A/N: Well, I finally got around to starting this! For anyone who has questions about the Domino Effect, rest assured that it's not dead - but updates are going to be sporadic. My focus, all of it, is going on this. Well then, onto the show, I think!

Disclaimer: I don't own RWBY. It, in its entirety, belongs to Rooster Teeth, and I'm just playing in the sandbox they generously provided.

Rowleys was one of the seedier bars in town. Walking in, the first thought that struck many was that the only thing that consistently looked more worn-down than the furniture was the clientèle. Thieves, thugs, bottom-feeders and those who were simply dealt a bad lot in life lurked around, drinking their woes away with kindred spirits.

Most would think that any well-dressed person who walked into this bar was begging to be mugged.

Most would be surprised. The regulars at Rowleys understood that a rich-looking person walking into the bar likely meant one of two things: they were a badass looking to pick a fight, or they were a business opportunity.

Those who recognised the red-haired, white-coated man walking through the front door, which accounted for most of the denizens still relatively sober, instantly pegged him firmly under the 'both' category.

A dozen eyes discreetly followed Roman Torchwick as he made his way to the bar. He leaned on the counter and glanced at the bartender. "Whisky, on the rocks."

The burly man nodded and began fixing up the drink. Roman, on the other hand, glanced toward a rather large and round individual who was in the process of telling a loud, boastful story to several much smaller men at the other side of the room. "Who's the entertainment?"

The bartender followed his gaze and grimaced. "That'll be Jim Brown, or 'Slim Jim' as he tends to get called."

"I can see why," Roman mused, eyeing the man who could only seriously be described as 'slim' if compared to an oversized whale.

"He's an idiot with a temper," the bartender said bluntly, "He's told this story three times already tonight, about him and his little gang jumping some guy and beating him half to death. Here's your drink."

"Keep the change," Roman dropped a few notes on the table, "I'd quite like to listen a bit more closely."

Ignoring the barman's curious gaze, he took his drink and walked calmly over to the table, where he caught the man finishing his story.

"-So then, he looks up at me, and he says, 'You don't know who you're fucking with'," Slim Jim somehow managed to puff himself up even further, "So I said back, 'Yeah I do'," he paused, "I'm fucking with a little bitch!"

The men around him burst out laughing.

"Then I took the crowbar and smashed his head off the ground," Jim said proudly, "That bastard won't fuck with me again."

"No, I suppose he won't," Roman interjected, "A fascinating story, Jim. Can I call you Jim?"

The thug glanced at him, warily, taking in his attire. "I dunno. Who're you?"

"My name is Roman Torchwick," at this, several backs straightened up, including that of Slim Jim, difficult though it had to be, "I just caught the end of your little story and I had to wonder what started the whole thing."

"Uh, yeah," the man's shock at being addressed by such an important person quickly gave way to eagerness to impress said person, "See, we were drinking at the Tap, and me and my boys, we've got our own seats, yeah? Our space, our territory. I'm sure someone like you knows all about protecting what's yours, right?"

"Right," Roman nodded patronisingly, "I can certainly relate. Running a large and varied enterprise is exactly like having a seat at the bar."

"Uh-huh," the tone apparently flew completely over the obese man's head, "So when I walk in, I see this guy sitting in our seat, right? So I go over and I tell him, 'Get the fuck out of my seat'. So what does he do? He looks at me, and he says, 'Should I move out of this one or do you need the whole booth?'"

Roman did not let any of his amusement at the quip show. "How dare he."

"Yeah," the man nodded sagely, "So then people are laughing at me. I don't like it when people laugh at me. But I'm a patient man. So I wait until he goes outside, and then, me and my boys?" he indicated around him, "We showed him what was what. Put that fuck in the hospital. I mean, I didn't hate the guy," he shook his head, "But it's not about whether you like him or hate him, it's about disrespect. He disrespected me, I had to respond, right?"

"Oh, I couldn't agree more," the crime boss nodded.

"So, why'd you want to know? Big shot like you, gotta have better things to do than drinking in Rowleys," Jim asked.

"Well, you see, Jim," Roman began, "As you may be aware, I'm a man with fingers in many different pies. I'm sure you're in a similar situation, literally rather than metaphorically, but I digress," he paused, "I run a number of… enterprises, in this city. To keep those enterprises running, I need good staff," the thug perked up, "Competent men and women, who are able to do what needs to be done to make money. A lot of money."

"Yeah…?" Jim urged him to continue.

"And it just so happens," the crime boss continued, "That I recently found myself with an opening for someone with a… particular skill set."

Jim found himself leaning forward.

"Unfortunately," Roman's voice went cold, "Shortly after I found a man who would be perfect for the job, some two-bit thug and his little band of nothings jumped him and put him in the hospital."

Slim Jim blinked, then paled as realisation set in.

"You see," the infamous thief and information broker carried on evenly, "The man you and your little society of intellectuals here almost killed wasn't just some jumped-up, dime-a-dozen leg breaker. Anyone can pick up a blunt instrument and cause some violence. No, that man is a listener. Someone who can walk into a crowd and walk out with a mind full of valuable details, details that keep people in my profession, and by that I mean me, in the loop. That meant he was worth quite a lot to me."

"L-look," Jim stood up, sweating, "I didn't know he worked for you, I swear -"

"Now," Roman cut him off, "It's not that I particularly like the man, but, what was it you said?"

He stood up, hand wrapping around Jim's throat as he lifted the now-choking man clean off the ground. He saw the man's eyes shoot to his thugs for help. He tapped the ground with his cane.

Roman then saw the first of Jim's followers hit the ground as his partner in crime made herself known. Standing at a solid four feet and nine inches with heels, the diminutive Neopolitan was possibly the least-threatening looking person on the planet. Anyone stupid enough to actually point this out about the white, brown and pink-clad girl, on the other hand, was quick to learn that judging a book by its cover could indeed become a fatal condition.

He looked back at the man who seemed to be losing more pounds in sweat than Roman actually weighed full-stop. "Ah, yes, I recall now," he tightened his grip around the struggling man's windpipe.

"It's about disrespect."

"Being a crime boss is so much work," Roman complained as he and Neo left their car, parked outside of their slowly-building base of operations in the warehouse district. "Meeting people, breaking things, meeting things, breaking people. Don't I have lackeys to do this for me?"

"..." Neo smirked.

"Yeah, I know," Roman grumbled, "Dealing with things in person helps to make a statement, builds reputation, etcetera. Doesn't mean I have to like it," he scowled, "The sacrifices I make for other people's money."

Neo raised an eyebrow as one of their doormen ran toward them from the entrance to the warehouse.


Roman blinked as the man addressed him. "What?"

"There's a guy inside at the bar, asking for you by name," the man gasped, trying to catch his breath.

"And you just... let him in?" Roman asked incredulously.

"He has a giant sword, Boss. We figured that probably meant we couldn't stop him even if we tried," the underling said reasonably.

Roman opened his mouth to berate the man,"That," he paused, thinking about it, "...is actually a fair point," he admitted, "But what about the twins? I mean, I actually pay them for this sort of thing, don't I?"

"They did try, Boss," the underling agreed, "In fact, I think they might be still trying right now. But so far, he's finished three drinks and they still haven't managed to get him off his stool, so we figured it was probably a good idea to ask him what he was here for when he ordered his fourth. He said something about wanting to talk to you, he said it was about some chat you had with someone a few weeks ago."

Roman and Neo shared an uneasy look, before he sighed, gripping Melodic Cudgel tightly. "I guess we'd better find out what he wants, then. Lead the way."

The sound of an enormous binder, slamming down upon the dining table echoed around the cafeteria as the various students of Beacon and abroad had their breakfast. A few heads turned – when they saw who was involved, they promptly shrugged and turned back around.

Ruby Rose, the fifteen-year-old Huntress prodigy was, after all, part of team RWBY, steadily becoming more and more famous, or infamous depending on who you asked, both for the relative fame of two of their members and for their involvement in unusually dangerous and/or interesting activities.

"Ahem," Ruby cleared her throat and prepared to launch into a speech, "Siste-" she paused, seeing an empty spot in their usual place at the dining table, "Wait, where's Blake?"

Ruby's older sister, Yang Xiao Long, looked up from her breakfast. "Oh, hey Ruby. Blake was up early and went out with Ren and Velvet to that book store she's been going to."

Ruby looked crestfallen. "But… I had a speech! I planned out our entire day! It was going to be the best day ever! See, I even wrote it on the binder with all the activities in!"

She pointed to the cover of the thick, white binder, which, appropriately, read 'Best Day Ever Activities'.

The third member of their team, the famous Heiress of the Schnee Dust Company, Weiss Schnee gave the binder a suspicious look. "Is that my binder? I was looking for it yesterday and couldn't find it anywhere."

"N-no! It's mine!" Ruby answered with a nervous grin.

"You own a plain, white binder which isn't decorated by images of guns and other assorted weaponry?" Weiss asked pointedly.

"It was for a good cause," Ruby broke, "Honest."

Weiss shook her head in annoyance. "Whatever. What is this about?"

"Well," Ruby said, glad to be changing topic, "I really wanted us to have a great day together as a team to start the Semester before classes start up again tomorrow. So I planned out a series of things for us to do."

"Aww," Yang grinned, "And to think Weiss said you weren't capable of planning your next meal."

"I'll point out that we're yet to see what any of these activities entail or how feasible they actually are."

"See?" Yang continued, grin getting even wider, "She's got no faith in you at all. I, on the other hand, always knew you had it in you if the need a-rose."

Weiss and Ruby both groaned.

"Ha! Guys? Get it? Rose!"

"Boooooo!" Someone jeered from one of the other tables.

"Don't like, don't listen!" Yang called back.

"Get off the stage! I didn't spend my hard-earned wages on this ticket only to be subjected to such low-grade comedy!" A more familiar voice shouted, followed by a tomato flying towards their table – and colliding directly with Yang's face, splattering across it and covering her with tomato juice.

Ruby and Weiss stared.

"Nora..." the blonde-haired boy sitting next to the thrower sighed.

"Eheh," the orange-haired girl in question, Nora Valkyrie, arm still outstretched in the throwing position, chuckled nervously, "Did I take it too far again, Jaune?"

"Yes, Nora," Jaune Arc, the leader of Team JNPR, said flatly, "Yes you did."

"Oh, dear." Their third team-mate present, the red-haired, famous tournament champion Pyrrha Nikos, sighed, "This is going to turn into a mess again, isn't it?"

As if in response to her statement, Yang jumped up and flipped her table over, reaching for the nearest food item to retaliate with.

"So… this sort of thing has become increasingly common since those two teams started attending," A red-haired, dark-skinned, heavily-scarred young man noted from one of the other tables, "Should we not be, I don't know, stepping in and stopping it? I feel like we're failing in our duties as seniors, somehow."

"I don't believe that is necessarily a bad thing, Fox," his team-mate, the extraordinarily large and strong Yatsuhashi Daichi, commented, "They tend to leave us out of it, and they often provide some rather amusing entertainment while we enjoy our meals. Dinner and a show, as they say."

"Yeah, Fox," their team leader, Coco Adel, notably wearing her trademark sunglasses and beret even with her school uniform, shrugged, "Kids will be kids. There's no harm in letting 'em play around before they're sent out on the big-girl missions. Besides, Velvet likes them, so we like them by extension."

"They've left us out of it so far," Fox stressed, listening with detached, academical interest as the small, orange-haired girl picked up her screaming team leader bodily by the feet and started using him as a bat to fend off a series of flying watermelons sent at her by a vengeful Yang Xiao Long and a gleeful Ruby Rose, "But it's only a matter of time before one of them does something..." he trailed off as Nora accidentally let go of Jaune, sending him flying towards team CFVY's table.

He hurtled through the air, screaming, before landing with a thud and skidding right across the top of the table, knocking off the majority of the food on it.

As well as a cup, containing Coco's morning portion of steaming, hot coffee.

"Like... that," he finished slowly.

Coco stared at the shattered, dripping pieces of ceramic that formerly housed her favourite beverage.

Yatsuhashi stared at Coco.

Fox gulped.

There was a moment of silence as she stood up.

"The loud one." Coco stated calmly.

"The loud one?" Yatsuhashi repeated uncertainly.

"The loud one is the one I break first."

Fox turned his head toward the now-escalating food fight. Nora Valkyrie was cackling madly as she used a hammer made of a metal pole and a watermelon to fend off the roaring Yang Xiao Long, who had equipped a pair of turkeys as gauntlets. Meanwhile, Ruby Rose had formed an impromptu scythe by sticking a swordfish to the end of a table leg and was charging in, shouting a battle-cry, as masses of other students fled the dining hall in panic. "So… I've got to ask, which one is the loud one?"

Coco looked at him, face as blank as her notebook for Professor Port's lessons. "Yes."

"Ah," he said weakly, "All right, then."

While their team-mates were currently getting involved in a furious food fight, the team-members not present were currently enjoying a leisurely stroll down one of Vale's city streets. As it was the last day off before the semester began, Blake Belladonna of team RWBY, Velvet Scarletina of Team CFVY and Lie Ren of Team JNPR were all heading to a book shop that Blake had begun to frequent recently to stock up on reading material for the coming few weeks.

It began when Blake received a thank-you message from a former White Fang member, Tukson. While not somebody she really knew well from her time in the White Fang, he had, at least, been an acquaintance who didn't seem as rabid as some of the other members… such as the Lieutenant, or, toward the end of her time there, Adam. His message said in no simple terms that her little moment in the spotlight had inspired him to turn himself into the authorities rather than simply go on the run as he had been previously planning to do.

Blake knew what usually happened to people who ran, and Tukson, as it turned out, had been responsible for one of the White Fang's front businesses that they used to move money around, so the White Fang would have been even less keen for him to leave.

However, after turning himself in, he was allowed to keep his book-store in exchange for useful information about a different sort of book-keeping – that being the financial book-keeping of the White Fang. His tip-offs allowed the police, huntsmen and Atlesian military to hit several shops in all four kingdoms that fulfilled a similar purpose to Tukson's shop. Tukson was also given 24-hour protection against any kind of reprisals. This, it seemed, was far better than anything he possibly could have imagined getting, and in thanks, he offered her and any friends she brought a discount on any books in his shop.

As an avid reader, this appealed to her greatly, so she decided to go and check out 'Tukson's Book Trade' – and found herself pleasantly surprised at the selection on offer. While Tukson didn't quite have 'every book under the sun', he had enough of them that Blake wasn't likely to run out of options any time soon. Given that he had extended the offer to her friends, and she knew Velvet was a book fan, she extended the offer to bring her along – and when a passing Ren expressed interest, she also invited him to take a look.

"I'm telling you, you're worrying too much," Velvet said with an exasperated smile, "We're only going to be gone for the morning. How much trouble can they possibly get into?"

"You don't understand," Ren was beginning to have second thoughts about the trip, for reasons that Blake actually found quite sensible, "The last time I left Nora on her own for an entire morning she nearly caused an international incident."

Velvet stared at him. "She… what?"

"I don't want to talk about it," Ren sighed despondently, "Suffice to say it involved a diplomat, an electrified fence and a car moving in a direction it really shouldn't have been."

Blake felt her treacherous curiosity get the better of her. "And what direction is that?"

"Up." Ren replied hollowly.

The cat faunus decided to firmly put that on the 'things not to ask about Nora' pile.

"I'm sure the chances of something like that happening again are very unlikely, though," Velvet tried to reassure him, "I mean, yes, there are all the… representatives… from… other..." she trailed off, then looked at Blake, "You said we were nearly there, didn't you?"

"Yes," Blake said in amusement, pointing ahead, "There it is." Just up ahead was the distinctive slogan of Tukson's shop. Blake's smile dropped as she saw someone on the opposite end of the street suddenly turn, looking at her and speaking to his friend, who also turned and began a hushed conversation. Blake suddenly felt self-conscious – the not-unfamiliar feeling of wanting to shrink into the ground, out of sight from all onlookers, made itself known again.

"Don't worry," Velvet noticed where she was looking, "They aren't saying anything bad."

"How can you tel – ah, never-mind," Blake said abashedly, "That's not really what I was bothered about, though."

"You're having trouble coping with the fame," Ren said astutely.

"Wouldn't you be?" Blake sighed, "I'm... not really good at dealing with attention."

"Having never been even temporarily famous, I wouldn't know how it felt," Ren said apologetically, "And having Nora around is usually an excellent way to take the attention from yourself. It may be worth speaking with Pyrrha about how she manages it. I can ask her to talk to you about it if you'd like."

"I'm not really used to fame either, unfortunately," Velvet frowned, "Coco has a fan club, though. Maybe she can help?"

"She has a fan club?" Blake asked, curiosity once again overcoming thoughts of her ongoing predicament.

"Oh yes," Velvet agreed, "They all wear sunglasses and berets like she does and beg her to sign their handbags, things like that. She tried to form them into her own personal private army once, but thankfully, Professor Goodwitch refused her application for the 'Mean Berets: Private Military Company' school club."

Blake opened her mouth, closed it, then opened it again, then closed it again. "…The stories you two tell me sometimes make my team sound normal."

"I've heard that before," Velvet admitted, "But I'm sure you'll get used to the attention eventually. For now, maybe it would be better to focus on the good that's come from doing what you did. Like this," she smiled as they entered the shop.

Blake glanced to the left at Bayard, one of Tukson's employees, who was sorting the shelves – identifiable as another White Fang escapee due to the tag around his ankle, he had formerly been a low-level grunt in the terrorist organisation before he turned himself in. Though he did not have any kind of useful information, he also had not been involved in anything other than manual labour around the bases and camps – so the authorities allowed him to take on a role as an assistant at Tukson's shop.

This was someone who had a chance at an actual life now, rather than being what effectively amounted to cannon fodder for the whims of a violent maniac. If this was the result of her actions? Well, a bit of discomfort at getting more attention than she was used to was nothing.

"You're right," she said after a moment, "That does make me feel a bit better. You always seem to know what to say, Velvet."

"Not always," Velvet corrected her with a sly smile, "...I will accept 'most of the time', though."

"Was that a boast? Who are you and what have you done with Velvet," Blake retorted.

"For the record, if she is an infiltrator," a deep voice said from behind the counter, "I'm not giving her a discount."

Blake turned to see the owner of the shop, Tukson, notable for his rather distinctive sideburns, watching their byplay with amusement while leaning on the counter.

"You're getting sloppy," Blake pointed out, "You didn't say it."

He blinked. "So I didn't. Welcome to Tukson's Book Trade, home to every book under the Sun!"

"That seems like quite the ambitious slogan," Ren commented.

"I'm yet to come up with a book he doesn't have in stock," Blake admitted, "If you want it, he probably has it."

"I see," Ren mused, "What do you have by way of recipe books?"

"Over in the far left," Tukson waved his hand in that direction, "First and second shelves, we'll have more in the back if you have a specific title in mind."

"I'll take a look first, thank you," Ren nodded politely.

"Ooh!" Velvet squealed in delight, "I've never seen a copy of this anywhere!" she held up a large, A4-sized book, titled 'Lest We Forget: The Great War of Remnant, captured on Photograph'. "I've been looking for it for years, this is really rare! How much is it?"

"Price tags are on the books," Tukson replied, "Take whatever that says and take twenty-percent off for your Blake Discount."

"I'm still not sure how I feel about becoming a discount," Blake said to nobody in particular as she picked out a black-covered paperback novel titled 'Being Human' – a cult classic she had yet to read about a man who had to have most of his body replaced with cybernetics, and his struggle to fit in with the people around him.

"Well, I'm not budging on the name," Tukson grinned.

"I must admit, I'm impressed as well," Ren spoke up from the side of the room, "I haven't even heard of several of these titles before. I'll certainly be coming back."

"Glad to hear it," Tukson replied pleasantly, "I spent most of my youth and major parts of my adulthood building up this collection, I'm pretty damn proud of it, if you'll excuse the language. Of course, I like Lien more than I like pride, so buy away!"

The three continued to look through the shelves for a few more minutes. Their peaceful browsing, however, would not last.

Velvet walked to the counter, carefully placing her purchase down on the desk top, before glancing at the other huntress-in-training in the room. "Blake."

"Yes," Blake had gone still, "I know."

They were being watched.

She didn't know who by, but experience had long since taught her that eyes in the dark rarely had benign intent. Her hand slowly began to make its way up toward the hilt of Gambol Shroud.

Ren walked over as Tukson glanced between the two of them with concern. "Am I to assume," the huntsman-in-training said quietly, "That we are expecting trouble?"

And, just like that, the feeling was gone.

After a few moments, Blake felt herself relax, and saw Velvet do the same out of the corner of her eye.

"No," Blake shook her head, "Just an odd feeling. I think it's passed."

'Damn it,' a girl with green hair and dark skin cursed from a roof nearby, 'Why did those damn kids have to show up now? After all the trouble we went through to get a gap between them changing the guard shifts,' she pondered her options, 'They even noticed I was there, too! There's no way I could make it through three trainee hunters in time before the police guard gets back. We're going to have to write this one off as a bust.'

Had it just been regular civilians, she could have pulled it off simply enough, but even trainee Huntsmen or Huntresses were a completely different story. Especially when she recognised one of them to be the faunus that had caused the White Fang so many problems recently – anyone who could put up even half a fight against Adam Taurus one-on-one was not to be taken lightly. Emerald grimaced as she began to leave, trying to figure out the most painless way to break the news to Cinder that the planned operation to make an example out of Tukson had been stopped by freak chance, of all things.

Their bit of excitement for the day over with, the three students made it back to the school grounds with heavier bags and lighter wallets. Ren was understandably anxious to get back and make sure Nora hadn't levelled the place.

What they found was not quite what any of them had been expecting.

Yang and Ruby were holding brooms, frantically mopping up what seemed to be the result of someone exploding a bomb full of food all over the cafeteria. Every so often, they would both send nervous glances over their shoulder, as though waiting for someone or something to get them.

Weiss was standing on a platform made of ice, scrubbing food off the walls with a sponge and a bucket of water, her task not helped by the fact that she was flinching at any sudden or relatively loud noises.

Nora was sitting on a chair in the corner with several metal poles wrapped around her torso, constantly rocking back and forth, repeatedly and quietly muttering something unintelligible for anyone but Velvet at this distance.

Meanwhile, Pyrrha and Jaune were currently waiting hand-on-foot for Velvet's team leader, who sat at her table sipping a cup of coffee, the very picture of tranquillity.

"...you know," Ren was the first to break the silence, "I've got to admit, out of all the strange things I've found Nora doing, this probably even makes the top ten."

Velvet sighed.

Blake, on the other hand, could only muse that the 'things not to ask about Nora' pile should probably be re-classified as a small hill at this point.

Roman eyed the man sitting on one of the bar-stools warily. Melanie and Miltia had apparently given up, the pair looking completely exhausted.

The man had dark hair, scruffy stubble around his chin, and wore a white shirt with black trousers, with by far the most conspicuous items on his person being the tattered red cape on his back and the large, complex-looking sword holstered at his lower back. He was taking a swig from a small metal flask, evidently his personal supply, and one that was well-used, given that Roman could smell the alcohol on him from several feet away.

Roman sighed internally. A huntsman old enough to have a mid-life crisis was someone he wanted absolutely nothing to do with. A quick glance at Neo confirmed his fears – this man was dangerous, dangerous on the level of that insane pyromaniac or maybe even the old professor, depending on how strong that terrifying meddler actually was. Which, of course, meant he was hilariously out of their league in a straight fight.

"Good, you're here," the man's slurring broke him out of his musings, "We've gotta talk."

"Do we?" Roman frowned. "Who even are you? Are you with the big cheese?"

Yes, it was petty, but Roman was a very petty man.

"You could say that," the huntsman agreed, "I guess most would call me his intel guy."

Slowly, he stood up to greet Roman properly. As he walked closer, the smell of alcohol became much more pronounced. "But I'd rather you called me Qrow."