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PCTO

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Ruby fairly bounced in her seat as she watched the ship draw nearer to the island that would be her new home for the next four years. Her feet bounced eagerly as Yang just gave her a proud little grin. When her sister had told her that she was enrolling into Beacon Academy, one of the most internationally recognized and sought after universities on the planet, Ruby knew she had to enroll.

Even two years Yang’s junior, she had been able to keep up with her sister with ease, graduating from homeschooling the same year as her older sister. Now they were both on their way to their future. “I can’t wait Yang! Look you can see the track over there, and there’s the library!” she gushed as she found herself unable to keep quiet any longer. This was so awesome, and she had four, or more, years to enjoy it all without her Dad around to embarrass her and Yang. And she got to spend it with Yang! How cool was that?

“Yes Ruby,” Yang answered with a bemused smirk as she watched how eager her kid sister was to go to school. She had always been the eager one for new books and learning, while Yang preferred to move about. She had gotten a partial scholarship, just like Ruby, but hers was so she could be on the school’s mixed martial arts team. She liked to hit things, it was a thing she did.

Looking out the porthole, she reached down and picked up a half of a sandwich that had been left over from lunch. “Just remember what Dad said.”

“I know…” Ruby grumped as her sister brought her crashing back to reality. After a quick glance around to ensure that they were still alone, she rolled her eyes. “Don’t let anyone know about magic… come on, I’m not stupid.”

Stupid was not something that Ruby was, but she was sometimes careless about using magic at inappropriate times; they had nearly had to move five times in the last year alone because of it. Whether it was to get a poor animal out of trouble, or running through town because she was late for something she wanted to do, magic seemed to be reflexive as breathing for the silver eyed girl. Yang simply shook her head as she reached over and patted the pouting girl on her head. “Hey, who knows? Maybe you’ll make some friends and even get a pactio partner.”

“Why would I need friends? I have you,” Ruby asked in earnest confusion, reminding Yang of just how isolated they both had been growing up. It was true that for most of their lives, they had only had each other, but due to sports, Yang had been able to socialize with others, while Ruby retreated from such opportunities. “Besides unless you know how to make the ritual circle there’s no chance of us making Pactios here.”

“I know, just be careful. Alright?” Yang requested, putting her hand on Ruby’s and giving it a gentle squeeze. She sighed and gave her kid sister a hopeless smile, one full of warmth and support. “I’m here for you, but you need to be your own awesome self, the others will like you as much as I do.”

Ruby gave her a confused expression. She didn’t need others, her sister was still here, she was her best friend, and nothing would ever change that. Before she could respond, a pair of soft buzzing noises brought their attentions to their hips. Their S.C.R.O.L.L.S.’s were going off, and that meant that that they were getting a message. Pulling it out, the pair frowned as they recognized the address of the sender. It was the magic council near where their old home town had been, which could only mean one thing. “They just sent our assignments, didn’t they?” Ruby asked, even as the subject came into view on the external display confirming it. Letting out a groan, she opened the device properly and began scrolling through the longwinded official jargon to find out what she was supposed to do.

It was an old tradition in the magical community that the recent graduates to adulthood took up positions in service of their community for a few years, often continuing on with it even after the minimum terms were up. It was a steady income, and paid better than most starting wages. The main reason for the delay in their assignment was that the council needed to make arrangements with whoever ran the show around the Beacon Academy. Hopefully they got to do something together, it would be for the best in Ruby’s mind.

“Sweet! I got Portal Patrol and Grimm Management!” Yang crowed happily as she pumped her arm in excitement. It wasn’t the easiest of jobs, but it meant a lot of excitement, good pay, and a chance to do a lot of good. Essentially it was walking around nexus points in the Ley Lines to find any creatures from another world, called Grimm that slipped through and eliminate them.

Ruby smiled at her sister, and then froze as she saw her assignment. She hadn’t been assigned with her sister. As the Scrolls slipped out of her suddenly limp hand, she could only stare helplessly ahead as Yang caught it and read the assignment out loud for her. “Hey, Ward Monitoring Maintenance and Reinforcement’s pretty cool too…” the elder tried to cheer up her sister, even as it sounded hollow to her own ears. It was perhaps one of the most boring, and tedious jobs to hand out. But it was also one of the safest, since you were at the heart of any protective barrier being maintained, perfect for a magic user that was two years younger than any of her fellow graduated magic users.

Ruby stared blankly at the wall ahead of her, her world seeming to shrink in on her as she wondered who she had pissed off to get this assignment. She had always been top marks for combat, knew more spells than her sister, and had a pretty good reserve of power. She should have been a shoe-in for PPGM, not WMMR. Worst yet, it meant that she wasn’t with Yang!

Ruby let out a whine as her mind finally caught up with the situation. “Yaaaang, what did I do wrong? We’re such a good team, why would they separate us?” she asked her sister, tears in the corners of her eyes as her arms wrapped around her sister. “I don’t wanna be WMMR! I don’t know anyone there!”

“Hey, hey, hey, calm down,” the blonde tried to calm her down, patting her back. She had known that this was going to happen someday, “It’ll be alright, you’ll see… just be yourself and they’re going to think you’re the bees’ knees!”

“I don’t wanna be bees’ knees! I want normal knees!” Ruby whined petulantly as she slumped down against her sister. This was going to suck, wasn’t it?

What neither sister realized was that they were not as alone as they thought; in the darkness a set of gleaming eyes watched them. It would seem that all was going according to plan; soon the sisters would know just what fate had in store for them. But that would have to wait, especially since the scene was being interrupted by a blonde, scrawny looking boy rushing in, searching desperately as his face turned greener by the second. The sisters barely had time to react, when he snatched up the wastebasket beside the door and emptied the contents of his stomach into it.

The sisters looked at each other as the guy slumped down to the ground, looking the picture of abject misery. Yang turned to her sister and motioned for her to try and help him, which the raven haired girl with crimson tips indicated that she had no clue as to what she was supposed to do. The option was taken out of her control as she was pushed towards the boy. “You alright?” she asked lamely, knowing that there was no possible way that he would be, but it did provide her a possible escape. “Want me to go get the ship’s doctor?”

“No, I just got some medicine and was heading back to my cabin… I think it should start taking effect soon, sorry,” he offered miserably as he waved off the offer to get the doctor, before leveraging himself up off the ground again. “Look, I’m going to take this can and head back to the med bay… Sorry to intrude…”

“Wait, let me help you there,” Yang offered, bumping into Ruby even as the spell was trying to cast formed on her lips. Looking over her shoulder, she gave the dark haired girl a look of warning; it was almost like she was upset that Ruby was going to use magic to help someone. It was at that moment that she realized that she was in trouble for going to magic, when it was supposed to be a SECRET. “Come on buddy, let’s go.”

As they left, Ruby slumped down onto the seat she’d been watching the ocean from and leaned against the wall. This was going to be a long year it seemed. Closing her eyes, she decided to just try and get a bit of rest in before they arrived at the island.

In another part of the ship, a young woman was glaring at the screen before her with a certain amount of disdain. Almost like the device itself had personally insulted her, instead of just being a conveyance for her greatest source of annoyance. Sighing, she schooled her features and put on a pleasant, congenial smile before reaching out to press the dial button. She had promised to call her father before arriving at the school, but she knew that it was going to be a rather aggravating conversation.

“Gelb Schnee’s office,” a friendly voice chirped from the computer speakers as a woman that could only be two years her own elder came into view. “Oh, Miss Weiss, your father has been expecting your call. Allow me to connect you.”

“Thank you Grau,” Weiss offered to the young woman. She had always been nice and polite with her since taking over the position of secretary for her father. It was amazing that her positive attitude had serviced for so long under the iron fist of her father, and that more than anything had earned the young woman’s respect. If she was still around when she took over the company and began work on reworking their business practices, she would have to ensure that Grau was put into a position she could talk with her regularly.

Watching the Schnee company logo spinning on the screen she found herself reflecting on just how disgusted she was reading some of the business practices the company used. But before she could focus on it enough that her smile would slip, the image of her father replaced the logo with his stern scowl. “Hello Daughter, according to the schedule your ship should arrive in port for Beacon momentarily. I take it you have not chosen the option to take a position within the company instead?” the man stated sharply.

Weiss took a calming breath before answering, knowing that any weakness would allow him to walk over her wishes to escape his control for even a little while. “No Father, it is merely to report that I am to arrive at the academy within the hour, and the… package you asked me to deliver to the headmaster is still secure in my luggage.”

“Acceptable, I expect that you will submit to me monthly reports regarding your scholastic progress, possible social and business contacts you make within the school, and any other pertinent information you wish to share with me,” the man stated, as if she was just another subordinate for him to order around. The tone caused her back to stiffen, and she could feel the scar over her left eye twitch, knowing he would see it and being unable to prevent it.

She nodded her head in agreement, hoping to cover the slip in control with a larger motion. She hated talking to this man, and just wanted to get it over with. “Of course Father, as we agreed upon when you accepted my enrollment at Beacon,” Weiss answered evenly, the artful bit of negotiation to get her college choice approved was a major victory for her, as she had gone out of her way to ensure that he had as little control over her acceptance as possible. Sending out message through private mail, saving up her allowance for years to pay the tuition costs, and even secretly contacting her sister to help when that was just shy of her goal.

“Very well, I shall be in contact,” Gelb stated with a grunt of dismissal before the signal was disconnected. She still had her allowance from him, but otherwise she was mostly independent, and if she found a way to gain employment she might even be able to sever that string for him to pull. Closing her eyes she fought down the emptiness talking with the man she knew as Father always left in her, and decided she needed to talk to someone a bit warmer before dealing with others.

Pulling out a small slip of paper, she typed in the private number for her sister, hoping that she wouldn’t be busy with military duties. Her sister had gotten a private device that allowed for her to video conference with Weiss that her father couldn’t control, and it had been among the only thing that Weiss had since her leaving that kept her sane, and allowed for her to make the secret plans to attend Beacon. Winter had been her rock, and now she just wanted to let her know she was safely almost at the academy.

As the ringing sounded from the speakers, she smoothed out her dress, hoping to provide her sister with her best possible self. After all, Winter had always been proper and classy, it was the least that Weiss could do for the woman that had given her so much help and confidence. The video switched to show Winter, looking as crisp as always. Her uniform was smooth and clean, her hair was up in a tidy high bun, and her natural beauty shone through as she slipped into a smile. “Hello Weiss. How are you?”

Those five words warmed her heart in a way that she couldn’t explain to anyone. It made her actually feel like someone cared for her. Giving her best smile to her sister, she answered, “I’m good, thank you. We’re about an hour from the academy and I just finished talking with Father.”

Winter gave a shake of her head with a tiny, bitter laugh. “I suppose that could not have been much fun, could it? Do you need anything?”

“No… it was not,” Weiss replied, her eyes looking down at her still trembling hands. “He just… never mind, it’s not important. I don’t need anything, but… Do you think you could visit me on leave sometime? It’s been ages since we had a chance to meet face to face.”

“We’ll see, I have some leave saved up that I might just spend on a little trip to Beacon,” Winter answered with a coy little smile, one that had Weiss grinning ear to ear. The news that they might be seeing each other in the future had all but erased the coldness of their father from her memory. “Sorry to cut this short but, I have to report in soon.”

“Oh no, I understand, I just wanted to let you know I was safe. I will call you as soon as I can,” Weiss offered, reaching out to hang up, when her sister’s voice stopped her.

“Before I go… if anything strange happens, and you cannot contact me, or it is too immediate to wait, find a Professor Peter Port. He is a… friend… of mine I met in the military. He is a good man, and will be watching out for you as best as he is able.”

Weiss initially found herself concerned that her sister was worried about anything at Beacon, she had thought it was a safe location, but that soon melted into a small smile as the comfort of knowing she was watching out for her even now relieved that concern. “I will, thank you,” Weiss answered softly, feeling very happy that her sister was showing her more care from hundreds of miles away than their father had in the same mansion. “Have a good day Winter.”

“Be safe Weiss, I love you,” her sister told her just before the connection was cut, and a solid black screen mirrored the reflection of her brilliant smile and fierce blush back to her. She turned away, trying to regain her composure, before heading back to her cabin to prepare for arrival. Once she had herself back under control, she let out the breath she had not known she was holding and picked up the small case her father had insisted she take to Headmaster Ozpin. Standing up, she looked back at the blank screen and gave it a friendly little smile before saying four final words.

“I love you too.”

Walking out of the communications suite, she let out a contented sigh as the fresh sea breeze blew through her long hair. Closing her eyes, she let it wash over her and relieve the last of her stress from dealing with her father that wasn’t removed by her sister’s warmth. It felt like a fresh start, and that was all she wanted right now.

She was not the only one that wanted a fresh start, high up on top of the bridge, a young woman stretched out, with one hand cradling her stomach as she winced. The bruising there would still be tender for another couple days, but she was free from him now. Taking a short breath, she stretched out on the rooftop and let the sun’s warmth wash over her. Her feline ears twitched at the sound of the waves lapping at the sides of the ship, reminding her why she was up this high to begin with. Aside from that, it was quiet here, and she had plenty of time to indulge in her favorite past time. Reading.

She was currently working through “Ninja’s of Love”, carefully hidden under a cover for Don Quixote she was able to enjoy the erotica without being judged for it. It had taken a lot of work, a large student loan, and one final confrontation before she left with only a box of books, a bag of clothes, several new bruises, and a feeling of victory over her past.

She wished that she had at least had a chance to visit her mother’s grave before she had to catch the boat to the island, but her fight with Adam had left her too sore and tired to make it out to the graveyard. She didn’t know where her father had run off to, and to be honest, he could go fuck himself. It had been her mother and herself for so long, that she couldn’t even remember the man, but her mother had told her that he had been a good and loving man before he vanished. When she had died, Blake blamed him for not being there to provide for her while she was sick.

After her death, she had moved in with Adam, who had been a child hood friend a couple years older. When she turned sixteen, he asked her to start dating him. When she turned seventeen, he started getting jealous of her, stopped her from hanging out with other friends, and then the hitting started. It was also the year he had taken control of the White Fang, and promoted her to his second in command.

She hated every moment of the new regime under his command.

The White Fang had once been a peaceful political entity to enact equality and change for the faunus, but under his command they turned violent, savage, and seemed to only care about causing pain and suffering to humans. She felt sick thinking about what she had done, and worse thinking about the atrocities she had seen occur at the hands of other White Fang members. It was true that the Schnee Conglomerate used faunus as slave labor in their mines, several members of their upper echelons were known to use living faunus as sport for hunting, and there were even mentions of far worse that turned her stomach, but that didn’t mean they had to sink to their levels. The White Fang had always worked so hard to ensure that no one had to sink to those levels themselves, and then seemingly overnight they were the monsters to haunt children at night.

The screams of the family of one of the heads of the mines would always haunt her to some degree, but it was the visions of what had been done that would make sleeping hard for her. She had left the White Fang before she tried to slip out of Adam’s apartment, and that was what had caused the fight where he found out she was leaving. She had never been more thankful to see the police in her life, which seemed to scare Adam off long enough for her to flee the scene.

She knew he wouldn’t be in jail for long, but with any luck, she would have disappeared into the background of the world and she would never have to deal with him again.

Pushing herself up, she moved to make her way back down to where she had stashed the rest of her personal effects. She would have to make do with what she had until she earned enough money to buy new clothes and stuff, but she would be able to do it. She was an independent young female faunus and didn’t need no one’s help. Looking over the wake of the ship through the water she smiled as she reminded herself that she was free now. She was going to be okay.