face restored, Tukson opened his eyes.

“No matter how many times I see you do that Tukson, it never gets less disturbing.”

Tukson's faunus trait were a set of claws, that was one of the most common traits, you could barely tell what animal a clawed faunus took after. Tukson was a possum.

His closely guarded semblance reflected this. As the possum fakes death, so too does Tukson. His aura keeps him alive, while he allows himself to fall into unconsciousness, an illusion maintaining the appearance of death. Tukson was originally a conman. His most common con? Life insurance fraud. He could no longer count the number of times he had attended his own funerals on both hands. This was why he called his semblance 'My Own Funeral’.

He knew his plans to flee would be discovered, so he laid plans within plans. He was never going to Quartz. Tukson was dead, he would survive.

“Thanks Roman.”

The only problem with his semblance is he needed a shock to get him out of it. Roman was an old friend of Tukson, he only met Roman long after his conning days, but they both held a deep seated respect for the other.

“No worries. At least one of us should escape this madness.”

“Speaking of, you sure you weren't followed?”

“Don't worry, She can keep them occupied for a while. Anyway-“

Roman threw a set of keys at Tukson.

“There's a bullhead ready at airdock 7. Get to it quickly and get to Vacuo. The fuse is lit.”

 

Tukson

Tukson didn't like lying to Roman. There were few people like him in the underworld, but he wasn't going to Vacuo. Once out of Valean airspace, he turned his bullhead, not West to Vacuo, but South East to Menagerie.

He had a message he had to get to Ghira. The stubborn idiot probably wouldn't listen, but Tukson owed it to his friend. Ghira’s daughter had fled, and the Fang were rushing into horror. He had a duty to at least try to help.

Chapter Text

Ozpin

“Ironwood certainly loves bringing his work wherever he travels.”

Glynda's rather scathing distaste for the general had been made abundantly clear since he had joined their... Organisation. To be honest, Ozpin wasn’t entirely that fond of him either. Ironwood was more a... Strategic acquisition, rather than one made out of trust. Atlas’ shift to a more militaristic government style, to match their militaristic culture had necessitated recruiting someone in the upper echelons. Ironwood, with a seat himself on the Atlesian council and at least four held by subordinates, had effectively total control over the kingdom and was thus, supposedly, an excellent choice for headmaster.

While Ozpin found dictatorships distasteful, not least due his last three failures, there was no denying Ironwood was useful. However, he was a loose cannon with, unfortunately, ideas to match his lofty station. Technology in Atlas was advancing too fast, uncontrollably, regulations lagging behind sense. The fleet looming over the city below was enough of an example. Atlesian scientists didn't even understand the calculations that were allowing those capital ships to fly. But courtesy, and effectiveness, required Ozpin to, within reason, stick to cordiality.

“Well, running an academy and a military makes him a busy man. But yes, those are a bit of an eyesore.”

A flashing light on his desk alerted him of the presence of someone wishing to enter the lift to his office.

“Come in.”

The silvery doors slid open to reveal Ironwood, the bulky and uneven shifting of the clothes on the right side of his body belying the metal limbs below.

“Ozpin!”

Ozpin replied, unusually stiff.

“Hello, General.”

“Please, drop the formalities.”

Thankful for not having to stand on ceremony, Ozpin shook Ironwood's hand, the left one, not trusting the experimental prosthetic.

“It’s been too long. And Glynda! It has certainly been too long since we last met.”

Not a good plan on Ironwood's part, Glynda had always made her distaste of the military, and Atlas in general, abundantly clear. Going so far as to forcefully evict Atlesian soldiers from Beacon grounds the few times Ironwood had attempted to bring an armed escort during his early days in the organisation. Glynda gave an obviously fake smile.

“Oh, James!”

And the smile collapsed into a steel hard glare.

“I'll be outside.”

Glynda left the room, she rarely spent long in Ironwood's presence unless necessary, and even then, never amicably.

“Well, she hasn't changed a bit.”

Which Ozpin was inevitably glad for, he needed some constants in his life, and this iteration had precious little family to speak of.

“So James, what in the world has brought you all the way down from Atlas?”

Ozpin began pouring a mug of coffee from a pot he kept in the room, not for himself, he couldn't stand the stuff, too bitter, but both Ironwood and Glynda frankly adored it.

“Headmasters don't typically travel with their students, for the Vytal Festival.”

Ozpin turned and gave the mug to Ironwood.

“Well, you know how much I love Vale this time of year.”

Ironwood was just as much of an alcoholic as Qrow, possibly more, the half a hipflask of (probably) whisky mixed with vodka he poured into his mug evidence enough.

“Besides, with you hosting, I thought that this might be a good opportunity for us to catch up.”

Ozpin moved to lean against his desk before pouring himself a mug of hot chocolate, much better than coffee. Behind his calm facade though he was beginning to get slightly irritated, he was still human after all, and Ironwood's dancing around the issue was aggravating.

“I can certainly appreciate some quality time between friends, however, the fleet outside my window and some of your more recent, and bordering on the edge of inhumane, experiments have me a bit concerned.”

“Well, concern is what brought them here.”

“I understand that travel between kingdoms has become increasingly difficult.”

“Oz, you and I both know why I brought those men.”

The clack of Ozpin's mug against the desk loudly echoed through the room.

"No James, I don’t. Thus far, all that has happened is a failed dust robbery, admittedly a large one, but a failed one. If that was all that was required to bring the Atlesian military, there would be a fleet stuck hovering above Haven permanently. We need to be careful and discrete, like normal, not blatantly wave a stick around in front of someone with a machine gun. You may manage to knock them out, but you are far more likely to get a bullet in the brain. We are in a time of peace. Shows of power like this are just going to give off the wrong impression.”

“But if what Qrow said is true...”

“If what Qrow said is true, then we will handle it tactfully. We already expected and prepared for her having subordinates. Now, however, It's the Vytal Festival. A time to celebrate unity and peace. So I suggest that you not scare people by transporting hundreds of soldiers halfway across the continent. Not least your little side project that you were expressly forbidden from taking past the prototype stage.”

“I'm just being cautious.”

“No James, you're not. You're being blatant. Waving military might in people's faces doesn't work, this has been proven time and time again. Stop with your shows of force and focus on what we should do, continuing to train the best Huntsmen and Huntresses we can.”

“Believe me, I am, and project No Strings is an essential part of that, despite your misgivings, because ask yourself this: Do you honestly believe your children can win a war?”

Ironwood slowly left the room. As the lift doors were closing Ozpin responded.

“I hope they never have to."

 

Team RWBY

Team RWBY were playing a board game in the library. An exceedingly complex and confusing one that would seem more at home as a computer strategy game than on a board. Each of them controlled an area of terrain, split into regions. Each of these regions had a population limit on it and a population, fortification and negativity score, noted by little chips. At the beginning of the round everyone put one population on each region they controlled, so long as it didn't bring the population score over the population limit, and then got an army point, fortification point or influence point for every two population in a region.

The players then took turns to use these points, you could use the army points to buy various units, from basic soldiers to armoured vehicles, each Kingdom also had specific units, for example atlas had its cheap but weak Knights and a larger class of airship. There were also a few especially notable Huntsmen, including the sisters’ uncle. These units were then positioned in one of your regions, though no more than half of that region’s population score could be stationed there, you could also move your already placed units to different regions.

You could use the fortification points to buy walls for your regions and you could use the influence points to pay the cost needed to play cards, which were drawn face down from your own deck, which was themed to the kingdom you were playing. These cards could do many things, from directly influencing combat, to providing special buildings which boosted your armies or 'infiltrating’ other kingdoms, which essentially let you look at another player’s hand.

After this phase came the combat phase, the players took turns launching attacks from their regions on neighbouring ones, either populated by Grimm, or by other kingdoms. These attacks occurred similarly to those in Risk, with dice being rolled (three for the attacker and two for the defender) and added to the attacking and defending army's force score, certain units providing more force than others. In addition the defender’s fortification score was added to their roll. Should a human defender be defeated, the attacker takes control of the region, it loses half its fortification and half its population. Whether they lost or won, that region then gets a negativity point, but should the attacker be defeated, their region also gets a negativity point. If a Grimm defender was defeated, the player takes control of the region and it gains one population. After a player successfully executed or repelled an attack they could choose to draw a card as a reward.
After this phase came the Grimm, they too got to place down units, receiving one army point for every two regions they controlled, and then got to attack the kingdoms, attacking regions with negativity counters. Should the attack be repelled, the region lost a negativity counter, but should it succeed, all fortification and population would be lost from the region, the Grimm taking it over. The placement of units, the order of attack, and how big the attacking force would be, was determined by a combination of dice rolls and the number of negativity counters.

After this, a new round began.

These are the incredibly basic rules, not even getting into naval combat, aerial combat or trading. But they are enough to get the gist.

“Hmmmmm.... All right... All right! Yang Xiao Long, prepare your kingdom for battle!”

“Bring it on!”

“I deploy the Atlesian Air Fleet!”

Ruby played a card which allowed her to attack another kingdom’s border region from one of hers over Grimm occupied territory or water.

“Looks like I get to fly right over those Ursai and attack your walls directly!”

“You fiend!”

“And since I’m playing Atlas, my repair time is only one turn.”

After a unit attacked or defended, its force score was halved, as it was considered damaged, until it had been given time to repair, this repair time was different between kingdoms. Atlas had one turn, Vale and Mistral both had two and Vacuo had 3, but Vacuan units only lost a third of their force score while damaged. This was most often denoted by tipping the unit into its side, but this wasn't an actual rule of the game.

Ruby’s expression became more and more confused as Yang began to laugh, before it fell as she realised what was happening.

Yang raised a grey bordered card, indicating it wasn't one unique to a particular Kingdom.

“Pretty sneaky, sis, but you just activated my trap card! Giant Nevermore! If I roll a seven or higher, gale feathers will slice your fleet in two!”

The card seemed overpowered, but it had a downside.

“But, if you roll a six or lower, the Nevermore will turn on your own forces!"

“That's just a chance I'm willing to take.”

Yang's luck came through and Ruby collapsed on the table with a whimper bringing a blush to Weiss' face and, she noticed, also Blake's. Weiss felt a bit guilty at smiling at her girlfriend's sadness but she was just so cute.

Team JNPR were sat at the neighbouring table, actually using the library to read... Except Nora. She was asleep.

“Nooooo!!! My fearless soldiers!”

“Eh, most of them were probably androids.”

“Goodbye my friends, you will be avenged.”

“Not until I draw my rewards! Which are double this round thanks to... The Mistral Trade Route!”

Yang played another card, this time blue bordered as it was Haven specific.

Ruby made an exclamation of disgust. Yang looked at one of the two cards she'd drawn.

“Oh, and what's this? The Smugglers of Wind Path?”

“Bah! Bah, I say!”

“I say, it looks like I'm taking two cards from your hand!”

“Have you no heart!”

Well, Weiss, it's your turn.

Weiss wasn’t entirely sure how to play the game, but she'd been scanning the rules almost constantly since it started.

“Well... I'll use Resourceful Raider to look through Ruby's discard pile and take her Atlesian Air Fleet.”

“Nooo!”

“Sorry Ruby, but all's fair in war. And since most of my Vacuan units are immune to natural hazard cards... At least I think they are, I'll play sandstorm in the Shenlan Coast of Anima, and then I use the Air Fleet, which will let me attack from Vacuo's Emerald bay across the ocean, the sandstorm halves the force count of your defending units in the region, and also let's me 'infiltrate’ your Kingdom and look at your hand on my next attack.”

Yang and Ruby both looked at Weiss in shock.

“That... Was a very good play... You sure you haven't played before?”

“No Yang, but I mount an attack on the Shenlan Coast, with my three Desert Skirmishers, two Scavenger Skyjunks and the Huntsman Radyance Sandhaven, who increases all my units force count by two, but increases my damage penalty to two thirds.”

“Response!”

Yang threw up a card.

“Taijitu Nest! All armies invading a region are destroyed, that region loses two population.”

Weiss sighed, joining Ruby slumped on the tabletop, their hands finding each other under the surface. Yang was just too good at playing Mistral, their playstyle was to spam cards, and boy did she spam.

“Ruby? Unholy Atlesian-Vacuan alliance?”

“Yeeeeeeeesssss....”

“Alright Blake, you're up!”

“Oh, um, sorry, what am I doing?”

“You're playing as Vale, trying to conquer the Kingdoms of Remnant! Or in your case just survive against the Grimm, seriously you have literally only lost territory.”

“Right.”

The four girls were then approached by Jaune, who had been obviously eyeing the board for the past ten minutes.

“Hey! Can I play?”

Ruby quickly shot him down though.

“Sorry Jaune, but we don't have the Menagerie expansion and we've already got 4 people.”

Weiss also voiced her concerns.

“Besides, after the last time we played Relic, and you got through all three board areas to the Pool of Gods in six turns, and the time before that when we were playing Colonisers of Anima and you built entirely around both 10 tiles before proceeding to roll only tens all game, and the time before that when we were playing Capitalism and you had built six hotels, a shopping centre and a dust-damned skyscraper before any of us had even built a house... Sorry Jaune, but playing board games against you is just depressing. Maybe that's your semblance? Good luck?”

“Besides, Weiss attacked her own naval fleet 2 turns ago. Don't think she needs a tactical genius to beat her.”

“Yang Xiao Long, you're sleeping on the naughty bed tonight.”

Since the whole marriage arrangement thing had been agreed, team RWBY had decided they needed to show that it was there to others to maintain the ruse. To this end they had dismantled Blake's bed and pushed Yang and Weiss’ beds together in the middle of the room, leaving Ruby's hanging from the ceiling.

To be honest, though to everyone else it would seem they were sharing a bed, especially with Ruby's bed being called the 'naughty bed’ and being referred to as a punishment for any team member who’d particularly annoyed the others that day, generally Yang, it more often than not ended up with the sisters and Weiss in the double bed and Blake retreating to the hanging one.

The sisters didn't mind at all sharing a bed, why would they? It was big enough. And Weiss actually was in a relationship with Ruby, a relationship that was still in the embarrassed hugs and occasional kisses phase, so there was no way anything was happening in the bed past that. Blake on the other hand felt... Out of place. Not unwelcome but... She wasn't actually in a relationship with any of them so she felt like she was intruding whenever she did sleep in the big bed.

“Come on, let me play your hand for a turn!”

“No Jaune.”

“Why not?”

“Because you'll probably win during that turn, and that would be incredibly depressing.”

“Right... That... Well, sorry ladies, enjoy your battle.”

Jaune walked back over to Pyrrha, his head hung a little, but he was always relatively quick to perk up, the benefits of constructing a fairly positive personality Weiss supposed.

A new voice from a little way away startled Weiss and Blake a little.

“Sup!”

A yellow haired faunus was standing a short way away from their table making a peace sign.

“Excuse me, but who are you?”

“Oh come on! I know I didn't stick around long, but you at least should remember me, we were both trying to disable the bullheads remember?”

“Oh, you’re the criminal faunus we met at the docks twice, once while fighting terrorists.”

“Gah! I'm from Vacuo! I don't understand all your little laws!”

“Pretty sure trespassing will still get you in trouble in Vacuo.”

“Only if you're slow. Anyway, I never got to formally introduce myself, I'm Sun.”

He put his hand to his chest to emphasize he was talking about himself.

“And since my team's up here now I thought I'd introduce my friend Neptune, I would introduce you to Sage and Scarlet buuuut... Let's just say airline food does not agree with them.”

The blue haired teen he'd entered with had a long suffering expression on his face.

“Sun, aren't libraries for reading?”

Ren, the resident bookworm who had not been sucked into a board game semi-against-their-will piped up with his agreement.

“Thank you!”

Nora made a grumble in her sleep that may or may not have had to do with pancakes.

“Shut up Neptune. Don't be a nerd, you’re embarrassing me!”

You don't need help with that Sun, and I prefer the term 'intellectual', okay? Thank you. I'm Neptune."

Weiss, just making polite conversation decided to ask Neptune a bit about himself.

“So Neptune, where are you from?”

“Haven. And I don't believe I've caught your name, snow angel.”

“Woah, hold it right there, I'm spoken for.”

Weiss grabbed Ruby round the shoulders.

“Yeah, thrice over!”

Yang piped up, throwing her arms over Weiss and Blake’s shoulders.

Neptune turned to Sun.

“They just messing with me?”

Sun just shrugged.

“News to me, but Vacuo families are odd soooo. I mean I technically have three dads, six mums and about forty siblings. Either way, seems you're out of luck, at least I'm guessing, cos statistically It’d be odd that not even one of them's a guy if they swing both ways. Even if they do, they’re taken.”

“Story of my life!”

“Anyway, we’re gonna be here for the tournament, so look us up if you want to. Have fun with your... World domination, I guess.”

The girls were left to their game. Predictably, Yang won.

 

Blake

Blake really hadn’t been paying attention, the restarting of school had brought her back to reality, to how she wasn’t quite together. Her brain was just being overtaken by the conversation she’d had with Ozpin almost after the incident. It had been rather... tense.

 

“Well, this has certainly been an eventful evening.”

Blake just stayed silent, the police interview room was cold and clinical.

“I’m sure that after a night of thwarting attempted robbery, you probably just want to go home and take a nap. But, I was hoping that maybe we could have a chance to talk.”

“Of course.”

“Wonderful. As you know, in order to enroll at my academy, students must first pass a rigorous entrance exam. Most applicants spend years of preparation training at one of the many combat schools around the world. You are one of the few that did not. And you passed the exam with flying colors.”

“I was raised outside the kingdoms. If you can't fight, you can't survive.”

“Well, you have most certainly survived, Blake. I admire your drive. And I am proud to run a school that accepts individuals from all walks of life. Rich, poor, Human... Faunus...”

Blake wasn't really ready to have that bandied around everywhere, though from what she understood, a large number of students probably already knew.”

“Why do you wear that bow, Blake? Why hide who you are?”

“Have you ever considered that I wear it because I want to?”

Ozpin gave her a withering stare.

“But for your information professor, despite being... Better than I thought it was, treatment of the faunus in Vale is still worse than it should be. Mostly due to a few individuals, but there is a general malice towards those who are different.”

“True, but we are continuing to take strides to lessen the divide.”

“With all due respect professor, you may be taking strides, but recently you appear to be taking them in the wrong direction. Until that reverses, I, and many other faunus I’d wager, would rather avoid any unnecessary attention. Personally, I want people to see me for who I am, not what I am.

“And what are you?”

“I don't understand what you're asking.”

“How did you know the White Fang would be at the shipyard tonight?”

“Ozpin, I am stepping out of treating you as a professor temporarily because you are severely overstepping the boundaries of that position. I do not believe you don't know who I am, and thus can infer my relation with the Fang. Had it been competent the Vale police force should have been able to think that a successful Dust thief would go after the, almost unguarded, fortune of Dust sat in a harbour. Yet it was up to some children to do so, some children who seem to be better at deductive reasoning than the men paid to do so.

Past that, as a professor, even under the special Huntsman academy charter, you do not have permission to either allow or execute the interrogation of a minor without a legal guardian present. Nor are you permitted to ask invasive personal questions of a student that are not immediately needed for an emergency.”

Ozpin sighed.

“Believe me, I am... Concerned with the woeful inadequacy of our police force. While I may be your headmaster, I am also a Huntsman and above that I am also technically a councilman, and thus granted privileges which some may see as going above the pale. It is my sworn duty to protect this world from the forces that conspire against it and in order to do so I have few restrictions, but those I have are hard limits. Blake, are you sure there is nothing else you would like to tell me?”

“I'm sure.”

She hadn't sorted herself out enough to spill her secrets yet. Ozpin sighed.

“Very well. Thank you for your time, Ms. Belladonna.”

As he left, he paused in the doorway and turned to face her.

“If you ever need to talk to me. Please, don't hesitate to ask.

 

Blake was so put off by her thoughts she didn't really want to be around the team right now, they were happy, they deserved better than her moping, she wanted to have fun with them but... She wasn't ready.

She tried to slink out, but they'd got too familiar with her little foibles. Ok, big foibles. As she grabbed the door handle the was a cry of stop from Weiss and Yang's hand grabbing hers.

“Blake, what's wrong?”

“... Nothing?”

“No Blake, you're not getting out like that. Look, something is wrong, and you don't get to enter our family and not get treated like family.”

“It’s just... If when I was in the White Fang I kept thinking that what we were doing was correct, I saw racism around every corner and violence in every human. Worse than that, I feel now almost as if I was being... Manipulated. It's probably just mob mentality and hive thinking in an echo chamber, but even so.... How many other people are in a similar situation? How many others are doing what they do in the Fang not because of personal choice, but outside influence? I don't know whether I should interfere, but more importantly if I do, I don't know how I should! Do I try and separate individuals and talk sense into them? Just talking won't help, it took two meltdowns, several arguments and an attempted robbery in addition to a lot of talking for me to question it, and I wasn’t vengeful from the start. Talking won't help. Do I try to take down the organisation violently? That'll just create more hate! What should I do?”

Yang looked down for a moment.

“Blake... I'm not sure you should interfere. I... I don't want to see you hurt. We're training to kill Grimm, not necessarily to take down criminals, I mean we kinda are, that's what combat class is for and it is a task Huntsmen are used for but...”

She sighed.

“Blake, Grimm are never cruel. They're an unsympathetic, violent force of nature and we feel no qualms about killing them, they are an evil, but they are a simple evil, they cannot be cruel, they cannot draw out pain deliberately, they just seek to kill as effectively as possible. Humans are... Vindictive, prone to bitterness and far, far more cruel when they want to be. I don't want to see you getting mixed up in that cruelty. Just... Just let the police and the actual Huntsmen deal with it.”

“Yang, the police are about as effective at their jobs as your semblance is at making ice cubes, if the city of Vale had Patrolmen it’s be a different story. But I would be perfectly willing to let the Huntsmen handle it if not for two reasons; one, I have far more knowledge of the Fang than most people, and it's information I wouldn't be... Comfortable giving out freely. Two, I-i-i...”

She paused for a moment.

“I still care about a lot of people still in the Fang and I need to find out if... If they really are as bad as I'm beginning to think and... And what went wrong.”

Blake walked over and sat on the edge of the big bed, the other three girls crowding around.

“Let's start with... Probably the easiest. Uncle Tukson, no actual relation, he actually owns a bookstore here in Vale. I haven't visited over the holiday because we were stuck on the grounds, but I'm not too worried. He's always stayed on the periphery of the Fang since the leadership changed, I highly doubt he's still following them and is probably only hanging around either because he can't risk leaving or because of me.

Then there's Yuuma and Treyfa, I haven't actually seen them for years but... They're very bitter, they lost three children because of humans and well... They were quite outspoken about violence from the start, I tended to take it just as grief talking, but...

I know several others, but I'll only talk about two more, the two who were closest to me.

There's Ilia, she's a Chameleon faunus, she was pretending to be a human in an Atlesian school when her parents died in a dust mine and in a knee jerk reaction she revealed herself to her classmates who immediately vilified her. She ran as fast as she could, eventually stumbling on the tail end of a caravan headed to Mistral, she stowed away and then personally found the headquarters of the Fang. She has also been very obviously in love with me for several years but... For some reason we never got together... I... Why didn't we? I... Why was I? I don't even like guys...

Anyway... The last and most important is Adam. He... He was my partner of sorts. When I was three or four he was brought down from Atlas, he was only eight but his face... No, no, I can't talk about that. He was broken but not violent, he used to cling to me terrified despite being over twice my size, he... He was almost like my brother. He wouldn't hurt anything then, refused to even squash insects or eat meat. I suppose when you know what extreme pain is you wouldn't wish it on anyone. But he slowly changed, I... I didn't even notice it. By the time I was eight he was thirteen and he was leading a collection of other kids trying to join the active Fang, we could join protests and stuff, but nothing more involved. However, the leader refused, he didn't want kids getting hurt. By then Adam was more violent, we just took it as teenage rebelliousness but I'm not too sure. Because of my... Position I was kind of involved already so when I was twelve and Adam seventeen and the leader stepped down, I stayed in the Fang while my parents left, mostly to keep Adam safe. That was probably when things really fell off the deep end.

I knew Adam had already had to kill someone, it was perfectly legitimate defence of someone else but it was one of the things that drove the leadership change. Afterwards it took a little while but...I could smell blood on him, and strangely enough I didn't care. We were far too far apart in age, practically siblings and I didn't even like guys, and yet, by the time I was fifteen somehow Adam and I were in a relationship. We never did anything, he still had the self control not to do that, but we were just as close as before, if not more. But this closeness, it dug into me that something was off, the blood on his hands, I could feel it whenever we touched even if it wasn't there, I... I couldn't rationalise what he'd become with the child I remembered.

That's what made me run. Not a great sense of shame or a realisation that we’d been doing harm, but a personal, and in the grand scheme of things, small problem. The thing is... Adam seemed to be at the heart of every single change that happened in the Fang, he's a phenomenal speaker and a very skilled fighter.

I don't think I'll ever be able to kill any of them should it come to that. But... I can't leave dealing with them to someone else, if... If they really have been influenced by someone else, but even if they haven't, I want to be able to try and make them see what they are doing but... But Adam? I...I won't be able to hurt him, I don't think I ever will. He...he is my brother, blood or no and...I can't lose him, even with what he's become.”

The mood in the dorm was sombre.

“Sorry, I always end up taking all the fun away.”

“Don't you dare apologize. Don't you dare apologize. That's why we’re here, to help you. If you really feel that way, if you really think you need to do this personally I at least will help you, and I’m positive Yang and Ruby feel the same.”

“The thing is Weiss, the most important thing right now is stopping whatever Torchwick's doing, that's not normal for the Fang, and not normal means unpredictable. We need to find out why they're working together.”

Ruby had been quiet for most of this, just clinging like a limpet to Blake's side, but now she realised the team needed a leader.

“Ok! So! We're going to investigate Torchwick and the White Fang, but not tonight. Term starts tomorrow morning and it's getting late. We spent most of the day relaxing and playing games in the library, but we need to be up bright and early in the morning. We can plan tomorrow afternoon, since we don't have classes. And Blake, no matter what you’re sleeping in the big bed tonight, you need it, we all do.”

Blake was incredibly thankful for her team, it was... Nice having people who cared about her again, but she was afraid, if her team could succeed in finding the Fang, could they then survive finding it? She was terrified that she would lose a family so soon...

Oh god, she was really falling for them wasn't she?

Chapter Text

Team RWBY

Classes had finally let out, and Blake voiced what all of team RWBY were thinking.

“I thought that class would never end.”

“Alright, team, now it's time! The investigation begins!”

Ruby stood teetering on the headboard of one of the beds, inevitably she unbalanced and fell forwards, narrowly missing Weiss and getting a mouthful of duvet.

In the seriousness of getting an out from being underage, Weiss' stress had temporarily blinded her to Ruby's adorableness, but since they developed the plan, her awareness had returned full force. She had to fight a strong blush at her clumsy leader whenever she did... pretty much anything. Not to mention a few non-ruby related blushes every now and then, she lived in a dorm room with two other frankly beautiful girls that she was technically engaged to, she couldn't be blamed!

“I'm glad to see we're taking this so seriously.”

“Hey, we're about to start planning! That's... moderately serious?”

Yang sounded a little unsure.

“Right! Soooo... What is everyone going to do? We need to find out as much as we can about what the White Fang is doing.”

The three other team members thought about Ruby's question for a while. Yang was the first to answer, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly.

“Well.... I have a friend nearish the docks who tends to know pretty much everything going on in Vale.”

Ruby was pretty sure Yang was referring to the 'Mister Junior’ guy, but she wanted to check.

“That's the guy who runs that club right?”

“Yeah.”

“He gave us some clothes last time and wanted us to get the briefcase they were in back to him, so could you take that?”

“Sure Rubes.”

Weiss was a little unsure how the owner of a little backalley club would know much about Torchwick.

“I do question how he's going to know anything, surely you don't hear all that much just running a club?”

Yang looked almost sheepish at Weiss’ question, she rubbed the back of her head nervously.

“Yeah.... Junior’s a sort of... Face. He's heavily involved in trading information and general aiding and abetting.”

Weiss was taken aback, that was blatantly illegal.

“What! Why haven't the police done anything? Or the Huntsmen?”

“Weiss, the police and Huntsmen are among his biggest customers, though most don't know exactly who he is. Seriously, almost every huntsman in Vale city checks information through his men. He's not big on combat, I mean, I beat him up before coming to Beacon, but his organisation is influential enough that no-one dares try to shut him down because everyone else would jump on them. Trust me, if anyone in Vale knows what the Fang or Roman are planning, it's him.”

“And what about him telling Torchwick you’re looking?”

“Don't worry snow angel, I have my ways.”

Weiss wasn't really convinced buuuut... This was Yang, she does what she wants.

“Anyway, meanwhile I will head to the CCT tower and try and get access to Schnee sales and losses, we need to get as clear of a picture of where the Fang have been hitting as possible.”

Ruby raised her hand like they were in class, a puzzled look on her face, Weiss pointed at her.

“Ummm... Why not just use the terminals in the library?”

“Security, Ruby. Central Schnee systems will not divulge any information to a terminal that is not both of Atlesian make and designated as trusted. There are only two locations in Vale that fit that criteria, the main tower terminals and those in Schnee Vale Headquarters.”

Ruby still looked puzzled.

“Won't the headquarters have all that information?”

Weiss shook her head.

“You'd think so, but branch office data is generally censored so if there's a breach nothing sensitive gets out and I'm certain Fang attacks will be considered sensitive. Plus, I do not want to have to deal with the Branch Head Rosa Salz, she really gets on my nerves.”

Yang shrugged and looked at Blake from her seat on the floor.

“Alright what else? Blake? You think of anything?”

“I'll visit Tukson, if anyone who is in the know would be willing to tell us what the Fang is doing it’s him. Plus I haven't seen him in quite a while.”

“That just leaves you Ruby.”

Ruby thought for a moment, before an idea popped into her head.

“I'll go check out the docks and shops that have been robbed! Surely someone's been able to work out something.”

Weiss was pleased Ruby had thought of something that could help, but Blake voiced a concern Weiss shared.

“Ruby, why would they tell you anything? Or even let you near? You're not a huntress or part of the police.”

“And that's where you're wrong!”

Yang had realised what Ruby was getting at and facepalmed.

“Ruby that's a technicality, it won't work.”

“It's official! If they don't agree then they'll be in trouble!”

Weiss was confused.

“What on earth are you talking about?”

Yang, still with her hand on her face, tried to explain.

“Ruby's always been... Hyperactive. When she had her aura unlocked at signal that just became worse. Dad was off on a mission so uncle Qrow was looking after us and... Well he couldn't deal with her zooming around everywhere, she hadn't unlocked her semblance yet, but she was still fast. So he decided to load her off on the local Patrolmen and well... They took to her.

Blake probably already knows what Patrolmen do, but I think they've been replaced by robots in Atlas. They run around the countryside from settlement to settlement, or in Patch’s case, house to house, ensuring there are no Grimm and thus civilians can travel safely. If they find a Grimm they report it to the Huntsmen and a mission is arranged. They are never used in the big cities, there just isn't much point, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of policemen don't even know they exist.

Patrolmen are responsible for law enforcement in isolated villages. They rarely have unlocked aura, but are very fast runners. They exist in the space between police and Huntsmen.

Aaaaannnd Ruby was kinda inducted into Patch's Patrolmen. She never acted on her own and rarely even left the village, mostly just acting as a gofer, but it's probably part of the reason her semblance is what it is. Anyway after some situations where people further up the chain didn't believe that this kid actually was doing errands for the Patrolmen, well... They gave her an official trainee license. At about eleven. Bear in mind these were generally given out at about seventeen, a patrolman trainee is roughly equivalent to what an academy student is to Huntsmen.”

“So... What does that mean?”

“Since the main duty of Patrolmen is to maintain public order, their trainees are given some power in that area, which means that technically, Ruby can legally get involved in a police investigation. Though it's up to them how much they tell her. Thing is... It's entirely a technicality, I mean... She's fifteen! No-one is going to accept a random fifteen year old into a police investigation.”

“But there's no harm in trying!”

“Unless you get arrested for imitating a patrolman.”

“And then I just call dad!”

Weiss... Wasn’t really sure how to take this. Ruby was technically an officer of the law? Well almost. That said a lot about Vale really. She sighed.

“Ok. We meet up here this evening, go over what we find.”

“Okay!”

The four teammates looked at each other.

“Who said that?”

The call definitely wasn’t from one of them.

“Me!”

The four zipped over to the window where the sound was coming from.

Three of them had already forgotten who the monkey faunus hanging from the tree outside their window was, Blake hadn't.

“Sun!?”

“How did you get up there?”

“Ah, it's easy; I do it all the time.”

Weiss took that the obvious way, and given Sun's disregard for the letter of the law, no one could blame her.

“You do what?!”

“I climb trees all the time! But um... Could you let me in? My tail isn't really strong enough to hold my weight for that long.”

The girls begrudgingly moved aside, as much as they didn't like it Sun had heard at least some of their conversation and they needed to perform... Damage control.

“So, are we finally getting back at that Torchwick guy?”

Blake scowled.

“Sun, we are going to investigate the situation... as intendeds.”

“Sorry, Sun was it? We don't want to get friends involved if we don't have to.”

“Ruby you can hardly consider someone you don't know the name of yet a friend.”

“Weiss! Everyone's a friend until proven an enemy!”

Sun was leaning back against the windowsill.

“Why not? You should always get friends involved. Like Neptune!”

Sun gestured back out the window.

Weiss stuck her head out the window. To say the blue haired teen hanging in for dear life to the tiny ledge round the side of the building looked uncomfortable was an understatement.

“How did you get up there?!”

“Sun has his ways. But please, can you let me in? I'm not exactly... Fond of heights.”

Neptune's expression indicated it was a little more serious than merely not being fond, his fingers were scrabbling at the stonework and there was literally no gap between his back and the pebbledash.

A few quick gravity glyphs had Neptune sailing through the window into Sun, leaving them a tangled mess of limbs on the brown carpet.

“Now Sun! Why in blazes did you think it was a good idea to perve into people's dorms!?”

Sun was still in a tangle on the floor, but he raised both palms towards a Yang who's eyes had begun to tinge red.

“Hey, hey, hey! Cool it! I was trying to find you guys. You would not believe how boring it's been, I mean I met you guys in a punch up, so you gotta be fun!”

“Shouldn't you have had class?”

“If that old windbag rambling on about how he killed six ursai with a cabbage and a spoon constitutes 'class’ I'll probably learn more by skipping.”

“You’d be surprised how much you can learn from Professor Port’s stories if you listen hard enough.”

Weiss knew when to stop fighting a losing battle, and based on all five other people looking at her incredulously? This was one of them.

“Anyway, if you were trying to find us, why not just ask the dorm supervisor?”

Sun's face blanked and Neptune quickly rushed in to cover for his friend.

“Let’s just say... Sun may have rather got on her bad side.”

“How on Remnant did you manage that? She's the sweetest old lady in the world.”

“He may have-“

“And there is nothing more to say here!”

Sun had leapt forward and clamped his hand over Neptune's mouth.

Weiss sighed and sat back on the bed.

“In any case, why do you want to help us?”

Sun's face became more serious.

“I'll explain but... Blake, I'm gonna have to bring up some of the stuff we talked about before the thing at the docks, are you're uncomfortable with Neptune hearing about it?”

Neptune raised his hand to interject.

“If you are uncomfortable with that, it's fine, I'll just stand outside. Everyone has things they want to stay secret.”

Blake gave a small relieved smile.

“Sorry, but, could I take you up on that offer? It... It's still a sore topic.”

Neptune smiled and shrugged, extricating himself from his seat on the floor and moving over to exit the room.

“Just remember, if you ever need someone to listen, I'm here all term.”

He left with a brief salute, closing the door gently behind him.

Yang looked a bit surprised.

“He was... Surprisingly understanding.”

“Neptune’s got his own secrets to tell. He knows how hard it can be to tell people about them.”

Sun flipped to his feet and closed the window. He leant against the bookcase beside it, his eyes momentarily closed in thought.

“Blake, I won't deny that part of my initial reason for following and trying to help you was based on attraction, I still hold by my opinion, but you're taken anyway. However, after I heard your story it struck... Uncomfortably close to home.

I have a big family, was mentioned earlier, but traditional Vacuan family structure is more... a tribe than a nuclear family. Vacuo isn't a particularly nice place, far fewer kids actually get to grow up, so we have more of them. Unfortunately, such a spreading of resources tends to lead to... Disagreements.

Traditionally, no one cared who was a faunus and who wasn’t, before the faunus war the concept of one being better than the other was all but absent from the kingdom. I have three dads and six mums, one dad and four mums are faunus, this means my siblings are a mix of human, faunus from two faunus parents and mixed blood faunus.

When I was quite young, four or something, I don't really remember, we ran a bit low on food, nothing particularly serious, but a couple of my faunus siblings had been listening to a traveling white Fang preacher. Because the Fang was sparce in Vacuo, they've always been a bit more forceful in their recruiting.

These three siblings, Pyrite, Corona and Electra were almost always in trouble for something or other, and of course, like any kids, they blamed it on their siblings, specifically the human ones. Lured by honeyed words these ten to twelve year old children left a note and ran away in the middle of the night to join the White Fang. I had been quite close to Electra and from what little I remember she didn't really support the Fang, but she and Corona were twins, and Electra couldn't let her twin go off without her. That's when I decided to become a Huntsman, so I could track down my sisters and brother and at least see them again one last time.”

Sun's almost expressionless face throughout this story began to warp into a mix of anger and grief.

“Two years ago, Corona returned. She was missing her fucking leg. We later found out it had been cut off by the leader of the White Fang cell she was assigned to, not only that, Electra had been killed by him. And guess why? Both for Electra not closing a fucking door.

The worst part is, Corona still believes that the Fang is right. The shock from losing her sister and leg made her return to us out of trauma and grief, but she's kept trying to go back to the Fang. At times the local Patrolmen have had to knock her out, for her own safety if not everyone else's.

The three of them leaving left scars in the family that never quite healed, but Corona’s returning almost tore my family apart. Everyone was blaming themselves or each other when it wasn't anyone's fault.

That's why I am so vehemently against the White Fang, and why I care so much about this. Blake is also a runaway from the Fang, but unlike Corona she's actually been able to see what they've become and is trying to do something about it.

Based on Corona’s guilty ramblings, I know there are at least two big cells in Vale, the Strike Cell and the City Cell. Corona and Electra were part of the Strike Cell, who went around hitting railways, villages and caravans, Pyrite was part of the City Cell, who act out of Vale proper. I'm hoping he still is so I can have words.

You going after Torchwick means going after the City Cell, so, though I am doing it for Blake, I'm also doing this for me.”

 

The four girls were silent. What do you say to that? Blake, who had been standing against the wall, slowly slid down into a fetal position as she hugged her knees and tears slowly leaked from her eyes.

Ruby did the only thing she could think of, and basically glomped Sun, Yang put her hand on his shoulder. Weiss joined Blake and pulled her into her arms.
It took a while before anyone talked, but eventually Yang broke the silence.

“I don't think we can question your motives at all, so you can come with. But Neptune? Why's he willing to help out?”

Sun looked a little sheepish.

“Would you believe me if I said he's my brother? Well, not by your standards, both my parents were faunus and both his were human, but he’s part of the family group. We tend to just call each other friends because most people don't really understand Vacuan families, and even fewer approve of them. I assumed you'd be ok with it due to, y'know, the being married thing.”

“Engaged.”

“Whatever, marriage isn't really a thing in Vacuo, relationships being restricted like that isn't really all that approved of. Neptune’s trying to talk to Pyrite too, but he doesn't know about Blake.”

The four girls looked at each other before forming a huddle. Sun looked on bemusedly for a while as frantic whispers bounced back and forth. Eventually they turned back to Sun and Weiss stepped forwards.

“Ok, you can help. Just remember that this is our investigation, you are just helping.”

“Fine by me! I assume that means Neptune can help too?”

Weiss nodded. Sun walked over to the door, stick his head out and called to his blue haired brother.

“Oi! You can come back in now.”

Once they were all in the room they went over the changes to the plan.

“Ok, who should Sun and Neptune go with?”

Yang raised a hand.

“I could always use an extra body, I'm not expecting junior to get all violent, buuuuut... I wouldn't put it past his goons to start something.”

Neptune volunteered.

“I'll go with you then. Better not let Sun come with you, because if trouble can be started, he’ll start it.”

Ruby piped up.

“If the police aren't going to like me trying to get involved, they definitely won't like Sun, and from what I know of the SDC,I don't think they'd appreciate Sun either. It's probably best you go with Blake.”

Sun looked at Blake and they nodded at each other.
“Sounds good.”

 

The six split into three groups, Ruby and Weiss staying together for a little while.

 

Ruby & Weiss

Ruby hoped her plan was going to work. The trainee license was real, but she'd never attempted to actually use it. She and Weiss had decided to stay together on Weiss’ walk to the CCT tower, they figured that no police officer would tell a Schnee off for investigating. The robbed shops were scattered all across town, shops that had been robbed first had already been repaired, but they were still under investigation.

The first one they approached was one of the more recent burglaries, a day or so before the docks. There hadn’t been many since, and they had all but petered out over the last week. The storefront was shattered, a sparse layer of glass fragments littered the pavement in front, though most had blown or otherwise shifted away over the intervening weeks.

Other than the shattered window, and the barren store shelves, nothing seemed particularly out of place.

As the two teenagers approached the black and yellow crime scene tape, a dour old policeman rolled toward them, his sagging gut protruding past his belt belying overindulgence in his latter years. A thick grey moustache bristled on his upper lip, this massive piece of facial hair linked to immense mutton chop sideburns. It was hard to tell his expression because his eyes were obscured by curtains of eyebrow hair that made Ruby wonder how he could even see. Once he approached the boundary he addressed the two in a deep cracking voice that spoke of too many cigars and shouting matches.

“This building is off limits to the public, should you attempt to cross this barrier you will be treated as hostile and detained.”

The bored tone of voice revealed he didn't really care about what was going on. The fact he didn't register that they were quite obviously Huntresses in training, and thus there was no way some random police officer would be physically able to apprehend them, spoke masses about his competence.

Ruby, slightly shaken by the immediate confrontation, imitated what she had seen on scroll shows. She flipped open her Patrolman licence, flashed it at the policeman and said:

“Ruby Rose, trainee patrolman, I'm here investigating anything odd in these robberies, things not lining up or lining up in unusual ways. Anything that could tell us, not who or how, but why they happened. Where did the dust go and what it was used for.”

Oh dust, what was she doing! This sort of bluster made her nervous.... Aaaagghh! Just keep piling it on Ruby, you got this...

She lifted the cordon and stepped through, the policeman's mouth bobbing open and closed like a choking walrus. The expression on his face may, or may not, have been incredulity, it was hard to tell through all the hair.

Weiss was surprised at Ruby, this was... Unlike her, she was normally more awkward.

“What are you doing Ruby!”

Weiss whispered in her ear.

“I'm copying scroll shows, don't distract me, this is hard!”

The policeman spluttered and marched after them, his belly wobbling with the speed of his movement. He clapped his large hand on Ruby's shoulder, none too gently, and wheeled her around. He grabbed her wrist with force enough that on anyone without aura it would seriously bruise. He bent down to shove his face so close to hers that she could feel his bristles on her nose.

“Now listen here kid. This is not a playground. You're coming with me to the station. Now.”

This close to him Ruby could see his beady eyes through the grey hair, and they widened substantially as a thin silver blade put itself to his neck. He turned his head cautiously to see Weiss with Eisozean held to his throat.

“Miss... Assaulting an officer will get you five years in prison.”

“What about a police officer assaulting a minor without provocation, or another member of law enforcement? Five years for each I believe, trust me, I've had a lot of time to study Valean law these past few weeks.”

His eyes narrowed.

“Both of you are intruding on a police investigation and thus need to be detained.”

Weiss rolled her eyes and brought Eisozean closer to his throat, you could hear the sound of his mutton chops scraping along the blade.

“My friend is legally an officer of the law, despite her young age, as you can tell from her license. You probably don't know much about patrolman regulations, considering they are rarely active in the city. But more importantly, do you know who I am?”

Weiss doubted he did, her relatively new short hairstyle made her look very different. The tweaking of his moustache may have indicated a smug lip tweak suggesting that this was the case.

“No. Should I? Children attempting to disrupt police business are all over the place.”

Now how to prove who she was...

“I could just show you an ID, but given your attitude you wouldn't recognize it anyway.”

She sighed.

“I really did not want to have to talk to Rosa today, the things I do for you Ruby.”

Weiss pulled out her scroll and dialed a number.

“Hello Rosa- No I don't need to talk to father- No, I do not need an escort! I- Stop talking! I just need you to make sure a certain insufferable oaf knows who I am.”

Weiss switched on speaker and turned the scroll towards the policeman, on the screen was a woman with strictly straightened light pink hair. Her skin was a white so pale it could be likened to icing sugar, a sure sign of pure north-Atlesian heritage, from the reaches where in winter the sun doesn't rise, and ancient horrors stalk the shadows.

Behind the woman, Rosa, was an ornate double rendition of the Schnee symbol in burnished steel, one smaller Snowflake lying over the other normal one. Each had one spoke slightly longer than the others, forming the hands of a clock.

Rosa turned a hard glare on the policeman.

“Magnis. How many times will you waylay Schnee personnel?!”

“Disrespectful wench! If not for your business splashing its cash to bribe every police chief in Remnant, I would have you all arrested for interfering in police investigations. The number of times I've had to chase your people out of crime scenes-“

“Remember Magnis! That, as Vale’s main supplier of Dust, and thus the party most affected by these robberies, the Schnee Dust Company offered it's highest experts to aid with investigations and was granted permission by the council. Experts which you continue to drive away from the sites they should be investigating. Were it not for your advanced age and your retirement in the coming spring, the council would have already had you fired for the harm you've caused. Don't push your luck.”

“And what relationship do two children have to the SDC? They are too young to be any 'expert’ you are calling upon.”

“Watch. Your. Tongue. One of those children is Weiss Schnee. Heiress to the SDC.”

“Thank you Rosa.”

Weiss quickly ended the call.

“My name is Weiss Schnee. I, and this Patrolman trainee are investigating these robberies. Do not try and get in our way again.”

Magnis moved off grumbling. Ruby was looking at Weiss slightly puzzled.

“I thought you said Rosa Salz gets on your nerves?”

“She does.”

“But she seemed... Nice?”

“Being nice doesn't mean she's not irritating. Rosa has a severe case of hero worship, with anything Schnee. I find that kind of attention... Off-putting.”

Weiss walked off into the store. Ruby looked down at the ground, she was a little bit worried, Weiss seemed to like her but she knew she tended to be... Exuberant. Admittedly less so recently, given all the recent seriousness, but even so. She hoped that she was exempt from Weiss dislike of such attention, the fact that she hadn't minded any so far, well, minded much, gave her a bit of a boost, but still...

 

Blake and Sun

The two faunus’ walk to Tukson's book trade was uneventful, the most drama that occurred was Sun swiping more fruit from a market stand and Blake forcing him to go back and pay.

However, once they reached the shop, things changed. When it came into view round a bend Blake was shocked at the cordon blocking off the shop from the road. There was a pair of policemen with takeout coffee sat on a bench within the cordon, but little else. Blake immediately dashed over to the crime scene tape.

“What happened!?”

Blake's call startled the policemen, the two were obviously brothers and both featured a brown mustache, one was slightly portly, but by no means fat, and the other was rather thin. The scare made the larger policeman drop his coffee on the pavement.

“Dust! Now look what you've done!”

The policeman snapped at his brother.

“Me?!”

“And as for you.”

He turned to Blake.

“Almost gave me a heart attack you did!”

“What happened here!?”

The larger brother sighed.

“Right old mess, that's what. Poor man got his head knocked in. No witnesses, no clues, middle of the blooming day like. Shame, liked the bloke, was a very nice shop.”

“It was a very nice shop”

“Berry and I used to go there to buy comics. Annoyed the bloke no end that we wouldn't buy anything else.”

Sun put his hand on Blake's shoulder as her face fell.

“When was this?!”

“Day before yesterday weren't it Berry? Least that's what we were told, you know the guy?”

“He was an old family friend... I hadn’t seen him for months...”

“Sorry lass, but unfortunately since you have a connection we gotta take you in for questioning, don't worry won't take long.”

The policeman took out his scroll.

“What? Why?”

“Standard procedure, any connection must be looked into, and you returned to the scene. Stupid thing!”

He banged his scroll, which had apparently stopped working, off the arm of the bench.

Blake was slightly panicked, she didn't want to get involved with the police. Again. Luckily she was saved by some quick thinking from Sun.

“Hey, fellas? We're trainee Huntsmen, I'm here for the festival but she goes to Beacon, and I know for a fact she was confined to Beacon grounds till yesterday. If I could get confirmation on that from Professor Ozpin, would that be enough to not need to go to the station?”

Blake looked at him quizzically.

“How would you get confirmation?”

“The Professor gave me his work scroll number while I was working at the docks, only need a quick call. Do you think the Professor's really the sort of person who’d ignore this sort of call?”

Sun handed his scroll over to the larger policeman already ringing.

“Hello uh, Professor Ozpin sir.”

The policeman looked at the video feed. Ozpin's eyebrow was raised.

“Um, I'm officer Pale, my brother and I are guarding a crime scene in District G. Well, we have two trainee Huntsmen here, and one apparently knew the victim. Normally we’d take her in for questioning, but apparently you can provide an alibi? Normally a spoken alibi wouldn't mean much, but due to your status it would save us a whole load of hassle and paperwork.”

“Who is this student?

“It’s Blake, Professor.”

“Ah, yes. I can guarantee that she didn't leave campus, if necessary; security footage, Beacon scroll tracking and a large number of witness accounts will tell you that.”

“That's reassuring.”

He sighed.

“To be honest professor, if yer willin', I got some things to say about this case and, if you'll mind my Mistralian, the council is bein’ an ineffective dishrag. Nothing but ‘Get To Work and 'No Slacking' but... This case makes no sense. Middle of the day, the body was recovered but then vanished from the morgue, and all the blood at the scene vanished... If I hadn’t seen the corpse myself I’d say no-one died.”

“I'm afraid officer Pale, I have no jurisdiction over the police, however my second and I are trying to address our shared concerns with the council.”

Ozpin ended the call.

Pale sighed

“Well. I'm sorry for your loss, but there's not really much I can do, I'm not allowed to let you in.”

Sun replied.

“It’s fine, thanks for your help officer, I think Blake needs to relax, I'll take her to a cafe or something, but here.”

He handed the officers a piece of paper.

“It’s my scroll number, of you find out anything about this that you are allowed to tell us, please give me a call.”

 

Yang and Neptune

“Soooo... Why are we just driving aimlessly round Vale?”

Neptune had been getting more confused as time had gone on, Yang seemed to be just taking an erratic path around the city, not heading for anything in particular. He finally picked up the courage to tell over the bike noise. Yang pulled up at the curb.

“Few reasons, One, Bumblebee here has been gathering dust for the best part of three months, B, Junior’s doesn't open till about eight and, Bullet Point, have you not been looking around?”

Neptune glanced around a bit.

“Yeah, but... What's so odd?”

“The people, they’re all scared.”

...

“They are?”

“Everyone's walking a bit too fast, their eyes a bit too wary. The city is bracing for something bad and I'm not surprised. Dust robberies on the rise, terrorist activity at the docks, if the VNN is to be believed a spike in homicides and most of all...”

She pointed upward.

“Atlas practically invading Vale. Everyone is worried. Here's the thing... It's everyone. The slums, the suburbs, the economic, shopping and office districts, even the R&D and military compounds.... Everyone.”

“And that's bad?”

“It’s like filling a barrel with burn Dust. Not much Dust and sparks may miss, but fill it to the brim and a single spark... Boom.”

“So what can we do?”

“Not much we can do really, it's the council in this case that need to be doing something. Even if they can't solve the problem fully they should do something, and first that would mean kicking out the atlas military, but they won't do that because politics. Times change.”

Before Neptune could reply Yang sent Bumblebee roaring off again.

 

Ruby

It had been pretty much the same story everywhere. No indication of anything except the dust was stolen, the money wasn’t and the owner was spared. Ruby was getting kind of disheartened with the idea.

She'd been mapping out where the dust shops all were, but there hadn’t been all that much else she could find.
Despairing of finding anything she sort of mopily followed Weiss to the CCT tower. Patch had a small replica of the tower because it lay outside the Vale one’s range so Ruby wasn’t as impressed as she could have been.

As she followed Weiss into the tower, a flash of orange and green caught her eye.

“Snowflake... Is that Penny?”

Weiss, startled briefly by the pet name, turned to look where Ruby indicated.

“I think it is....”

“Go make your call Weiss, I need to find out what happened to her after the docks.”

Ruby took off in a cloud of petals, leaving Weiss sighing behind her.

“Penny!”

Ruby the red cloud skidded to a stop in front of the ginger.

“Where have you been! It's been weeks!”

Penny looked around sheepishly.

“There seems to be a... misunderstanding.”

“What?! Penny... Is everything okay?”

Penny didn't seem to hear Ruby, and just walked away, Ruby was getting concerned now and grabbed her by the arm.

“Penny, please stop!”

Now held by Ruby, Penny didn't really have a choice but to stop and listen.

“Look, I don't know what's wrong, but you have to listen to me! Those guys we fought at the docks, we think they're up to something big, something bad! I need you to tell me what happened to you that night! Please... As a friend.”

A conspiratorial expression snuck onto Penny's face as she grabbed Ruby.

“It isn't safe to talk here.”

 

Weiss

Weiss was a bit put out as she ascended the tower, Ruby running off on her felt oddly vexing, and the long ride gave her time to think on her situation.

How did she feel about Blake and Yang? Well... Yang was something special. As to whether she was someone Weiss wanted to marry, well... the relationship with Ruby kinda screwed any judgement on that front. Blake on the other hand... Now that Blake was thinking rationally they had really bonded... Could she see herself with Blake? Maybe. It was certainly easier than seeing herself getting with a lot of other people.

As the elevator dinged and the doors opened she stepped out to the reception and addressed the CCT AI.

“A secure room terminal please."

She scanned her ID over the panel.

“Of course Miss Schnee, Room six is ready for you”

Weiss entered the room and placed her scroll into the slot.

After seven different security checks Weiss was logged onto the main Schnee database and searching for any possibly important information. One perk of being the legal heiress was fairly unrestricted access to company data, anything that looked vaguely related was transferred to her scroll.

 

Ruby

“I wish I could help you, Ruby, but I don't know anything about those men.”

The new avenue of Penny didn't seem to be turning up any more useful information than the police.

“Well, what happened to you that night? We were all together, and then you just disappeared! Were you kidnapped?”

“Oh, no! Nothing like that!”

“Then where did you go?”

“I've never been to another kingdom before. My father asked me not to venture out too far, but... You have to understand, my father loves me very much; he just worries a lot.”

“Believe me, I know the feeling, but trust me, it's better than the opposite. Why not let us know you were okay?”

“I... was asked not to talk to you. Or Weiss. Or Blake. Or Yang. Anybody, really.”

“Was your dad that upset?”

“No, it wasn't my father...”

The sound of a tinny announcement interrupts Penny, at a large stage in a square, a group of Atlesian Knights are arrayed. With the audio comes an oddly glitchy hologram of General Ironwood.

“The AK-130 has been a standard security model of Remnant for several years, and they have done a fine job. Wouldn't you agree? Wouldn't you agree? But... the kingdom of Atlas is a kingdom of innovation, and 'fine'... Well, that's just not good enough, is it? Presenting... the Atlesian Knight-200!”

From a line of metal crates a new, seemingly less well armed, group of robots emerges, immediately forcing their predecessors to the ground.

“Smarter, sleeker, and admittedly, a little less scary. These models will become active later this year, but they won't be alone! Now, the Atlesian Military has always supported the idea of removing men from the dangers of the battlefield. However, there are still many situations that will undoubtedly require... a human touch.”

Penny had been growing more and more agitated as the speech went on, visibly flinching when the newer robots trampled on the old.

“Ruby..?

“So, our kingdom's greatest minds, in cooperation with the Schnee Dust Company, are proud to introduce... the Atlesian Paladin!”

The robot revealed in the hologram is huge, heavily armoured and... Seemingly undesigned for travelling through wilds.

“Now, we couldn't have him here for you today, but these mechanized battle suits will be seen defending the borders of our kingdom within the year!”

Penny was even more nervous now.

“Ruby? Maybe we should go somewhere else.”

At the side of the stage, two armored soldiers see Penny, pointing her out and calling in backup. Penny backs away and then breaks into a dead run, Ruby following her friend confused.

“Penny! Wait! Where are you going?”

After noticing the soldiers Ruby quickly realised the gist of Penny's situation, and took off after her at full speed.

The chase was short and manic. Roads were dashed across and assorted trash was thrown at the soldiers, but eventually Ruby was forced to pick up Penny with her semblance, something she rarely did as she is still not strong enough to do so for long.

Unfortunately this time when she was thrown out of her semblance, she landed in the street with a truck barreling towards her. Ruby saw herself reflected in the bonnet of the truck and knew she won't get out of the way in time. An instant before Ruby would have become Rose Jam, Penny darted back into the street, pushing Ruby out the way and bracing for impact.
In the split second where Penny and the truck made contact, the ground beneath Penny cracked and crumbled into pieces, and the truck was lifted a little ways into the air as it came to a full stop. Penny gingerly placed the truck back on the road.

“Penny..?”

The driver was obviously shellshocked, and Penny’s “Are you okay?” Didn't help much.

Penny backed away from the gossiping bystanders and ran.

“Penny! Come back!”

Ruby was not giving up now. Her chase after Penny came to an end when the ginger ran into a dead end.

“Penny! Please! What is going on?! Why are you running? How did you do that?!”

Penny tried to deflect the questions through a storm of hiccups.

“I-I can't! Everything's fine! I-I don't want to talk about it!”

“Penny, if you can just tell me what's wrong, I can help you!”

“No! No, no! You wouldn't understand...”

“Well I certainly won't if you won't tell me. Let me try! You can trust me!”

Penny's face fills filled with desperation.

“You're my friend, right? You promise you're my friend?!”

“I promise.”

Penny was silent for a long moment, her hands shook and her face screwed up in deliberation.

“Ruby... I'm not a real girl.”

Penny revealed her palms to Ruby, displaying what looked to be torn rubber, revealing metal plates below the surface, within which thin pipes glowed, carrying liquid dust across the surface.

Ruby: Oh.

 

Blake and Sun

Sun was rather surprised by Blake leading him off his path to a nearby cafe and into the backstreets.

“Hey Blake? Not that I'm complaining much but... Why have you led me into a seedy, dark alley?”

“Be quiet Sun.”

Blake was stalking along, her eyes glued to the stonework. Her fingers ghosting over the rough surface, eventually she found what she was looking for, a barely perceptible line in the wall. She set off with a purpose further into the dark maze.

Eventually she reached a section of wall she ran her hands over again. A discoloured section of wall revealed a lot more to her fingers. There in an old Wartime touch based script, using a special White Fang cipher, was a message written in High Menagerian, the ceremonial language of the faunus, itself originally a cipher of Religious Mistralian used during early faunus slave revolts.

“So.... What are you doing?”

“Reading a message.”

“Really? There's a message there?”

“Do you think the White Fang would make their messages easy to discover?”

“Point. What does it say?”

“It's a note to White Fang recruiters, telling them when and where the next rally will be and how many new recruits to bring. Tomorrow night, sixth warehouse District, shed 32.”

Blake walked over to a pile of old crates and opened one, reaching in she grabbed something and threw it to Sun. He fumbled it a little as he tried to catch it, but soon had a good view of it.

“Fang masks?”

“Recruit masks.”

Blake grabbed the three remaining masks from the crate.

“Tomorrow we’re getting first hand information.”