Hey guys, Phailen here. It's been a while, huh?
First off, I won't draw this out any more than necessary – Reiteration is officially done. I don't have the same kind of interest I did in RWBY now and that has carried over into writing this fic. I would've liked to finish this out, but trying to write a fic that I'm not interested in is an exercise in futility.
That said, I do have a great many scenes that I wrote before, for future chapters in the fic that I'll share with you now.
I'll also do my best to narrate my planned plot between each scene, to give you an idea of where I wanted the fic to go after RWEBY makes it back to Beacon.
It was a nice run, guys, and I want to thank each and every one of you for your support. Seriously, your reviews kept me going.
So thank you! And without further ado… I give you what I have left of Reiteration…
Beginning after the Schnee Ball and RWEBY's subsequent exile to Mistral. Blake's awakening of her true power, the meeting with Qrow, capture of the crazy cultist and Enten's journey through the cult's hideout. Team EDJY finds them in the city ruins, delivers their weapons and RWEBY has their night around the fire.
Return to Beacon. RWEBY and EDJY return to Beacon. EDJY reforms into JYDE once more, to maintain their cover. RWEBY live near the faunus part of town, out of public eye.
Attack on Beacon. Team RWEBY is looking over the town from a cliff, Blake's ears perk up and she quickly becomes alarmed. Confusion reigns until the rest of the team can hear distance explosions approaching. The train was never dealt with by RWEBY like team RWBY did in the show, thus the White Fang's attack begins by unleashing the Grimm on the town itself. Chaos reigns. Team RWEBY fights in the streets until the fleet of airships show up, at which point they head to Beacon.
Fighting in Beacon. Below is a scene I wrote up a ways back on what RWEBY does when the White Fang invades. The story has changed in a few key ways since… originally, RWEBY was never meant to be exiled after the Schnee Ball. The scene below reflects that. This version of the White Fang attacks takes place just like it did in the show, with the members of RWEBY still full Beacon students. You'll even notice a mention about a 'botched Mountain Glenn' mission – this scene comes from a real early version of the fic, back when I still planned to roughly stick to the same plot as the show.
I rounded a corner and vaulted over a statue that lay shattered on the ground. I landed on broken glass from a nearby window but continued regardless of the crunch under my feet. There were more important things to worry about that some broken glass and statues right now.
I needed to find the girls. My team.
Everything happened so fast. It was impossible to see it coming. We'd all been blindsided in the worst way possible. What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend was turned into an invasion, and a successful one at that.
Beacon had been infiltrated.
I grit my teeth as another shudder ripped its way through the castle, only just managing to stay on my feet and continue sprinting to where my Scroll indicated Ruby, Yang and Weiss were located. Blake was in the library, separated from the rest of our team, just like me.
How could this have happened? Ozpin seemed such an infallible character, all knowing almost. This occurred right under his nose and now we had an uprising tearing the school apart! Students were fighting their peers all over a stupid, stupid disagreement!
My Scroll buzzed in my hand and I brought it up in front of me – it was Weiss.
"Where are you," came the girl's hysterical voice. It was a far cry from the usual calm, neutral tone with which she spoke. Even the botched mission to Mountain Glenn hadn't shaken her this much… Probably because Beacon was supposed to be safe!
"On my way. Get our weapons. Meet…" I stopped, considering the castle's layout. "Meet on the third floor corridor, outside Port's classroom."
"What's going on? Are we under attack? Do we need-"
"Weiss," I barked. "Weapons. Third floor corridor. If you see anyone – run!"
"Weiss goddamnit! This isn't a joke! I'll explain later! Weapons. Third floor corridor and for fuck's sake stick together!"
I cursed when a pillar nearly crushed me as I ran by it, only just managing to slide under it.
"I gotta go. Get Ruby and Yang up here and get our weapons!"
"How do you know they-"
I hung up, frustrated and scared in equal measure. This was dangerous – this was real. What little I'd seen of the dining hall before I ran told me that it was absolute chaos. Students fighting students. The White Fang. The professors. Everyone was fighting and I had no idea why!
"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit," I uttered the word like a mantra as I manipulated my Scroll into calling Blake. It pinged, attempting to connect her. Then again. And again. And again….
"No. No, no, no, no."
I tried again and again it pinged. One time. Two. Three. F-
"Blake! Thank- Where are you?! No wait never mind. Get to the third floor – outside P-"
"I know. Weiss just told me. I'm on my way."
She hung up then and I swore again, vaulting over a curtain covering a human-shaped figure on the ground.
The fabric was stained red.
Whoever was doing this… whoever instigated this… they were playing for keeps. No mercy. I could only hope the girls made it-
I rounded a corner – 'Only four more!' – and decked a White Fang grunt on the chin when he turned toward me. The Aura I laced into the punch threw the man ahead of me and he landed in a heap against a torn-apart bookcase.
The rest of the hallway was clear so I slowed enough to open my Scroll and look at the map. I could see some new signatures on it now – people that allowed their devices to automatically connect to wireless networks, most like, but none- No! One was… oh shit.
"Fuck," I spat as I shoved my Scroll into my pocket. One of the new signatures was on a balcony overlooking a second floor staircase. The same staircase that Blake was just seconds from.
I blasted down the hallway – 'Two more turns.' – with my Semblance. There was no one ahead of me, just the same war-torn environment that all of Beacon appeared to be devolving into. The windows shook briefly as I neared the last turn and the light filtering through them grew brighter for a moment.
'Explosions,' I noted absentmindedly, rounding the corner to the balcony and there-
Aura obliterated the ground behind me and I flew through the air toward an unknown woman. She was looking down at the second floor and she had a gun. The White Fang insignia on her clothes told me all I needed to know.
She raised the weapon in her hands, still oblivious to my presence, as I reached her. My right hand raged forward and I hit her hard enough to toss her from the balcony; she fell accompanied by a sickly crack and a choked scream, silenced only when she landed on the unforgiving marble below with a wet splat.
Blake. Where- Ah! She was running up the stairs now. My eyes immediately inspected the girl, searching her for any cuts or scrapes or injuries of any kind. Luckily, I found none. No blood. No bruises. She looked pristine and it made her stand out horribly against the chaotic mess that Beacon had become.
"Enten," she said again, hugging me briefly before she stepped back. "What's going on?"
"Not here," I returned, breathless. Port's class was back down the hallway a ways. "Come on."
"Are you hurt," she asked.
She shook her head and I only just managed to see the gesture in my peripheral. The cat faunus was taking all of this remarkably well. Her voice held no indication that she was panicked in the slightest. She seemed just as calm as normal.
I knew better.
Her eyes darted about our surroundings restlessly where they would normally be almost abnormally still. Her hands were clenched into fists and I knew her knuckles would be white because of it. She was panicked and quite possibly scared.
Hell, so was I. There was chaos all around us and I knew very, very little about it. Right now I just wanted to make sure everyone was okay; even CFVY and JNPR, if I could manage it. RWEBY came first though. Always.
Blake and I reached Professor Port's classroom then and I quickly checked the room itself to make sure no one was hiding in it. We were in luck – not a soul around. Still, I double checked my map to be certain but that only reaffirmed what I found by looking.
I nodded, shutting the door, noting that Port's blunderbuss was missing.
Just what was going on? Professors were fighting. Students were fighting. The White Fang was here…
Betrayal? Had the foreign students been infiltrators? Was it Beacon's own who turned their backs on the school?
"Shit," I breathed.
The girls. Good. They all looked alright, if not slightly out of breath because I knew first hand that Ultimatum was heavy – that was the reason I chose Professor Port's classroom as a rendezvous point, it was relatively close to the weapons lockers.
I was hugged by both Ruby and Weiss while Yang set Ultimatum against the wall. Blake received Gambol Shroud and I quickly went about strapping my own weapon on. It was rushed and I knew I'd probably have friction burns but time wasn't-
The castle shook again and several books were dislodged from their bookcase, hitting the ground with thuds that were absorbed the sounds of the chaos around us. Shouting. The clang of metal meeting metal. Explosions. Gunfire.
"What's going on," Ruby yelled, wide eyed and clutching Crescent Rose defensively. She was scanning the hallway for any signs of movement and it was then that I noticed she had a cut on her cheek. It looked small, thankfully, and other than that she, Yang and Weiss looked unharmed if not a little more disheveled than usual.
"I don't know," I returned as I placed my Scroll into Ultimatum. The map was quickly brought up and I found that – as far as the wireless knew – we were alone. "People are fighting each other. The White Fang is here. Professors got involved. Could be foreign students, our own, could be the White Fang disguised as students. I don't know!"
"Let's get inside," Weiss said, rushing toward Professor Port's door. She reached for the door knob just as massive explosion tore through the air somewhere outside.
All the windows were instantly shattered and suddenly pieces of broken glass were pelting us even as we were all thrown from our feet. Another statue crumbled and fell to the floor nearby and the remains of the curtains that once hung on the windows were tossed about by the force of whatever the hell that was.
I coughed as I made it back to my feet, shocked and slightly deafened but otherwise alright. Next to me, Yang shakily got to her feet as well. Ruby and Blake were alright, I found when I turned around, but Weiss was clutching her head and leaning against the wall next to Port's door.
"Weiss," Ruby gasped, darting over to her partner and kneeling down by the Schnee heiress' side. "Weiss! Let me see!"
"I'm alright," the girl said, shaking her head. She turned back to the group at large and I frowned when I saw the bruise just above her eye. It was already starting to swell enough that her sight would be limited on that side of her face. That was both good and bad… swelling meant her aura was starting to heal the wound but it also meant she would be handicapped for the next hour or so.
Ruby started to help the girl to her feet and I turned to the empty window panes, a grim look on my face. Something capable of producing that much energy was something that was dangerous.
The view of Beacon's grand entry palisade was normally breathtaking. It was a path that ran down the center of the lake, flanked by statues of Vale's greatest heroes and covered by massive steel arches that stretched about the perimeter of the lake and over the path itself. The centerpiece was a large marble statue of a hunter and a huntress slaying Grimm, it sat just in front of Beacon's tall, arched doorways that were covered by elaborately carved oak.
Now that grand view was a battlefield.
Bodies littered the path and bloodstains were slowly turning the lake a murky brown color where it met the walkway. Very few statues remained standing and there was a massive hole in the ground where the centerpiece once stood. Several arches were broken and twisted, all of them turned into molten metal by what must have been incredibly hot fire. I could not see the grand entryway doors from my position, but I imagined them shattered and broken inward. Just as decimated as the rest of the battlefield in front me.
Finally, there were several airships on the far end of the palisade and I could just barely make out the White Fang insignia on them.
A frown grew on my face. They'd gone too far this time. First the attack on the city, now the attack on Beacon… They needed to be put down. Hard.
"Girls," I barked. The airships were moving now, taking off… They were running away. I could see the line of what I assumed where Beacon professors and students trying to make their way to the vehicles but they were too far away to stop whomever was running from getting away. Dozens of White Fang soldiers stood in their way and while they were easily dealt with single-handedly, the number advantage they had appeared to even the odds.
"We can't let them get away." My voice was low, distracted even, as I looked out the window for- there! Without any further thought, I jumped – startled shouts immediately erupted behind me – and landed on a second floor balcony about fifteen feet below. It was the same balcony where I blew up on Yang and tried to blame Weiss for Ruby's faults.
That seemed like such a long time ago now… We'd been through so much since then. Grown stronger, closer. We weren't a team back then.
I heaved one of Ultimatum's bullets out of its gun belt and slide it home in the shield's barrel. The massive projectile was accepted easily enough and locked into place shortly thereafter with a foreboding clang of metal.
Someone landed behind me – Blake. Yang followed shortly after.
"What's going on," the blonde called, carefully picking her way around the numerous upturned chairs and tables.
"The White Fang," Blake muttered darkly.
"Oh," Yang said as Ruby and Weiss finally made it to us. The white haired girl looked awful but she was a huntress-in-training. She could deal. To coddle her would be to bring her ire. "And we're… oh."
"Guys," RWEBY's leader said then. "What's going on? Is that Professor Goodwitch? Why- The White Fang?!"
"They're running, Ruby," I reiterated. "I don't know why or where they're going or why they did this, but we can't let them get away."
The girl glanced at me and then at the air ships, her eyes narrowing when one took off. We weren't too far away from them, maybe a half mile – hitting them with Ultimatum would be a long shot but with the bullet proof glass covering the cockpit, we had no other option to take them down.
"No!" Ruby's eyes were wide and she was looking right at Ultimatum now. She knew what I wanted to do. They all did, probably. Blake was frowning but offered me a nod when I look her way. Yang was biting her lip and shrugged, clearly reluctant, when we made eye contact. Weiss was clutching her head and leaning against a table, clearly in pain – it looked like she was oblivious to the conversation.
"I know you don't want-"
"We can't! They have lives too!"
"We need to. If we let them get-"
"No! The professors will stop them-"
"Damnit Ruby! Look at what they did! Look at this! At Beacon!"
The girl swallowed, still frowning. Another airship took off. "There must be another way."
"There's not," I replied but she still looked uncertain. "Look, these people don't care about us. They don't care who they kill and they sure as hell don't care how many lives they ruin! They showed us no mercy – you saw the corpses! You want them to do this again?!"
"No," the girl denied vehemently. "I just don't think we have the right to decide they need to die! I saw the corpses but you saw the students fighting too! What if they are the ones escaping!?"
"Then they die as traitors."
Ruby stepped away from me then, her eyes wide. "You don't mean that! What if they just made a mistake? Got caught up in the White Fang's image? We could know people on those ships!"
I swallowed. Another airship left. There were only two left now and the professors hadn't made much progress in reaching them. "I know," I verbalized quietly. "But they sided with the White Fang. They made their choice. Now, we need to make ours."
"We can't let them get away," Blake inserted quietly, her eyes riveted on the two remaining airships.
"Yeah… but what if they are just students? They're like us," Yang responded. "They could realize they're making a huge mistake and leave…"
"Just like they could join the White Fang and kill more people." Weiss. She was standing next to me now, swaying ever so slightly. I checked my map to make certain no one was sneaking up on us – I didn't want the girl to sustain any more injuries.
"I know this isn't easy," I muttered to Ruby when she only looked down at the ground. "Life never is – it's full of hardship and difficult choices. This is one of those choices. Either we let them get away or we make sure they can't hurt anyone else, ever again."
I swallowed and let Ultimatum descend to the edge of my gauntlet, its firing position. It locked into place with a heavy clank and Ruby jumped. "On the one hand, they might get away and leave the White Fang – they might even fight with us eventually… But on the other?"
Slowly, I strained the muscles in my arm and managed to lift Ultimatum up, pointing the deadly weapon toward the remaining airship. There was only one now. Weiss immediately took up her place on my left, gripping her support bar with a grim look on her face. Blake mirrored the girl on my right. Supporting Ultimatum became a little easier with their help.
"On the other," I continued as the airship started to emit a mechanical whine. "They get away and they do this again. They commit atrocities against the people that we as hunters and huntresses are sworn to protect. I know we protect everyone but sometimes, just sometimes… we need to end a life, to save another."
Yang, dead silent, grabbed her own support bar at the front of the shield, on the right. The only one left was Ruby's, on the front left. The support bar with images of roses and a miniature version of our team's faces painted onto the metal. The support bar with the aiming sight built onto it. The support bar that made sure Ultimatum's deadly payload would hit home.
Ruby sniffed and glanced first at us, then at the airship. She made eye contact with me then and I nearly looked away. The agony reflected in her eyes was torturous to look at because I knew I put it there. I made the most innocent, happy, earnest, kind girl I'd ever had the pleasure of meeting look like the entire world betrayed her. Never before had I seen the girl look so hopeless. Never. But I held eye contact, she deserved that much from me, at least.
She grabbed her support bar, silent as the dead.
I heard the aiming sight snap into place as I started to widen my stance, lowering Ultimatum closer to the ground and the girls compensated with a practiced ease. They took more of the weapon's weight onto their shoulders so that I could brace us against the cannon's recoil.
"T-three," Ruby whispered as the gunships engines started to glow. I turned sideways, allowing Blake and Weiss more room to brace themselves. Along with myself, they provided most of the counter-force that let RWEBY to say on our feet after firing. Yang and Ruby focused on keeping the weapon steady so that the latter could aim.
"Two," the girl said. The gunship was kicking up dust now and I knew it was only a short amount of time before it started moving. I trusted Ruby to hit it, though, the girl was by far the most accurate shot on our team. She compensated for things like the wind and differing altitudes almost instinctually.
"One…" I hopped backward, placing both of my feet together and throwing my weight forward. Weiss and Blake threw their own weight forward and the shield tilted upward ever so slightly. Ruby was used to that though, she expected it when she fired now… My finger hovered over the trigger.
Together, we all ducked our heads just in time for Ultimatum's shield to rocket back along my arm. The massive bullet left its barrel and RWEBY as a whole was pushed back several feet. We stayed standing though, we had far too much experience with the weapon to end up on the ground. It allowed the lot of us to see the spoils of our effort.
The airship, slowly rising off the ground, went up in a ball of flame. An explosion tore across the pavilion and fire burst into the air, greedily consuming any and all oxygen it could reach. The airship itself was torn apart like so much wet paper; one wing plunged into the lake and the cockpit dropped onto the people below it when it was taking off, shrouding those unfortunate souls in a wall of molten metal, black smoke and intense fire.
Smog hung in the air like a thick curtain and the battle raging on the walkway froze for several moments. The entire courtyard went dead silent.
And Ruby, on her knees now, wailed.
The botched mission to Mountain Glenn was originally meant to be the scene where Enten discovers his power over blood and Aura. Again, I changed the fic around after I realized it imitated the show too heavily and instead we see him discover it in Mistral. But regardless, here is an unfinished version of that original scene…
A voice, a woman's. A girl's? It was familiar to me, at any rate. Now if my head would just cooperate and look, I could see who it was. Maybe. My eyes weren't cooperating either. Everything was blurry. Like I was crying but without the tears. Or maybe like I was just in water. There was a word for that… What was-
"Enten," the voice whispered. I thought it was closer now but I still couldn't see it. Maybe my head would-
Oh. Well now it was moving.
Was it doing that by itself? I certainly didn't tell it to look that way. Oh! Or maybe that hand was doing it? Strange, either way… I always had to move it myself before – without a hand to help me do it. If it was holding out on me all this time…
A big yellow blur – Yang, it must be Yang – was in front of me now.
I opened my mouth to greet her, it was impolite to ignore her, but only a cough answered my attempt and it hurt! Why the hell did my entire throat burn and why were my lungs on fire all of the sudden?! I tried to swallow, to relieve some of the heat, the pain, the agony but I choked halfway when my mouth remained far too dry and immediately more coughing hit me. Why?! Why more goddamn coughing?!
My eyes grew blurrier and they felt wet now. I couldn't breathe. Why couldn't I breathe? I was trying and… and the coughing! The coughing! That was why I couldn't breathe – the thrice damned coughing! My mouth was dry and I was coughing and… and…
Finally, finally, I was able to wheeze in a breath and my fit must have passed and immediately something blessedly cold entered my throat.
Never before have I appreciated how great water was. I resolved to make sure it knew how much I loved it once I got back to Beacon with RWEBY.
RWEBY… right, Yang… She was here wasn't she? That big yellow thing in the middle of my vision, most like.
I blinked several times and eventually I could make out something like a face in front of me. It kept fading in and out of view – annoying. Another few seconds of effort and I could finally make out the details of the girl's face. She had a cut above her eye and it must have been irritating her eyes because she was crying heavily. Heavier than I'd ever seen her cry before, actually… Almost full on sobbing, complete with sniffling and the quivering lip and the bloodshot eyes-
"Enten," she whispered again.
I didn't want to try speaking again so instead I just summoned up a smile. Best to show her that, despite the stake in my shoulder, I was alright.
She only hunched over and sobbed, though. The movement irritated her tears enough that several fell to the ground and made little splashing noises when they landed in a puddle.
That was strange. I didn't remember any rain and I knew Yang couldn't cry enough to create a puddle. She only just got here, after all. Or at least I thought she only just arrived. I couldn't really remember when she showed up, just that she was crying over something and for some reason a smile didn't-
Oh wow. Her hand slipped enough that my head – still not cooperating with me – shifted closer to the ground and I saw that there was, in fact, a puddle underneath her. The girl's knees were planted firmly in the stuff and whatever that liquid was – because rain and tears certainly weren't a murky brown color – it was thick and viscous enough to stain her skin.
That was thick right? But again, I never noticed any rain and I was pretty sure I would have. I knew I was a little delirious right now but definitely not enough to miss a torrent of water pouring down on my head. That'd be nice right about now, actually, I was dirty and bloody. Rinsing it off of me… onto the ground… where puddles were formed…
I blinked enough until the puddle came back into focus. It was getting harder to see now, the edges of my vision were starting to get all white for some reason. Sort of like I was losing consciousness and that was definitely bad. We were still in enemy territory – I couldn't afford to fall asleep here, not when RWEBY had to make it back to Beacon before the Grimm found-
The blonde thing – Yang, right? – jerked in a throes of a particularly vicious sob and let loose a gut wrenching scream.
I wished I could have covered my ears then but one shoulder was dislocated and the other had a stake through it. I knew moving my arms was an exercise in futility.
Something wet hit my face and I knew it from Yang moving around and disturbing the puddle. The girl was just about having a full on panic attack now and I really wanted to say something to comfort her but I knew it would just send me into another coughing fit. Maybe another smile?
A grimace was the only expression to grace my face though – I smelt blood now. I hated the smell of blood ever since-
One pink eye. One brown. The stiletto blade's keen edge reflected the light into my eyes, blinding me and I thrashed because I didn't want to die-
Since her. Since that woman. It felt like so long ago but I remembered it with perfect clarity. The paralyzing fear. The cold edge of the blade. The expressionless face. The smell of blood-
I blinked and waited for the double images of the puddle to fade and combine back into one. There couldn't be two puddles in the same spot, after all. And… was it just me or was it growing bigger. More redder too, kind of like blood. Which made sense because I certainly smelled blood. A lot of it. If a lot of blood could smell a lot more, anyway. I thought that made sense – if there was more of something then it smelt more, right?
At any rate, there was a blood puddle with stuff falling into it. Something… it was like droplets of rain; I studied them for a moment, blinking several times to get my vision to cooperate and my head was starting to hurt now.
Wow there was a lot of blood.
"Uhf," I muttered. "Umph… Bl- Blood."
My head spasmed and tilted and my vision was thrown out of focus and someone screamed again and… Oh right, Yang was here. She was still crying into the puddle – the blood puddle – and that was… oh.
It was coming from me. Me. I was making the puddle bigger… and it was bigger.
"I," a groan escaped me, burning my parched throat. I knew what happened when too much blood… I needed water. Too dry. Too hot, it was burning. And my eyelids were kind of heavy. "Blw… Brrr."
Lips were numb. That was bad.
Another sound. Voice rather. A girl's. Also familiar… I'd heard it before… too bad my face was looking away. It was on the ground now. I could still see Yang's legs though – they were soaked in the puddle now. The blood puddle, that is. It was still murky brown. Her skirt was-
"Yang, where- Oh! Oh no! Oh no! Enten!"
More yelling and I suddenly had the urge to vomit. Not because of the yelling but… well, I didn't know why. I just needed to vomit. Maybe- Did I have anything to eat or drink recently? My throat shuddered and ow!
Enten would eventually come to realize that he can use the blood to heal himself and, though ending up severely weakened, live.
But back on track with the story's plot…
Invasion of Beacon, conincides with Vytal Tournament on Week 20 weekend. Cinderfall needs hunters/huntresses to fight for her in her new, unified fighting force that will end the Grimm once and for all. She, Emerald and Mercury would have done recruiting among Vale's regular forces as well – the peacekeepers. Yang and Enten will find Sjev (who will be swearing up a storm and bitching about Hvid and Coco whining in the hierarchy and anything else she can think of) who has a new pair of red rings – the use of which cause her hair to change colors to red and her Semblance to throw fire around instead of UV light. Make sure to have her mention getting the rings even without Weiss' help. The trio will make their way through Beacon and eventually stumble upon Ye'lo and Jayd's corpses, shortly thereafter saving Legion E and Legion D from being slaughtered by mechs. (Mechs that were originally stopped by Weiss in the show, but she is not there, now)
Fight with Adam. Blake's new Semblance evens the odds. Yang does not lose her arm. Adam ends up retreating, Blake's experience in Mistral's swamps fortifies her resolve. She does not run away. Not anymore.
Fight with Cinderfall in the rooms below Beacon. Yang and Enten go. Ruby and Weiss are caught upstairs fighting mechs and Grimm – lots more are there b/c the train plot went through. Blake is exhausted from her fight against Roman. Cinderfall still interrupts transfer of Fall Maiden power, still gets half of it. Ozpin uses his power to seal hers, but she escapes as the room begins falling apart.
Enten loses his shield arm in fight. Possibly. Investigate further. It would be interesting to force him to deal with a missing limb – push him more toward programming and the magical scripts/runes he's been studying.
Weiss and Enten go off to hunt down her father and end his company and they start by returning to Spotlight Citadel. The mountainside mansion that saw them get exiled from Beacon is empty after Enten's bug ravaged all the electronics there. He is able to keep that bug from attacking his and Weiss' electronics and they are able to use her access to gain control over all the mechs in the building. They now have a small army with which they can attack her father and, potentially, rescue her sister.
Attack on Papa Schnee. They impersonate servants to get Winter out just before the mechs attack, Weiss does not enjoy playing the part of a servant, especially after getting a dressing down for not cleaning up a mess while she's sneaking around the building. Use a newcast overheard in the mansion to describe how Blake is trying to reform the good elements of the White Fang and Ruby/Yang have returned to Mistral to look into reforming the city that was abandoned there.
…And that's pretty much it, that's as far as I got.
I do have random scenes and drabbles that never ended up making the final cut though… some deleted scenes of Reiteration, if you will.
Yang tries to ask out Enten, Enten spills the time-traveling beans, awkwardness ensues.
Before I started leaning in the Enten/Weiss direction, this was originally meant to be Enten/Yang. Below is a scene that was my original plan to reveal Enten is from the future/past/wherever he's from.
Week 17 – First week of the second semester
"This is pretty cool," Yang said, staring at her Scroll and watching as I circled around her. We were in a clearing just within range of Beacon Academy's Pidgeon Network; I needed help testing the Headmaster's app now that I worked out most of the bugs with the map of the school under my grid, thankfully Yang volunteered.
"What's my position now," I asked.
"Uh, you're between me and the school building," she said, looking up to confirm her statement.
I grinned and she cheered when we saw that the map was displaying correctly.
"Alright," I muttered, mostly to myself as I approached her. "You circled me, I circled you. It was correct in class and looks like it's displaying all the filtered students right…"
There were up two hundred Scrolls on Beacon's campus at any given time of the day; if all of them were displayed then the app would start to lag and freeze up. I added a filter to account for that, simple ones like student year were the most I could get from the Scrolls but it lessened the number of dots until the map displayed them smoothly.
"Thanks Yang. I think I'm good, now."
"No problem," she grinned and fell in beside me as we started heading back. She gestured to her Scroll. "I guess you could say this is a pretty cool… m-app!"
A snort escaped me and I grinned despite the corniness of the pun. "It's such a better name than quill," I said but the girl only laughed in response.
"Can I keep this on here," Yang asked once she calmed.
I shrugged. "As long as you don't tell anyone. I don't know what the Headmaster wants to do with it so I don't want word getting out that I'm making it. He probably won't mind you having it though, I need help testing it, after all."
"Awesome," she whispered, a grin on her face.
'Why do I feel like I've just unleashed a monster…'
"Hmm," I hummed as I looked to the girl. My hands manipulated my Scroll into collapsing with an ease borne of practice and put the device away, into my jeans pocket.
"We don't have our weapons," I said, my brow furrowed. Not mention it was kind of late – the sun was beginning to set and we both had homework.
"We don't need them," Yang insisted. "Just a quick one! Like old times!"
I shook my head, offering her an apologetic smile. "Sorry. No can do. Besides, we've both got homework, you know?"
"Yeah," she sighed. "Stupid classes."
We fell quiet then and a not-quite companionable silence fell over us. I was slightly unsettled by the sparring request – not the activity itself, but more the time and place. Yang knew full well we had class in the morning and homework that we needed to do before then; there was no time to spar. If she were the type to slack in her school work then I might not have been shocked but the girl was actually more studious than I was.
'Odd,' I thought, but ultimately put the issue out of my mind.
"Hey Enten," Yang started again, this time with her Scroll out in front of her. "I have a question: can I only see one person's dot on this thing?"
I shook my head. "Not yet," I responded as I stopped and shuffled closer to her. "You can filter by the grade of the student and whether the Scroll belongs to a Professor or-"
A thought occurred to me then. "Are you gonna use this to avoid-"
"No-no-no! I was just curious is all," she said, looking at me over her shoulder and laughing nervously. The blonde nudged me with her shoulder. "Come on, I would never…"
"Uh huh," I grunted, smothering my grin. "Anyway, you can filter by the grade of the student and whether the Scroll belongs to a Professor or a student – which you would never abuse, of course."
"But no single person?"
"No single person," I confirmed, stepping away from her and toward the school again. The sun was in the process of setting now and stupid Professor Port decided we needed to learn about his latest expl-
I laughed and turned to find the blonde in the same spot I left her. "You could almost be a parrot Yang. What's up?"
"Well," she said, her face red. "I just… have- Do you want to see a movie, sometime?"
I stopped and my eyebrows arched in surprise. "Like… see a movie or see a movie?"
"Uhh… whichever one of those is a date."
A laugh escaped me, partially because the statement was Yang in a nutshell to me and partially because I had no idea what to say.
Never mind the fact that she was good looking. Never mind the fact that we got along well together.
The only thing I could think about was the fact that I was well over twice her age.
'Well this is unexpected.'
"Uhh," I stammered.
Evidently that was the wrong response because she frowned.
"Never mind. It was a stupid idea anyway."
She sniffed and – 'Oh great, tears.' – started to head back to Beacon, brushing by me at a clipped pace.
"Yang," I called, desperate to fix whatever this situation was but completely lost on how to do it.
She ignored me, only quickening her stride in response.
"Yang," I called more forcefully, grabbing her arm this time.
"What," she demanded, spinning around to face me. "Just- leave me alone!"
I frowned and shook my head. "I'm not saying 'no'. There's just something you need to know about me before you pursue… this any further," I said, gesturing between herself and oh no… what was I doing?!
She sniffed again and started to shake her head.
"I'm serious," I stated, preempting whatever she was going to say. "I've never-"
A sigh forced itself from my throat and I rubbed at my eyes. This was not what I expected when I asked her to help me test my qui-app.
"I've never told anyone this," I said, swallowing. "Not even the team. Not my parents. No one. In fact, if I'm gonna say this-"
I cut myself off and leaned closer. "If I'm gonna tell you this," I whispered. "We're getting away from Beacon before I do."
Her brow furrowed. "Is it that-"
She nodded hesitantly so I took off at a quick pace, deeper into the forest. We ran for about ten minutes, long enough to get several miles from Beacon Academy, until I was satisfied.
I held up a hand, stalling her comment. Slowly, the wildlife around us awakened again and started making noise. Carefully, I made sure that there were no gaps; no areas of dead silence that indicated we had an uninvited guest.
When I was as certain as I could be that we were alone, I turned back to Yang.
She was staring at me, incredulous. The girl probably thought I was nuts – I had just led her a good distance from Beacon and spent several minutes listening to the sounds of the forest.
"Should I be worried about my safety," she said slowly.
"Don't worry about that, Yang," I grinned. "You're decades too young for me."
She flushed. "That's not what I- What?"
"Oh, I read that wrong then," I said, shrugging.
"Decades," Yang prompted, her voices dry, when it was clear I was done speaking.
"Decades," I said with a nod of my head.
A beat of silence passed between us, then:
"Are you an alien," the girl blurted. "Are you from the future? Are you crazy?"
My Scroll was brought out again and I started to flick through its menus. "No, no and no."
"Uh, huh," she said slowly, shaking her head. "Then…"
"Here," I said, handing her my Scroll. "Those are some of my notes – a picture of them, anyway. I didn't have my Scroll when I wrote them."
"About," her brow furrowed after she took the item. "…About programming?"
I nodded. "I wrote those when I was three."
Yang glanced at me, eying me warily. "Bull."
"Flip over to the next picture." All of the note pages were dated, some in the unorganized scrawl of a toddler, others in the clumsy hand of a child, and even more in the neat writing that I had now.
"This…" she said, shaking her head as she flipped through several pictures. I could only assume she was looking at the dates and maybe glancing at the content of the writing, given how fast she was going through the pictures.
"So… you were a smart kid?" She almost sounded desperate. I couldn't blame her.
"I was a kid with knowledge that I had no right having," I corrected softly, stepping closer – I was still paranoid about being overheard. "All those notes, all of that was my attempt to make sure I was sane."
Gently, I took my Scroll away from Yang when the girl's movements became a little too uncontrolled for my liking.
"How," she all but screamed in my face. "You can't- It's not-"
"I know," I said, calmly, quietly. "I thought the same things when I was born."
"But… I don't- Born?! How?!"
I shrugged. "I don't know. All I know is that I'm here now, for better or for worse."
"So, what?! You're from the future?! You expect me to believe that? That's crazy!" She was pacing now, making exaggerated gestures and looking anywhere but me. Abruptly, suddenly, she stopped and spun to face me. "Crazy! Enten, this is crazy!"
I shrugged, unsure of what to say. I opted for sympathy; maybe it would help her calm down and give me a chance to explain what I knew… "I thought the first year of my life was one huge, horrible nightmare. I thought I was insane. But by the time that second year rolled around…"
Yang looked at me again and shook her head, turning to leave. "I need to think."
"Yang," I said, grabbing her shoulder. "You can't tell anyone."
"Uh, yeah," she sighed and rubbed tiredly at her face. "I won't."
"You won't," I asked.
"Yeah," the girl swallowed and then, more firmly: "Yeah, I won't tell anyone."
My hand released her shoulder then and she took off. I watched her go, hoping I hadn't just made the largest mistake of my life.
Week 17 – two days later
Yang and I had a falling out after I revealed my secret. It was a very noticeable change to our other teammates and large enough even for JNPR and Sun to take notice. There was no hostility or hard feelings but there was certainly an awkwardness and a lack of communication that worried Ruby enough to speak with us both. One small silver-lining was that the date had been forgotten; I wasn't comfortable with the idea of starting anything like that with Yang.
And it wasn't just the blonde either, I was opposed to the idea of dating anyone. I tried it once, a year or two ago, with a girl from the supermarket where I worked. We hardly lasted a month before she had a meltdown. A lot of it stemmed from inexperience on her part and it led to her being overly attached and possessive; granted, I probably didn't help things either. The more attentive she got, the more I withdrew. I didn't have the patience to deal with her issues and it came across as a lack of caring, at least that's what she said – screamed – when we 'broke up'.
I didn't consider three weeks long enough to have a break up but… however she wanted to look at it was fine with me.
And if the issues between Yang and I weren't enough, Blake was going through a funk right now as well. Ever since we rescued Sun from Roman she set herself on a reckless mission to find out all she could about the White Fang and how to stop them from doing… whatever it was they were doing with Roman and his mysterious associates. So intense was her drive that she often returned to the dorm room after midnight and still woke with the sun, when I got up. It was clear that she was driving herself into the ground.
Throughout all the drama, Ruby and Weiss were stuck in the middle. They often took turns sitting with either Yang or myself during class – the blonde had taken to sitting a good distance away from me – and usually ended up playing peacekeeper between Blake and the rest of the team.
I felt for them but between Yang and the next phase of the headmaster's app – expanding it to cover the entirety of Vale – I found myself too worn out to make an effort at repairing team RWEBY's degrading inner-team relationships.
Team RWEBY's dorm door swung open then and allowed a determined looking Ruby into the room. Weiss and Yang followed her, Blake too; the cat faunus skulked into the room last and immediately placed herself upon her bed, looking rather put out.
Ruby eventually ends up playing the adult – shocker! – and pulls the team back together. Happy times!
This next one is a light hearted moment after the Jaune retrieval 'mission'. Enten and Sun bro it up. Ruby comes along for the ride.
Week 9 – the weekend
Blake ended up meeting a faunus when she was out with Weiss; rather, she met him after having talked things out with the Schnee heiress. The 'W' and 'B' parts of RWEBY were still a little frosty with each other, but at least they weren't outright hostile. One was on a warpath to prove that the White Fang – still a point of contention – was innocent in the recent string of dust robberies while the other believed whole-heartedly that they were behind it, given their history of robbing Schnee Dust Company.
Laughter drew my attention to Blake's new friend; his name was Sun Wukong and I wasn't sure how I felt about him yet. He went to great lengths to set the mind of RWEBY's cat faunus at ease so I could only assume that he either knew about her status or she had told him. At any rate, I appreciated the effort he put forth in making Blake happy.
On the other hand, he was far, far too... uncontrollable for my liking.
Case in point: he told the entirety of team RWEBY that he stowed away on a ship to get to Vale ahead of his Vacuo classmates. Such a casual flaunting of the law and absolutely no fear of any repercussion spoke to me of what a wild, volatile child he was. It made me uneasy, almost enough to try and separate he and Blake.
I didn't though and it was a good thing I didn't try. I was sure Blake wouldn't appreciate it and, despite my misgivings, Sun proved to be good for her. He only served to irritate Weiss, though. It was a good thing RWEBY was dealing with Jaune leaving Beacon on the day he arrived in Vale, if we happened to see it occur while exploring the Vytal Festival's decorations – Weiss' original plan for that day – then the fight might have been much, much worse.
"Enten's are better," Yang said and that served to draw me out of my thoughts. Team RWEBY, along with Sun, was sitting atop the same building where Blake accidentally revealed her faunus nature just a week ago.
I turned my eyes away from the clouds to find my five tablemates looking at me. Ruby was glowing in embarrassment, Weiss looked speculative, Blake was dismissive and Yang was leering at me in a way that made my skin crawl.
'She is way too young to look at me like that.'
Sun was an odd combination of embarrassed and displeased.
"What'd I miss," I asked when it became clear no one was going to fill me in.
"We were just talking about abs, since our friend over here flaunts his so shamelessly," Yang grinned. "Personally I think yours' are better."
"Never experienced 'girl talk' before, huh," I said, grinning at the uncomfortable look on Sun's face. "This is only just the beginning."
"We aren't that bad," Weiss interjected, cross.
"Remember Pyrrha's crush on Jaune?"
The Schnee heiress had the decency to look embarrassed but Yang only burst into delighted laughter. The girls were talking a few weeks back when I had my headphones on; my song playlist had ended and I didn't realize it given how focused I was on my programming. The four of them started off talking about Jaune and Pyrrha then moved to Ren and Nora and finally transitioned over to me.
While I was in the same room.
"You have no shame," I said to Yang but that only set the girl off more. What they thought about my butt was something I had no interest in knowing.
I made eye contact with Sun when the blonde girl proceeded to start up that same conversation again, nodding toward the edge of the roof. We launched ourselves down to the street in short order, leaving behind a quartet of bewildered girls.
"Close one," I said once we were on the ground. "When they get started it's hard to get them to stop."
"Do they do that often?"
"Uh… not often but enough that I know the warning signs. Usually they try to talk when I'm away."
"Oh," Sun said, bringing his hands up behind his head. We walked along in silence for a few seconds before he spoke again. "What do you think they're talking-"
"Guys! Wait for me!"
We turned as one to find Ruby sprinting toward us.
"You," I muttered to Sun before my leader was within hearing distance. "They're grilling Blake about you. That whole conversation beforehand was meant to get us to leave."
The boy was still gaping at me when Ruby reached us.
"Yo, Ruby. Had enough girl talk today?"
Once upon a time, the younger girl wanted nothing more than to experience talking about boys and generally being girly with friends. I was pretty sure the novelty of it all had worn off, though. She still partook from time to time but more often than not, she would tag along with me or otherwise find something else to amuse herself with.
She groaned. "It's always boys, boys, boys when you're gone! I want to talk about interesting things-not that boys aren't interesting but…"
I laughed. "Well, as long as you can stand guy talk…"
"Boys have a talk too?!" She looked absolutely amazed. "What do you talk about? Is it girls? Do you… do you… you know..."
I didn't and I wasn't sure I wanted to know. Still…
The girl made a desperate sound and furtively glanced around; she leaned in close to whisper: "Do you… compare sizes?"
"Yeah, we do," I said before Sun could get a word in. He looked incredulously at me but I winked at him, hoping he'd play along. Meanwhile, Ruby's face had gotten even redder.
I shrugged. "I'd say Yang is the biggest, how about you Sun?"
"Uh," he stammered, bewildered even as Ruby's mouth dropped open.
"Or maybe that new green haired girl; you seen her around campus? She flaunts 'em."
I saw the spark of understanding in his eyes and couldn't help the grin that appeared on my face.
"That Goodwitch lady isn't too bad," Sun said over Ruby's stammering. "She's got that hot librarian look going for her."
"With a kinky edge," I threw in. Ruby was starting to catch on now; the girl's eyes were narrowed and her arms were crossed. "What you think she does to Ozpin with that riding crop?"
Sun laughed even as Ruby slapped a hand over her face.
"Welcome to guy talk, Ruby," I said, inordinately pleased with myself.
"She probably sticks it up where the sun don't shine," Sun interjected.
"Ewww," Ruby squealed and I laughed, long and hard.
I'm still disappointed I never worked that scene into the story. It's one of my favorites that didn't make the cut.
This one, unfinished, occurs after Ruby signs up with a hierarchy without consulting the team. She and Enten are working on his weapon – then Aegis – and they have a heart-to-heart.
"-first. Can you start on that?"
I blinked. "What was that?"
"The tip," she repeated, brandishing what passed for a screwdriver in Remnant. "Can you start on removing that?"
A nod signaled my understanding and I went to work removing Aegis' spear point. I would be sad to see it go but if it was going to be replaced by a gun barrel – something that would finally make me a threat at long range – then I'd do it in a heartbeat. It was something I should have taken care of earlier but between joining a hierarchy, getting along with my team, my homework and my programming I scarcely had time to do anything else but sleep.
My hands went about the relatively simple task of removing the blade. Ruby and I made Aegis to be dynamic in that it could be assembled and disassembled in pieces, mostly at my urging. Programs were meant to be designed the same way. It was very difficult and time consuming when the shield was being built, but now it was a life-saver.
"So… HRCN," Ruby said slowly, looking up at me from where she was sifting through metal. "I think they're nice."
"…I think Gamle is alright," I responded. He was very open in the way he expressed himself, it made him easy to read and – as Adel and I managed to do – manipulate. "Seglare rubs me the wrong way. Too much arrogance."
"So… you're not still mad about… uh, the hierarchy thing?"
I paused, half way through removing the deadly spear tip, and looked over at Ruby. The girl already had grease on her cheek somehow but that was usual, it was the look in her eyes and the expression on her face that interested me.
She was wary.
Ruby was not the most cognizant person in a conversation, far from it actually; normally the girl remained oblivious to the subtle tones in a voice or the minute details in a facial expression. It made her seem like she was ignoring her conversation partners' emotions to those that did not know her well enough to know that it was an innocent mistake.
Because of that aspect of her personality, the girl rarely reacted to anything in a conversation that was not outright obvious; it simply went over her head. Of all the times I spoke to Ruby or played any part in a conversation with her, I could not remember her ever looking wary.
Angry, perhaps. Frustrated, sheepish and even sad.
But never wary. Never fearful.
It was actually a relief to see her expressing that emotion, I realized. One of the things that worried me most about Ruby still was that she ignored those tiny social queues others would readily pick up on. Who was to say that it wouldn't lead to her inadvertently getting herself into trouble?
No, wariness was good to see on her face because truth be told I was still annoyed with her. I was just trying not to let it influence me because getting angry at the girl would serve no purpose now, not after the deed was done. It wasn't like we could change our minds about joining the hierarchy, after all.
"Annoyed, maybe. But mad? No," I said, turning back to Aegis.
She turned back to the shield as well, then, and we fell into silence.
I welcomed it but at the same time I was disappointed that Ruby let the conversation drop there. I thought she would try and make things right. The fact that she didn't left me feeling let down.
A grunt escaped me as I forced the negative thoughts from my mind and focused instead on removing Aegis' spear tip. I had plenty to worry about already, the conversation with Hvid Gamle, for example. I did not know what the boy wanted from me but given he asked to speak with me after I read my notes on them, I could only assume he wanted to discuss my habit of observing people.
Gamle was nice enough, I decided. Helping him learn more about whomever he had in mind wouldn't be too much of a bother, especially given I usually did my research to relax after I was done programming or working on homework. It was almost a hobby to me now, figuring out how people ticked and how their abilities worked. A nice challenge-
Ruby groaned and threw her wrench half way across the room, staring moodily down at my weapon.
I swallowed and cleared my throat, uncertain. "Ruby?"
The younger girl jumped and looked at me, wide eyed. She quickly calmed though and the upset expression returned to her face. "I don't know how to fix it!"
"You mean Aegis," I said, my brow furrowed. I shuffled over to her. "What's-"
"No! With you!"
"With… oh." She did want to make amends then; I smiled at the thought. "It's no-"
"It is! I made you mad because I messed up and joined a hierarchy without asking what you all thought! It was stupid… and brash… and…"
The girl threw her arms above her head and let out a frustrated groan. She collapsed onto the ground shortly thereafter, her arms around her knees and her eyes drilling a proverbial hole into her wrench where it lay on the ground, a dozen or so feet from her position.
I frowned and slowly put down what I was working on. Apparently this was bothering her far more than I thought it was; frankly I thought the issue put to rest the night we joined the hierarchy, after I'd gotten over most of my initial anger. She was still holding onto her guilt, though.
"What's the matter," I said quietly, sitting down next to her. The middle of the workshop was hardly the place for this discussion but I imagined that it was probably one of the places in which Ruby felt most comfortable speaking. I knew she spent an extravagant amount of time in Signal's workshop when she was building Crescent Rose – she likely felt at home among all the tools, workbenches, grease and spare weapon parts.
"Everything," the girl sulked. "I made RWEBY join a bad hierarchy and Jaune is still hurting his team and all the homework is two years ahead of me and," she sniffled, "and everything is dangerous and the missions might kill us and everything!"
"That's it huh," I joked, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. She leaned into me willingly with a choked up laugh. "You know you can't do everything, right?"
"But you can," she protested; it almost sounded like a whine.
I shook my head. "I'm far from perfect and I certainly can't do everything."
"But you always see things I miss! And you think about consequences and stuff and I don't know how to do that!"
She sounded distressed and I wondered just how many worries Ruby had on her mind then. As RWEBY's leader she was responsible for the team as a whole and she knew it; I worried for our safety but she must have me beat, if it could bring her to tears like this. In hindsight, this was probably my fault… I was the one who worried over every possible threat and consequence to our actions, Ruby was far too carefree to do things like that.
But if she saw me worrying then she might just start herself. I frowned at the thought. My intention was never to cause Ruby additional stress; I only wanted to make sure RWEBY survived our time at Beacon and the years beyond.
"Hey," I started quietly. "It's not all doom and gloom, you know? At the end of the day we'll always have each other to count on."
The girl shook her head silently. "Not if we get killed on a mission or we go into one less prepared because of these dumb hierarchies and feelings and plots and stuff! Just look at JNPR – they're tearing themselves apart and it's affecting their ranking and now CRDL got their hierarchy offer and-"
"One thing at a time, Ruby," I said, removing my hand from her mouth. "JNPR's problems are JNPR's problems… But if they're worrying you this much, then RWEBY can do something about them together. And don't worry so much over our hierarchy; it all turned out for the better, in the end. We just-"
We just needed to keep Blake's faunus status a secret. But I couldn't exactly say that, could I?
Still, I continued, albeit now with a frown on my face. "We just need to stick together and support each other; we'll be alright."
That was a lie. Such a bold faced lie. But Ruby needed to hear it, she needed to hear that RWEBY could face down any danger head on so long as we worked together. This was tearing her apart and it was my role as part of the team to make sure my fellow members were functioning at 100%. Even if it meant telling a lie.
Because the Grimm certainly wouldn't care if we worked together or not. In large enough numbers, they would kill us all the same.
"And if you need help with homework," I continued, "then I'm sure Weiss would be happy to help with politics. Blake has history covered. I can help you with your math and Yang… well, she just coasts through class. I'm secretly jealous of her…"
Ruby giggled. "She's always been like that. Dad used to get sooo frustrated when she never studied and then came home with all perfect grades."
"Well, maybe she'll share her knowledge with us peasants someday," I said, smiling when Ruby chortled again. "Until then, let's just focus on this one day at a time; I promise I'll stop worrying if you promise me the same thing."
She nodded mutely and I sighed. I would break that promise, I knew, but if… oh son of a bitch! Didn't I resolve to stop treating her like a child? Didn't I make a promise to myself that I'd stop coddling her? Is this what my resolve was worth? To have it crumble in the face of a little sadness…
"Wait, Ruby," I swallowed. "I… Damnit all. I can't make that promise. RWEBY does have a better chance at making it through this whole and healthy if we stick together and learn to rely on each other but we'll be put in danger of dying by the very nature of our profession… I can't promise we'll always be alright because… because we probably-"
"No," Ruby said quietly, placing her hand over my mouth. She disentangled herself from my side and instead sat across from me. "You helped me just now so it's my turn this time. 'Cause you need to start trusting the team too."
"I do," I said immediately, a frown on my face.
"No," Ruby said again, shaking her head. "You say you do but you don't. Remember when you and Blake were fighting me and Yang and Weiss? And you tried to retreat 'cause we were surrounding you but Blake stayed? She trusted you to watch her back."
I shook my head this time. "I trust her too but that situation was a losing-"
"Me and Yang were in front of you. Weiss was engaging Blake. You had two people to hold back and she still stayed because she thought you would stay too. She trusted you to watch her back and you couldn't trust her."
I remembered that morning. It was a typical team practice session and often we would throw together mock fights to get used to each other in combat. Blake and I lost that particular match because, yes, I moved and she didn't. She was quickly overwhelmed and I suffered the same fate shortly thereafter. We just had a disconnect… which might be what Ruby was getting at.
Why did Blake and I have different reactions?
"Because I didn't think she could watch my back," I muttered, feeling like a right proper asshole. For all my talk about trust and sharing secrets, I ended up being a huge let down. "I do trust you, though…"
"Sure," Ruby nodded. "You trust us enough to
Ruby learns to rely on the team and Enten comes to the realization that it isn't just himself against the world anymore. They both learn to rely on their team – before Ruby was trying to do everything herself and Enten was facing the world as though he was alone. Blake and Yang knowing his secret helped with that and that is the reason he could come to that realization, because he'd opened up to them and essentially accepted them completely. Both Ruby and Enten need to learn to rely on others, Ruby is used to relying on herself because of her age and Enten because of his age as well.
Going through all of these makes me realize how much material I had squirreled away. Even if it is a 'one last hurray' kind of situation, I'm glad it's seeing the light of day all the same…
Anywho, next up, that fight where Blake accidentally reveals her faunus status. It was mentioned in passing earlier, when Sun/Enten/Ruby go for a walk. This is that scene, later replaced by the faunus reveal scene that was a little more touching between Enten, Yang and Blake.
One week later – Week 16
The day was bright, warm and cheery. Weiss managed to convince the rest of the team to spend a relaxing day exploring the Vytal Festival decorations. They were nice, certainly, and reminded me a lot of Christmas decorations from Earth. Lights were strung up from the tops of the nearly-identical brick buildings. Banners were hung across what seemed like every single street in downtown Vale. Shopkeepers were setting up street displays to advertise their wares and I was fairly certain I saw someone hanging wreathes on the lampposts as well. It all prompted a nostalgic feeling that stayed with me throughout the day. Not melancholic nostalgia… just, happy.
It all took a turn for the worse, though, when we happened to overhear two investigators speculating the White Fang's involvement in a dust robbery.
Weiss immediately went off on a tantrum, made worse when we saw a faunus stow away running from the very same investigators not five minutes later. The combination of the two events probably reminded her of similar crimes that were committed against her family all the time. In the heat of her anger, she said things that I knew she didn't mean.
That fact, of course, didn't stop the girl's comments from drawing Blake's ire.
In short order, the relaxing day seeing the Festival's decorations turned into a heated argument.
"So," I started slowly, acutely aware that the silence hanging about team RWEBY was only one misstep away from another full blown argument. "You're pissed."
Blake and Weiss, formerly glaring at each other, turned to stare me down instead.
"Both of you are pissed," I amended even as Ruby fiddled nervously with her hands beside me. Yang, on the other hand, was frowning silently. I couldn't imagine either of them were feeling too great about this. Ruby probably didn't have the social experience to defuse fights and while Yang probably did, she'd been oddly silent for most of the day. It left me in the role of arbitrator and general peace-keeper, something I resented heavily but accepted only because these girls were my friends.
The five of us were atop a restaurant in Vale; we relocated there after the argument had taken a turn for the worse.
'And that's an understatement…'
It wasn't so much a turn for the worse as it was a full melt down. The 'W' and 'B' bits of RWEBY had apparently deemed the middle of the fucking street a perfect place to have a screaming match. Never mind the on-lookers or the embarrassment they caused the rest of their team, the only thing that mattered was their bickering.
Now, here we sat, dancing around the buzz word of the evening: faunus.
"Faunus," I said, because subtlety died when things like 'ignorant fool' and 'judgmental brat' were tossed about in public.
They both frowned and Ruby shot me a panicked look. The girl was beside herself and had been ever since the fight started. For all her social progress, she still had trouble with conflict. Only when it came to her friends, though. If she could be nasty, Ruby could sling insults with the best of them. Those bullies from DMND were a perfect example of that. The girl just didn't have the experience to realize that Blake was taking this far more personally than any human ever would and that Weiss was brought up around anti-faunus sentiments her entire life. Neither one of them was going to change in the course of one single conversation so the only thing left to do was to remind them that they were friends.
Or maybe I was just full of it. At any rate, I had a plan, a goal, and I was going to get there.
"What? Silence now? Why wasn't this happening down there in the street – you know, where everyone and their mother could hear you two yelling?"
I needed to reel myself back in; apparently I was annoyed enough at them that my dry humor was starting to sneak into the conversation.
Weiss winced but recovered quickly while Blake looked distinctly uncomfortable.
"Well, I wouldn't have yelled if she had-"
"Ohhh no," I cut in. "We are not going there."
They both looked about ready to start spitting fire now; I needed something to distract them. Something to get them back on track and realize just how stupid this entire disagreement was.
"Guys," Ruby was pleaded with them even as Weiss and Blake started taking turns sniping at each other. "Come ooon, what about team RWEBY!?"
Ignoring them until they learned they were doing something bad wouldn't work – they weren't pets and I didn't have the patience to do it anyway. Additionally, if I didn't stop them now they were going to start saying things they would regret.
"Enough! You two are friends! Now shut up," I said, shooting Blake a look when she made to open her mouth, "and talk this out like adults!"
The arguing duo sat in silence for a moment but then a scoff from the white haired girl sparked the bickering anew.
"What," Blake snapped, her eyes wild. "Why are you taking her side! You have a faunus family."
"I'm not taking her side," I said returned immediately even as Weiss threw in a comment about faunus riffraff.
"Don't," I spat when the black haired girl made to turn back to the Schnee heiress. "Don't start this again. Weiss," I said, turning to the girl. "Not all faunus are bad. And you," I said to Blake. "Not all faunus are good."
"I know that," the cat faunus said, exasperated to the point of frustration.
"All they ever do is steal! Every single-"
"You stupid little girl!"
"I'm stupid?! You're the one standing up for criminals!"
Blake's volatile answer went unacknowledged, instead I turned to Ruby.
"I say we split them up." I didn't see this calming any time soon. I knew for a fact that Weiss didn't think all faunus were bad but apparently she was so far gone that she'd say anything now. Blake wasn't too far behind her. Frankly, both of them looked close to tears. "It's about to get to the point where they say things that aren't easily forgiven."
Ruby only eyed the pair glumly but Yang nodded. "Can you handle that one," she said quietly, nodding toward Blake.
The cat faunus' eyes were flashing and her face was getting redder by the second. Her knuckles were white where she gripped the table; even her hair almost looked like it was standing on end.
"Maybe," Blake screamed. "We're just sick and tired of it!"
It took me a second, but the pronoun she used filtered through eventually.
'Guess the proverbial cat is out of the bag.'
"Well, so much for that plan," I muttered. Couldn't exactly remove Blake from the equation now that her secret-
Or tried, anyway. I caught her wrist as she passed me and hauled her back over to a chair.
"Let me go," she protested as she struggled; it was an uphill battle for her, she was far too emotionally strung up to make a good effort at it. Eventually, her butt was planted in a chair. I took my seat next to her with a heavy sigh – most of the chairs were scattered across the rooftop now, a table was even upturned. It was a huge surprise the owner of the tea shop hadn't asked us to leave yet.
Blake went for her weapon – 'Her Semblance!' – and darted away again. I was incredibly, extraordinarily tempted to let her go but this conversation needed to happen.
I managed to catch the wrist near her weapon as she regained her feet. She turned on me, furious.
"Stop treating me like such a fucking child! I don't need you to babysit me!"
"Blake," I frowned, struggling mightily to keep my voice level. "No one-"
"I don't need you to protect me," she railed at me, completely hysterical now. "You don't care about faunus anyway! That's why your dad's dead!"
A frown formed on my face even as her eyes widened and mine narrowed; multiple gasps sounded from behind me. I grabbed her chin with my free hand and forced her to look at me.
"You good now," I asked gruffly. "Done being an idiot?"
She nodded, still speechless.
"I know you didn't mean that. I hope you didn't mean that," I said, continuing over her stammering. "Now, come sit down and we'll talk this out as a team."
She didn't resist when I prodded her along, back to the table that Yang and I had been sitting at while the argument was taking place. The cat faunus sat silently, shoulders drooping, and the remainder of team RWEBY took their seats shortly thereafter.
A moment of silence passed over us, then: "Sorry."
I shook my head. "Don't worry about it. I've lost my temper enough to know that you'll say things you regret."
"Or knock down walls," Yang threw in, smiling tiredly. The day had taken a lot out of all of us.
"Or that," I agreed.
Silence overtook us again and I struggled to find a way to approach this conversation. I knew bridges needed to be built again between Weiss and Blake but that was up to them to handle. In fact, had the black haired girl not accidentally admitted she was a faunus I would have let her run without any issue. They needed time to cool off anyway.
The admission changed everything, though.
What was once an argument between only Blake and Weiss became a discussion between the entire team.
The fact that her comment didn't affect me overly much could only be a blessing. I'd long since gotten over any residual guilt involving dad's death and the last thing team RWEBY needed was another fight between teammates.
"I don't care if you're a faunus, Blake," Ruby said quietly. She had a solemn look on her face and I imagined this fight must be tearing her apart. Seeing the team she led break down so suddenly and so violently couldn't have been easy.
The faunus in question jumped, likely startled out of her thoughts, but gave the younger girl a smile. Slowly, she untied her bow and I reflexively checked for anyone who could see.
"Thanks, Ruby," she returned quietly.
It occurred to me then that the laser pointer no longer had to remain a secret…
"Yeah, me neither," Yang grinned widely as she leaned back in chair. "Even if this was a… cat-tastrophe."
I snorted, amused despite the horribleness of the pun. It cut through the tension formerly hanging about us like an oppressive shroud. Beside me, Blake grunted in what I thought was surprise even as Ruby groaned.
"I don't either," Weiss said, shooting Yang a half-hearted glare. The comment drew a surprised expression from Blake. "Oh come on. I know that some faunus are good people. Enten made-"
She paused when I jumped hard enough that my knee hit the table. The laser pointer hit the ground and – of course – skittered across the floor to rest under Blake's chair.
The faunus glanced at the object and immediately scooped it up off the ground before anyone had a chance to see it. It hadn't even stopped moving yet.
'Cat-like reflexes indeed.'
I smiled innocently when she glared at me. "I have more," I breathed, trying to sound ominous.
"More what," Yang asked when Blake only held the stare in lieu of answering me.
"My secret weapon," I said as my eyes quivered and finally blinked. The black haired girl turned away, pleased over having won our little contest, and pocketed the laser pointer.
"Anyway," Weiss continued, clearing her throat. "I used to think that all faunus were criminals and good-for-nothing vagabonds. But then… then we met Enten's family and…"
She trailed off, frowning. "…And now I'm… reevaluating everything I was told as a child."
A conversation stilled then and I realized now would be a good time for Ruby, Yang and I to leave. Blake and Weiss needed to work things out amongst themselves now and our presence wasn't doing them any favors.
I sighed and stood up abruptly. My chair scraped across the floor and served to draw the attention of the rest of team RWEBY.
"Ruby, you mind showing me which pieces of the trigger mechanism for Aegis we're missing? I want to pick them up while we're in town."
"Sure," the girl said happily. "Yang, can you take us there?"
The blonde sighed, feigning exasperation. "I guess…"
I smiled, pleased, and made to follow them. I was stopped when Blake reached out and grabbed my hand.
"I mean it, I'm sorry I said-"
"And I meant it when I said don't worry about it. No hard feelings," I returned. The girl was trying to return my laser pointer where our hands met but now that her secret was out I didn't feel comfortable using it. I wanted her to have some time to adjust to her 'new' status as a faunus and me teasing her with the laser wouldn't help.
"I lied," I whispered as I closed her hand around the device. "I don't have any more."
A sincere smile spread across her face and I turned to follow Ruby and Yang off the roof.
I actually did need to get parts for Aegis' trigger mechanism. Or at least that's what Ruby told me.
The more I thought about it the more excited I was to have a cannon on my arm.
'I reeeally hope we can make this work…'
"Come on partner," Yang yelled over Bumblebee, holding out 'my' helmet as I reached the street. "You're in the middle 'cause Ruby wants to feel up your butt!"
"No I don't!"
Nothing much to say there. I scrapped it because Blake's admission was an accident and I definitely wanted it to be something she did willingly.
Next up, a scene that directly follows the previous one. Blake and a 'faunus friend' end up trying to prove the White Fang is innocent, that they didn't commit those dust robberies. Shenanigans ensue.
Later that night
I was woken by a hand shaking my shoulder. It tore me from my sleep suddenly and cruelly, leaving me disoriented and trying to blink the sand from my eyes as I tried to make sense of the grayscale room before me. Slowly, I was able to discern the shadowy figures of the sofas spread about the room and the fireplace on the far wall. After another few seconds of blinking and rubbing at my eyes, I was able to recognize Blake in front of me.
The very first thing I noticed was that her bow was missing, the two cat ears atop her head twitching every so often in time with Yang's snoring. I thought her hair looked messier than normal but given how well it was blending in with the room I could just be full of it.
"Blake," I asked slowly, my voice hoarse. I cleared my throat.
I rubbed at my eyes, still not quite ready for intelligent conversation. Instead I said the first thing that popped into my mind: "High pitched sounds are easier-mmph."
"Shut. Up," she hissed, holding her hand over my mouth. Belatedly, I noticed she was still dressed in what I'd dubbed her combat clothes. Come to think of it, I was pretty sure I recognized Gambol Shroud on her shoulder too. And where was her bow?
"What's going on," I said quietly, my brow furrowed. I was using one hand to support my upper body but my other one was free to grope for my Scroll…
"I know it's late," she murmured quickly, glancing down at the device. "But I… I need your help."
"With," I prompted, still trying to blink the sleep out of my eyes. I heaved my legs over the side of my temporary bed with a sigh. It was a school night, the last day of the weekend, and I knew Blake to be level headed. If she was waking me up at this hour then whatever she needed was important. Didn't stop me from missing the lost sleep, though – classes would not be fun.
"I," she hesitated, glancing at our teammates' doors. "Can I tell you outside-"
"Blake. What is going on?"
I was fully awake now and able to realize just how disheveled the girl looked. She wasn't noticeably injured and that was the only thing stopping me from waking the rest of RWEBY immediately. We were all worried when the cat faunus didn't return after she spoke with Weiss even though the heiress herself beat Yang, Ruby and I back to our common area. We elected to give her a night before we jumped to conclusions, though; Blake was a big girl, she could handle herself.
"You can trust me, Blake," I offered when she hesitated again.
"I know," she bit out, louder than she should have. Quieter: "I made a mistake and it got a friend captured and I need help."
Ruby – who always slept with her door open – stirred, prompting the two of us to freeze, but only muttered something that sounded vaguely like 'cookie' and drifted back to sleep.
"Okay," I said slowly, absorbing what she told me. "Who is the friend? What was the mistake? Who did the kidnapping? …And how long ago did this happen?"
"He's… another faunus. I was, we were-" She stopped, frustrated and clearly panicked, if her breathing was any indicator. It was steadily getting heavier.
I sighed and stood up, scrounging around for a pair of jeans. She was reluctant to tell me so I decided to let her keep her secret for the time being. The fact that she was a faunus had already been exposed today and she looked about ready to break down.
"Grab another bow," I said as I pulled on my shoes. The fact that she hadn't even thought about hiding her ears worried me, given how much her identity meant to her. Once she'd done that I led her out into clubhouse's common room. It was deserted but given the early hour… that was no surprise.
"Now," I said quietly, mindful of the doors not ten feet behind my back, "what's the problem? Should I get Aegis? Should we wake the rest of the team?"
"No," she said quickly. "No, we- well, maybe Yang… No. We'll be fine."
"Just who did you and your friend piss off?" If she was this frazzled then it must have been someone big. That realization made me wary of leaving without the rest of team RWEBY; Blake and her friend were beaten so Blake and I would probably be beaten too. Speaking of this friend…
"And who is this friend?"
She swallowed, hesitating again and I felt annoyance well up within me.
"Blake, you woke me up at two in the morning to go save a friend I don't know from an enemy I've never met. I'll do this, but you need to meet me half way."
"It was the White Fang," she said quietly, her eyes fixed on her shoes. "I wanted to prove- I thought they were innocent."
"So the White Fang kidnapped your faunus friend because you two were trying to prove they were innocent." Nevermind how that made any sense – one would think the White Fang would be grateful to them for trying to clear the organization's name. Unless they weren't innocent which would- Oh. Oh.
She nodded, looking relieved. That look melted off her face and gave way to horror when I turned around and went back into RWEBY's common area.
"What are you doing," she hissed, grabbing at my arm even as we re-entered the the room. I ignored her attempts to pull me back out of the room and instead made my way to Yang's door. Taking on the White Fang was something I had no problem doing for a friend but not without our entire team. Were Blake and I to go confront them, alone, then we would probably meet the same fate that she and her friend had.
"If they can take down you and your friend," I said, not bothering to whisper now. "Then they can take down the two of us. We need help."
The cat faunus' mouth worked silently for several moments. Eventually, she found her voice: "But they don't-"
"Don't what," I asked even as Ruby stirred enough to groggily call my name.
"Don't- just," her eyes flickered toward Weiss' door even as Yang slowly sat up and our leader appeared in her doorway in the midst of a big yawn, rubbing at her eyes as she tried to focus on us.
"S'goin' on," Ruby asked, she promptly yawned again right after her question and I frowned. Tomorrow was going to be hard on the entire team.
A glance at Blake told me the girl certainly wasn't going to answer that question – evidently asking her team for help was something she wasn't prepared to do. The lack of trust in us was worrying.
"Blake needs help," I said, addressing Ruby and Yang because Weiss was apparently still asleep. The girl was a notoriously heavy sleeper – I took a moment while my teammates' attention was focused on our resident cat faunus to go to the Schnee heiress' door. I wasted no time in shaking her shoulder but she groaned in response, rolling over to get away from me. I was tempted to leave her to her rest, at least then one of us would be awake for class tomorrow, but I had a feeling this was something we needed to do as a team.
"Okay," I heard Yang say behind me. "Let me just get changed…"
Ruby yawned again but retreated to her room as well, presumably heading to her dresser to find some appropriate attire. It struck me then, how easily the two of them agreed. I grilled Blake for as many details as I could press out of her before agreeing – my teammates just… trusted her.
I trusted her too, certainly, but not to the point where I would follow blindly. She needed help and I was going to help her but I wasn't going to stumble into anything dangerous on a whim. That's why I woke the rest of the team-
Weiss grumbled under her breath when I shook her shoulder again.
Maybe that was why Yang and Ruby were so accepting? They both saw that the entire team was going to be participating in this… endeavor. When Blake woke me, it was just the two of us.
"What," Weiss half whined, half groaned as she finally sat up.
"Get up. Blake needs help."
The heiress' brow furrowed and she squinted in the faunus' direction. The girl was lingering in the doorway. "With…?"
Blake did not answer so I spoke in her stead. "Her friend was captured by the White Fang."
The faunus' wince was noticeable, even in the dim lighting, when I named the organization responsible for this entire fiasco. Weiss' face quickly morphed into a satisfied look and it hit me then, why Blake didn't want to wake the rest of the team.
She was afraid.
She was afraid of their reactions to the news that the White Fang was behind the dust robberies. That they weren't the peaceful organization she thought they were. She was afraid of what it meant for her place in the team; maybe she was even afraid that we would start to judge her because to most people the White Fang was synonymous with faunus.
We weren't most people though. I wasn't most people.
The fact that she chose me to wake first made a little more sense to me now; I had a faunus family and I knew there were good faunus out there. She probably thought, subconsciously or not, that I would be supportive regardless of what the White Fang did. And it was true.
It was true for Ruby too. And for Yang. But it was most obviously true for me.
"Come on," I said, leaning in closer to Weiss. "She needs her team. She needs our help to take down the White Fang."
Reminding the heiress that she and Blake shared a common goal now would hopefully keep a fight from erupting. The faunus organization was a sensitive topic for Blake – I did not know why – and that was before they captured her friend.
Weiss stood and stretched. "Let's go take down some faunus," the girl said, almost happily as she went to her chest of drawers. "Bad faunus," she amended as she glanced at Blake.
The cat faunus let her go without comment which was more than I expected.
"How're you feeling," I asked her, following her back out into our common area.
"I don't know," Blake said quietly. "I always thought that the White Fang was working for the good of all faunus. I disagreed with their methods but I never thought… How does stealing dust help? What purpose does it serve?"
A shrug of my shoulders was the best answer I could give her.
She looked displeased but that wasn't exactly surprising. From my talks with the cat faunus I knew she regarded the White Fang with high esteem; it was something we disagreed on. I thought they were out-of-control and needed to be shut down. I didn't always think that, but in recent years they grew far too radical, too violent for my tastes.
"Right," I said after she remained silent; my Scroll was quickly manipulated into showing me the map. Ozpin was still in his office but of the professors he was the only one not in his sleeping quarters. Not all of the professors were accounted for – which meant that either their Scrolls were turned off or not connected to Beacon's network – but most of them were; I felt reliably confident that RWEBY would not run into any of them on our way to the gear lockers.
A door opened behind us and Ruby entered the room just as Blake looked like she was ready to say something. RWEBY's leader was trying to tame her hair into some semblance of organization but it kept falling over her eyes. She was without her signature cape but still had the tights on. Or were they leggings? I wasn't sure, I just knew Ruby never went anywhere without them.
An absurd thought that Ruby didn't know how to shave her legs passed through my mind then but I shook it off just as Blake rallied the courage to speak.
"I used to be in the White Fang."
The reason she didn't want the rest of the team woken up was starting to become clear to me now. Not only had she feared our rejection but also our reaction to her past. I couldn't help but wonder if there was more still.
"Blake," Ruby said, a soft smile on her face. "That doesn't matter now. 'Sides, you were just trying to help faunus anyway!"
"Quieter, Ruby," I reminded the girl. These walls were thick but then, the younger girl was loud.
A sheepish grin grew on her face and I turned back to our resident cat faunus to find her staring at me. Probably waiting for a reaction – where did the girl that ran from her problems go?
"So," I asked, shrugging. She gave me a frown in response and I only just kept myself from scoffing. Since when did my opinion matter this much?
"You used to be in White Fang. Now you aren't. I'm not gonna judge you for what they do now."
I could tell it wasn't quite what the girl wanted but she looked away from me then, back to the our team's door. Yang exited the room, hurriedly wrapping her scarf about her neck. One of the girl's socks – leggings? Half-leggings? – was bunched up at the end of her boot and her hair was pulled back, away from her face by a hair tie.
Weiss followed seconds later, in the process of tying her hair back as well. It was times like this one that made me grateful to have such short hair. No maintenance was necessary, I rolled out of bed ready to go.
We were all gathered in the common area now and all of us were hesitating. I was waiting for either Ruby or Blake to take charge; not likely given the former's lack of situational knowledge and the latter's disdain for any kind of public spotlight. Yang, Weiss and Ruby were probably waiting for an explanation and Blake was looking at me… again.
I sighed but started walking toward the locker room.
It was going to be a looong night.
Turns out, this scene is a pretty long one, because the next section directly follows this one too. In the show, this is where Team RWBY finds the White Fang at first and, I believe, when Penny shows up and destroys some airships.
In Reiteration, this entire scene was replaced by the one where Ruby, Yang and… I believe it was Blake end up the White Fang's captives. When Enten's shoulder is injured and he has Yang help him take down one of the airships.
Two hours later – the docks
"Can you do some weird Scroll thing to find him," Ruby asked me, looking completely flummoxed.
Team RWEBY was currently at the docks of Vale. Getting across the city in the middle of the night took us longer than Blake would have liked but we made it after Yang made two trips to taxi all of us over. It made me aware that we needed a good form of transportation outside of Bumblebee. Something like a car that we could all use when we needed to do things like this. If we needed to do things like this – I certainly didn't want to make a habit out of it.
Still, a consistent mode of transportation would be good to have. Maybe Coco knew of something that could help… I would have to ask her when it wasn't just past three in the morning.
'Blake owes us big time for this.'
I shook my head. "No."
"Oh," Ruby responded quietly, ducking her head.
I sighed. Annoyed and tired as I was, that probably came out harsher than I meant it. "I can't track him unless he makes it to Beacon somehow."
"There has to be something," Blake said, desperate. I rubbed at my eyes and glanced her way. She was following the various scorch marks on the ground, trying and ultimately failing to find anything we could use to track the White Fang down.
'The White Fang plus one.'
Apparently there was a man with red hair working in conjunction with them. His description prompted Ruby to note that she had seen a man with the exact same appearance robbing a dust store a few months back. At the time, though, the White Fang was not with him. He had some shoddy thugs doing his dirty work instead; Yang was able to identify them as Junior's men when her sister described the gangster-ish types to the team.
'The red haired man is the constant here. It sounds like he or whoever he works for are using the White Fang as a means to an end. That also means that while the White Fang might be behind the dust robberies, they probably aren't the ones using the stuff.'
But we could worry about the red haired man – Roman, as he was named – later. Right now we had a faunus to find and, more importantly, sleep to catch up on. Given we were at least four hours too late, I wasn't hopeful that Blake's friend was still in one piece.
"You said they were using airships?"
Only silence met me.
"Blake," I barked, slightly louder, when I noticed she was nowhere to be seen. Ruby was currently crouched over a scorch mark, examining some ash between her fingers. Weiss, who had been rubbing at her eyes, turned to regard me. Finally, Yang was leaning up against a shipping crate, dozing.
"She went that way," the heiress said, indicating a direction farther into the docks.
I bit back a remark about sticking together; bickering was the last thing we needed right now. Instead I followed Ruby as the girl ran in the direction Weiss indicated.
"Come on sleeping beauty," I said, throwing my arm across Yang's shoulders as I passed her. The girl started moving at my urging, stumbling into my shoulder once before she regained enough awareness to walk straight.
Aaaand last but not least, some Enten scheming. This scene occurs before a conversation he'll have with Team JNPR, my original way to make amends between he and them. Reiteration ended up going with him training Jaune and this scene was dropped because it was did not further the story enough for my liking.
Our footsteps echoed loudly in the silent hall; it almost seemed darker than usual, too. More sinister. Perhaps, though, that was a product of my company.
Pyrrha Nikos, Nora Valkyrie and Lie Ren.
We were heading to an empty classroom off of the dueling hall. The students were given a break in between dueling rounds and Nikos had immediately used the opportunity to corner me.
Idly, I grasped the Scroll in my pocket.
I used to know nothing of team JNPR.
Their habits. Their desires. Their goals and their motives and their relationships… Nothing. Once upon a time, I knew nothing.
But I changed that. I changed that immediately; once I decided getting back into their good graces would be a smart move, I started watching them.
At lunch. During class. In their duels. Out in the halls.
Anywhere and everywhere I could find them. The map was even used to track down the exact spot where Nikos and Jaune trained every night.
Now… Now, I knew team JNPR.
Their leader: Jaune Arc.
He was a conundrum, in short. A walking paradox. At a glance, he was a kind boy that cared for his team. A boy that dealt with lingering confidence issues. A boy that cared greatly for his friends. A boy that was driven. Smart. Determined. Honest… A good person, all in all. Those caring qualities had certainly endeared him to Ruby and his meekness immediately earned Yang's interest – she enjoyed teasing him; it was her way of trying to get him to come out of his shell, I knew.
On the surface, he was strong willed and determined to become better. He was growing into a good leader for JNPR.
But that was the surface.
I never stopped at the surface.
It took someone incredibly self-centered to apply to Beacon with a forged application. Someone selfish. Someone self-absorbed. Someone willing to potentially put others in danger so that they might benefit. The boy knew he was weak. He knew he couldn't fight. It followed then, that he knew he would be nothing but a liability in a fight and that was something that would put his team in danger.
Or, on the other hand, he didn't realize his lack of fighting skills would be a liability.
Either he was selfish or careless – neither were good qualities.
Jaune only wanted strength for himself. He wanted to prove himself to his family. He wanted to do it himself because he thought himself good enough to improve. He thought he could grow and train and become strong by himself to prove himself.
He was a fool. A well-meaning fool, certainly, but I thought that only made him more dangerous. A well-meaning fool was harder to spot than a wicked fool, after all.
'Weakness: self-confidence. Mention Cardin. Mention forged application. Mention motives. Mention training. Mention aid. Befriend him with promises of strength.'
But before I could even think of dealing with Jaune, I needed to consider Pyrrha Nikos.
A four time Mistral regional champion, the Nikos girl was a household name in Remnant. People knew her. They knew her reputation. Her fighting record. They knew what she looked like and they followed her fights and her duels. They watched her make her way through Beacon. Every duel she fought was put under incredible scrutiny simply because it was The Invincible Girl fighting.
My win over her hadn't changed that, in fact, it made the attention worse.
Now that the girl lost her first duel, other people started believing it might happen again. Her fighting style was picked apart even more. Her tactics, analyzed. Our fight, watched time and time again. Every move she made was watched. Every attack, observed. Every blow she took, studied.
It must have been maddening to endure. Truly, she had my sympathy in that.
But she would have grown used to the attention, to the fans, the admirers and the naysayers. I saw it happen myself. With every year she spent at Sanctum, she withdrew into herself more and more. Less interviews were given. Shorter statements were made. Less people walked with her.
With every passing year, she hid herself away until, eventually, she was alone.
She was alone in her fame. In her glory. Her renown. When she ate at Sanctum, she ate alone. When she studied in its library, she sat alone. When she walked back home, she made the journey alone.
By the time she decided to attend Beacon, I felt reasonably secure in the knowledge that she had not one friend.
And that was a conundrum – why travel half way across the world to attend school when Haven Academy was chomping at the bit to have her enter its hallowed halls? Why abandon everything she knew for a country she knew nothing of? Why leave everything behind?
The answer came to me one night as I listened to Weiss complain about her family servants.
Pyrrha Nikos, The Invincible Girl, was Weiss Schnee, The Heiress.
Fans were not friends. Admirers were not confidants.
Pyrrha Nikos came here to start anew. She wanted a new beginning. She wanted to find friends. She wanted to be a normal teenager. She wanted to get away from her titles, from her fame and her renown, and become 'just another Beacon student'.
She and Weiss were more alike than either of them knew.
It made sense, then, that Pyrrha reacted so violently when I threw Jaune under the proverbial bus. She had found a friend in the boy and any threat against that friend was going to be dealt with swiftly and harshly.
I was that threat.
'Weakness: fame. Mention fans. Mention old life. Mention tournaments. Mention Ye'lo. Befriend her by befriending her team. She will follow her friends anywhere – they are the only ones she has.'
Humming broke me from my thoughts briefly – a product of the redhead at my side.
She was a sweet girl. Hyperactive, talkative, social, kind, nice. She respected Jaune as her leader and Pyrrha and Ren as her teammates. She did not fight with them though she occasionally got on their nerves. She was clearly fond of her partner – Ren – and was rarely seen without him at her side. She was a normal teenaged girl that harbored a love for pancakes.
On the surface.
But I never stopped there.
She was attached to Lie Ren and, at first glance, I thought it a simple crush. A teenage infatuation, worth nothing to me but for the fact that she might take offense if I insult the target of her affections.
But I was wrong.
It wasn't so much a crush as it was an obsession. Her eyes stayed on Ren wherever he went and, though she made time for friends and activities without the boy, never did she stray far from his side otherwise. Little gestures, like always sitting next to him at lunch and never failing to walk beside him in the halls, earned her my interest. She actively hunted him down in the forest where we found our partners – Ozpin kept a startlingly vast amount of cameras out there – and slept next to him on the first night at Beacon – something Ruby thought was cute.
No, this was more than a crush and I knew, now, that it developed sometime before Beacon Academy came into the picture. Unfortunately, the girl did not have the renown or the fame that Pyrrha did and so there was little information about her before she entered these hallowed halls.
She knew Ren before Beacon and, if Weiss was correct, neither Nora nor her black haired friend had parents.
'Weakness: Ren. Pancakes. Mention Ren's faults. His short comings. Befriend her by appearing innocent.'
Lie Ren was her world.
The boy himself was largely a mystery to me. Given he spent most of his time near Nora and the girl's penchant for speaking so often, I rarely heard him say a single word. Indeed, it appeared that he preferred it that way too. Silent. Resolute. He was the antithesis to Nora's rambling.
Given that, I knew very little of him and his motives. I could not figure out what made him tick – something that annoyed me still to this day – because he showed so very little of himself. I heard mutterings of him being a good chef from Jaune and Nora always had plenty to say about him but nothing that reached me was ever useful in painting a picture of the boy behind the silence.
I stewed on the issue of Lie Ren for several days. My conversation with team JNPR was important because it needed to happen on my terms, the way I wanted it to happen. Not knowing what to expect from a quarter of the team was a serious flaw in that plan, that desire.
But then, something struck me. A moment of insight.
Ren and Nora were together since they were children, this I knew. Neither of them had parents, they themselves confirmed that in a conversation with Ruby and Yang about the girls' mothers over lunch, before my manipulations had come to light.
There was something there – a motive. A hint at their personalities.
And, as I observed Blake and Yang fighting over the bathroom one morning, it hit me: Lie Ren and Nora Valkyrie relied upon one another to survive.
They grew up together and without any parents to provide for them – something that would certainly kill all but the strongest of people. Remnant was not a kind world and the creatures in it, even less so.
It made sense, then, that the two of them learned to work together to survive.
Nora was an endless source of enthusiasm. Of happiness and joy and silly theatrics that served to make light almost any conversation in which she took part. Ren was a quiet boy that made his decisions measuredly, logically. He was a grounding element that inserted some realism into his actions.
Separate, neither of them possessed any obvious flaws – not like the ones Jaune and Pyrrha possessed – but when looked at together…
They were two sides of the same coin. Nora, the happiness, and Ren, the realism. Together, they survived Remnant by dealing with its dangers. They were each one half of a whole person. As dysfunctional and troubled as I myself was.
Nora Valkyrie was Ren's world.
And I knew now, why that was.
That's all I got for you guys, all my scenes from the vault. It's been a long run, a good run, I think, and I'm glad I was able to share it with you.
Hopefully, this last chapter managed to put a smile on your face, it certainly brought one to mine. If it did, then I think it served its purpose. One last thing Reiteration gave you before it was laid to rest.
So thank you. For your reviews, your time, your support, I appreciate it all.
And on that note, Good-bye.
I leave you with one last fluffy Weiss/Enten scene, set just before the infamous Schnee Ball. Enjoy, I know I did.
One last hurrah.
Clearly, she was still angry at herself for losing control in her last duel.
"Don't worry about it too much," I said.
"I shouldn't have lost my temper," Weiss exclaimed. "Father would be so-"
"Doesn't matter what he thinks," I stated. "Are you people?"
"Am I what?"
"Are. You. People?"
"…I am a person-"
"People get angry. Weiss gets angry. That's what makes Weiss human. Is Weiss human?"
"I," she stammered, shaking her head with a wide-eyed look of disbelief plastered on her face. "Yes… Weiss is human."
"Then Weiss can get angry and her father can stuff it."
Her mouth moved silently for several seconds before she gave up and shook her head. "I… ugh."
"See," I cooed. "There's the Weiss I know – the one with the scowls and the scoffs. The Weiss I know would get even with Ye'lo by telling Ruby she ferreted away some strawberries at breakfast this morning. The Weiss I know might even be sure to hang around Ye'lo all night long tomorrow because we both know that girl can't be trusted to stay elegant at high-end parties."
She relaxed her shoulders then, her eyes shut and a wry smile upon her lips. "The Weiss you know thinks the Enten she knows should save a dance for her too – he deserves a thank you for helping her get even with Ye'lo."
"Ahh… the Enten you know doesn't know how to dance so-"
"Wonderful! I'll just have to teach you!"
"That wasn't what I m-"
"Oh, we simply must do a traditional ballroom waltz. That dance is my favorite… Of course, if you step on my feet I'll trip you."
"I still don't see how I got signed up to-"
"Thanks for the talk, Enten," the girl chirped, a faux smile plastered across her face as she spun on her heel and flounced away in a manner that suited Ruby more than her.
A sigh escaped my lips as I watched her go and, when she rounded a corner, my hand came up to rub at my eyes.
'You try to do something nice…'
Still, I found myself looking forward to the Schnee Ball.
And that dance.