Epilogue: Loose Ends
"I miss the Internet," Weiss commented sadly, turning over the phone on her desk. It was dead, of course. She had a charger, but was sure that forcing it into a completely incompatible Remnan socket would result in a busted socket, exploded charger, and destroyed phone. "Am I the only bored one in here?"
Blake glanced above her book- Night – and shrugged.
"Nope!" Ruby exclaimed from her bunk. "Maybe we'll start classes again soon, and there's the Vytal festival which I'm super excited about, but right now I'm-"
"Shh," Blake interrupted.
Yang asked her. "What is it?"
The faunus girl motioned to the window, putting down her book and picking up Gambol Shroud. Ruby wielded Crescent Rose, aiming the huge rifle toward the opening. Yang extended Ember Celica, and Weiss lamented the fact that Myrtenaster was on the other side of the room.
The window bumped audibly, curtains shaking with the motion.
"Who's there?" Ruby shouted. She whispered, "Yang, curtains."
Gingerly, the blonde reached over and pulled the curtains aside.
"Sun?" Yang sighed and threw the window all the way open.
"Whoa, don't shoot! It's just me!" the monkey faunus protested, hands in the air.
Weiss sighed. "Unbelievable."
"What are you doing here?" Blake asked, loweringher weapon.
"Trying to figure out if you were really back or if your Headmaster was pulling a fast one, duh," he answered, rolling his eyes.
"Can we go in now?" a scared voice asked from outside.
Three weapons were raised again. Ruby asked, "I thought you were the only one."
"Yeah, just me... and Neptune," Sun admitted.
"Just hurry up and come inside," Weiss snapped at them. Weapons were lowered again, and the two boys from SSSN hopped down from the window into their dorm.
"What happened to no unnecessary movement?" Weiss asked. Since the opening of the portals, the school was on a partial lockdown. Students were to stay in their rooms except for mealtimes and when absolutely necessary.
"Like I said, this is necessary. We saw you coming in from those weird Earth flying machines, and we had to find out if it was really you," Sun told her. "You know, with all the weird stuff going on and all."
"It's really us," Blake stated.
"Are you sure?" Neptune asked.
"Yes," Yang snapped.
"Well, I guess that's good to..." He noticed something about Blake. "Hey! You're not wearing your bow!"
She smiled. "Yeah. When I was on Earth I hid my ears like I did here, but then... well, something happened, and everybody knew anyway. So I stopped wearing it."
"It's natural. You know, you really do look better without it," Sun flirted.
"Stop. She's taken," Weiss snapped.
"Oh, really, you find yourself a boyfriend on Earth or something?"
Blake answered, "Not exactly."
"What about you, Snow Angel?" Neptune asked, throwing a charming wink at Weiss.
"Yes," she hissed through gritted teeth. "I have a girlfriend."
He threw his hands up in the air in an exaggerated motion. "Whoa, sorry."
"No, I'm the one who should be apologizing." Weiss sighed. She knew her dislike of the blue-haired young man was unnecessary and unjustified. She excused, "It's just... some unexpected and strange things happened on Earth. It's a really long story."
"Yeah, talk about it. This place was really weird after you guys disappeared," Sun began, scratching the back of his neck. "And, uh, well-"
"It was hard on you, wasn't it?" Ruby guessed.
Sun answered unconvincingly, "Huh? No, of course not! Well, I mean, it was a tragedy, but it's not like we did nothing but sulk or anything."
"You were the last to see us, at the docks. And he probably spilled everything to you," Yang said, first to Sun and then to Neptune. "It wasn't your fault. We did something- I don't know what it was- but it wasn't your fault."
"Wait, was it?" Weiss asked bluntly. "Do you know about anything we did after the docks? Did we go somewhere, do something?"
"No, that was the last time I saw any of you guys. But it's not just that. It's what happened after," Sun admitted.
"Part of the long story?"
"Uh... sort of."
"Well, we've got time," Ruby said. "Let's hear it."
Like RWBY, JNPR had also returned to their old room. Apart from a coating of dust, it was almost as they had left it. There was a mood of boredom and strangeness pervading the room, or at least there would have been if Nora hadn't been chattering constantly since their return.
"Do you think they'll let us compete in the Vytal Festival?" Nora asked nobody in particular. "Ooh, I wonder who we'll be up against. I think I saw some-" A series of knocks on their door interrupted her rant. "I wonder who that could be?"
"I'll get it." Jaune hopped off his bed and nearly tripped over his chair on his way to the door. He opened it, revealing an orange-haired, green-eyed girl.
The girl smiled broadly and tilted her head slightly. "Salutations!"
"Uh... hi," Jaune greeted awkwardly. "You're Penny, right? Why, uh, why are you here?"
"I wish to learn about Earth," she answered simpley "May I enter your room?"
"Sure." The blonde stepped aside, letting her in. "Why wouldn't you ask RWBY, though? I mean, aren't you friends with Ruby?"
"I think so. But Team RWBY is occupied listening to Sun Wukong and Neptune Vasilias," Penny admitted. "I did check with them first."
"Are you really a robot?" Nora asked immediately. "I mean, we're not gonna treat you like a machine or start telling everyone because that would be bad. But I do really want to know."
"Come on, Nora," Jaune muttered.
"Why would you think that?" Penny asked, hiccuping into her arm.
"Nora," Ren warned.
It was no use. "Oh, well there was a show on Earth, and you were in it, and in that show you were a robot. Not that it's all real, but there was a lot of things that were really similar to reality, which is why I'm asking. Are you a robot?"
"I was hoping to make new friends here. I don't have a lot of friends," she said, voice oddly neutral. "If I tell you I am a robot, will you still allow me to be your friend? And do you promise to keep my secret?"
"This is really weird, but okay," Jaune answered.
"I also think it would be strange, but I have seen some very strange things recently," Pyrrha admitted. "I am open to it."
"I think that'd actually be really cool if you were a robot!" Nora shouted. "I mean I'm not implying you're a robot."
"In the end, synthetic life and organic life is not so different," Ren said. "I have no objections."
"Then I will admit I am what you might call a robot. I am the first synthetic person capable of generating an Aura." She surveyed the team before her. "I expected you to be more shocked."
"Like Nora said, we kind of already heard," Jaune admitted.
"What's wrong?" Nora asked, noticing Penny pause and look down at the floor. "Robots are awesome! And we didn't know-know, we just suspected. I had to make sure."
"It's not that!" Penny answered too quickly. "It's... nothing."
"There's something else on your mind," Nora said in an irritatingly singsong voice. "Come on, tell us! I'm your friend, right? What are friends for if not sharing your problems?"
"Anything but that," Ren muttered under his breath.
"I... felt wrong when friend Ruby disappeared," Penny admitted. "Like I was empty, part of my missing. It robbed me of energy. Yet I was never physically malfunctioning."
"It's an emotion we call grief," Pyrrha told the gynoid. "When you lose a friend, you feel an immense sense of loss and sadness. That's natural. It's important to not allow that to control you. You must move on, live for your friend."
"I don't need to now, because friend Ruby has returned," Penny replied cheerfully after a moment of consideration. "But I know that this is not the norm. Most huntresses who disappear are dead. I will keep this in mind for the future, friend Pyrrha." She paused. "Now, please tell me about Earth. What was it like?"
"It's... different," Pyrrha answered. "I'm not even sure where to begin."
"Please try. I'm very interested."
Sam, Isaac, Cliff, Ben, and Jen gathered in Ben's apartment, crowded into the living room. They had been among the first to meet real live Remnans, going through the shock and confusion months before anyone else. Now, like millions around the world, they were gathered in front of a television, watching the same coverage as everyone else.
The reporter appeared to be standing in front of a large window as she made her report, Remnant's shattered moon visible in the night sky. "Officials have stressed that this is only the beginning- opening the doors to real negotiations. This is a different world and there is a lot to sort out in the coming days. But, as the sentiment goes here, it's a start."
Abruptly, the image changed to a man sitting against a generic newscast backdrop. "That was Lisa LaFlamme, CTV News, reporting from the other side of the portal. We'll have more on the situation after the break."
"I thought you liked BBC better," Ben mentioned, motioning to the reporter on the screen.
"This is BBC," Cliff replied. "There's only one team from Earth over there. I'm actually surprised it's not Global."
"Wow," Isaac breathed. "I still can barely believe that Remnant is actually here. Do you think we'll get airships and robots and stuff now?"
"Eventually, probably. That's going to take a while," Jen told him.
Half ignoring her, he added, "I want to drive a Paladin."
"Better win a lottery first," Sam snarked.
"Eh, I have rich friends with connections."
Sam interrupted, "You do not-" He stopped and thought about it. "Okay, you do, I'll give you that."
"I wonder how she's doing," Jen said.
"Maybe she'll tell Siegfried to fuck off. I'd pay money to see that. Yeah, Weiss telling the company to eat a bag of dicks, Blake goes all 'I have a dream' and shit with the faunus, and I got nothing for the other two." Seeing the odd stares he was getting, Cliff excused, "I'm drunk."
"You've had two," Ben reminded him. "That's the least of anyone here."
"Yeah but for me, that's super drunk." Cliff took a final swig from his glass. "Welp, welcome to the new geopolitical reality."
Sam floated, "So, uh, I know we've all been thinking this, but what are we going to do now?"
"I'm going to waste all my time on my game," Cliff announced. "The design is done, the mechanics are okay and the story... well, it's shit, but nobody will notice. With all this interest I can get everyone on board. That Spanish guy who's always sketching in class, Tyler, the girl from the game dev club, the weirdo who's always hanging out by 306 and maybe someone who actually knows what the hell they're doing. Then I'll sell it and get rich."
"Can I help?" Isaac asked.
"Yes. When you stop using Paint."
"Your plan is terrible," Ben chided.
"It is an excellent plan."
"Are you going to drop out?" Sam asked, more seriously.
"I'm not going to drop out of school, but I might do really bad. Enough about me, what about you?"
"I dunno. I mean, I'm not creative, so I can't exploit that."
"You could join the Army. Might even let you be a helicopter pilot like you wanted."
"Eh... fuck that."
"I've heard that there are a bunch of technology companies that want to push into Remnant," Ben mentioned. "That's where I want to go."
"I literally just follow him," Jen said, motioning to Ben.
"Eh, I dunno."
"You know, that may be the best plan." Cliff shot back the rest of his drink- or tried to. Only a bit of ice was left. "Shit."
"I know, right?"
"I meant this glass, but yeah."
"Man, crazy as hell at the restaurant," Gavin Lloyd said to his brother, shutting the door and hanging up his hat on the way in. "Mom and dad home?"
Connor paused his game. "No, they went to Superstore to pick stuff up for tomorrow."
"Oh, right. Are you going to get a job this summer?"
"Hell no." He put down his controller. "I don't want to get a job before I have to."
Gavin laughed. "I don't blame you. It sucks. Was that Witcher 3?"
"Yeah. It's not as good as Damon said it would be."
"Eh. I thought it was okay. How's life."
Connor sighed. "It's okay, I guess."
Gavin asked, "It's about Ruby, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Connor admitted. "I mean, I know she's got a life there and she has to do her huntress stuff. But it sucks."
"You know what they say, there are other fish in the sea," Gavin reminded him.
"That's easy for you to say!" Connor exclaimed. "You're the football star! You're already back with Willow! You could have any girl you want, even if didn't have the cred from hooking up with Yang Xiao Long."
"Yeah, maybe you're right," Gavin agreed. "But there's a difference between having any girl and having the right girl. Willow's okay, I guess, but she's not Yang."
"Do you think she was, like, the one?"
"I don't know, little bro."
"You know, Ruby said she'd come back," Connor added after an awkward pause.
"If she can," he hurriedly added. "I don't know if she's actually ever going to. I just feel like it's wrong to move on."
Gavin sighed. "Look, Connor, I'm a terrible person for relationship advice. But you're sixteen. You've got plenty of time. Just do what feels right- or, you know, who feels right- and you'll be fine."
"You're new," Roman Torchwick remarked, watching the FBI agent enter the house from his position on the couch. Neo was sitting on the kitchen counter, and there was some presidential candidate making grandiose claims on TV.
"Agents assigned to these matters are on a rotating schedule." The answer was a half-truth. Specifically, agents assigned to Torchwick rotated in and out.
"Ah, of course. I suppose there is too much of a good thing."
The agent broke her professional mask. "You're insufferable."
He smirked. "Thank you."
"I suppose you've heard the news by now," the agent stated, sitting down across from the thief and getting down to business. "We've made contact with Remnant. There are five known portals, one connected to Vale, one to Atlas, one to Mistral, one to Vacuo, and one unknown. We've made diplomatic contact with all Kingdoms and drafted an agreement to cooperate on certain issues, though it is non-binding and has not been ratified."
Torchwick motioned to the television. "I know. I do get the news here."
"My role here is to inform you on how this affects or how it does not affect your current position."
"Well, do I get to go home yet?" the thief asked, clasping his hands in front of himself. "I must admit I'm getting tired of this gilded cage. A cold, dark cell somewhere in Vale is much more appealing."
"Unfortunately, that likely will not happen, at least not anytime soon," the agent stated. "There are many who would like to see you extradited, for some very good and some not-so-good reasons. But the long and short of it is that it would be illegal. We do not have an extradition treaty with any of the Kingdoms and none of them have put in a request for extradition. At this point none are even aware of your existence. You will stand trial in the United States and you will be sentenced in the United States."
He seemed uninterested. "Hmm."
"Might I remind you that the charge of terrorism generally carries the death sentence?" the agent reminded him. "You've given very little to us, Mister Torchwick. Change that, and you may be tried as a criminal and not a terrorist, with the death penalty off the table."
He smirked. "I'll think about it."
A state away, a very similar conversation was taking place between Special Agent Sonia Kann and the sole Faunus survivor of the Texas attack.
"I've seen the news," Siena told the FBI agent. "What happens to me now? Are you going to ship me back to Atlas? I'm sure they want me there."
"There are a lot of people who would like to see that happen," Kann admitted. "But the short answer is that it almost certainly will not. It's illegal."
"More illegal than killing innocent people?"
"From a certain point of view," Kann answered. "We have no extradition treaty with Atlas, and without that, we cannot hand you over for any crimes committed in Atlas."
"So I'm going to trial here, for what I've done here," Siena concluded. "I'm going to die here, aren't I?"
"Honestly, I can't tell you what's going to happen," Kann admitted. "Your case is unique- well, every case is unique, but there really is no precedent. You've cooperated, which no terrorist has done in recent history. You've shown understanding and regret even before your arrest. I think that's what your defence attorney will focus on. Your cooperation and deradicalization. But..."
The faunus raised an eyebrow. "But?"
"The law is supposed to be blind, but there other considerations," Kann admitted. "There's political interest in your trial, even more so than the Torchwick one. Faunus-Terran relations are going to be a big issue in the coming months. We have to be careful about how that trial is perceived. That might work in your favour, or you might get a harsher sentence as an example."
Siena laughed mirthlessly. "Well, that's just great, isn't it?"
"Look, Siena, I promise you will get a fair trial, as much as possible," the FBI agent assured. "You've been very brave and you've done the right thing. You'll get through this. You will not get the death sentence if I can help it, you will not get extradited if I can help it."
"We've been served many empty promises before. I've been served many empty promises before. Our entire race was nearly wiped out by human hands. Forgive me if I still have problems believing you."
Kann smiled sadly. "It's not as unfamiliar a story as you might think."
"I'm ready to die. I've accepted that," Siena admitted. "I just don't want this to happen again. And I don't want it to be taken out on my brothers and sisters. I don't want to be the one who started another war for the Faunus."
"Evil only requires good people to stand by and do nothing." Kann paraphrased. "Don't give up just yet."
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Even though the message was anonymous, Adam Taurus knew who had sent it. Blake Belladonna hadn't wrote it, of course. No doubt it was a quote from one of her goddamn books. He grudgingly admitted that it was surprisingly poetic for something out of a smut novel.
The White Fang was in an odd position. Not necessarily an unenviable one, but an odd one. They were both better off and worse off than they were months prior. Better off because they no longer had to deal with the human bitch trying to boss them around. Worse off because they had to deal with the fallout of her actions.
It had been a relief when Cinder disappeared off the face of Remnant. Most of the Fang cared little for her plans. They had followed for two reasons- because it would hurt the humans and because they had no choice. There had always been talk of stabbing her in the back when the time was right, talk which he had done nothing to discourage. He'd even considered it himself.
On the other hand, it also left them with no direction. They'd spent all their resources and all their efforts building up to Cinder's plan, which had been abruptly been cut short halfway through its execution. They had no plans of their own. Their assets were scattered. They had soldiers across the world in places that meant everything to Cinder but nothing to them.
He saw the change as an opportunity. It was time to bring the Fang back, and he would be the leader to do it. It would take some time to clean up and consolidate, but after that they would return stronger than ever before.
And then there was Earth.
Earth had the potential to deeply divide the White Fang. It was full of humans and only humans, and from his point of view they were the enemy as much as their humans were. But there were others within his organization that did not share that view. The Earthers had never done anything against the Faunus, had they? It was wishful thinking, the delusions of fools who couldn't dedicate themselves to the cause. Soon enough for Earthers would do the same things as every human on Remnant.
A dozen new messages had appeared on his Scroll. He glanced at the latest message.
The time is always right to do what is right.
Adam threw the Scroll across the room in frustration. He shouted at his subordinates, "She's back. We need a new plan."
Siegfried Schnee twitched with disapproval as he watched the video on his terminal.
His daughter, the one he had dismissed as dead, was back. And, it seemed, she had forgotten all manner of proper decorum. Hopping off the odd Earth flying machine with significantly less grace than befitted a girl of her stature, she followed her team leader with a distinctly pedestrian gait. Her appearance too was significantly degraded. Her hair was long and dirty and her jacket crooked. Weiss pointed to something offscreen, elbowed the Faunus beside her and they shared a laugh. His daughter, friends with one of those dirty freaks!
Finally, he decided he'd had enough and shut it off. There was an explanation to be demanded from Weiss, but that was only one of his concerns.
For his part in the conspiracy, he was not worried. The SDC had not done anything illegal. Questionable, certainly, but not too far beyond the norm. He knew nothing of any grand plans, only of a promise of a payoff for humanity and the Company. He had his suspicions, of course, but his concern was the Company. It could be embarrassing, but anything could be quieted with the means and the will, and he had plenty of both.
No, it was the massive shakeup in the order of the world that had him concerned. He could think beyond the immediate bottom line, and prided himself on that as one of his reasons for success. And he saw many that could affect the SDC one way or the other in the days going forward.
Earth had no Dust- or at least couldn't exploit it. That wasn't common knowledge yet, but it was hardly a secret. There were so many things Dust could be used for- it was the backbone of all their technology for a reason, after all. Once the Earthers realized how useful it was, they would be clamouring for it. Raw Dust. Dust-based technology. Dust extraction. There was a door and he held the key.
The other world was also a world of billions. Billions of customers, certainly. Billions of competitors, just as certainly. No doubt there were companies like his own on the other side, and if there weren't they soon would be. Perhaps the Earthers learned slower than they did, and perhaps they were not nearly as ruthless, but he personally doubted it. If the conditions were right, and if he made a mistake, the tables would be turned and the SDC would be the one being pushed out.
It was also a world that had flying machines and cars and computer and nearly every modern convenience, without the benefit of Dust. He'd even heard of space rockets and doomsday devices, though he was sure that was just alarmist fantasy. Dust was a precious resource that he dealt in, and if they could duplicate Earth's technology, there would be a lot less demand for it. He needed to find out and plan a strategy accordingly. Either the SDC would become a leader in energy alternatives or an obstacle to them.
There was also the knowledge Earth had of Remnant. He had heard varying reports on how much knowledge that really was, but any at all put them at a disadvantage. And if there was one thing Siegfried hated, it was being at a disadvantage. That was something he needed to rectify immediately.
In any event, Earth was something he would need to deal with personally. He could nearly see the Atlas-Washington portal from his office window, but for several reasons it was of little interest to him. With a well-practiced motion, he paged his secretary.
"Prepare an airship to leave for Vale immediately," he ordered. Almost as an afterthought, he added, "And bring Winter here. She will be joining us."
The Queen of Atlas may have been arrogant, even- hesitantly- by her own admission, but she was not so arrogant as to ignore the brewing storm that was coming her way.
This whole thing was her doing. She had brought the right people together, even if half of them had no idea who the other half were. She had organized the scientists and the suppliers and the soldiers. She had pushed and she had prodded. She had set up the events that set up the right conditions for everything to work out. Perhaps sooner or later someone would have had the same idea, but it was her who was ultimately responsible for changing the world.
Needless to say, it had not been the change she had expected or wanted. She'd suppressed the dissenting opinion in her head a long time ago, and it had turned out to be the correct one.
It was clear that the portals were not a natural phenomenon. Someone, somewhere, had opened them up, and all eyes were on Atlas. There were people who had seen her facilities, who had tracked down the evidence and disappeared only to come back from the dead again. There were people who had worked in them to make this future possible. Some of them knew they were in too deep. Some weren't, and some wouldn't know or case. Someone would talk.
If she were implicated...
She walked to the edge of the balcony and looked down at the ground a hundred feet below. Certainly it was tempting. It would be an easy way out for her. But she had her Kingdom to worry about. Her death would raise suspicion that could turn into something that would tear Atlas apart.
Stepping back inside to her desk, she picked up the unfinished note on her desk. Abdicating the throne would mean many questions that nobody would want to hear the answers to. And it would create the same power struggle as if she had killed herself.
There was no easy way out.
But perhaps the time for panic was not yet. It was probable Ozpin knew, but not guaranteed, and he could not prove anything. Qrow, even if he was a spy, did not know where the facilities were. She had left trails, hoping it wouldn't matter, but they could still be made to go away. Maybe she couldn't erase it all, but she could make it hard enough to prove that the Kingdom- and maybe even her position- would survive.
Let the Chancellor deal with his new world. She had her own problems.
Rose sat behind a computer terminal in her room- well, their room- fingers hovering over the holographic keyboard. It was getting late, and she wasn't even sure what she was searching for anymore. It had taken her a moment to get used to the interface, but apparently computers hadn't changed much in ten years on Remnant. On Earth, they'd gone from using XP to... scratch that, they were still using XP at the department, even if she did have Windows 10 at home.
The room was a staff suite that had been occupied by Taiyang for a few weeks. His bags were neatly organized. Her stuff was thrown haphazardly in piles. They'd be returning to Patch sooner or later, but for now, this was home. A home that made her one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan look nice.
A hard knock at the door broke her out of her thoughts.
"Coming!" Rose called, stumbling over her own mess as she made her way to the other side of the room. She opened the door and immediately recognized it. "Hey, Qrow."
"Huh, Glynda wasn't lying. You moved back in together already," he remarked, peering through the doorway. "Is Tai around?"
"He's finishing up some shit with Ozpin," Rose answered. She stepped back from the door, waving the huntsman inside the room. "You can come in if you want."
"Sure. You know I never had a chance to properly welcome you back," Qrow said. He handed her a brown paper bag. "It's Atlesian whisky. I always thought that stuff was godawful, but this was your favourite."
She inspected the bottle. The graphics, the colours, even the shape of the bottle itself seemed familiar to her. All of it evoked good times. "Looks good. Thanks, Qrow."
"So, uh, you gonna drink that or save it for later?" Qrow asked, taking a seat on the sofa.
Rose knew what he was getting at, and had a feeling he'd done it before. "I'm sure there's some glasses around here somewhere. You want some of this 'godawful crap'?"
Leaving the bottle on the counter of the kitchenette, Rose riffled through the cupboards. Pots, pans, baking sheet- maybe she should try making cookies again- spoons, forks, cereal with Pyrrha on it, plastic cups, shot glasses! She grabbed a pair, blew the dust out, and carried them back to the living area. She popped the top off the bottle and poured a finger into each glass before handing one to Qrow and sitting down across from him.
"Welcome back to Remnant." Qrow raised his glass. "To a family back together again."
"Thanks." Rose smiled as she shot back her. "Tastes like scotch, but even better."
"Like what?" Qrow asked, confused.
She smiled ruefully. "I guess you have no idea where Scotland even is, do you?"
"Not a damn clue."
"It's a long story, but it's the birthplace of some of the best booze in the world," Rose answered. She poured herself another glass.
"You know, if Raven were here, we could have the whole crew back together," Qrow mused, shooting his own glass.
"Bitch," Rose spat.
Qrow nodded. "You know, I won't argue with that. My sister is a bitch. You remember why?"
"Nope. Just that I don't like her." And when I think about Alex, I feel like her. "They told me she was Yang's biological mom."
"That's right. Ran off the day Yang was born. Never seen or heard from since," Qrow confirmed. "But I'm gonna be honest, I wasn't too happy with my sister long before that."
"Terran colloquialism, religious origin, complex history," she explained dismissively.
"Whatever." Qrow paused, then asked, "Have you talked to them at all?"
"Not as much as I should have," Rose admitted. "I'm just worried that I'm gonna fuck it all up somehow. I've been dead to them for a long time. A lot of wounds to rip open. And I don't know if I'm the same person who left ten years ago."
"Eh, you'll do fine. They just want their mom back. They know you're all screwed up and they want to be there for you as much as you want to be there for them."
"I hope so." She poured another shot and threw it back. "Damn, that's good."
"It's bothering the shit out of you, Summer," Qrow insisted.
"What makes you say that?" Rose asked defensively. She began pouring another shot.
"You may not have the slightest clue who I am, but we were on a team for years, remember?" There was more to it than that, but Ozpin had told him very specifically to avoid the subject. The old man would broach it when the time was right.
"Okay, I'm not gonna lie. You're right." She took a deep breath. "It's Tai that worries me. Mostly."
"What about him?"
"I've been gone for ten years. Dead. That's a long time to be gone," Rose mused, pouring herself another drink. "I can tell he didn't take that well, but the last thing I want to do is make things worse instead of better. What if I'm not the same Rose that left ten years ago? What if he's not the same Tai? What if the Tai in my head isn't who he really is or the Rose in his head isn't who I ever was? How am I supposed to unfuck the most fucked-up family in the history of two worlds?"
"This is the part where I say I've been there, and you should do something or other. But, I don't think anyone's been there, not the least me," Qrow answered, standing up. "Trust your gut, I guess. Do what feels right. Don't overcomplicate things. You've got me."
"Well, thanks for trying." Rose thought about calling Qrow out on leaving, but she realized he really did have no idea what to do. She raised her glass and shot it down. "And thanks for the booze. It's good seeing you again."
Qrow nodded. "Likewise. See you around."
"I don't know if I'm ever going to get used to that glow," General Ironwood said, leaning against the railing on one of Beacon's many balconies. This one, halfway up the central tower, had a good view in the direction of the portal. In fact, it was actually visible, though only the top part could be seen and it didn't look like much in the distance. "At least it's not as bright as yesterday. I don't know if that makes it better or worse."
"It is quite the change," Headmaster Ozpin echoed, coming up behind him. He sipped from the mug of coffee in his hand.
The General turned to his friend. "So, what happens now?"
"We go back to normal, as normal as we can, of course," the Headmaster told him. "I have a school to run. We cannot stop for this- no, in this new era, Beacon will be more important than ever."
"And I have the Vytal Festival to concern myself with," Ironwood finished. "There are still people who would like to see the Festival fail. Maybe even some on the other side of that barrier."
"Any predictions for the Festival, General?" Ozpin asked lightly.
"Atlas will have some very strong representatives," Ironwood paused for a moment. Your military android- gynoid- known as Penny, is public knowledge on Earth. "A few surprises this year. What about Beacon?"
"I would be very interested to see how their time on Earth had affected teams RWBY and JNPR," Ozpin replied casually.
"You're going to enter them into the Tournament?"
"If they wish to participate."
"We have to do something about all this," Ironwood said quietly. "You know that as well as I do."
The General raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"
Ozpin explained carefully, "We must take action, yes. But until we have ascertained what action we should take, we cannot take any action. We must determine who our true enemies are before we can defeat them."
"You don't know what to do, do you?" Ironwood said, a tone of accusation in his voice. "You never thought any of this could happen."
"Even I cannot consider every possibility," Ozpin replied. "But we will get to the bottom of this. We will find who opened the portals and stop them from doing it again. After that, perhaps we may look forward to the future you believed you fought for."
On the other side of the world, across deadly seas and impenetrable mountains, another Queen plotted. She was not a queen of men, but a queen of Grimm. Though she had nothing like television or radio, she already knew of the events that had transpired and the world across the divide. She knew that any plans she might have had were now blown away in the wind. And she, too, had lost a pawn in the grand shakeup.
But unlike the humans of the world, she had no concern for politics or economics. And unlike the pitiful creatures of flesh and blood, she had all the time in the world. Mankind would watch its world crumble and burn. Not today. Perhaps not tomorrow, either.
It was inevitable, as simple as the natural order of things.
This was supposed to be a bunch of very short snippets. It ballooned. A lot. Also, I haven't written most of these characters in a long time. But... here we are. At the end of Convergence. Thank you all for coming this far. There's more on the future of the series after the review replies. Speaking of review replies, if you expect a response please do not post a guest review because there are no more chapters and I can only reply via PM.
Sigma-del-Prisium: In a strange new world, but the interquel will cover the first years of contact.
Pmanm: Definitely. Twenty years is enough time for tensions to build... and old enemies to return.
5th Dimension: For most of when I was writing it, the portals opening up was the big thing I was building up to. But you're not wrong. I can understand why that might not feel like the climax it was meant to be.
Tatopatato: If that's what you're looking for, Emergence Second Interquel will have plenty of it.
DinoGuy2000: Both worlds have their work cut out for them keeping the entente from collapsing.
Smithrooks: It's a mess. Nobody is killing each other yet, but there's a lot of unfinished business.
Firehawk242: I've already answered this in PM, but for the benefit of others reading this, the answer is that the Grimm are repelled from the portals. Something about the rift between universes masks the negative emotions (which are weaker to begin with) and drives the Grimm away. However, they will cross if provoked or lead to do so.
Iron-ninja: Emergence Second Interquel will follow Team RWBY back on Remnant, as well as many others.
Cipher92: The bad guys here are potentially on trial for terrorism. They're going to be very limited in what they can offer them, because many will simply refuse to accept any sort of clemency after the Texas attack. In the case of Siena, it's even more political because the trial will be a major part of setting the tone of Faunus-Terran relations for years to come. As for RWBY, that's about spot-on, but I feel they were already starting to move in those directions before their time on Earth. The dragon I'm not sure will be in this series at all, but we'll get to that bridge when we come to it.
Guest: I disagree on the basis of sample bias. We've seen a grand total of, what, a few dozen Remnans? And most of them are huntsmen/huntresses, candidates thereof, or at the same level, so people with disabilities or health problems would not be seen on the show. If Fox Alistair is blind- this is suspected but not confirmed- we would know that even hunters are not perfect.
WindOFDeath4: No, actually, it's very concerning to many. There are some that would like to see any Remnans rooted out and banished from Earth. They have a point. Remnans are potentially very dangerous, and they could be ticking time bombs.
However, there are several problems with that. The first is legal. These people may be citizens, landed immigrants, or illegals, protected to varying degrees by the laws of their resident countries. Rose, for example, holds US citizenship. The legitimacy of this may be challenged but she would retain some rights even as an undocumented illegal immigrant. Laws can be changed, but this isn't something that would be trivial to do, and would be opposed on the grounds of unfairness and possible abuse.
The second is that as the worlds interact more, travel will be necessary to exchange technology and establish trade. Once that happens, the possibility of marriage and hybrid children comes up. Can you really rip children away from their parents? On that note, there are Remnans who already have social, familial, and professional connections on Earth. Why would you kick an upstanding citizen out of the country on the basis of their race? They're not the only ones who will be protesting having those ties severed. Finally, not every Remnan has superpowers. There are challenges ahead, but declaring Earth a Remnan-free zone is not the answer.
As for Connor, I'm not too sure about that. There are definitely cultural differences, but they would not be the first couple to overcome cultural differences in a relationship. Yes, Ruby is stronger than Connor ever will be, but her appearance and anatomy hardly differ from Terrans at all. Being an ultimate warrior does not put her out of his league- maybe she's not particularly interested in hooking up with another ultimate warrior. The fact that she's famous and he's not is probably the best argument against it. Relationships between celebrities and average people do happen, but they are rare. And 4 is just plain not true. Remnans can be careful if they want to be.
Guest: Yes, diseases are one of the things that will inevitably be exchanged. Neither side will be happy about it, but both will have to deal with it.
Ben Downed Again: Only a splinter faction had that intent. There were also people on Earth calling for a preemptive nuclear strike on Atlas, so they're not the only one with crazies. Most Remnans would view the Nazis as evil, horrible people. But some would believe that their ideas had some merit even if their methods were brutal. The Nazis are not stigmatized on Remnant, though their ideology may be eerily similar to the ideology that started the war on Remnant eighty years ago.
This is the end of Convergence, but not the end of the series. Emergence Second Interquel, which does not yet have a proper name, will be the de facto next instalment in the series. It will follow several characters, some canon and some original, through the tumultuous few years immediately following contact. The format will differ somewhat; it may be more of an anthology separated into arcs. That will arrive some time in September. Possibly earlier, but it depends how things go. Emergence Next is a separate story set twenty years in the future, which will come after the interquel.