'I hate exams' – every high school student. Me? I hate physics. Hope you enjoy this chapter. Got exams next week and three whole textbooks that need to be opened.
*Edit: Changed dexterity to Constitution to avoid confusion.*
Signal High was one of Vale's top schools when it came to academics. Located in a quiet town on the island of Patch, Signal teaches its students the knowledge and discipline required to make it out on top for the future generation. However, since it was one of the best and brightest learning environments, Signal High was notoriously known for one of the highest drop-out rates across the entire region. It's said that only the odd geniuses or the extremely wealthy class even had a chance to outlast the four years within the school's educational system. Should a student survive and graduate, it's practically guaranteed that they could become anything they desired; their futures were unlimited.
For someone like Jaune Arc, however, his future was null and void. His parents told him he could be anything as long as he put in the effort. Unfortunately, all Jaune was ever interested in was beating the boss to move on to the next level. He sort of lacked the motivation when it came to deciding his future career. But he wasn't stupid either. Despite his electronic hobby, Jaune was well aware that his parents were worried – he would even go as far as to claim that his parents were secretly disappointed in him. He wanted to make them proud. Jaune could have picked any high school and work his butt off to meet the grades, but just like a gamer complaining about the lack of attack damage, the blond wanted to achieve the absolute maximum. So as a last ditch effort in reassuring his parents' faith in him, Jaune Arc applied to Signal High. 'Applied' being a broad term since he had to reach out to the darker parts of the gaming community for help.
However, due to the fact that Signal was on an island, Jaune had to rent out an apartment on Patch itself. Otherwise, the airship trip back and forth from the school to his home would not only kill his family's financial balance, but it would also slaughter his stomach – air sickness was quite common these days.
Being a student who was living alone seemed great in Jaune's opinion. He could play as much video games as he wanted without the constant nagging from his family members. Sadly, everything went down the drain the moment his roommate had abruptly "moved in".
The same roommate whom he was walking to school on with right now.
"Alright, what is it?" Weiss stopped and turned to him. "You've been giving me this weird look ever since we stepped out of the apartment."
'Just staring at what's above you, Ice Princess' Jaune pointed out in his mind. He assumed that the text above her name was meant to be a title. If it was, then Jaune couldn't help but feel a little annoyed about it. Of course, she would have a title like that – her display of barging into his room and forcing him to cook for her made terrific sense! What made Jaune somewhat nervous was her level. Weiss was level 5 while only he was 1. If having his perception of reality change into an RPG was nothing more than his mind breaking, Jaune had no doubt that Weiss' three years of intimidation tactics has lead his subconscious into believing that she was superior to him.
"U-um . . . it's just that – well you see. . ." Jaune mumbled, currently racking his mind for another white lie of his odd behavior.
"What? Do I have something in my hair?" Weiss crossed her arms and gave him a glare.
Hair? Yeah, he could work with that. "Y-Your hair looks n-nice today – did you do something new to it this morning?" In his mind, Jaune was inwardly cringing. 'What's wrong with me?! Is that the best excuse I can come up with?!'
In response, she broke eye-contact away from him. "I-I've done nothing new to my hair . . . you peasant." She turned around – her ponytail whipping the Gamer in the face – and walked to Signal without him. All Jaune could feel at the moment was complete embarrassment accompanied by the faint scent of strawberries.
. . .
"What? That's it?!" Jaune cried out as he stood there watching his cold-roommate walking in the distance. There was no message informing him that his wisdom – a stat that involved problem-solving – hadn't increased. He felt so sure that his reasoning would earn him a boost in WIS. That must mean that the higher a stat, the harder it was to increase it. Which was utterly stupid being that Wisdom was below 10.
Well, he didn't care much for wisdom anyways. His attention was centered on the ATK stat that he couldn't increase since the screen had closed itself. The unfortunate part being that he didn't know how to reopen it. Heck, Jaune didn't know how this RPG system worked. There were no buttons he could interact with to open these options. Why couldn't there be a tutorial level he could complete?!
God, he just sacrificed some of his dignity just to test out RPG mechanics. And he still wasn't sure if he was completely sane either! "I want to die," Jaune groaned aloud as he brought his hand to his face. An insane asylum doesn't sound so bad at this point; at least, he could retain any dignity he had left. Honestly, the cloudless ocean sky and the glare from the morning sun really didn't improve his depressing mood at all.
"Did you two have trouble in bed last night or something?" A familiar voice chirped from behind. Upon hearing it, Jaune brought down his hand and let out a frustrated sigh. He turned around to meet his fellow blonde, classmate, and friend.
Yang Xiao Long
His eye twitched in irritation when he inspected the text floating above her golden locks. Jaune wasn't surprised, no he actually expected Yang to be a higher level than him. She was the captain of Signal's boxing team. Not only that but she also had an assortment of awards from martial art competitions. Her year's worth of fighting experience is probably what allowed her to achieve such a level.
But what is with that title?! 'Ordinary Person', that doesn't fit her at all! That would be the last thing Jaune Arc would call her! Would an ordinary person make perverted jokes involving Jaune's non-existent love life? Would an ordinary person rip out a classroom door just because someone called her weak? Would an ordinary person fill the headmaster's car with live fireworks – blow it up – and get away with it?! No, they wouldn't – but Yang Xiao Long is definitely the opposite of one!
She currently had that amused expression on her face whenever she felt like teasing him. "Well good morning to you too, Yang," Jaune responded, feigning ignorance from her comment. "Is your sister at school already?" he asked in hopes of changing the subject.
"Oh, you know her . . ." Yang rolled her eyes, ". . . the moment the sun is up, the whistle blows and before I know it, my baby sis' has already left the house." Yang let out a yawn before continuing, "But seriously, what did you do to make Weiss so mad? You're usually all 'buddy-buddy' whenever you're heading for Signal."
During his time at the school, Jaune had come to the conclusion that he would never truly understand the complexity of Yang Xiao Long. One second she's cracking jokes at his expense, then she does a complete 180 and suddenly shows genuine concern for others, and then she reverts back to the harassment. Along with Weiss and his other friends, Jaune probably will never understand the opposite gender. And he's perfectly contempt with that too. It's like a video game: you think you beat it but it turns out that there was a series of secret bosses, sup-plots, and easter-eggs the whole time.
"Yang, where you see buddy-buddy, I see her leading ahead while I follow at a reasonably safe distance," He replied with a dead-pan expression. He readjusted his backpack and motioned his head to indirectly tell his friend that they should start walking. "And if you want to know, all I did was call her hair nice today. Then she suddenly got angry at me, called me a peasant – as usual – and went ahead without me. Well, ahead of our typical walking distance anyways." Like he said before, Jaune will never understand girls.
When Jaune finished, he felt a sharp pain as Yang unexpectedly punched him in the shoulder. "Ow! What was that for?!" Jaune complained, rubbing his injury with his other arm.
"You know Jaune, you're a great guy and all. But sometimes your lack of um – 'manners' towards girls kind of overshadows your good qualities." Yang pointed out in an annoyed tone. Confused by what she just said, Jaune stared blankly ahead trying to decipher Yang's message. If he solved it, would his wisdom or intelligence increase. . .
Jaune's current thoughts broke off when he felt another jolt erupt within the same shoulder that Yang had punched; she punched him again. "OW! Stop hitting me in the-
Physical endurance has increased you CON by 1!
Jaune came to a halt in his steps. 'Constitution huh? Would exercising increase it? Or do I have to become a masochist?' Jaune grimaced at the thought. "Physical endurance" seems like such a broad term for a gamer like him.
Actually, since the message was still in front of him, he might as well test some things out. He moved his head to the right, shifting his view. The message remained in the center of his perception. 'Hmm, so it's going to follow my eyes around, eh?' he concluded in his mind. Upon closer inspection, Jaune noticed an [X] symbol on the top right corner. It's the close button. Testing his hunch, he lifted his finger and tapped on it – the message instantly disappeared. Judging from the messages in the morning, he realized that these messages would either disappear on their own after a set amount of time, or he could manually close it himself.
"Uh Jaune, you feeling alright?" Yang interrupted as she stared worryingly at him. It took a moment before Jaune realized what kind of predicament he put himself into – standing in the middle of the sidewalk with his eyes and outstretched hand towards Yang's hair. He felt heat rise to his cheeks as embarrassment ran through his body.
"Um . . . I just realized you got nice hair?" he meekly lied. Another portion of his pride had gone out of the door of life, all to keep the fact that he had gone crazy a secret.
Yang silently gazed at the blond before she erupted into laughter. "Flattery will get you nowhere Jaune!"
And then she punched him on the shoulder. Again. The unfortunate part being that his Constitution didn't go up at all.
'Yeah, a tutorial level would really be helpful right now. . .'
School seemed rather weird for Jaune now. Walking through the populated hallways didn't feel right. Perhaps it was that everyone in his sight now had floating texts above their heads or maybe it was because people were looking at him funny since he had bumped into a number of them as he was inspecting his surroundings. Jaune's social ranking in the school's hierarchy was low enough that he couldn't care less of his classmates opinions about him.
He noticed that the students around him were all below level 10. Heck, the vast majority were around a level range of 1 through 5. It was only a small amount of athletes and oddball intellectuals that were over level 5, but even then, the highest level he's noticed amongst that group was 8. The teachers and staff of Signal High were above level 10. That wasn't much of a surprise to him – they literally and figuratively have years of experience under their belt. The highest level Jaune encountered during his trip to class so far was the school's gym teacher, Mr. Branwen, walking around feigning sober with a level 15 floating above his drunken old head. The irritating thing was that he also had the title of Ordinary Person floating above his head. Considering the fact that he was Yang's uncle, it probably must be genetics or something. Either that or his mind must enjoy trolling his perception of others.
Jaune also observed that most of them didn't have titles. That could either mean that they were so bland that they easily blended into the crowd or that, if he was truly crazy, his subconscious didn't have enough information about that individual to produce a title. If it was the latter, then being crazy made awfully a lot more sense for giving Yang, who was walking with him to the same class right now, the title of being ordinary.
"You know when I asked if you were alright earlier, I actually meant it Jaune," Yang spoke with concern. Of course she was worried. If Yang suddenly began to bump into people aimlessly and stare off in random directions, Jaune would have done the same thing.
He turned to face Yang and said in a faux relaxed voice, "What? Can't a guy observe his surroundings every now and –"a message box blinked in front of his face – ". . . then."
Yang Xiao Long
"I'm just an ordinary person, don't mind me!"
He didn't know what made him more curious: what caused the screen to pop up like the way it did or why his concept of reality had a need to portray Yang as 'normal'.
Was this the active skill of the Observe skill? If so, what did he do to activate it? Reading off the transparent screen, the only extra information was her health and mana points and some absurd description of her normality. He remembered the text explaining that the higher the level for Observe, the more information he would receive. Since it was only level 1, he really wasn't expecting much. As for activating it, Jaune had a guess as to how he could use this skill again. Though, doing it right now might make his friend question his sanity. Speaking of her-
"Hey, Remnant to Jaune, you awake buddy?" Yang called out, snapping her fingers in front of his face.
"Huh?" was all he could blurt out before she placed a hand over his forehead. Although she was an extremely irritating person in his life, Yang was still a good friend. She was the type of person who would drop everything, annoying behavior included, to make sure the ones she cared for were safe. It made sense though. Seeing that Yang was basically the mother figure within her family, Jaune could understand where she was coming from.
"Definitely not warm enough for a fever. . ." she finished as she took her hand off. "Jaune, tell me the truth – are you really feeling alright?" Jaune was about to answer her before she cut him off, "And don't try to avoid the question by flattering my hair." The way her lilac eyes bored into him gave the impression that she wasn't going to budge unless satisfied.
If he couldn't lie, he might as well tell the half-truth. "I-I guess I'm just tired." He produced a fake yawn to sound convincing. "Heh, I guess two straight days of not sleeping wears your brain out."
She stared at him intently for a brief moment before letting out a sigh. "You've been playing video games all night haven't you?" Jaune simply shrugged and returned a weak smile at her. "Honestly, sometimes I can agree with Weiss that living with you is – and I quote – "a nightmare"." She suddenly gave him a playful expression – in response Jaune tuned her out – and she spoke in a seductive whisper, "Then again, if I was your roommate, every night would be a wild –
A skill has been created through special interaction! Successfully escaping awkward situations through cunning words has created the 'Speech' skill!
Current Level: 1. Increase level to improve chances of convincing others!
As Jaune read the skill, he couldn't help but feel that another word for this skill was "lying". He felt like such a scumbag. "Improve chances of convincing others"? That sounds a lot like manipulation in his opinion. Jaune casually rubbed his eyes to avoid any other possible questions from Yang. 'Speech' was one skill Jaune didn't want to be leveled.
"Yeah but since my roommate is too prideful to order fast-food, she wouldn't last a week without my cooking!" he declared in triumph.
"Well can't argue with that logic" Yang agreed as she went into the classroom.
'Speech' level has gone up by 1!
"Dammit . . ." was all Jaune muttered in irritation before he followed in.
Classes were boring for Jaune. It wasn't like he disliked learning or the esteemed teachers, but it was just so boring. Yeah, even in his last year before graduation, Jaune couldn't find the willpower within to actually pay attention. Even if he could significantly raise his Intelligence stat by learning in class, he still found no joy in learning at school. Unless it involved video games or his newly discovered Attack stat, Jaune couldn't care less. Mr. Port, a boastful old man, was currently giving the class a tale about how he wrestled an alligator during his high school days. The perfect opportunity to test out the mechanics of his "Game".
He looked at the ruler lying on his desk; this will be his test subject. He spoke in a soft whisper, "Observe".
There really isn't much to it. A simple tool used to measure simple objects using simple measurements. Isn't it simple?
He stared blankly at the object, mouth gaping from the lack of comprehension. 'That . . . was surprisingly simple', he mentally smacked himself. Out of all the video games he's played, a speech-synthesis selector was definitely something he had never encountered before. He pinched the bridge of his nose as he let out a sigh. Jaune decided to test out this ability on more materials.
He picked up a pencil from his desk and stared at it intently. "Observe."
A tool used to write one's thoughts down. A horrible weapon in terms for stabbing.
He reached into his knapsack and pulled out a notebook. "Observe," He whispered.
A multi-purpose tool that only has one limitation: Imagination . . . and 60 pages.
Jaune quietly hummed as he drifted into his thoughts. 'Well, it looks like some items have damage while others don't. I guess it makes sense – I mean – how exactly do I beat someone to death with a notebook? Also what the heck? The front of the notebook promised me 72 pages!'
Using the pencil, he wrote 'Observe'on the front page.
. . . .
After a second of nothing popping up in front of him, Jaune concluded that only speech was the catalyst for using the Game's mechanics.
Note to self, keep Weiss away from pencils – Jaune, he wrote in his notebook. As he twirled the pencil around his fingers, his mind was currently busy thinking of other ways he could test out this ability. He looked out of the window and spotted a flock of birds passing by in a distance. He whispered "Observe" at the winged animals, but nothing happened. A message suddenly appeared before him.
Observe skill out of range!
Alright, so this skill had a maximum distance of use. It looks like being an omnipotent fortuneteller was off his future career list.
Gazing at his teacher, Jaune used the skill once more.
"Biology is quite impressive! Why, back in my day, I had to dissect a mighty grizzly bear with nothing more than a pencil and a –
Jaune immediately closed the screen; he gave his eyes a quick rub at the text he was reading. Oh, there was more, a lot more. We're talking 'scrollable multiple pages' a lot more. Even when Mr. Port wasn't telling his youth stories to the class, that man still had a way to attack Jaune.
That was when a sudden thought appeared in his mind. If this "game system" revolved around the concept of speech controls, then maybe he wasn't screwed at all. His lips transitioned into a smug grin as the gears began to work in his brain. "Status," he spoke quietly.
Name: Jaune Arc [Conditions: Normal]
Class: The Gamer
Exp: 0/ 25
HP: 55/55 (+)
MP: 10/10 (+)
ATK: 5 (+)
AGI: 7 (+)
CON: 7 (+)
INT: 10 (+)
WIS: 7 (+)
LUK: 1 (+)
'Strange, I could have sworn that my HP was at 50 in the morning.' He thought, staring at his stats. Really, the only thing that got increased on his way to school was his Constitution. He had Yang's antics to thank for that. Testing out a guess, he gently tapped on the (+) symbol beside CON.
HP: 60/60 (+)
MP: 10/10 (+)
ATK: 5 (+)
AGI: 7 (+)
CON: 8 (+1) (-)
INT: 10 (+)
WIS: 7 (+)
LUK: 1 (+)
He then put a point into his HP.
HP: 70/70 (+1) (-)
'So a point in HP will give me a bonus of 10 while a point in CON increases it by 5. What a weird system.' Jaune mentally concluded as be reset his points back to 6. In truth, while it was rather interesting to uncover more of what this imaginary gaming system has to offer, Jaune's main focus was the stat that ruled supreme in all video games across Remnant. The Attack stat. The one stat he practically worshiped as a gamer. It made you stronger, allowed you to finish off mobs without breaking a sweat; the very definition of what feeling powerful meant. The other pathetic excuses for stats were noob traps. Assimilating the gaming culture into falsely believing that the other stats were equally important was blasphemy. 'Glass cannon is strength; Glass cannon is life' was his motto.
With a firm resolve, Jaune put all of his skill points into the Attack stat.
Name: Jaune Arc [Conditions: Normal]
Class: The Gamer
Exp: 0/ 25
HP: 55/55 (+)
MP: 10/10 (+)
ATK: 11 (+6) (-)
AGI: 7 (+)
CON: 7 (+)
INT: 10 (+)
WIS: 7 (+)
LUK: 1 (+)
That's just insulting – he didn't need a confirmation asking him if he wanted to reject the embrace for power. With a swift motion of his hand, Jaune pressed [Yes].
"Mr. Arc!" a voice boomed at him.
"W-Wha?!" he yelped, jumping from his seat and quickly bringing his hands under his desk.
"I saw what you did, Mr. Arc," Mr. Port's voice sternly directly at him. "Don't try to hide it."
'He saw it? Was he talking about the Status screen? Wait, does that mean he sees it as well? God, does that mean I'm not crazy?!' he inwardly choked on his wandering thoughts. Swallowing a lump down his throat, Jaune asked in a nervous voice "U-Um . . . hide what exactly?"
"Lad, don't play dumb with me. I saw you raise your hand for my question!" the teacher replied jollily.
Jaune's composure faltered as he sank into his desk, "T-The question?"
"Why yes! You were going to answer what the effects of the Haywood flower did to a person's mind!"
Jaune stared back at the beaming man for a good five seconds. "Y-Yeah . . . the answer to that question . . ." he began. The blond briefly looked around the classroom. All eyes were directed towards him, most of which appeared shocked if anything. Heck, he'd be shocked too if he actually participated in class for the first time in three years. Well, except for Yang, she had her hands over her mouth in an attempt to restrain her impending laughter. Out of all people, why him? Actually, never mind – he realized that having a Luck stat of only 1 had obvious implications. He had absolutely no idea what to say, and out-right lying wouldn't exactly get him out of this scenario.
Then again, like the school's headmaster would always say, "The best answer is the one through experience". Jaune let out a cough and then answered with false confidence underlying his tone, "Um . . . madness?" Mr. Port simply raised an eyebrow as if he was expecting more from him. "I-I mean . . . like – you know . . . seeing things that only you can see. Yeah . . . that's it."
"And how exactly, Mr. Arc, would a mad person feel under the flower's influence?" He questioned further. From Jaune's perspective, Mr. Port was trolling him. He was definitely just playing along to get an easy laugh out of the class by making him look like a fool.
Jaune silently gulped and answered in the same faux expression, "They're aware that they're crazy, but everything feels normal for them. Like it was part of their everyday life?"
Jaune was met with silence from the aged biology teacher for what seemed like hours instead of seconds. "Mr. Arc, never in my years of teaching have I . . ."
Here it comes. This was the part where Mr. Port would roast him in front of the class. God, the worst part about this was that Jaune had a feeling that Mr. Port was going to start a lecture about the dangers of not studying – all while using him as the prime example! The blond leaned further into his desk and put his head down, anticipating the Armageddon of Port's tales of awe and grandeur.
". . . witness a student answer that question correct!"
"Wait, what?" Jaune blurted as he raised his head back up.
"My boy, I would always have to start a lecture about this plant species, but you precisely covered all points!" Port let out a jolly chuckle as the sounds of gasps and awkward clapping was heard throughout the classroom. As his azure eyes shifted around, he noticed that Yang was giving him a thumbs-up with a huge grin over her face. Really, was guessing a single question correct worth celebrating over?
"Why, this reminds me of the time when I. . ." Jaune tuned him out as his face contorted into an irritated expression.
'Speech' level has gone up by 1!
'Speech' level has gone up by 1!
"Dammit . . ." he muttered as his hands covered his face.
Aside from the awkward pat on the backs from his classmates and verbal harassment from Yang, the rest of the day had been boring. Sure, looking at everybody's stats and observing every object was fun and all. But anyone could do that by using Wikipedia. He was lying down on a bench in the center of the school's garden – don't question it, Signal High has an infinite amount of clubs – wondering what else he could do with this strange ability. Granted, he still had doubts about his sanity.
Aside from his apartment or Grimm Eclipse, the garden was possibly the only place where he could relax. He didn't exactly know the reason as to why he preferred this place. Perhaps it was the calming scent of the various flowers, or maybe it was because he could let his mind wander without the worries of having to deal with other people. Whatever it was, it was secluded and nice; Jaune enjoyed its serenity. Everything was blissfully quiet aside from the sound of sprinkling water from one of the nearby members of the gardening club. The only member actually.
What was her name again? With a hedge resembling a figure of a knight blocking his view, Jaune couldn't read the floating text – let alone her face, or her entire person actually. Whatever, he'd remember after his nap.
As he closed his eyes and prepared for oblivion to take him, the music of water tending to the plants had stopped and was quickly followed by the sound of something dropping.
"Where do you think you're going, freak?" a familiar voice sneered from behind the hedge sculpture. Jaune's eyes shot open, he got up from his seat. He knew that voice, everyone in this school did. The individual was well-known in a bad light. As he peered from behind the hedge, he felt his stomach twist in disgust at the scene before him.
It was a tall boy with indigo eyes, and ginger hair combed back. The sleeves of his uniform jacket were ripped off, revealing the muscular frame of his arms. (Why he didn't wear the uniform white dress shirt underneath, Jaune will never know or care to ask). His hand fiercely gripping the nimble arm of the garden member. She was a petite girl with long chestnut hair and eyes. Unlike the brute, she dressed modestly in her uniform with a pair of black leggings. The only unique thing about her was a pair of brown rabbit ears that protruded out of her head. She was a faunus – a human with animal characteristics – but Jaune never discriminated. Equality among the living was his belief.
A bully among bullies and a prime predator in Signal's chain of being, Cardin Winchester was a person with a nasty reputation. Not only did he enjoy the misery of others, but faunus were his usual prey. If a student didn't know that Cardin was a racist, then they've probably been living under a rock. The worst part was that he used his position on the sports team as an excuse for his immoral behavior. The only thing you can do is ignore him and hope that he gets bored and finds another target – Jaune personally learned this during his first year here.
'Gardener Club Member'
Poor girl had been on Cardin's hit-list since the beginning of last year. In a cruel sense, Velvet held the record for the longest time forcibly interacting with that scumbag. Their facial reactions were complete mirror opposites. Velvet wore a pained expression over her face with the slight instance of tears brimming from her eyes. Cardin, on the other hand, had what Jaune could only describe as a disgusting scowl.
"Well? What's the matter, you busy choking on a carrot?!" Cardin howled with laughter. Jaune only clenched his fist at what he was hearing.
"P-Please stop" she pleaded, avoiding eye contact from the brute. She tried to tug away from him, but that only made Cardin's grip even worse. The same could be said about Jaune's fist and anger as well. It felt strange. 'It's either me or them,' that was the most common thought that everyone had whenever they witnessed bullying. For some, they were frightened of what the bullies would do to them. For others, they felt too weak to make a difference. In Jaune's case, he was trapped in between: scared that he would be Cardin's practice dummy again and ashamed that he couldn't fight back.
But at this moment, everything felt clear. It was that warm feeling from the morning, erasing any distortions in his mind and replacing it with a clean slate. No, Jaune Arc wasn't going to run away this time, nor ever again. He made up his mind. He was going to-
Stand Up! : It's wrong to witness an injustice and do nothing at all! Save Velvet Scarlatina from her bully!
Time limit: 10 minutes.
Completion Reward: 30 EXP. Increased relationship with Velvet.
Failure: Guilty Conscience.
"Huh . . . well, that works too I guess." Jaune walked out of his hiding spot. "Hey, scumbag!"