Author's note: There is a reason for this chapter being very overdue. I shall explain it in the end.

Chapter VII

Only a week now stood between them and the start of the Fall semester. Between the start of their official second year at Beacon and the Vytal Festival Qualifications they all trained so hard for lay one final adversity for them to face: crammed, fully loaded classes. Coursework, tests, quizzes and papers all crammed into the span of weeks. Upon reflection, Ruby's intent for Team RWBY to spend time together doing something before the academic year started was validly advantageous in the long run. Yet for all of the team-bonding adventures and light-hearted calamity they shared, or caused in some instances, none of them could deny the need of a little time for personal space.

No sentiment of wisdom was ever truer than that to Blake. Which was exactly what brought her here strolling through the streets of Vale. The mid-morning light shined down on the city of Vale and its scarcely populated streets. Walking around with barely anyone present subliminally eased her introverted nature and allowed Blake to actually feel truly relaxed. The influx of people visiting from other kingdoms did make business hours during the day and evening more crowded, but hardly any tourists were meandering about in the haze of the morning. The only sort of individuals roaming the city were the busy workers, the occasional Atlesian patrols, early-morning sightseers, her and-

"I can't believe it!" the charming native Vacuoan Faunus said walking beside her, "The Vytal Festival is nearly here!"

Blake rolled her eyes and did her best to keep her smile to herself as she listened to Sun's excitement. Leave it to him to accidently, as Sun insisted, run into her during her morning trip through Vale; to which afterwards he sort of stuck around despite promising not to hang around too long.

To be fair, however, Blake had not asked him to leave her yet either. Small, awkward talk quickly led into friendly conversations and banter about their summers before steering into the topic of the Vytal Festival. A small part of her harbored a trace of anticipation and eagerness to the whole idea of actually competing in the Vytal Festival, she kept her energy internal and personal. If anything, it made Blake more inclined to listen to boy geeking out next to her; somebody had to do it.

"Sun, we've known about this for months now." Blake pointed out, holding back the fact that he even smuggled himself into Vale prior to everything happening.

"Yeah but it still doesn't take away the fact that it's awesome." Sun retorted. "Honestly, could you've ever imagined yourself here, at this point in time, about to compete in the Vytal Festival?"

There were a lot of things Blake could have never imagined a long time ago. To name off a few examples, she would have never thought she'd witness first-hand the White Fang fall into extremism and end up abandoning the organization that had raised her. Nor she never would have pictured herself enrolling into Beacon Academy and receiving the proper training to become a fully-fledged Huntress. She especially did not foresee herself entrusting her support to a younger teenage girl into red and gushing with optimism, becoming close friends with said leader's boisterously strong older sister and Weiss, the heiress of the Schnee Dust Company. The Vytal Festival was only something extra to add to her list of unimagined.

"No, I never did." Blake answered with a barely noticeable upbeat in her voice. She glanced over at Sun and noticed a bright grin shine on his face. Whether it was due to the fact that recent experience and lessons she learned taught her how to open up or because Sun was merely present, Blake found herself holding back a smirk. Sun, doing his best to ignore that he made her smile, continued talking.

"And knowing our teams, we're practically the Vytal Champions of the future!" Sun declared.

Blake was about to respond with a quip about how there could only be one champion, but thoughts of the future rendered her mute. Blake felt her sobering determination begin to swallow her thoughts as she contemplated about the future. Considering all that had happened a last week, her fears of a bleak and hopeless future were gravely confirmed. The only thing they could do now, regrettably, was prepare to face the impending events. A task all but easy seeing that their cyberized time-traveling friend could only tell them limited information. It was Sun who snapped her out of her trail of thoughts before they became too complex.

"Uh Blake? Everything okay?"

"Yeah, just…thinking about the future."

"Oh. What about it?"

Blake forced herself to sigh as she gathered her thoughts to explain.

"Do you remember what I told you about Arc?"

"Of course, the giant cyber knight from the future who's actually Jaune."

"Well his future has nothing but Grimm, destruction and death," Blake explained, "just knowing that that lies in store for our future is sort of…morbid."

"Wow, talk about dark and depressing," Sun commented, "Has he told you guys anything to stop it from happening?"

"He can't really tell us much because of the risks of Time Loop theory."

"Oh I see." Sun confirmed, but his eyes widened from realization, "Wait, he's already here and he's not fading from reality or disappearing?"

"Uh, no?"

"Then there shouldn't be any problem with him telling you guys' futures!"

Blake stopped walking and stared at the ground with folded arms. Sun quickly pivoted around and patiently watched her struggle to see his logic. Blake tore her gaze away from the cobblestone sidewalk and locked onto Sun.


"If this Arc guy is here now and hasn't blinked out of existence yet, then it should be safe telling you guys about the future he came from," Blake elaborated casually, "He did come face-to-face with Jaune, right? The Arc guy?"

"Yes, I was there when it happened."

"Okay good, that rules out the Temporal Paradox Explosion theory," Sun commented in relief before getting back to his point, "But as far as you can tell, his memories haven't been altered, right?"

Blake thought back to the mechanized knight. He still hadn't revealed any sort of information about any of them, despite the more extroverted teammates' attempts to get him to spill. She hadn't personally asked him any questions either out of safety. She could only speculate on what Arc remembered from the future. Judging from the intensity that he trained Jaune and Pyrrha with during their nightly trainings, Blake imagined that his memories were what fueled his silent and ferocious determination. It was still unnerving to her how Jaune, the clumsy yet polite gentleman of a goofball, could change and be contrastingly stoic, harsh and downright cold.

"No, not that I know of..." Blake answered and loosened her stance, "What are you getting at, Sun?"

"Multi-verse Theory!" Sun proclaimed, "If Arc is still the same person he was in the future, despite meddling with his past self, then he's obviously from another dimension or something. Existential crisis averted right there!"

Blake fell quiet, staring the blond with abs as if he had told her he was the Headmaster of Shade Academy and was telling the truth. Multi-verse Theory; a very plausible concept given the evidence and present factors that Sun thoroughly summarized. Why hadn't she thought of it before?

"And how do you know all of this?" Blake wondered, picking up where she left off with her stroll.

"Comic books and movies, duh." Sun replied brightly and resumed walking beside her, "Also it was a major plot device in one of Spruce Willis's old movies; I think it was Circler?"

Blake couldn't help but feel a tingle of ridiculous adoration towards him as they continued to walk through Vale to who-knew-where. All the while, Sun continued to talk. She didn't mind though; she was content with listening.

Unbeknownst to either of them, the two walked down the streets of Vale a little closer than they did before.

Arc narrowed his sights at the two combatants he faced. Before him coated in the moonlight stood his opponents, panting for air so their body could keep up with their exertion. His own sword and shield stilled in his grip as he waited for one of them to reinitiate the spar.

This was, after all, only a training session.

Jaune let out a growl and charged forward with a swipe. Arc's attention was already focused on Pyrrha lunging at him by the time he smashed his shield against Jaune's arching sword. Jaune grunted as his sword and arm bounced off as Arc sidestepped the jab from a spear, countering the lunge with a swipe from his shield. Pyrrha quickly adjust and parried the edge of his shield with her blade.

Scanners detecting movement plotted trajectory over his shoulder, Arc disengaged Pyrrha with force and held his sword in reverse so that its the hilt crashed against Jaune's shield, halting the young man's barge. Arc immediately angled his shield behind him to block Pyrrha's strike before launching himself backwards in the air.

At the pinnacle of his backflip, Arc lashed out his sword, only to have it graze Pyrrha's raised shield.

'Good.' Arc thought as he landed and immediately charged with his shield raised. The champion girl met his shield head on with hers and readied her sword to counter. All the while, Jaune had recovered and charged at him with his sword drawn to slash. Both of their movements had already been calculated and countered before they could even act.

Arc lashed out and knocked Pyrrha away with a kick before she could hit him and simultaneously parried Jaune's attack backwards with an upward cut. A downward slice knocked away Jaune's shield followed by a leg crashing into Jaune's exposed side. The blonde teenager yelped as he was painfully tossed sideways.

Arc barely batted an eye at his past self while he quickly raised his shield and sword to blocked Pyrrha's charge. The two of them clashed to a standstill. Arc steadily held Graucus Aegis against the trembling edges of Milo and Akuo. His robotic cerulean eyes pierced her emerald eyes fueled by the fire-forged determination he knew she held within her. Dismissing his thoughts, Arc took a step back and let Pyrrha's own strength throw her off balance before lashing out with a flurry of swipes. The champion girl quickly blocked each one of his attacks, but the incredible speed between each swipe prevented her from following up with a counter.

The cybernetic knight narrowed his eyes and increased the speed of his attacks. Now Pyrrha began to back up on the strict defensive.
His blade was gradually nipping away at her already reduced aura, but Arc was unrelenting.

He had to be.

Detecting movement from behind, Arc's computer systems alerted him of Jaune's incoming attack. He quickly spared one opening for Pyrrha to counter against before twisting his body right to catch Jaune's sword with his own. The Spartan girl seized the opportunity and lashed out only to find her attack blocked by a massive shield. There, Arc stood locked between the two combatants, barely faltering as he each of them back. Then he moved.

Arc quickly brought both of his legs up and kicked towards Pyrrha. She predictably raised her shield to block, but the sheer force sent her flying back. The cybernetic knight used the force to propel himself into Jaune, whom also was sent tumbling backwards.

Each of them cried out in pain as they skidded across the ground. Pyrrha, to her credit, painfully rose off the ground; Jaune, meanwhile, lay in a heap clutching his side. Lowering his weapons, Arc monitored the two separated fighters. According to his sensors, Jaune had 75% of his aura remaining while Pyrrha had 47%.

Additionally, his sensors notified him that six contacts were making their way up the staircase to the rooftop. He had to wrap this up.

"There has been improvement, but not much," Arc addressed, concluding their third sparring session for the night.

Ever since they had agreed to let him train them, Arc had hammered them nonstop with sparring, utilizing techniques ranging from all styles. His records allowed him to access all the battles that he witnessed and fought and incorporate every set of physical moves into his system, to which he could replicate with precisely 95% accuracy. With that advantage, he sparred against Jaune and Pyrrha every single night, making them perform counters and moves that he knew would ultimately make a difference in future battles. If not, then it was a good excuse to refresh his skillset and train them for what was yet to come through combat. Engaging in combat, as history taught him, was the only way for one to improve their prowess in combat.

The clear evidence rested before him now: Pyrrha was more versatile than she ever was before and Jaune could actually stand up to his light attacks.

With their practice close to being interrupted, Arc saw that any further continuation for now would prove futile and gracefully placed Graucus Aegis away. Jaune and Pyrrha managed to form confused expressions despite the exhaust and fatigue on their faces.

"We can't be done for the night," Jaune panted heavily in slight hysteria, "can we?"

Arc ignored him and silently turned his attention to the rooftop entryway and awaited the arrival of the newcomers.

Author's note: For the past many months I have been undergoing rigorous challenges in both college and military ROTC. Both have constantly pushed me to my physical and mental limits and have worn me out day-in and day-out. But such is life, right?

Also RWBY Volume 5 came out...when canon started to progress on, I felt at times if I should've stopped this story and let canon pave its way...but then I realized that I would be leaving this, I really love RWBY and the RWBY community.

To my previous readers from the beginning: I'm sorry for the long wait! Life got in the way of doing the thing I love ;-;
I hate to conclude this chapter midway like this, but my current time doesn't allow me to fully finish it right now. Hours after this chapter is posted, I will officially be heading off to Basic Training/AIT for the U.S. Army National Guard and will not return until very late August. That's about three or four months of being cut off from the rest of the world (I'll be missing RWBY Chibi Volume 2!). No internet, limited calls to home, and no ability to freely work on this story over the summer.
I am now considering this story on official HIATUS until I can resume chapter production again (I WILL finish this story!)

But yea, I'll miss all of you guys in the RWBY community...the stories, the artwork, everything. Everything will be an eye-opener when I get back.

Until then, keep being awesome everyone.

From, Comment person