I do not own any of the content found in Fate/Recondite beyond the original characters and plot progression. RWBY belongs to Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC. and Fate/Stay Night belongs . I do not profit off of writing any of this.
As we move into the second arc of this story, F/R will start to take on a more amiable tone and try to keep true its 'Humor' tag.
Where the first arc is about establishing the setting and the characters, the second is about the dynamics between them. It's time for F/R to truly live up to its humor tag.
"Shirou, can I borrow a vacuum cleaner?"
The voice coming from the doorway startled him. "Huh?" Pulling his hands away from the breaker box, Shirou turned around to look at Ruby who sheepishly drew a circle on the ground with the toe of her boot. He set the spare fuses onto the table at his side and wiped his hands with a towel he kept handy. The little reaper had caught him in the main custodial room where they kept most of the equipment needed to keep Beacon up and running, the breaker box for the dorms on one of the walls.
Ruby finally looked up and met his eyes as she repeated her request. She shrugged and looked around the room, her silver eyes catching on a thick wooden door on one side of the room. "A vacuum cleaner. Can we borrow one? Like one for really deep cleaning."
Shirou cocked his head to one side. He really didn't want to ask, but when the words 'deep cleaning' came out of the mouth of somebody like Ruby, alarms went off in his head. Cautiously, he asked, "Why?"
"It's everywhere! It's even in my books!"
"Zwei, bad dog!"
"Why do we even have all this glitter?!"
Ruby's cheeks flushed as she tried to avoid his gaze. "Look, to keep a long story short: I'm totally not gonna get to finish that diorama project for Professor Oobleck's class."
Seeing the young girl so embarrassed, Shirou decided to leave the topic alone. "Well, there is one vacuum that nobody's using at the moment, but..." Shirou trailed off as he thought about the machine in question.
That was more than enough to give Ruby hope though. She clutched at Shirou's shirt and looked up into his eyes, using the look Zwei gave her when he wanted one of her cookies. "Please, Shirou?"
Well, less work for him at least. "Alright," he sighed, patting her head lightly out of instinct. Setting his tools down for a moment, he walked over to the door Ruby noticed earlier and opened it wide enough to reveal a cart and all sorts of chemicals as well as several brooms and buckets. She could just barely see that there was more stuff deeper into the closet, but with Shirou in the way, all she could make out were a bunch of vague shapes and colors. Reaching in deep, he pulled a large shop vacuum that came up to his waist, its chassis plated with tempered steel.
He rolled it over to Ruby and pointed at a panel lined with knobs and switches. "This control panel here is how you turn it on. Just be careful with it. We usually use it in the arenas and the combat classrooms to pick up any leftover dust that doesn't get used, so it's pretty powerful."
"The custodial staff."
"Oooh," Ruby nodded. A dial in one corner caught her eye. Pointing at it, she asked, "I'm guessing that's the different power settings?"
Shirou nodded at her question. "That's right. You shouldn't need anything higher than one if you're just cleaning a carpet," he explained, twisting the knob to its lowest setting. "Maybe two at most to really get at the fine stuff. However, you should never put it any higher than that."
Ruby gave a mock salute, a wide and excited grin threatening to split her face. "Got it, Shirou! Thanks again for the help!"
"I got one, guys! I borrowed it from Shirou, and he said it was fine to use as long as we keep the power low," Ruby cried in triumph as she wheeled the shop vacuum in, hunched over as she struggled to push the machine in past the door. A moment of thought let her decide that she'd rather not bother the other teams and closed the door behind her. Vacuums were pretty loud after all.
Weiss gave a small 'humph' from her seat at the desk, choosing not to comment on the way the floor sparkled like somebody vomited piles of rainbows all over the floor. And on the beds. And the walls. Idly, she brushed off a few sparkles that had found their way onto the paper she was working on. Blake was trying to read one of her books, giving a skittish glance every now and then to the pair wrestling on the floor. In the center of the room, Yang and Zwei were rolling around and kicking up glitter, the blonde desperately trying to hang onto her pet to keep him from making even more of a mess.
However, with the door now closed and the vacuum here, Yang more than happily let go of the writhing mass of fur. She watched as he bounced around at her little sister's heels, yipping in his excitement. "You really need to take him on more walks, Ruby," Yang chided her little sister, frowning as she saw the way Zwei almost shook in place.
Ruby swiftly slapped the plug into the wall outlet and hopped back, kicking up her heels as she moved to play with Zwei. "I know. Sorry, boy! I'll make it up to you this weekend." She hunched down and gave him a flat, hard look. "Because he's a good boy, right?"
To his credit, Zwei let out a small whimper and rolled over onto his back, exposing his belly to his smaller master. Ruby let her stern expression give way to a goofy smile as she started rubbing his exposed stomach. "That's right! Zwei is a very good boy!"
"Ruby! Stop putting it off and clean up this mess!"
"Sorry, Weiss," Ruby grumbled. Sighing, she unhooked the nozzle, brought it down to the nearest pile of glitter, and flicked the switch to start up the vacuum.
It didn't turn on.
"Huh?" Silver eyes narrowed as she toggled the switch on and off several times, growing more and more frustrated as it refused to listen. "That's really weird. It's not starting."
"Hang on. Let me take a look." Yang shouldered past her little sister to take a better look at the control panel. Messing with it a little, she quickly came to the same conclusion. "Maybe there's a wire loose or something. Give me a sec. I'll grab my tool box."
As Yang dug under Blake's bed where she kept the tools reserved for Bumblebee's maintenance, Weiss approached the cumbersome machine. She'd seen her butler Klein using much smaller version of this thing, easily pushing it with one hand, but this thing was much more massive. Crouching down, she got her first up close look, noting the way all the tubes curled around and into the body. With the rest of her teammates distracted, Ruby with her adorable dog, Blake with her book, and Yang with her search, she played around with the panel, pushing buttons and flicking switches.
Weiss even spun one of the dials to the right as far as it would go just to see if anything happened. Still, the vacuum remained silent. Honestly, it was kind of disappointing.
"Found them!" Yang announced as she got up off the floor. Grinning madly, she set her box to the side as she sat back down cross -legged. Yang popped open the service panel on the backside of the vacuum and took a look inside, humming in thought as she examined the hardware. "Hmmm, maybe it needs more juice. You know, I betcha Shirou's gonna be happy. It's not every day a student fixes something for the janitors, you know," the blonde chirped.
After a few minutes of tinkering, the hatch was closed and the machine was declared ready. Ruby beamed at her sister for her engineering skills and her determination to do right by Shirou. Thanking Yang for her help, she picked the nozzle back up and pointed it at the largest heap of glitter, shouting, "Hit it, sis!"
It still didn't turn on.
"Oh, come on!" Yang yelled, her short hair wreathed in flame. Angry red eyes scanned the vacuum again, looking frantically for anything wrong. "This damn thing has to be messing with me! I know for a fact that my patch job was flawless!" Ruby frowned as she leaned directly over the vacuum, looking alongside Yang to see what the problem was.
"Obviously not if it's not working," Weiss giggled, unable to resist the oppurtunity to tease her teammate who was now glowering at her. The heiress just rolled her eyes. "Oh, yes, yes. You're very scary, Yang." She giggled again as Yang just growled and turned back to her inspection.
"Maybe it's broken. You said that Shirou did use it to pick up dust, right?" Blake offered, thinking that maybe there was a loose valve or something similar that let nature's wrath get loose in the machine's delicate innards. She got up to take a look at it herself and set her book to the side, placing a mark between her pages to mark her place. Idly, she kicked aside the stiff power cord that kept getting under her foot, not paying attention to how it coiled around her as she crouched down to look inside.
Weiss scoffed. "I can't believe Beacon staff would let a machine like this fall into a state of disrepair like this. I would have thought at least Shirou would take better care of his tools."
Out of the corner of her eye, Yang noticed a flash of silver between the orange rubber of the cord and the eggshell white of the wall outlet. "Hey, I think I found the problem." The brawler of the group reached down and pushed the plug the rest of the way in.
"There!" Shirou declared, wiping his brow with a sleeved forearm. He stepped back and reexamined his work for a few moments before deciding his repairs were good enough. He'd have to remember to give a stern warning to Team JNPR about not blowing out the entire dorm wing's power grid again, even if it was to test the limits of one of their semblances. Or to at least not do it with one of the cafeteria's forks. "Finally done."
The moment he said that, the lights above him flickered and several loud screams echoed faintly from down the hall. Shirou looked up at the lights and then back down the hall. Wearily, he sighed as he rubbed the back of his head, noting the faint high pitched droning of a machine and that it seemed to originate from the dorms wing.
"Well," Shirou declared, "that can't good."
"Oh, this is so not good!" Yang lamented, watching in sick fascination as the vacuum zoomed around the room with a roaring battle cry. Was that tearing sound the carpet? Oh man, Shirou was gonna kill them!
"Turnitoffturnitoffturnitoff!" Ruby wailed. The little reaper was holding on desperately to the vacuum cleaner, her arms wrapped tightly around the bulk of its body as it rocketed around the room. As she flailed, her feet kicked against Blake's. The faunus of the team was being dragged around the room, the power cord wrapped around her ankles. Blake was trying to reach down to undo the loop, but it was almost impossible since she was getting knocked into all the furniture.
Weiss screamed as the cleaner zoomed past the corner she was huddled in, clutching the dog in her arms a little tighter. Zwei himself was trembling, both from the massive roaring noise from the devil machine that sounded a lot worse than the one at the house in Patch and from how hard Weiss was shaking.
"I've got this," Yang called as it swerved at her like bull charging at a red flag. She tried to tackle the cleaner, but it slammed into her with enough force to knock her away onto the bed which gave a sharp crack. With a loud grunt, Team RWBY's brawler bounced off the mattress and into the wall, her aura saving her from a concussion. However, it still left her plenty dazed as a shower of dust cascaded down onto her, the now heavily dented wall now missing large pieces of plaster.
As the vacuum roared through the room, its nozzle flew everywhere. With an anguished cry, Weiss watched as it landed on the table and sucked up the paper she was working, a loud tearing sound barely audible over the industrial strength suction. Blake gave a loud cry as bits of broken glass rained down on her, covering her face with her arms as the black hose crashed into the window.
Ruby screamed as every sensation seemed to blur together. An queasy feeling settled in the pit of her stomach as the blur and noise and speed left her recalling a certain knight's words. 'Motion sickness is a much more common problem than people let on." She was never going to call him 'Vomit Boy' ever again. She gave a pained grunt as she felt her body slam against several hard objects in their room. Ruby looked over her shoulder and paled as she realized that she was about to crash into Blake's bed, not sure if the books that kept Yang's above hers was would actually hold. She shrieked and closed her eyes in fear.
And then the vacuum died.
Falling onto her back from the lack of momentum, Ruby yelped as she landed an inch away from Blake's bed, gulping as she looked up at the heavy and loudly creaking bed it was keeping in the air. She slowly crawled away from it before sitting up. Blake was moaning and trying to unravel her feet from the cord that kept them bound together, Weiss was huddled in the corner with a cowering Zwei shielding her face, and Yang was still on the broken mattress, one cheek flush against the wall and her eyes spinning. And finally, still laying on the ground after diving to pull the plug...
"I told you not to turn it above two."
Ruby smiled nervously and tried to look as adorable as possible. "Uhhh... I can fix this?"
Shirou just looked around at all the damage done to the room and gave her a tired smile.
An hour later saw the bigger bits of plaster and the more sizable shards of glass picked up off the floor and tossed into trash bags. Weiss' mattress was fine, but the wooden bed frame was completely destroyed. Yang did not appreciate that particular bit of information, looking away with a blush and mumbling something about her diet. Now while the girls were just finishing up replacing the broken window, Shirou decided to check the shop vacuum, Yang's toolbox at his side.
Ruby, hearing the intonation, spun around and looked wildly around for the new sword. However, all she saw was Shirou kneeling in the corner, his eyes closed and one hand on the top of the large device at his feet. "Huh?"
"It looks like the valve intake got knocked loose and the capacitor is fried. How did that happen? Wait, somebody overclocked it! Oh, I see how that happened. Ugh, this whole thing's going to take me a while to repair, " he mumbled to himself.
The magus' eyes snapped open and he reared back in surprise, Ruby's bewildered face just inches away from his own. Clutching at his rapidly beating heart, he forced himself to calm down. "Yes, Ruby?"
"How do you know what's wrong with that... demon?" she hissed, glaring evilly at the inanimate object, its hatch still closed.
He blinked at the question and her animosity. "I've told you about it before. One aspect of my magic is something called reinforcement."
"That's the spell that makes you stronger, right?" Blake asked, putting the last touches on the window with Weiss and Yang as they joined their team leader.
"It enhances aspects," Shirou corrected. "Reinforcement makes things better, not just stronger. I could reinforce a shield to make it more durable, but I can also reinforce a blanket to trap heat better or a knife to cut better. However, I need to understand whatever it is I'm reinforcing before I can do so, and in order to do that, I use a skill called structural grasp."
Weiss looked up from her attempts at sifting through the vacuum's tank to find her paper, a delicate eyebrow raised at the name. "Structural grasp?" she parroted.
"Mhmm. I suppose you could call it one of the pillars of my magecraft. It's one of the most basic skills for any magus, but I've always been very good at it, especially when it comes bladed objects," Shirou explained. "I mostly use it for repair jobs like this though."
"Oh... So... you don't always make swords when you use your magic?"
He could hear Yang snort and chuckle. He knew what Ruby was trying to do, but one look into those pleading silver eyes and he couldn't find himself saying no.
Ruby whooped in delight as Shirou brought his hands up and two weapons came into being, a soft gleam of blue light reforming into black and white blades. "Here. You'd probably appreciate these more than anybody else."
"Ooooh," Ruby cooed as Shirou handed Bakuya and Kanshou to her before opening the hatch. She blinked as she struggled to hold each one in one hand. "Woah, these things are heavy!"
Shirou paused for a second in his work before he sighed and resumed his repairs, his shoulders slumped. "Yes. Yes, they are."
The rest of the team sat down next to her, and Ruby handed Kanshou to the three of them. "They're so beautiful," Ruby murmured, entranced by the master craftsmanship of the white sword in her lap. She looked up at Shirou, her eyebrows knit together in confusion. "Why did you mean when you said I'd probably appreciate them the most?"
Grimacing as he pulled out the smoking capacitor, Shirou took another careful look at the interior of the machine. "Well, you seem like you appreciate blades a lot like I do, and there's a lot of history in those swords, particularly in how they were made."
Yang hefted the black sword with one hand to test its weight in her grip, grinning toothily at the redhead's comment. "Story time!" She handed the sword off to Blake who lurched at the sudden weight without any support.
Shirou smiled lightly as Yang, Ruby, and Weiss shifted onto their stomachs to listen to him. "Their names are Kanshou and Bakuya, the Married Swords, and they were named after their creators, a married couple." The four of them 'aww'ed at that. However they paused at the somber look on his face. "Their creator was commanded by his emperor to forge a blade worthy of royalty, but the blacksmith struggled for weeks to create something worthy. His wife, seeing his despair and frustration, threw herself into the furnace."
"What?! That's horrible!" Weiss cried.
Shirou nodded and looked at the girls. All of them were wide-eyed. Blake and Ruby in particular were looking at the swords in their laps intently, their fascination taking a more morbid tone. "It is, but it was necessary. In order to create an item that approaches the realm of gods, human sacrifice is necessary. In the blacksmith's grief, he forged those two together. However, when the time came for him to present his emperor with his work, he only handed over one. The emperor discovered his deception and had him killed, taking the hidden sword for his own," Shirou finished. The girls look horrified at the tale. Blake set Kanshou down on the ground
"I don't think I like that story," Ruby whispered. Silently, the other girls agreed.
Shirou looked at the weapon in her hands. "Me neither." Gently, he took both of them back from the girls. "But I love what they represent. Two blades, crafted not for war or with the intent to shed blood but only to be the best and most beautiful swords possible. Kanshou forged these with the love he had for his wife, and no matter what they will always be together." A wistful glint flickered in his eyes. "They are... idyllic."
There was a peaceful silence in the air at that. Softly, now with an almost reverent approach, Ruby grasped the hilts of the blades, feeling their weight and their history as she held them and let Shirou return to his work.
Yang rolled over onto her side and watched as her little sister stood up and walk into the center of the room to try and imitate some of the moves she'd seen Shirou use. After a bit, she craned her neck and asked, "Got any other stories like that?"
Casting a brief glance at Yang and finding a bit of amusement at how silly she looked like that, Shirou smiled. "Well, I suppose I have a few..."
In the darkness, he could only stew in his anger. His weakness left him unable to move or even struggle against the thick sludge that kept him bound tightly against the cavern wall. A grunt slipped past his scowling lips as he felt it squeeze tighter around him like it didn't want him to go.
"Accursed... gah..." His ruby eyes blazed in fury as his lungs burned in agony, even that half-uttered curse proving too much for him. Slowly, he forced his body to relax. He needed to save his strength if he was going to tear himself from this prison. Then he could try to find some place worthy of his presence to properly regain his full glory.
He doubted it though. This world would never be able to accommodate him well enough, so he would make do with the next best thing. Until then, however, he would have to remain here in the dark. At least he'd have the time to fully plan out the faker's punishment, how to properly execute him.
And how to use it to his fullest advantage.
With a start, he realized that besides the foul squelching noise of the mud that encompassed most of his body and the drops of moisture falling from the stone ceiling, there was a faint rhythmic noise. It was steady and heavy. And sharp. Someone or something was digging and chipping away at stone.
And judging by how the noise was growing louder, they were getting closer.
A faint light spilled into the dank and foul-smelling cavern, but to his eyes which had grown accustomed to the pitch black of the shadows, it was blinding. Despite himself, he flinched and squinted his eyes. The clacking of claws and the growls of a sinful abomination echoed throughout the small chamber, almost masking the soft padding of leather shoes on rock.
"It seems she was right."
The figure strode forward and his eyes grew more accustomed to the light. Its hair was well kept and its coat was finely pressed tailored to fit him well. Behind him, a floating beast hung in the air, the foul-smelling creature the one responsible for the light as the orb that made up its head shone with a ghastly orange glow. To its side, a wretched mockery of what looked like a mole watched him with wary eyes, its massive claws stained with dirt forward as if to shield itself from him. It seemed even the beast could see him for what he was.
"My, aren't you a fascinating specimen."
He growled in fury as he was mocked, but weak as he was, he couldn't even access his treasury to punish this abomination for it. His anger bubbled within him as he was disregarded so casually. This would not stand.
"At first glance, you're certainly not much to look at, but looking at you more closely, I can certainly see why she wants you." The figure before him stroked its mustache in thought before it pulled out some device out of his pocket. 'Scroll,' his mind registered, shocking him only slightly. It only confirmed what he already knew, but the implications infuriated him further regardless.
"Well, let's get you out of there." A gesture and the mole-like creature staggered forward, the sharp ends of its limbs raised to shear through his restraints. Implied was the threat of what non-compliance would bring him, but he would have laughed if he could. Instead, he seethed as he realized that he was in a position where he could not refuse.
As he was slowly cut free of the mud, all Gilgamesh could think about were his plans for vengeance and how much sooner he could act on them.
1. Short chapter is short. I mostly just wanted to get back in the swing of things and figured that some content is better than no content. It's mostly short because the things I want to do with this arc are kind of up in the air at the moment in how I want to approach them and I figured this would be a good introductory chapter to the tone that I'm trying to create. Also, it helps me get my bearings. Next chapter will be longer, I promise. And you know me and my promises.
2. Since the introduction of Volume 4 of RWBY, I've seen some validation in some of my world building and some wrong guesses (damnit Ghira, why did you have to be alive?). Luckily, a lot of it doesn't matter. I will admit though that I was laughing my ass off when I saw that Grimm crawling out of the mud. That was just too perfect.
Do what makes you happy.