It's finally here! I've had the ideas for Convergence putting themselves together in my head since I started writing Emergence, and I'm really excited to finally be putting them down on proverbial paper.
Some of you are probably coming to this story from Emergence and/or Aliens Among Us, and you're well aware of what's going on. I'm hoping, however, some of you are new to this series.
Emergence is an inverted self-insert. Instead of our heroes ending up in a world of fiction, our fictional heroes have ended up in our world. It was written with realism as a priority- our heroes are average college students way over their heads and the real world does not work like a game.
Aliens Among Us is an interquel, meant to be a sort of subversion of a high school AU. Ruby and her team are going to high school on Earth, trying to be normal students and dealing with school, love, and the fact that they're from another world that shouldn't exist and they're not quite human.
There are a few others that are more loosely connected. Tabula Rasa is about a New York cop with a strange and troubled past. Those You Leave Behind follows JNPR and others back on Remnant after RWBY's disappearance. The Asides are drabbles, oneshots, and omake connected to the main story.
I highly recommend you read Emergence, Aliens Among Us, and all the related stories, of course, but you don't have to read them to enjoy this story. I've written the prologue with that in mind.
All the previous stories are available here and on Spacebattles, and I intend to post Convergence to those sites and more. There's also a TVTropes page. I can't link it, but searching for "RWBY Emergence TVTropes" is usually pretty reliable.
Because of this site's chapter numbering shenanigans, the prologue and first chapter are combined into one entry.
Prologue: All Roads
It started on a dark and rainy night.
Okay, it wasn't that dark, and it wasn't that rainy. But it was a night. It was a hell of a night, even before it went off the rails.
It was the last weekend before going back to school for me any my friends- except for Ben, who just kept working after graduation. We spent it out at the bar like any normal college student would. It was a fun night, but when we went home it all went nuts.
We met Ruby Rose on the way back to the SkyTrain station. It wasn't the booze, it wasn't any drugs, and she wasn't a cosplayer. That was, to put it lightly, absolutely out of context batshit insane.
I didn't even know what the hell RWBY is. All I saw was some borderline-jailbait weeb, then the wild theories started flying. Then she proved the craziest ones right.
We spent the next few months searching for the rest and getting them together. Which would be a lot easier if they hadn't been scattered across the world. Donetsk. Tokyo. Raqqa. Sometimes it got pretty sketchy. We went head first into danger, broke the law more times than I could count. We got help, sometimes expected and sometimes not. It was fucked up in every sense of the word.
Then some guys in black suits showed up and it wasn't our problem anymore. Not that we could just forget everything that happened. Doing what we did changes you in ways I didn't even realize. Going back to regular life like nothing happened was weird to say the least.
But this isn't my story. This is their story.
The world of intelligence is a strange one by all accounts, but this puts the strangest stories floating through the halls of CSIS to shame.
The first attempt to interact with the aliens ended in disaster. It was only after the Americans formed Task Force Gemstone with us and the British that we managed to sort things out. After that, we did the most mundane and predictable thing possible- sent them to school under false identities. Altruism? Hardly. We wanted them on our side. And we simply didn't know what else to do.
It was a completely out of context problem. This was not what we ordinarily dealt with- nor the military, nor law enforcement, nor the politicians calling the shots. Contrary to popular belief, there was no super secret section of the government that dealt with extraterrestrials- until now.
What was the correct response to a situation like this? There was certainly no book on it- well, nothing outside the realm of fiction. All we could do is guess and hope we guessed right. We planned and prepared, but what were we really preparing for?
Our biggest concern, however, was not the four aliens running around in Vancouver. It was who might be coming next that kept us awake at night. We had no idea if we'd be ready for them or not.
How could we?
I wasn't always a New York cop.
I'm in my thirties or forties, but I only remember the last ten years or so. The last decent memory I have is waking up in Mount Sinai feeling like I'd just been hit by a bus. Well, they couldn't even tell me that. Just that I'd beat to hell but was healing well. My body recovered in record time, but not my mind. I never remembered much before that.
And nothing I did remember made any sense. I remembered a lot of places, most of which didn't exist. Remembered a bunch of weird facts that weren't facts. Remnant, Vale, Aura, Semblances, Huntresses, Grimm. My psych suggested it might have been from fiction and not my actual life, and that was as good a theory as any. Didn't explain the picture in my wallet of people I knew were my family, though.
So I wandered, did some things I shouldn't have done, and eventually found my way back to New York. I'll admit I was pretty fucked up at that point. When I say I did some things I shouldn't have done, I mean I really shouldn't have done. Bad flings, bad drugs, bad decisions. But all through that I felt a drive to go out and do something, help people instead of moping in the corner. And that's how I found myself on my way to becoming one of New York's finest.
I accepted that I'd probably never know who I was born as or where. I had more pressing issues anyway. Like putting bad guys behind bars in a world where the heroes have become villains.
It only took a moment for my world to turn upside down.
The loss of my sister hit me hard. She was cold. She was cynical. She was cruel. But she was my sister and in many ways, she was the only friend I ever had. I wanted to grieve, to scramble for the pieces of my shattered world. Instead, I had to put on a stoic face and take her place. Her unenviable place. I hated what I now had to do. And all through it, I felt an unquenchable rage burning within me.
I turned that anger into action. I wanted to find those responsible for the death of my sister and bring death to them. I thought it would be easy, clear-cut. Instead, I found myself digging into a massive conspiracy, knee-deep yet only scratching the surface. And in my own fruitless quest for vengeance, I only brought more death and destruction.
I could afford to make mistakes no longer. I was no longer Winter Schnee, sister of and backup to the Schnee heiress. I was now Winter Schnee, the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company. In the forefront, not in the shadows. I thought I was prepared, but nothing could prepare me for this. It was position that demanded absolute perfection at the cost of anything resembling a life.
I had to be perfect, or at least look like it. It's not easy for someone who isn't. But I had to try.
Earth had changed us.
I still don't know what happened, and nobody else can tell us either. I remember the night at the docks and the end of the term, but after that the first thing was waking up outside of Vancouver. Then we got the team back together with the help of some friends and then nobody else showed up. The government tried to help us but they couldn't really do much so they gave us fake names and sent us to school.
Living on Earth was really weird. It looks the same at first but when you look closer everything is different. Usually not super different but just a little bit to confuse you. It didn't help that it was back to high school for us, and this time I still had a few years even though my sister and Weiss and Blake graduated. We made new friends, did new stuff, bumbled our way through the year. I have a boyfriend, sort of, Yang got a boyfriend, and Weiss and Blake are together now. And all through that we kept our real identities secret.
It was weird how we changed. I mean, I don't think I changed that much, but maybe that's just because I'm the one looking. Without having to be the heiress, Weiss got kind of crazy and wild and impulsive and does a lot of stuff I never thought I'd see her do. Blake is still Blake, but not quite... I think she sees the world a bit different now even though I can't describe it. And the caring, careful side of Yang was showing more, even though she was still just as wild. And we all got lazy and comfortable and started focusing on school and friends and not staying in fighting shape or getting home.
We'd changed. And change can be good or bad but I don't know what kind of change this is.
Well, we should have died.
It seems stupid if you're looking back on it. After RWBY disappeared, we took on their mission. I told myself it was because it's what they would have wanted, because it's the right thing to do, but was it really? Were we trying to go for justice or revenge? Or was I still the delusional idiot trying to play hero?
I guess in the end our reasons didn't matter. We chased after the White Fang, almost managed to stop them from attacking Vale. We helped fight off the Grimm when the city was breached. But it wasn't enough. We weren't the heroes. A lot of people died. And the bad guys who did it got away.
We didn't know where to go from there, but our mini snow angel came through. Glacias, the mysterious man helping us who turned out not to be a man at all. The next thing we knew, we were infiltrating a super secret base just outside of Atlas. They were ready for us, and it was more than we could handle. More than I could handle.
But we did it. We stopped them, took them out with us.
1: Dawn's Early Light
The situation he was in made no sense to Jaune Arc.
One moment, he had been plunging his sword into a very complex and evidently very unstable piece of technology. He did so deep inside a White Fang base just outside of Atlas. The next, he was waking up on a set of broad stone steps surrounded by a very unfamiliar landscape that was definitely not Atlas.
The first thought he had was that the thing had exploded when he hit it, and he was either dead or close to it and hallucinating. He pinched himself. "Ow!"
His partner, Pyrrha Nikos, bolted upright. Her weapon was still in her hands. "What is it- where are we?"
"We're not dead," he replied quietly, looking around. There was a long reflecting pool flanked by trees ahead of them, with a slender obelisk visible at the other end. Behind them was a squat, square building ringed by tall pillars. "And I have no idea. Do you recognize this place, Pyrrha?"
"No," Pyrrha replied, just as confused. Her well-trained eyes scanned for threats. She could tell they were in a busy place, but their immediate surroundings were deserted. "It's not Mistral or Vale. Maybe we ended up in Atlas somehow?"
"No, I don't think so. I do not recognize this place either," Lie Ren, their stoic teammate, added as he slowly stood up. He dusted off his mostly pristine jacket. "Certainly it's not somewhere we've been before."
Nora Valkyrie, his energetic partner, cut in, "Oh! Maybe this is-"
Ren held a hand over her mouth. "Quiet, Nora. It may not be a friendly place."
She whispered back, "Sorry."
"Now, Nora, what were you about to say?"
In a more normal volume, she replied rapidly, "Well, I thought maybe this was Atlas, but then I realized that if it was Atlas I'd recognize it because we've been there once, remember? So I don't know either."
Jaune pointed to a red and white striped banner with stars on a blue background in the corner waving on a pole in the distance. "What about that? I don't recognize the flag, do you?"
"I do not."
"What about our scrolls?" Pyrrha suggested. She pulled out her own and found that it had no network connection or navigation info. "Hmm, mine doesn't seem to be working."
Jaune checked his own device. "Mine neither."
Ren shrugged. Nora shook her head vigorously.
Jaune sighed, briefly inspecting his sword before sheathing it again. "We're not going to find answers here. Let's go."
"Which way?" Nora asked.
"Let's go left," her partner suggested. "I think most of the city is that way."
"Hopefully it's not a dangerous city," Ren added.
"We still have our weapons," Jaune reminded them, waving them toward the path on their left. The path was surrounded by trees and grass that muffled the sounds of the city somewhat. It looked frequently travelled, perhaps a tourist destination. Steel benches- one with a man sleeping on it- lined the path, along with garbage cans. A pair of joggers gave them odd looks as they went by.
"Hey!" Nora called, but they were already out of earshot. "Huh. Weird."
"Excuse me," Pyrrha asked the man on the bench. "We're very-"
"Fuck you!" The vagrant threw an empty bottle at her, which she narrowly dodged.
She backed away. "Sorry!"
"Hey, Grandpa," a strongly built man with a gravelly voice said to the gabbro wall in front of him. He placed a bouquet of flowers at the base of the stone before tracing his fingers over his grandfather's name. His own face, rimmed by messy brown hair and the beginnings of a beard, stared back from the reflective surface. "Sorry it took so long this time."
"Is he talking to the wall?" Nora whispered loudly to her teammates. They hid behind a row of shrubbery, just out of view of the man, though if he looked he would probably be able to spot them.
"This is a war memorial," Ren explained. "Most likely, his grandfather died during the war. He is here to pay his respects."
"Wow, Ren, how did you figure all that out?" None of them could figure out if Nora was being sarcastic or not.
His reply was deadpan. "Simple inference. Though I don't recognize this one, there are similar war memorials in every Kingdom."
"So, we're in Vacuo?" Jaune asked. "I mean, it must be one of the Kingdoms, but if it's not Vale or Atlas or Mistral..."
Ren shook his head. "I do not think this is Vacuo, though I've only seen pictures."
"I'm still conflicted, maybe more with everything that's been happening," the man continued, sitting down beside the wall. "I mean, we went into Iraq trying to fix up the place, and we've only fucked it up. Saddam may be long gone, but ISIS is worse. Feels futile. Was that what it was like for you? Sometimes I wonder what you really thought of Vietnam. Were you one of those ones? Guess we'll never know."
"That doesn't sound like the Great War," Pyrrha noted, surprised. She had automatically assumed that this was a monument to the Great War, but given their confusion, perhaps it was a mistaken conclusion.
"It could be a different war," Jaune told her. "What did he say? Vietnam?"
Pyrrha shook her head. "I've never heard of it, and look at the names on the wall. If those are all war dead, we would have heard of it."
"Maybe we're really far outside the Kingdoms?" the blonde suggested weakly. "Hey, maybe we can ask him!"
"I don't think that's a-" his partner warned, but it was too late. She motioned to Nora and Ren to stay put as she chased their leader toward the wall.
"Hello?" Jaune said toward the man, unsure.
His reply came in a surprisingly even tone. "Can I help you?"
"We're lost," the blonde admitted. He realized that the older man was scanning him, paying particular attention to his sword and armor. A young woman in bronze armour with red accents, carrying a shield on her back, came up behind him.
"Renaissance fair? Comic-con?" Mistaking the confused expression on the boy's face for one of taking offence, the veteran raised his hands. "Sorry. That was uncalled for. Where are you trying to go?"
"We're very lost," the girl admitted. "Could you tell us which city this is?"
"It's DC. Uh, Washington, DC," he replied quizzically. How could they be that lost? "First time here?"
"It is. Which kingdom is that in?"
"Kingdom? Oh, I see." The man laughed, though they had no idea why. He turned serious. "Look, I know this is what you do, but this is a solemn memorial. I'd appreciate it if you took your roleplay elsewhere."
"I'm sorry," Pyrrha apologized, even though she had no idea what she was apologizing for. She gently pulled on Jaune's arm. "Come on, let's go."
The veteran waited for them to leave before talking to the wall again. "Did I mention the kids are weirder these days, Grandpa?"
"Well, that was weird," Nora commented as they exited the park- they were pretty sure it was a park by this point. "I'm hungry. We should get breakfast."
"But we still don't know where we are," Jaune reminded her.
"Then we can think about it over breakfast!"
"I guess that makes sense," the blonde conceded. "But where are we going to eat?"
They were in what was recognizably a city, though one that seemed an odd mix of new and old to them. A busy street with odd looking cars stretched along directly in front of them. Low-rise buildings that could be apartments, hotels, or offices lined the other side. High-rise buildings were visible in the distance. The sounds of a busy city were grating but familiar.
The acrid chemical smell was not. Nora took a loud sniff. "Do you smell that?"
"Yeah," Jaune replied. "I don't know what it is, but it stinks."
"I visited the industrial district in Atlas once," Pyrrha told them. "Parts of it carried this smell- something the plants processed. I forget what they called it."
"It doesn't look like an industrial district," Ren told her. "But I agree that it smells like one. Odd."
Nora repeated, "Well, we should find somewhere to-"
"Hey, look, cosplayers!" an excited female voice called. A teenaged girl with slightly curly brown hair carrying an oversized purse waved at them from across the street. Before any of them could respond, she raced across the street, narrowly avoiding a dull brown car as she crossed.
"Are we famous or something?" Jaune asked his teammates, confused.
"This is probably my fault," Pyrrha admitted, a guilty look on her face. "I guess I brought everyone's attention with me."
Jaune said reassuringly, "Hey. Don't worry about it."
"This is so cool!" the girl gushed, running up to them and fumbling with what looked like a scroll. "Can I take pictures?"
"Sure, no problem," Jaune answered awkwardly, the phrase almost coming out as a question.
"Thank you so much!" The girl raised her scroll and took a series of pictures punctuated by fake shutter sounds and one bright flash. "Do you mind if I post these?"
"No, it's fine," Pyrrha replied with false confidently. She whispered to Jaune, "Depending on where we really are, I might not be allowed to say no."
"Great, thanks! Who are you guys, anyway?"
"Jaune Arc, and this is-"
The fangirl cut off any possible reply, shoving her scroll back into her purse and breaking into a run. "Oh shit, I'm late! Gotta go, bye! Nice to meet you!"
"Nice to meet you too!" Pyrrha called after the retreating girl.
"That was weird," Nora commented.
Pyrrha shook her head slowly. "No, not really. Let's find somewhere to eat and maybe someone who can answer our questions."
"Finally, somewhere that's open!" Jaune exclaimed, swinging the glass door open dangerously fast. He stepped inside the cafe, holding the door open for his team. It was a small place, tired and in need of renovation yet warm and inviting at the same time. The only other customer glared at them briefly, muttered something under his breath, and went back to his newspaper.
A sign at the front told them to seat themselves, so they took a table in the corner near the front window. The chairs were small, and it was a tight squeeze for some of them. Jaune removed Crocea Mors and leaned it against the wall- a wall that could use some cleaning.
The waitress, a short woman in her late teens or early twenties, arrived quickly. She was drab in colour, with brown hair that was almost black and wearing clothing in earthy tones. The woman passed out menus and asked them, "Can I get you something to drink?"
"Just an ice water, please."
"Green tea if you have it."
"A big glass of orange juice!"
"Sure," the waitress acknowledged, scribbling the order down on her pad. "Nice outfits. I didn't know there was a con in town- or are you guys LARPers?"
Jaune had no idea what she just said. "What?"
"We got a bit lost, that's all," Pyrrha replied with a smile.
The waitress shrugged and left to get their drinks.
"Okay, there's something really weird about this place," Jaune said, drumming his fingers against the wooden table. "We're the odd ones or something. Why?"
"Most of the people we've seen wear dull colours," Ren replied. "And we are the only ones carrying visible weapons apart from policemen and security guards."
"That weird smell," Nora reminded them. "I can smell it in here, too, but I can also smell something really tasty." She flipped through the menu and her eyes lit up. "Look, Ren, they have pancakes! Or should I go for the waffles?"
"Order the pancakes," Ren suggested. "I'll order waffles, and you can try mine."
"I think I'll go for bacon and eggs," Jaune announced. "What about you, Pyrrha?"
"I'll go for the omelette."
The waitress came around quickly, and they placed their orders. Before she could leave, Pyrrha interrupted her. "Excuse me, are we still in Atlas?"
She shrugged. "Dunno where Atlas is. Are you Canadian?"
"We get a lot of tourists around here, and you sound like you're from Canada," the waitress replied. "A lot of Americans were here for the Fourth, though." She left before they could interrupt again.
"I have no idea what she just said," Jaune admitted.
Nora poked her chin, a contemplative look on her face. "What if we're not in Atlas or Vale or Vacuo or Mistral?"
"You mean if we're in another Kingdom, one that nobody knows about?" Pyrrha suggested.
Nora snapped her fingers. "Yep!"
"I think someone already mentioned that," Ren muttered.
"That's crazy," Jaune opined. "How could there be a Kingdom we don't know about? How did we get here?"
"It's a big world, Jaune," Ren answered. "And we have no idea what that machine did or what happened with it."
Jaune grabbed the waitress- literally- as she passed. "Hey, do you have a map?"
"Don't you have one on your phone?" she snapped.
Jaune was confused. "Why would my phone have a map?"
She sighed and shook her head. "We don't have any, but there's a convenience store down the street that probably has some."
He stood up right away. "Thanks-"
The waitress motioned him down. "Whoa! Your breakfast will be done in five, so I wouldn't run out just yet."
The Gemstone task force was almost a paradox, its mission as absurd as it was classified. That mission was simple- watch and prepare for the arrival of people from other worlds which may be friendly or hostile. For many analysts, that illustrious job description translated to a reality of trawling the internet like an obsessed fan.
That was the job of Vincent Rowe, a CIA analyst now working in the Gemstone office sitting on the edge of Vancouver's city limits. He had arrived less than an hour prior and was working through his usual morning routine of grabbing coffee from the vending machine and booting his computer. For security reasons, he browsed the internet from inside a virtual machine, so he had to wait for that to boot, too.
Once the computer was ready, he opened Chrome in the virtual machine and went to his usual first stop-
"Possible hit on the RWBY subreddit," Vincent called, opening the picture that caught his attention. "JNPR cosplayers."
Harry Iverson, the man currently in charge of the office, rushed over with a cup of coffee in his hand. "Looks pretty good, could be real."
In fact, many did look real and weren't, but it was Gemstone policy to treat everything as a 'possible'- it could be JNPR for real this time.
"I don't see any location information," the analyst added. "I can start checking-"
"Hold on." Iverson pointed to a spot on the screen- a white tower or pole in the corner of the image. "That looks like the Washington Monument."
Vincent squinted at it. "I'm not seeing it, sir."
"It's the trees and the road, too," Iverson added. "I was in Washington last week- this is what it looked like."
"Hmm... yeah, maybe." The analyst's eyes slowly traced to a reflective... thing in a corner of the image. "That could be the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, see it?"
His supervisor nodded. "Well, let's see what Google has to say about it."
With a few mouse clicks and some tapping on his keyboard, the analyst brought up Google Street View, showing his best guess location. He moved down the street before arriving where the picture was taken. "That's Washington alright."
Iverson nodded. "Good work, Vince. We've got a place. Now how about a positive ident?"
Vincent opened his photo viewer and started scrolling through the photos- a few photos of the real JNPR that RWBY had carried with them to Earth. He shrugged. "Better than most, but it's not a great picture. It's a maybe."
"Yeah, it's a maybe," Iverson agreed. "It's worth taking a second look. I'll run it by the girls when they get up. You know the drill."
"Log it and keep looking," Vincent confirmed. "Well, this keeps me in practice, that's for sure."