Author's Note: Despite the similarity between events of this chapter and some in Volume 3, Episode 2, "New Challengers...", this concept was conceived almost immediately after reading the MonCon theme. Any similarities are coincidental and unintentional.
"Thanks for training with us, guys."
Jaune smiled. "No problem, Ruby. We're glad to help. And training is good."
"I know, right? We've been practicing some neat moves."
Weiss and Blake exchanged glances. They weren't entirely convinced that the "neat moves" were worth the time or effort to learn. Certainly, they didn't seem likely to be useful in actual combat. Still, Ruby was the leader, and maybe practicing would be a good team-building exercise.
"So..." Jaune scratched his head. "Should we just...start hitting each other, or..."
"Um, maybe we should get to opposite ends of the arena first?"
"Oh, yeah, that sounds good." Teams RWBY and JNPR walked to the edge of the sparring room where Goodwitch's combat classes were held, before lining up and readying their weapons.
"...What now?" Nora asked.
Ruby shrugged. "Um...ready, set, go?"
Nora, Pyrrha, and Yang charged forward at once, while Blake and Ren moved to the flanks. Ruby quickly moved in front of Weiss and began shooting Pyrrha, who caught the shots on her shield. Nora ran towards Yang, shooting a few grenades to take her attention away from Jaune; Pyrrha ignored the impending brawl, intent on attacking Ruby and Weiss. Ren began shooting Ruby, and Blake began shooting Jaune, who ran to hide behind Nora.
"Weiss!" Ruby shouted. "Petal Flurry!"
"...Which one is that, again?"
"You and me!"
"Yes, but doing what?"
"It's the one where you do that long sheet of ice and I go really fast you make me faster and I hit them!"
Weiss swung Myrtenaster at the ground, slinging a trail of white-blue Dust at the ground towards Pyrrha. It quickly turned into a trail of flat ice. Ruby activated her Semblance and began sliding on the ice, accelerating herself further by firing her weapon; Weiss enhanced this by use of several vertical glyphs. But Pyrrha knew exactly what was coming, and had stepped too far from the trail for Ruby to strike her. With no way to stop, Ruby kept moving; she deactivated her Semblance, but had built up too much speed for that alone to easily slow her down. When Ruby's feet made contact with the rough floor, she fell down, rolling and sliding a quarter of the way across the arena before coming to a stop.
Nora, having transformed Magnhild into a hammer, leapt and swung downward at Yang, who was punching upward at her. They clashed, with a great noise that echoed through the arena. Ren and Pyrrha both opened fire on Weiss, who struck the ground and created an icy shield around herself.
"Nora!" Jaune shouted. "Shoot the shield!"
Nora backed off and swung her hammer, releasing a grenade at the right point in the arc before letting the momentum of the oversized weapon drag her out of the way of Yang's next strike. The grenade struck Weiss's barrier, reducing it to a chest-high wall and freezing rubble. Pyrrha and Ren immediately continued shooting at Weiss, who ducked behind her wall.
Blake leaped forward, leaving a shadow clone in her wake, and threw her blade at Nora. Its ribbon caught around Magnhild's shaft and pulled tight, threatening to disarm Nora. Jaune yelled and charged at Yang, who turned away from Nora to deal with Jaune. Pyrrha turned around to aid Jaune, while Ren continued suppressing fire and advancing on Weiss.
Ruby slowly stood up. "Yang! Blake! Bumblebee!"
Blake pulled her weapon back, letting it unwind from Magnhild. "Which one is—"
Nora stepped away from Yang as she punched Jaune in the face, sending him flying across the ground. Nora transformed her weapon into a grenade launcher again and shot at Blake. The grenade struck one of Blake's shadow clones as she jumped directly upwards, using her shadow clone to assist her lunge at Nora.
"No, no, no! We practiced, guys!"
Nora turned her weapon back into a hammer and smashed past Blake's guard, slamming her into the ground. Pyrrha shot Yang in the back before she could kick Jaune (who was still on the ground), before transforming Milo into its javelin form. As Yang turned around, Pyrrha threw her weapon at the blonde, who caught it. Pyrrha was already charging, and shoved Yang to the ground while her attention was diverted. The two of them began struggling over the spear.
Ren came behind Weiss's cover and began firing directly at her. She stood up and twirled Myrtenaster, switching to Fire Dust, before swinging at Ren, producing a wide spray of flame. He rolled underneath and into a fighting stance. Weiss turned her rapier's cylinder before lashing out with a bolt of dark violet energy; Ren crossed Stormflowers' blades and blocked the bolt with his Aura. Weiss charged at Ren, thrusting at him. Ren caught the blade between the grip and blade of the weapon in his left hand, but Weiss twisted, yanking it out of his hand. Ren swung with the other; Weiss parried the blow, but it was a feint, intended to bring her attention to his right. Ren's left palm slammed into Weiss's side, the blow imbued with Aura. Their Auras repelled one another, but as Ren had braced himself, Weiss stumbled to the side while Ren merely had to adjust his stance.
Ruby dashed towards Ren, knocking him backwards with a single strike of her scythe. "Weiss! Whi—"
"Just hit him, you dunce!"
While the two of them were arguing, Yang kicked Pyrrha off of her. Nora, who had been chasing Blake to make sure she couldn't grab her weapon, turned and fired a shot at Yang. She threw Milo to the side and rolled out of the way, resting partially on top of Jaune, who stirred. Yang put a hand directly on Jaune's face and shoved herself up, preparing to fight the JNPR girls. Nora was charging, but Pyrrha was on the defensive; Yang barreled at Pyrrha, hoping to knock her over before Nora got to the brawl. Pyrrha sidestepped her punch and grabbed her shield by the edge. Pyrrha stepped back and threw it at Yang like an oversized discus, but Yang blocked it. Nora struck then, knocking Yang up almost into the arena ceiling, but she came down firing at the other girls. Pyrrha rolled aside, grabbing her shield as she passed, but Nora took the strikes on her Aura. Yang slammed into the ground, forcing the others back and leaving a small crater. The force of Yang's landing charged her Semblance, causing her hair to glow slightly. Blake struck Nora from behind, forcing her to divert her attention.
Ren dove for his weapon, but Ruby stuck Crescent Rose into the ground in front of him. Ren stepped around, but a glyph flung the weapon into the air; it landed behind Ruby. Ren vaulted off of Crescent Rose and struck Ruby with his shoulder, knocking them both to the ground, with Ren on top. He fired wildly at Weiss with the weapon he still held while grabbing the other with his free hand. Ruby grabbed Ren's right arm and bit it, causing him to cry out in pain and drop that weapon; Ruby grabbed it, and jabbed Ren with his own blade. Weiss moved forward and stomped on Ren's ankle; Ren rolled onto his back and shot at Weiss with the weapon he held.
Nora knocked Blake down, before focusing on Yang once more. Yang had been prevailing in her struggle against Pyrrha, who was mostly defending and unable to land a kick on Yang. However, forced to divert her attention between two assailants, Yang's defenses were strained; Nora and Pyrrha began landing blows. She was knocked on her face, not by either Nora's hammer or Pyrrha's shield, but by a blow she could not expect. Jaune had staggered up and slammed his shield into Yang's back. He raised his blade, but was interrupted by—
"What is the meaning of this?" The fighting stopped as Glynda Goodwitch entered the arena.
"Well..." Ruby stood up and dropped Ren's weapon. "We thought we could...spar some, practice outside of class?" She smiled sheepishly and put a hand behind her head.
"Next time, schedule your practice more carefully. I have a third-year combat class in ten minutes, and I expect the eight of you to clean up the arena before then."
Jaune raised his hand.
"Couldn't you just...um...swish your wand and make everything ready in a second or two?"
"And what kind of lesson would that teach, Mister Arc? That when you fail to obtain sufficient information about a situation, someone else will just come in and make it all better? I think not."
"I can't believe it," Weiss muttered as she lifted a chunk of Dust-forged ice.
Ruby grunted as she tried to snap a piece off of the ruined ice barrier. "What?"
"Wait for your sister to break that a little. It occurred to me that you were communicating less during this fight than initiation."
"Huh?" Ruby kicked the barrier before grabbing another piece of ice.
"Remember? The forest fire?"
"Oh, yeah, that. I communicated plenty! Today, I mean, not then."
"You talked plenty today. It isn't communication unless the other person understands you."
"It's not my fault—"
"Yes, it is. If you—"
"You have seven minutes left," Glynda said. "You may wish to wait until after to discuss your communication issues."
Neither student argued.
"It was nice of Miss Goodwitch to fix the floor once we got all the pieces," Jaune said as the teams walked down the hall.
"How would we have fixed it?" Weiss asked.
"Oh, anything's possible if you try..."
Weiss stepped away from Jaune. "Some things. Others will never happen, no matter how much you try."
"Really?" Jaune smiled. "Yesterday, if someone told me I would never hit Yang, I just might have believed them, but, well, you saw what happened."
Weiss sighed. "I can assure you, you will never 'hit' me."
"I dunno," Ruby said. "I mean, if you're distracted with some other guy, Jaune might be able to slip in and—Yang, are you laughing?"
Yang shook her head and stifled her giggles. "No, no, no. By the way, nice shot, Jaune."
"Thanks! You guys did pretty well, too."
Ruby sighed and looked at the ground. "You guys stomped us."
"Well..." Jaune scratched his head. "it was kinda close. I think?"
Ruby sighed. "Don't...just don't. I know we lost badly."
"Hey, don't beat yourself up about it. W—We've been training a lot, and—"
"We've been training, too!" Ruby said, turning away from Jaune. "We've trained for weeks, but where have we gotten? Nowhere! We suck!" Ruby began hitting her head against the corridor wall.
"No—no, you guys don't suck, you were just—you need to work on your teamwork a little, that's all."
Ruby continued to hit her head against the wall. "We have been working on teamwork! I've been thinking of all kinds of things we can do together, and we've—"
Ren put his hand on Ruby's shoulder. "Teamwork isn't learning special moves. It's understanding your team."
Ruby stopped hitting the wall and turned around. "What do you mean?"
"Like when Yang and Blake were about to beat up Nora and I got Yang to beat me up instead?" Jaune asked.
"Or when Yang was about to fight Jaune," Pyrrha said, "and I stepped in to stop her from hurting him. I knew Ren could handle Weiss, but that Jaune needed help. Or—"
"I've got it!" Ruby said. "Come on, team, let's train!"
"Didn't you hear what Goodwitch said?" Blake asked.
"I know, I know, but I think outside should be pretty open right about now. Let's go!"