IF YOU'RE READING THIS STORY FOR THE FIRST TIME PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING: Hey, so it looks like you've stumbled upon my story. Awesome! I hope you like it. However, there is one important detail that you need to know before deciding whether you want to continue or not. You see, back when I was first forming the idea for this story, before I even wrote a word of the Prologue, I made a particular design choice. To me, it seemed like a pretty logical way of handling things, but it turned out to be a pretty polarizing choice among readers. So polarizing, in fact, that I've had more negative comments and reviews about this one point than any other in the story. So in the interest of saving everyone some potential grief, I'm going to reveal this plot point four chapters early.
The Remnant huntresses find themselves completely locked out of their Aura when they arrive at XCOM. It's not permanent, but it lasts for a good chunk of the story.
Most people who read the story have either thought to themselves "I don't agree with that change, but it's not my story, so I'll just see where DrAmish takes it," or "Hey, that's an interesting way of equalizing the inconsistency between the power levels of Rookies and Huntresses. Works for me." Of course, this being the internet, a lot of people did NOT handle this story point gracefully or respectfully. I don't mind people expressing dissatisfaction with parts of my story, but it's another thing entirely to tell me "I can't read this story anymore. You've ruined it completely."
Still with me? Great! With that business out of the way, we can get to the actual story. Despite that downer-of-a-warning I have up top, I honestly had a great time with my first serious attempt at a multi-chapter fanfiction.
"Wait, what did you do? Shut it down!"
The supervisor currently on duty at the Hyperwave Relay wasn't exactly sure what the thing actually did. There were a lot of funny equations and theorems that people far smarter than he were able to interpret and use to construct it, and even then Dr. Vahlen herself admitted that she didn't entirely understand. What the supervisor did know, was that the Relay had started spinning more rapidly, and general experience had taught him that mysterious objects that began to behave differently than normal had a tendency to be on the verge of some kind of event. Usually a very dangerous event.
"Do not touch anything! This could be what we've been waiting for!"
The supervisor looked up to see the Chief Scientist herself, accompanied by Chief Engineer Dr. Shen, had entered the room. If she was telling him to keep it running, he wasn't about to cross her. Even so, she was well-known at XCOM for her nerves of steel and pushing forward on research before adequate safety protocols had been established. "We don't have time to wait around for such measures," she had been known to say.
It seemed that this would be another one of those situations, unfortunately. Sparks began to fly as the central component of the relay began to rotate faster and faster. Where before the supervisor had marveled at the ability of Shen's boys to create such a structurally sound device, he was now hoping that the damn thing wouldn't fly apart and skewer everyone in the room. Dr. Shen himself seemed to hold similar concerns.
"It's ripping itself apart! Shut it down, now! It could destroy the whole base!"
Thank God for Shen. Vahlen can't override that kind of-
"Nein! Give it time. For once, trust me."
The only satisfaction the supervisor got was the withering glare Dr. Shen was giving his colleague. It was short-lived, however, as the other technician on staff piped up and asked the engineer, "Sir! What's it doing now?"
Indeed, the relay had stopped sparking and spinning wildly out of control. It was still spinning faster than it was yesterday, true, but at a safe clip now. Shen turned around to look at the machine and try to assess for himself what was happening.
"It's... working." replied the elderly engineer.
The supervisor could see that it was doing something different. The previously white glow emitting from the machine's insides had turned to a cool yellow, and the RPM of the core seemed to stabilize. The relay seemed to be under control.
That was, of course, until the portal to who-knows-where opened up above the machine.
"Ruby! Wait up!"
The young team leader ignored her best friend and raced ahead. Ruby and Yang had made a bet to see who could kill the most Grimm on the mission, and Ruby wasn't about to let her big sister snipe this one simply because Weiss was lagging behind. She readied Crescent Rose, ducked under the Beowulf's laughable attempt at an attack, and sliced the Grimm in twain. Ruby spun around, skidded to a halt, and beamed at Weiss who had caught up to the clearing by now. The previous look of annoyance on her face was now replaced with a look of fear.
Ruby turned to face whatever silly little Grimm Weiss was worried abo- and it was a pack of Ursai. Six of them. Majors.
"Uh... Weiss? Any suggestions?" Ruby, who was slowly backing up while the Grimm were slowly advancing, was now standing next to her partner. The heiress gave a few idle swings of Myrtenaster before responding.
"If it was only two of them? I'd say we could take them on easily. Four, and we'd have to be careful. Six, though? Six, we should definitely let Yang and Blake that the party is over here."
"But my bet..." Ruby whined. If Yang showed up, it would only mean a greater chance of her getting more kills than Ruby, and that was not a thought the scythe wielder was happy about.
"Well, maybe you wouldn't have jeopardized your stupid bet if you hadn't charged into the clearing at the lone Beowulf like a piece of cheese in a mouse trap! For now, we evade, poke, and test for weak points while we wait for the other two to get here. Now fire a flare and get ready to dance."
Ruby groaned, loaded a flare round into her Crescent rose, and shot it skyward before readying herself to handle the Ursai.
The Grimm, it seemed, grew tired of waiting, as they began charging at high speed towards the pair of huntresses. This was easily evaded, as the lumbering beasts aren't particularly known for their agility. The sniper rounds Ruby shot into the back of one of the Majors bounced off harmlessly. This wasn't going to be easy.
The next minute was a slow, careful waltz between the two students and the six Ursai. The Grimm tried several different tactics to kill the pair: formation charge, circling, splitting up, and just simply being an unruly mob of coiled muscle and deadly claws. Nothing seemed effective, as Ruby and Weiss deftly sidestepped all of their assaults. However, the two of them had little luck in countering these attacks with damage of their own. There was just too many of them to be able to safely focus on one long enough to kill it.
Help, however, eventually arrived, heralded by the tell-tale explosive sounds of Ember Celica. Oh, and Yang's adrenaline-fueled yelling. That also made it pretty easy to tell that the cavalry was coming. The Grimm paused mid-charge to look up into the sky at the flaming projectile hurtling towards them. As it closed in, Ruby was able to make out Yang adopting a Superman pose as she rocketed towards the ground, with Blake crouched on her back. With about 30 feet remaining before landfall, the faunus deftly flipped off of Yang's back and landed gracefully next to Ruby and Weiss.
Yang's entrance was, predictable, more explosive. It almost looked like a small bomb had gone off in the midst of the Ursan pack, and all six Grimm were unceremoniously knocked back from the force of the impact. The huntresses were trained well enough to capitalize on such a disadvantage rather than gawk at the explosion. All three of them tore into the nearest Ursa Major, swiftly eviscerating the Grimm before it could recover. With the Grimm's numbers reduced to five and the number of huntresses bolstered to four, the fight just got a lot more fair.
Yang's... explosive presence coupled with Blake's confusing semblance allowed the pair to occupy the attention of the majority of the Ursai while Ruby and Weiss focused on the remaining two. The Grimm's numbers were easily reduced to three, then to one, and then to zero. The assembled team RWBY, slightly panting, paused to admire their handiwork. A rustle in the tree-line behind them caused the four students to turn around.
"Hold on, I'm coming! I'll help you killaaaaaaaaand they're all dead. Alright, well. Good job! You got them all! Hooray..." A very deflated Jaune Arc slowed to a halt by the clearing's edge as he saw RWBY standing in the center surrounded by six very dead, very large Ursai. With a sigh, he folded his shield and sheathed his sword. Hands in his pockets, he shuffled towards his friends.
"Jaune? What... why are you here?"
"Oh... heh. Yeah, funny story, that one. I was in the forest for... ahem... reasons, and I saw a flare go up. Naturally, I assumed someone was in danger and rushed off at once to help! But, I guess you guys were fine on your own." The leader of team JNPR struck a heroic pose, as if to help convey his reasons for running towards Ruby's flare. "But, I guess you guys were fine on your own."
Ruby held a hand up to her face to hide a giggle as she watched the young man break his pose as his arms fell to his sides and his head hung in a combination of embarrassment and shame. It was almost as if she could see his hopes for the chance to be a hero shattering and falling apart before her very eyes. Yang laughed, walked over to the leader of JNPR, and gave him a "friendly" smack on the shoulder. His slight wince went unnoticed by the brawler.
"Jaune, cheer up! We may have not needed you this time, but you never know in the future!" Her eyes narrowed into an expression that Ruby immediately understood as 'I'm going to embarrass the shit out of you.'
"Who knows, Jaune? Maybe next time it'll be a certain lovely red-haired lass that'll need your help." She grinned as she elbowed her friend conspiratorially. "Oh Jaune!" She mimicked "Thank you for saving me! How can I ever repay you?"
Yang's teasing, of course, was entirely wasted on Jaune, who just laughed and replied, "Pyrrha? In trouble? Hah, the day that happens will be the day I- wait, the last time I said something like that, I had to wear a dress. MY POINT is that the odds of Pyrrha Nikos needing the help of Jaune Arc is about as close to zero as the Grimm deciding they're tired of killing humans. What's that?"
The other four turned to face what Jaune was pointing at. Ruby, Weiss, and Blake had never seen anything like it before. Yang, however, felt her breath catch in her throat. She had only a fleeting glimpse of it before, but she could have sworn she saw the same portal when she was waking up on Roman's train, where she also swore she saw...
Nobody was coming out of the portal, so Yang's statement was met by confused stares from her friends. That didn't stop her from dashing towards the strange aperture, activating Ember Celica as she ran.
"Yang! What are you doing? Stop!"
Ruby dashed after her sister and flung herself at the blonde in an effort to knock her down before reaching the portal. This only resulted in both sisters diving through the anomaly, unfortuantely, as Yang was far too strong to be stopped by Ruby's light frame.
Jaune could only watch in amazement (or was it horror? He wasn't entirely sure) as Blake and Weiss pursued their companions and quickly followed them through to... wherever the portal thingy took them. The leader of JNPR was torn: should he follow them and see if he could be of help? Or should he go get Pyrrha and show her this thing? If anyone would know what to do, it would be her. Within a few seconds, however, his quandary was answered for him. The portal vanished, and Jaune found himself standing very much alone in an open field.
"Oh man. Oh man, oh man. What the hell just happened?"