A/N: I am ashamed of myself. I've been a fan of RWBY ever since it's release and I've only discovered of Monty's passing very recently. In my shame, I wrote this in his honor. You'll be missed Monty.
Chapter 1: A Blade Through Time
How did it all go so wrong?
That was the question that rang in Jaune's mind as he barricaded the door to Beacon Academy. Around him stood the mutilated corpses of Grimms and Hunters alike who fought valiantly against the enemies that came against them. As he finished putting the last of the broken pillars in place, the boy looked to scan the area in search for any other life other than himself.
Beacon was a war torn shadow of its former self. Its glittering tower and large courtyard which was often filled with students and visitors alike was now a wasted battlefield marked with scars of countless bombed craters. Various Hunters both students and teachers littered the place, finding a corner to rest their tired bodies, the mark of exhaustion clearly displayed on their faces. The battle they had fought was a grueling one. It caught them with such a surprise that barely any of them had a chance to defend themselves against the hordes of Grimms that flooded through the walls.
Up above, Jaune could see multiple ships with foreign banners hanging from their side raining fire and death to the city below. How did it all go so wrong?
It all happened… what? A week ago? He and his friends were all enjoying the Vytal Festival watching Pyrrha beat the living daylights out of the competition when something happened. First, it was those damnable robots that the military brought to the city, the ones that were shown to be superior to the newer models. The knights in shining armor guarding the streets with a friendly face. They were supposed to be the ones protecting the people from harm… but then something went wrong.
Before any of them even realized it, the robots had turned against their creators and began firing at civilians indiscriminately. The Hunters were called to action and before long the whole city became a warzone that set ablaze everything that stood in its way. But of course, a few mechanical drones were no match for an entire academy of Hunters. The students thought that things would return to normal until the next day, the Grimms showed up.
From out of the Darkness and taking advantage of the confusion of the malfunctioning robots, the Grimms poured from the woods invading the land as if they were coordinated by some signal. It came down hard that the natural barriers surrounding the countryside fell within the first few hours. It didn't take long until the students were asked to participate in the fight. Many of the senior cadets volunteered and gladly rode on to battle. Many prayed that it would be enough. That the lives sacrificed on this war would be enough. But it wasn't…
One disaster struck after another. Reports from multiple teams called in that they were being overwhelmed and struck down by some unknown force. The news came repeatedly over and over before the air waves went silent.
Then came the invasion…
Jaune didn't know who was invading. He was never close to the political ties of this world. Heck, the biggest thing he had to worry a few weeks ago was finding a date to the dance. He just knew that in two days, the whole world had gone mad with war. Everything burned. From the city, to that bookstore, that noodle shop across the street, right down to Beacon Academy.
On day three, that was when thing really took turn for the worst.
When the war came down to the city, all the civilians were rounded into Beacon Academy to be shipped off to a rally point offshore to another school called Signal Academy. All remaining soldiers and Hunters alike rallied to make a desperate stand here at the school to hold off the impending hordes of robots, Grimms and invaders. It seemed like they stood a chance.
The Atlesians brought in a massive fleet from the mainland preparing to dish out the fists of the kingdom. But that armada was easily swiped by a green flare that seemingly came out of nowhere. As the ships flew by, a single female figure with multiple blades hovering behind it could be seen in the distance, tearing through the massive fleet of Vale like a scythe on a harvest day.
With their advantage gone, all the Hunters had were each other and the weapons in their hands. They never stood a chance.
Weakened from the never-ending conflict that took place in Vale, the Hunters could barely hold their grounds against their enemies. Many died on the first wave alone and many more followed as the attacks kept coming. Soon enough, the siege of Beacon Academy became a battle for survival for Jaune and his team.
The Hunters stood their ground and fought valiantly, but despite their best effort, they could only do so much before their enemies finally decided that they were not worth the waste of resources. After fending off the last of them and barricading the main entrance with everything they could scrounge up, the students of Beacon took a much needed rest hoping that this war would soon come to an end. But that was probably just wishful thinking on their part, cupped with the weary exhaustion from their mentality.
But Jaune couldn't blame them. They were just students who were training to become warriors. They didn't know better about this war and politics. Hell… in fact, many of them still thought that this was a dream… a horrible nightmare that they would soon wake up to. But there was no such thing. They were awake and the sounds of cannon fire in the distance kept them on their toes no matter what they thought.
"Ren, can you get up?" The blonde boy was alerted by a familiar voice of his teammate who was carrying a wounded green dragon warrior on her shoulders. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine Nora, really. It's… nothing serious." Ren brushed her off trying to hide the bleeding wound on his forehead. "My Aura took most of the blow."
"But… you're bleeding."
"It's fine. A little rest and it'll go away. I promise."
"Better put a Band-Aid just in case." Jaune interjected offering said Band-Aid. "You two should go to the tower. The next flight leaves in 15 minutes."
"I can still fight." Ren offered to stand but found his legs giving way. "Argh!" Nora reacted to his grunt offering her shoulder to carry him. "Thanks Nora."
"Hey. We're partners to the end… right?" The Valkyrie flashed her trademark smile which was perhaps the only thing that brought them back to the good old days. It was hard to find such blissfull happiness in these dark times. Oh the good old days… where have they gone?
"You two should leave." Jaune repeated gesturing to the tower. "This place won't hold out for much longer and I'm not sure if the barrier surrounding the school will be able to last the next barrage."
"You're not asking us to run, are you?" The green dragon asked trying to muster some strength into his limbs. "We've… fought all this time."
"And you've done your part." The boy countered turning to Nora. "Nora. You take him to the next shuttle and the two of you get out as fast as you can."
"What about you?" She asked, worried about her team leader.
"Don't worry about me. I'll look for Pyrrha and follow you guys on the next shuttle out." The boy suggested, giving a thumbs up to them.
"Hey… a team fights together." Ren struggled with his words barely holding himself on Nora's shoulders. "You can't just ask us to go."
"No, I'm ordering you." It was a non-believable order. Jaune was technically the leader of team JNPR but in the end, he was just a 2nd in this whole bunch. In fact… he still couldn't wrap his head around the reason why he was made leader in the first place. Was it just luck or perhaps someone was just trying to fill in the gaps of the first letter on their team names. "I need you guys to protect the refugees that are making it to the island. You'll be more useful there."
"Heh… for once you're actually sounding like a leader." Ren laughed genuinely for the first time in the last three days that had gone by.
"Hey, bite me. I've only been here for what… a week or two? You can't expect me to be a pinnacle of inspiration in that short amount of time. I'm not like… I'm not like Ruby…"
"No… you're not."
Team RWBY was never seen in the battle. Apparently, no one saw them ever since in the incident that took place a week ago. The strongest team of the school simply vanished… like they had undergone some sort of top-secret mission on their own. It worried Jaune constantly, but the lives of his team and his friends took top priority at the moment.
"Things would've been different if they were here…"
"Hehehe… probably. But still… it doesn't feel right to just walk away."
"You're not." Jaune interjected. "You're going to protect the people who made it out alive. Go. The flight will be leaving soon." But before Ren could voice his protest, they were suddenly interrupted by a noise coming from the barricaded doorway.
"It's a Goliath!" A student on the bulwark cried out as the door was smashed in, a giant tusk poking through the hole. "And there's another horde of Grimms behind it!"
"Go!" Jaune ordered, drawing his blade out as the rest of his classmates formed together to make one last stand at the door. Nora complied and quickly dashed up with her mighty strength to bring her partner away from the futile stand.
You'd better come back…
Those were the words Jaune heard from Ren's lips as they parted off to the tower. With nerves of steel born from the fear of death, the students held their ground as the door finally came down with the tide of darkness following not far behind.
It took but a moment to see everything shatter to pieces. The students fought valiantly, holding against a seemingly endless tied of Grimms. But their valiance made little difference as the Grimm simply replenished their depleting numbers over and over again. It didn't take a skilled Hunter to understand that this was the last moments of their lives.
Jaune was the first to fall. It was no surprise. He didn't have the strength or the training to survive such a battle to begin with. How he was able to last this long was probably a miracle in its own right. He fought bravely, blocking blow after blow and surprisingly took down one or two Ursas along the way. But that was about it. When the Nevermores and Death Stalkers broke through the wall, the fight became a slaughter. It was so one-sided that bards all over the world would probably compose ballads of how pathetically they fought. Heck… Jaune wouldn't mind if they made him the lead protagonist in the whole shebang.
As the boy laid there on his bleeding stomach, he saw one of the Grimms noticing his moving eyes. It licked its lips thinking that he was a snack worth savoring on. It was frightening, so frightening that Jaune could only laugh at his weakness. So this is how he was going down. To become a chew toy for this monster. Well… it was an unfortunate but not unexpected outcome for someone who forged his own transcript to enter such a prestigious academy.
He only hoped now that the Grimm would at least say that he was delicious…
"Haaaaaa!" But just before the monster could get a first bite in, a roaring voice boomed over followed by an explosion coming from a… mace of some sort. "Come on you freaks! Come and get it!" To the Vomit Boy's surprise, his savior, his knight in shining armor was the last person he expected to see in this conflict.
"Cardin?" He muttered as he was finally able to get himself off the floor.
"Get your sorry butt up Jauny Boy!" Cardin shouted as he mashed not one, but four Grimms to the ground with a single sweep of his mace. "I'm not letting you die on my watch! Now get up!" Jaune barely had the chance to understand what was happening when the chestnut haired barbarian scooped him from the floor and rushed him to the tower. "There's one last flight leaving for the island and you're getting on it."
Jaune couldn't focus. All he could see was the torn down gate and the few students that were left to fend for themselves. Oh… and there was a horde of Grimms catching up to them too but he couldn't really care. He was too tired to care.
"Take this on for size!" Cardin gave out a war cry smashing his mace to the ground creating a loud explosion that sent the dark beasts away like animals scurrying from fire. They kept their distance and decided to prey on other students that were unfortunate enough to be in their line of sight.
A few minutes later, Cardin made it to the tower. The elevator was still working. It was a good sign.
Putting down the wounded knight, he pressed the button leading to the landing pad, hoping that the other shuttles hadn't left yet. The music on the elevator was soothing but at the same time out of place. If he had his team up here with him, they'd probably try some ridiculous rap music to pass the time. But instead, he was stuck here with the dork of the school.
"Why… did you save me?"
"I… I didn't save you." Cardin retorted. "It was the spur of the moment. Don't let it get to your head. This doesn't make us friends."
Jaune forced a laugh. It was a grim laugh but a laugh nonetheless. Was he just happy to survive or was this just to prolong to the inevitable? "Thanks… Cardin…"
"Don't thank me." The man returned with a roughed voice. "I only saved your sorry butt because someone had to. I'll be kicking it later once we get out of this place."
"Either way… thanks… Cardin."
"Oh shut up. We're here." As he said the words, the elevator door opened. The man expected and hoped to see the shuttle there, hoping that they would still have a chance to escape this mess. But that hope was dashed all too soon when he saw the landing pad in flames.
In front of them stood the shuttle, burning to the ground like someone poured gasoline all over it and lit a match just to see it burn. It was a hopeless sight. At the center of that carnage strewn the bodies of Atlesian soldiers and a single bronze armored figure who seemed to be the one responsible for this slaughter.
"Pyrrha?" Jaune recognized it instantly. His heart lifted before he mustered his voice. He was happy… ecstatic to find his loss teammate show up. Even though it was the worst possible timing, it was a silver lining to be seen. "Pyrrha!"
The red headed figure reacted to the voice and turned around slowly, her once emerald eyes gleaming red with rage.
Something… was wrong…
The figure that stood before the two was definitely the same champion that won the Minstrel Tournament. She had the eyes, the face… but it wasn't her. No… something was off and the blood dripping on the tip of her weapon confirmed it.
"Look out!" Cardin reacted and pushed Jaune aside before suddenly feeling a stab piercing his armor. The man looked back and only a moment to realize that the redhead was now standing only a single feet from him, her weapon piercing into his chest plate. "Ah… wha…?"
"…" The Greek Amazonian barely muttered a word before she pulled her weapon out and letting the blood gush from the body of that barbarian. It almost looked as if she was… smiling from that kill.
Cardin's body went limp and fell to the ground with his last breath taken from him. Jaune couldn't believe it. What happened? Why did it happen? Why did her teammate attack… and why did that man… the man who he could barely consider a friend, take the blow that was meant for him? The world wasn't making sense.
"Pyrrha… why? Why did you…?" The boy was met with a stern stare from the figure that wore the mask of his friend. Those emerald eyes that bore the wise and strong figure of his team now glowed red as if possessed by some demon. "You're not… her… are you?"
Another silenced reply. And just when things couldn't get any stranger, Pyrrha raised her weapon in the air preparing to deliver the killing blow. Knowing well that the attack would instantly kill him, Jaune made one last attempt at survival. He dodged her attack just well enough for it to strike his shoulder. It easily pierced his bone and pierced the back of his armor.
Jaune screamed but was able to put some distance between him and his partner. His aura was spent so it was easy to say that if he wasn't fast enough, he wouldn't be here shaking in his armor.
"You're definitely not… Pyrrha." He muttered to himself before drawing his blade. But again, his weakened state could barely hold the weapon together before he felt his fingers go numb from exhaustion. "Ah man. Not now!"
"…" The Greek Amazonian curled a sickening smile as if it was mocking the poor knight. She readied her weapon once again which prompted Jaune to raise his shield. "Hmph…"
Jaune parried… or at least blocked the first few blows. All the training with Pyrrha made him understand her leg works and attacks giving him a few short seconds to exploit. That was perhaps the only time he was only ever able to show off the result of those hard training days on the roof. But now it was no more.
The young knight was tired. His strength left his body. There was nothing… nothing left to hold back the attacks. His hand-me-down weapons were useless and now… he was going to die… by the hands of his own teammate.
At the least it was better than being eaten alive by Grimms. He must've been really desperate to see that as a silver lining.
As the boy lay down, surrendering to fate, he saw Pyrrha raise her spear preparing to deliver the coup de grace. He still pondered… wondering who this woman was. But he was certain… this was not the girl he knew in Beacon Academy. She was not the one, the one who trained him, taught him… cherished him. She wasn't…
But before the false Pyrrha could strike down, another incident happened. She hesitated as if she was reacting to another presence. Before Jaune could even take note, he saw a giant red blade flash through his sights, cleaving at the Amazonian sending her a few feet back. Quickly enough a dark red figure appeared, a Grimm mask covering her face.
The presence of this newcomer alone was enough to make the hair on Jaune's head stand. The very aura that surrounded that woman was so terrifying that it made the Death Stalkers look like kitty cats on the streets. It resonated with such resounding ferocity that Pyrrha found herself backing away… slowly.
"Leave…" The red figure stated at her opponent, giving her a chance to flee. The Amazonian took it and leaped from the building deciding that she was not strong enough for such an opponent.
The red dressed figure gave out a sigh, enough for the boy to hear from that short distance. Jaune couldn't tell if she was looking around to make sure there were no more enemies or per chance she was looking for anymore survivors. Whatever the reason, she saved his bacon and twice now did he owe his lives to others.
"This… this is all my fault." The red figure muttered. Upon closer inspection, Jaune noted that this woman… this girl was no less weary than he was. She was bruised from head to toe and her battle uniform was torn in some areas. Even that Grimm mask she wore had a crack on it. She definitely wasn't a Hunter. Jaune would've recognized someone with such a big sword. That scabbard which also held multiple dust cartridges seemed to have been depleted hinting that she must've gone through countless battles to get here. But all that analyzing came to an end when she directed her voice at him. "You… no… don't tell me. Don't tell me that you're the only one left." She sounded panicky almost to the point her voice was cracking. Was him surviving really that bad? Or perhaps she was looking for a better Hunter, a better warrior.
"Hold still…" She added before placing her hand on the boy's stomach. "This should only hurt for a second."
Before the boy could voice a question he quickly realized how that girl lied. The pain seared onto his stomach like someone was marking him with a cattle rod. She burned it shut. He wanted to grunt but he barely had the strength to do even that. The pain hardly lasted a second… it was more like… a minute? Not that it mattered. It still hurt.
"I can't believe this. This… this shouldn't have happened." The woman slowly removed her mask revealing her petite face to the boy. "This wasn't meant to be. I wanted to change it… change everything… but I only made it worse… worse for everyone. This… this was all my fault."
Jaune didn't quite understand what the lady was rambling on about. He was too tired and too weak to even speak. He wanted to understand what the girl was saying and why she was implying that all of this was her fault. But the girl's tears seemed to douse all the anger he had for her in the beginning. Her face… her eyes… it reminded him of someone. A close friend… a good friend.
"Ruby?" That was the only thing that came to mind. He struggled just enough of his stamina to mutter that name… and it was enough to garner that raven haired warrior's attention.
"Y… you… how do you know that name? Wait… do you know her? How do you know Ruby?"
"So… you're not… Ruby?" This wasn't good. His vision was failing. He could hear the familiar roaring noise of Grimms coming not far off. He lost too much blood to remain stable.
It seemed hopeless. But the raven haired warrior was not done yet. Despite her guilt of bringing chaos upon the world, she still had one turn left to play. She had a chance to turn things around, a chance for one last throw of the dice, a better throw.
Clutching her scabbard the warrior gathered all the remaining dust to her blade and with a good heave she swung it in an arc cutting a rift through the air. A dark red portal opened up hinting a malicious omen within.
"This is the only thing I can do." She said to the boy who was nothing more of a carcass at this point. "I've gone through this loop so many times I don't think I can handle another. Listen to me. I know that this might sound strange but I need you to go back. Back before all of this happens. You can stop this, prevent all of this from ever happening." Hastily the girl tore a piece of her cloth, wrapping a small object in it and tucking it into the boy's chest plate.
"What… are you talking about?"
"Your soul won't adapt to your old body that quickly and… you'll probably forget some things along the way but it's sad to say… you're all I have."
"My soul?" Weary and delusional, Jaune could only mutter incoherently as she brought him closer to the portal. Along the way, he could see the Grimms slowly scaling up the tower, preparing to delve their claws into their last meal.
"Go… and change it. For better or for worse…"
"You're not… making sense."
She laughed. "Heh… I hardly do these days. Not like my career had much in any conversations. Hey… what's your name anyway?"
"J… Jaune… Jaune… Ar…c."
"Heh… that's a good name." She smiled before realizing that the Grimms had gotten close. "Well… here's your stop. And Jaune… I know you might forget this when you wake up but please… take care my girls. They're really… important… to me." And with one last heave, the girl tossed the boy into the void closing it forever. "Good luck… oh and just in case we don't see each other again… my name is… R…"
Her charming smiling face was the last thing Jaune saw before the Grimms came and interrupted the scene. His mind slowly drifted closer to sleep and he felt like he was going through a free fall… somewhere far… far… away.
All that exhaustion, all that fatigue finally gave in, allowing him to sleep.
Until he found himself slammed head first on a metal floor, waking him from that drifting sleep.
The first thing he did was look up and heard a familiar voice coming from one of the holo screens.
"—In other news, this Saturday's Faunus civil right protest turned dark when members of the White Fang disrupted the ceremony. The once peaceful organization…"