Three hundred and twenty years have passed since the Coven sank in the dark. The rising sun. A free spirit forever bound by shackles not of earthly design.
Mercury tapped his foot nervously beneath his computer desk. He couldn't remember the last time the team had been split up to work on two different hunts. Above all else, he was concerned about Militia. Her twin sister was a witch, and he didn't know what to expect. He rubbed his eyes, trying to force the worry from his body. "Ugh!" he yelled loudly. "What the hell is going on today?"
"I'd like to know that myself," Ironwood said from behind, startling Mercury.
"Boss! I...I didn't see you there."
"Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you." He peered over Mercury's shoulder to watch the computer screen dance with names and faces as it sifted through the list of known witches and potential witches. "Have you got anything yet?"
Mercury shook his head. "I've got nothing yet. Nothing on the known list, the potential list, or the Vale PD list of criminals. It's slow going, though. Maybe we'll luck out and find something." He shrugged. "I hope so, at least."
"What about public records? Have you started searching through them?"
The silver haired tech guru laughed. "Please, Boss. Who do you take me for? I've got search algorithms looking through everything. From our witch's list to the IRS. There is no one that can hide from me."
"Unless they're not in the country legally," Ironwood chimed.
Mercury sighed. "Did you really have to make it depressing, Boss? I'm trying to be optimistic." The computer beeped, and the word [MATCH] appeared. "Hello there."
"Did you find him?"
"The match is only eighty-three percent, but I'll take those odds any day, honestly." He pulled up the file that was marked. "Huh...not from the witches list, or the VPD."
"What is it?"
"It's a file form a local high school." Mercury read the file and brought up a photo. "Sun Wukong. Says here he's fifteen...no, wait. That's wrong. He was fifteen at the time of this photo. He's apparently dropped out of high school and gone off on his own."
"Wouldn't we know if he'd taken a job somewhere? Found a place to live?"
"He lived in an orphanage until he ran off. From that point on no one knows where he went. Was presumed dead last year."
Ironwood stared curiously at the photograph. "You're sure that he's not in the list of potential witches?"
"I'll look him up specifically, but if my algorithm pulled from a high school's database instead of ours, then he's most likely not in it." Mercury shrugged. "That's rare, of course, but not unheard of. We've hunted completely unknown witches before."
"Yeah," Ironwood said. "And I hate it when it happens."
~Witch Hunter Ruby~
Episode 10: Rush
"This is ridiculous," Blake said as she and Ruby crossed the road. Militia's restaurant was just on the other side of the street from Beacon. "They need me at the crime scene. My power gives me an investigative advatage!"
Ruby gently patted Blake on the shoulder. "This incident was public, Blake. Yang, Jaune, and Ren can handle interviewing the witnesses. You're one of our best shots, and I have my fire; we're better suited to protect Militia." She shrugged. "Plus, who knows. Militia might give us free food!"
Blake looked at Ruby incredulously. "Did you really just think with your stomach?"
Ruby stuck her tongue out playfully. "Militia's a good cook. Can't help it."
The black haired hunter simply shook her head, but couldn't resist the smile that crept upon her lips. "Well...I guess I am getting paid to do virtually nothing right now."
"See? That's the spirit! Though, we technically do that all the time. We get what? One? Maybe two witch sightings a month?"
"Are you complaining?"
"No! Goodness, no! HQ had me hunting a new witch every other day! I feel like I'm on a paid vacation half the time!" Ruby smiled widely. The smile faded quickly. "Though, the witches we do hunt...I can't help but feel as though Beacon is more...intimate."
"How so?" Blake asked.
"Well...back in Haven, we were told that the only way to hunt witches was to kill them. No needless chasing or subduing. Destroy them on sight. I've...I've killed quite a few witches, never once asking why. But here, where they have the chance to survive and be detained, it feels like I'm learning more about them. Why they use their powers. I've learned that witches aren't inherently evil, Blake. They do the bad things that they do out of desperation and confusion, not out of malicious intent. Like...like Pyrrha."
Blake's expression turned dark. "You still think about her, don't you?"
Ruby nodded. "I'm taking care of Velvet now. I saw how much they care for each other as friends. They're almost like sisters. And now, Pyrrha is locked away somewhere and Velvet will never see her again. It's...it's sad." They arrived at the door to the cafe, and the two just stood there for a moment. "And now, we're assigned to protect Militia from her own sister. Her twin."
Blake put a hand on Ruby's shoulder. "Don't think too much of it, Ruby. I know what you're feeling. I feel these emotions every time I let my flesh touch something. It's a painstaking process to even buy furniture for my home because I can't control how my power reacts. The best I can do is cover my skin with clothes and focus on my own emotions. If I'm not careful, I could go into shock just from picking up someone's dropped wallet." Reaching forward, Blake opened the door. "Shall we? Militia's waiting."
Ruby smiled. "After you."
Sun laughed to himself as he sat in the tunnels below the slums of Vale, pleased with his day's work. Before him, resting comfortably in a bag, was his haul; over forty thousand lien. A man could live like a king with this, if budgeted correctly. Luckily, being homeless didn't warrant him the privilege of desiring the latest Schnee technology, or an expensive suit. With this, he could find a place to live and eat, and should he run low he could simply use his power again to steal more.
He frowned at that thought. He'd need to leave Vale. His face...he smiled. His faces would be plastered all over the TV and newspapers. He couldn't live here anymore. He knew he'd be wanted. But that's fine. He could escape with ease. He disappeared from existence once when he was evicted from his home over a year ago. Surely he could do it again. It wouldn't be a problem.
That will not do, said a voice.
Sun bolted upright and looked around, raising his handgun to sweep around himself, searching for the source of the voice. "Show yourself!"
That will not do, the voice repeated. Sun could barely make out that it was a woman's voice. Was it the same as this morning? He couldn't be sure. Aye, it said, as if it knew his thoughts. Tis I.
"What do you want?" he asked.
I want what all men like you want; freedom. Thou desires freedom. Thou shall have such liberty, if thou does what must be done.
He laughed. "I want food, liquor, and a place to sleep. That's all I've ever wanted. I'm already free. Always have been."
Not anymore, you're not¸ the voice taunted. Now you will be hunted. No matter where you go, they will hunt thee. Some may capture, and some may kill. It all depends on where you are in the world. Vale is where thou needs to be.
"The cops may hunt me, but they'll never find me. I'll hide down here for a while, and then make my escape when they least expect it."
Tell that to the green haired girl who was hunted in these very tunnels. The voice said this with such certainty and intensity that Sun visibly flinched. Will thou do what needs to be done?
Sun spat onto the concrete floor in mockery. "Screw you! I'm on my own. I don't need to do anything for you." The fluorescent lights throughout the tunnel began to flicker and fade as he finished his sentence.
I was afraid you'd say that.
The blonde looked around, beginning to panic as the lights got darker and darker. From the corner of his eye he thought he saw movement. He turned to follow it and fired his gun in the hopes that he'd hit whoever was messing with him. He forgot the take into account that he was sitting inside a giant, hollow, concrete tube; the sound of the gunfire was enhanced as it echoed off of the walls, assaulting his sense of hearing from all angles. He yelled in pain at the auditory overload, dropping his gun as he went to cover his ears, hoping to block out the ringing that dominated them. "Where are you!?" he yelled, but he couldn't hear himself.
All around you, the voice replied, and his eyes went wide. His ears were still ringing; he shouldn't have been able to hear the voice. That's when he realized that it was inside of his head. That's right, boy, it said mockingly. I will not leave until you do what is necessary. From the shadows, Sun saw even more movement, and the panic set in even more. He felt scare and helpless. He looked down to find his gun and saw it scraping across the concrete into the darkness, with nothing touching it. From behind him, a pitch black hand reached from the shadows and grabbed his head.
The lights went out.
Ren strolled into the Bank of Vale, looking very much out of place in his black suit and black trench coat amidst the blues of the Vale Police Department. "Jaune, be sure to check all around the building. See if you can ascertain which direction he ran. Yang, start interviewing witnesses. Piece together the story," he said over the radio.
"Sure thing," came both of his colleagues in his earpiece.
The black haired man nodded and started glancing around the building. No broken windows, no damaged architecture; it seems there was no struggle outside of the camera footage they were given. That was good; it meant that there were, in fact, no injuries. He closed his eyes and stood still and silent. It had been quite some time since he'd been on a crime scene without Blake, so he may have been out of practice, but he was confident he could still utilize his unorthodox skill.
With practiced precision, Ren blotted out all outside noise. With no sight or sound, he limited his attention to only one of his senses. Sniffing the air lightly, he searched for the witch's scent. Very few people knew this, but when a witch uses their power, they leave behind a very distinct odor. It's so subtle, and easily lost amidst the chaotic smells of the world and its many people that it's nearly undetectable. When Ren first became a hunter, he trained himself to locate and recognize that smell; the smell of power.
Being greatly out of practice, as he hasn't had to use this skill since they brought Blake on board at Beacon, it took him a few minutes longer than usual to find and track the smell. He followed it from the door to the teller's station, stopping just before the wooden divide that separates the public from the money beyond. Slowly he opened his eyes and recognized the station as the one from the security footage. He removed his right hand from its restful place in his coat pocket and began to gently wash the tips over the wood, trying to grasp just how powerful this witch may really be.
From behind, he heard the sound of a man clearing his throat. Ren turned and came face to face with a brown suited police detective. "Can I help you, sir?" he asked Ren. His hair was closely cropped, and he had a full beard. His eyes were covered by sunglasses.
Ren's eyes narrowed. He wasn't fond of interacting with the police. To him, they all seemed to think that they were better than the Beacon hunters, even though many of them had no idea that witches existed. "No, thank you. I'm fine."
"Are you now?" the detective asked with a hint of condescension. "You're tampering with a crime scene, you know. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Detective. I'm here to solve this case for you."
The detective looked rather irritated at the concept of someone from outside of the police solving his case. "Who in the hell do you think you are?"
Ren pulled out his identification and showed it to the detective. "Lie Ren. I'm from Beacon."
The detective deflated immediately. He was pissed, but knew there was nothing he could do. He turned and started yelling at one of the police officers on hand. "Why the hell did no one tell me that this case was given to Beacon? You shortened my day off just to tell me that I'm not needed?"
Ren, in a rare moment, smiled. I hear that, came Mercury's voice from his earpiece. Why do you like pissing off the police so much?
"They make it so easy," he answered. "What do you have?"
"So far all I have is a name. Sun Wukong. Went to one of the district high schools in vale, and was a resident at the Central Vale Orphanage until he ran away at the age of fifteen. A search was never official made, so his file was never added to the VPD's database. He was missing for three years before the owner of the orphanage had him labeled as dead last year. That'd make him about nineteen now."
"Any ideas on where to find him?"
"He's been off the grid for four years. There're only a handful of ways to live in the city without a home. If I had to guess, he's probably been hiding out in the slums, or maybe the metro tunnels. If we're lucky, one of the run down parks."
Ren sighed, remembering that those slums were where they hunted Emerald. "Wonderful." Suddenly, from behind, Ren heard the sounds of the police scrambling and yelling. "What the hell?" Running outside, he couldn't believe what he saw.
Jaune stood with his Aura pistol drawn. "There's no need to make this any harder, kid," he said to Sun, who stood before him. "Just surrender."
Sun's shirt was hanging loosely, not fully on his body. His head was hung low, and in his hand was the handgun he used in his robbery. He lifted his head and met Jaune's gaze. The hunter was shocked to see the young witch's eyes. They were glazed over and bloodshot. On his face was a twisted smile. "Free," he said in a low voice. "Let us be free."
"Put the gun down," Jaune said in a warning tone. "You're surrounded. There's nowhere to go."
"Let us be free," he repeated. "Let us be free."
"Jaune!" Ren yelled over the radio. "What is he doing?"
"I don't know. He...he doesn't look well," the hunter replied.
"Free. We want to be free. Let us be free," Sun said once again.
"He keeps saying that he wants to be free. I don't get it."
"Take him out before he hurts someone," Ren ordered.
"Right." Jaune readied his aim. "I'm sorry, man. But this is for your own good." Lightly, he squeezed the trigger. As the glass tipped Aura bullet rocketed towards him, Sun glowed a golden color for a split second, and the bullet barely missed; it went between the now two separate Suns. "Shit!"
"Open fire!" ordered the detective that Ren argued with earlier.
"Wait! No!" Jaune yelled, but it was too late. The police force all opened fire at once. Lead bullets with gun powder backing them move faster than the gas propelled Aura bullets that the hunters use. The witch never stood a chance.
His second body took several bullets before disintegrating into golden light, fading slowly into nothingness. The real Sun Wukong took a bullet to the left shoulder, the right forearm, the right thigh, the stomach, and several in the chest. "Hold your fire!" Jaune yelled. "Hold your fire, damn it!"
At his order, the shooting eventually came to a stop. Jaune turned, expecting to see Sun lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood. He, Ren, Yang who was behind the police line, and the police themselves were all speechless with open mouths at the sight of Sun standing on his own two feet. He looked down at his wounds before looking back up. With a slight smile, he fell backwards.
Jaune made haste, and ran to the witch's side to see if he was savable. The words that Ironwood said when he was first hired echoed in his mind. We do not kill witches. They are people just as we are. They deserve to live. Jaune slid on his knees, not giving the effort to stop properly, and knelt by Sun's side. "Don't you die on me, damn it!" He began to put pressure on what he assumed were the worst of the injuries. "Ren! Call the factory guys! We need a medic! Yang! Get over and help me!"
"Right!" Ren replied.
Yang rushed to his side and began to put pressure on the witch's wounds as well, trying to save his life. "Son of a bitch," Yang muttered. "Stupid cops!"
"We can complain later, right now let's just try to keep him alive."
"What's his name?"
"Ah, I think Mercury said his name was Sun," Jaune answered. He looked into Sun's glazed eyes. "Sun, can you hear me? Look at me, man. You're gonna make it! Do you hear me? You're going to make it!"
Sun followed Jaune's voice and stared into the hunter's piercing blue eyes. "Free," he said in a low voice. "Let us be free."
"What?" Jaune asked.
The world became quiet to the blonde hunter. Looking over, he saw Yang's horrified face. He felt a strange, pained sensation in his abdomen and looked down to investigate. Blood was oozing from his white dress shirt, and in Sun's hand was the handgun; he had fired the gun into Jaune's stomach.
He fell backward as his vision began to fade. "Wh-what?" he asked again. At least he thought he asked it again, as his hearing was still gone. Yang came into his field of vision, clearly having ignored Sun's condition to save her colleague instead. He could see her mouth moving but could hear no words.
Twas a failure, he heard a female voice that didn't belong to anyone he knew. Thou may yet be of use to me. We shall see.
His vision faded, and for what felt like an eternity, Jaune's world became nothing. No light, no sound, no smells.
Song: Rush - Soundwitch
It lives! Now that the core of my Shifting Remnant AU is done (there are two more After Stories that need to be written, but that's it), I can focus on Witch Hunter Ruby! I've been away from it for four months. FOUR MONTHS! A lot has changed in that four months of my life. I quit my job, got my driver's license, cut off my dad, welcomed him back into my life, got a girlfriend, lost a girlfriend, and I'm now waiting to see if I can start a new job.
Actually, all but the quitting of my Job happened for the most part in the last month. I quit my job about two months ago. Been quite hectic.
Still! Here we are! Chapter ten! I know I said I would be splitting this story up into two 13 chapter segments that would make up a season each, but I don't think I can squeeze all that I want to into the next three chapters. Such is the life of a writer. Hell, this chapter is longer than I thought it'd be!
So, what are your thoughts? I know I've got a lot of stories being told at once here, but that shouldn't be too much to keep up with. We've got Militia's sister coming back (may see her soon), we've got Weiss doing her thing (she wasn't in this chapter), and now Jaune's been shot!
Will he die? Who knows! You guys know how I stand on character death...I have a lovely relationship with character death.
But, we'll find out soon enough! Don't you worry your pretty little heads about it! :D
Let me know what you guys thought about this chapter, or the story as a whole. Please leave a review or send a PM.
Fun Fact: Being unemployed sucks. Fingers crossed I get this job.
Till next time!