Iron Body Glass Heart
Beta: Grammarly, Self-proofread
Disclaimer: I do not own FSN or RWBY. They belong to Type-Moon and Rooster Teeth respectively.
Jaune awoke feeling ice cold and wet. He soon found out why. He was lying in a bathtub full of water and ice.
'What am I doing laying in an ice bath?' He wondered as he, with shaking limbs and bluing fingertips reached for the nozzle that would spray him with hot water. He sighed in relief as water that would usually be scalding cascaded down on his half-frozen form. It took him a moment to realize he was still wearing his onesie, as it stuck to him like a second skin and he was so numbingly cold he couldn't even feel he had it on. Now that feeling was slowly coming back to his limbs, he peeled the sodden garment off and reaching for a towel, covered himself and departed to his room.
Along the way he came across Noir who looked at him in shock for a moment through sleep deprived eyes before dashing to his side, where she began peppering him with questions about his health while patting him down as if searching for something, "Jaune, how are you feeling? Do you feel lucid, are you sore anywhere, do you feel unusually hot or dizzy at all?"
"Good morning to you to Noir. To answer your questions in order. Cold and hungry, yes, no, no, and no."
Noir took a knee so as to look him in the eyes. Gold met blue for a moment and then she asked, with worry entering her usually stoic timbre, "You're sure you're ok?"
"Besides being cold and hungry, you mean? Yeah, I'm alright." Seeing she wasn't buying it, he softened his own tone and replied, "I'm fine Noir, pinky swear."
Noir smiled upon seeing the raised digit and clasped it with her own before giving it a shake. She then stood and said, "While you go get changed, I'll have Sabastian make breakfast."
"I can-"Jaune started to protest only to fall silent when Noir put a finger to his lips silencing him, and saying sternly, "No, you won't. Jaune…you could've died last night. It's a wonder you're up and moving and moving around as soon as you are. So please, for all our sakes, take it easy for a bit?"
Hearing Noir of all people concerned made Jaune worried. Noir didn't get concerned unless it was serious. She looked at the problem, analyzed it, and sought a way to fix it. Such was her nature which was exemplified by her Semblance, Thought Acceleration. She could think and solve problems and come up with inventions faster than anyone he knew. For her, every problem had a solution just waiting to be discovered within the gentle embrace of thought, logic, and numbers. Emotion rarely factored into it for her.
But that is not to say she was a machine. She cared about things, such as her family and the plight of the Faunus, she just chose to use her skills in a way that benefited the majority. To her, that meant using her considerable skills to aid the SDC, and in turn, use those resources to help him through his current predicament. So for her to be concerned, it must've been bad indeed.
"That bad huh?"
"You really shouldn't be capable of moving right now. I have no idea how you're doing it." Noir affirmed, curiosity fleck in her tone.
Shrugging, he replied, "Just lucky I guess."
The two remained silent as they arrived at his room, one in contemplation on the other's condition, the other in what was seen as he slept.
'So Emiya went out like a boss. I guess should work on carrying the torch. I need to look into some things. That Gandr stuff, and the way Tohsaka used Dust Crystals, I feel a connection here, a similarity that I can make use of…When I get done with breakfast, I need to head to the library and do some reading.' He decided.
"Jaune is everything ok, you seem lost in thought," Noir noted.
Turning and looking up to stare his elder sister in the eyes he said seriously, "Noir, do you believe in reincarnation?"
"Well the Faunus faith talks about it to a point, but it hasn't been proven one way or another why do you ask?" Looking at him with her head tilted to the side in curiosity.
Rubbing the back of his head while silently praying she wouldn't think he was insane, he told her, "I think I'm someone's reincarnation."
Noir stared at him for a moment…blinked once…twice…then she bent down and placed a palm on his forehead while asking, "Are you sure you don't have a fever any longer Jaune?"
"Noir, I'm serious." Jaune deadpanned.
She looked into his eyes for a long moment, neither blinked. Finally, she nodded and stood, "What makes you think this Jaune?"
"When I was out of it, I saw his life, his struggles. I watched him claw his way to the top. Confront what he could become and deny it, refusing to give up on what he believed in. To go from nothing to someone who could fight on par with gods, then I saw him die."
As he spoke, Noir noted an equal measure of admiration and annoyance in her little brother's voice. "It sounds as though you both respect and dislike him at the same time."
Sighing, while rubbing the back of his head, Jaune replied, "Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but that's about right. I mean, I admire what he stood for, what he sought to uphold. He wanted to help people make everyone happy. I can't deny that wanting to help people, to make everyone around you happy is a good thing but-"
Noir nodded but inquired, "But?"
"He thought he could do it all by himself. He didn't really have a plan, or a team, he just went out and helped anyone he came across. While that's all well and good, it doesn't really do much for anyone in the long term does it?"
Noir silently contemplated the question for a moment, going over hundreds of different ways to answer the question in a matter of seconds. Finally, she decided on the most appropriate response. "No, it doesn't. One man alone cannot solve all the world's problems no matter how great his power. If he were to try, he would likely be misconstrued as the world's enemy, as I doubt people could view someone as so altruistic."
That earned her a snort from her younger brother, "You have no idea."
"I take it he died viewed as a villain then?" She asked as they came to a stop in front of his door.
Putting his hand on the door handle Jaune paused, looking back to say, "He didn't but remember what I said about him confronting what he could become?"
Seeing her nod, he finished, "He fought a mirror of himself. One that followed those same ideals to the end and was driven mad by them. One filled with regrets. As he fought him, he saw his past up to the point where he died. But what he didn't see is what happened to him after he died. His ideals twisted into becoming a mass murdered in order to protect those very same masses."
"Jaune…" Noir murmured placing a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm fine Noir, hang on, I'll be right back out."
As Jaune slipped into his room, the dark-haired genius allowed herself to mull over all the information she had gathered.
'Jaune is or at least believes himself to be, the reincarnation of a hero. One who fought and died for the ideal of protecting others. Could this explain the oddness of his Semblance? Possibly. But wait he said he saw the life of both his past self, while his past self also saw the life of another version of himself. Could that have an effect on his battle prowess? Does he knowingly or unknowingly possess some form of skill? This requires both questioning and testing.'
She was brought out of her musings when Jaune reappeared wearing the armor, cloak, and gauntlets from Rouge, Colombe, and Weiss Schnee respectively. But she noted something in the outfit had been changed.
"You changed the color somehow?"
It was just so. The orange that was prevalent throughout the armor and cloak was now a dark green. Hunter-green Noir noted, a color that got its name from commonly being worn by Hunters back before the Great War, only to fall out of favor for more colorful attire after it. Much like how children were named after colors.
"Yeah, it's something I can do with my semblance." He replied before changing the cloak and armor it back to its original colors, not wanting to disrespect the gifts he had been given by altering them without getting permission first.
Noir nodded, accepting the answer while mentally filing away that tidbit of information for later inquiry, deciding not to head down this path of questions she wondered about as her youngest sibling dressed.
As they walked to the dining room, Noir kept an eye on her brother. He may not have noticed, but she did. Everything from his gait to his posture had changed, practically overnight. He stood straight-backed, no longer slouching even a little bit, he held his head high and walked with a practiced ease that belayed that of a skilled warrior. His breaths came calmly and even, and his eyes flicked to and fro as if unconsciously searching for an unseen enemy or marking possible hiding spots or escape routes. She also noted that though he seemed calm, his muscles were half-tensed as if he was prepared to attack or defend at any moment. It was almost as if he'd aged years in a single night.
"Jaune, you said you saw the life of your past self, and he saw the life if his alternate self, up to his own death. When did both of them die exactly?"
"Ya mean like how old were they?" Seeing her nod, Jaune hummed to himself for a moment and finally said, "Both were in their mid-to-late forties."
"And when did they start this, hero thing of theirs?"
"Twenty, the both of them."
'Fifty years' worth of battle experience? No wonder he almost seems like a whole new person. No, not a new person…a Veteran Huntsman.'
"Young Master you're awake, and moving too? This is unprecedented."
"Sebastian, good…uh, morning?" Jaune replied awkwardly pulling himself up to the table giving the butler a kind nod.
The elderly Faunus returned the motion with a kindly smile, "It's afternoon young master, and you must be half-starved. What'll you have?" he asked knowingly.
Jaune looked shocked, "I missed two whole meals. Eggs Benedict with a stack or two of pancakes a medium porterhouse steak, a side of sausage, and hash browns, please."
"Milk tea, and a scrambled egg and sausage, bacon, and ham omelet please."
"Coming right up, young master, Lady Noir. I shall inform your parents of your miraculous recovery while I'm at it. No doubt you were so hungry you forgot to inform them yourself, yes?" He asked, a twinkle in his eye.
"Well, to be fair, first I was freezing, then I was hungry."
The two Arcs sat at the table in silence Jaune noted his sister kept sneaking glances his way every now and again. Finally tiring of this after several minutes, he sighed and asked, "What's up Noir? You've been peeking glances at me for a bit now. You got something you wanna ask?"
"I was wondering if you'd like to play chess with me while we wait for our meal to arrive actually." Noir finally said at last. Before motioning for a maid to come forth bearing her antique chess set.
Jaune blinked in surprise. Chess was more his sister's game than his, while he wasn't horrible, she was superior to him by far. The only person in the house able to put up a decent defense against her was Sabastian due to his advanced age. She knew this, and so did he. So that begged the question, why did she suddenly want to play against him.
'Still, this feels important, and it could be fun.' He mused.
"Game on sis."
"Excellent. Thank you, Roberta."
Jaune did a double-take. She was in her maid uniform. Her skirt and boots were covered in dust from the road, and her dark-brown hair was slightly disheveled, and her glasses had mud on them, making it difficult to see her dark-green eyes, but there was Roberta Cloverfield, her bloodhound ears hanging down and concealing her human ones from view. A kind smile on her face.
"Roberta, what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be on vacation?"
"I heard you were ill young master and cut my time off short."
Jaune sighed having a feeling that might've been the case. Ever since he was young, Roberta had been particularly attached to him, keeping a constant eye on him whenever either his mother or one of his sisters was unable to do so. He didn't mind per-say, but he knew she was very protective of him. Not that it bothered him. His sisters and mother were the exact same way after all.
"You didn't need to do that Roberta, but I appreciate the thought."
"Nonsense. It is my duty to look after you young master." The maid replied kindly but firmly, as Noir set up the chess board.
The board was soon set up he was white, and Noir was black. As was tradition, White moved first. Jaune moved a single pawn one space forward, signaling the start of their game. It only took a few moves for Jaune to wonder if his sister was either getting rusty or intentionally holding back. As, for every piece he lost, he managed to take one of her's in turn, and then some on occasion. By the time their parents had arrived, Jaune was down to one Knight, his Queen, half his pawns, and a single bishop, while Noir had a Bishop, her queen, and eleven pawns remaining.
Glancing up from the board he told her, "You don't have to let me win you know? Hey Mom, Old Man."
Leona couldn't help but stare at her son in shock for a time, finally, she said the only thing that came to mind, desperate hope filling her words, "J-Jaune, you're awake?"
"Am I, or are you just dreaming about me being awake-ow, Noir, that hurt." He said, rubbing his temple where Noir had flicked him in the head.
"Now is not the time for jokes Jaune…we were all anxious about your health last night. So much so that none of us got much in the way of sleep." The scientist chastised gently, but firmly.
Cowed and feeling guilty, "Right, sorry, sorry. I'm okay mom. You're awake, really."
Leona let out a relieved sigh, "Thank goodness." She then wrapped her youngest in a hug and said, "I almost thought I lost you Jaune. Are you sure you're ok?"
"I'm fine mom, just hungry," Jaune replied, feeling slightly embarrassed at his mother's overprotective nature. After all, he was eight now, not a kid anymore.
"Mom, stop it, I'm eight! I'm a man now."
This actually caused both of his parents and sister to laugh, and his mother to say, "You have a few more years before you can be considered a 'man' sweetie."
"Whatever." He groused.
"Brunch is served, young master," Sebastian said coming out balancing several plates of food on his arms.
Jaune's stomach let out a loud roar as the smell of food hit his nose. The blonde felt his mouth water at the sight of the food being placed before him. He wanted nothing more than to dig in, but he held back until his mother, father, and sister too had their own plates set before them. Once they did, however, he attacked his plate like a savage animal. Only to stop when the food was gone, his hunger satiated. Feeling a sudden awkwardness in the air, he looked up to see all the other's looking at him with bewildered yet amused expressions on their faces.
Swallowing hard, he realized he attacked his food without the use of silverware. Wiping his hands off on a napkin he said sheepishly, "Sorry, I was…hungry."
Leona reached out and ruffled her youngest' hair, "Clearly. It's to be expected, though, you've been sick. Do remember your table manners next time Jaune. We don't need to give the bigots any more reason to think of us as animalistic now do we?"
"No, and I'd hate for sis to look bad in front of her bosses." He replied, giving his elder sister a sheepish glance as she moved yet another chess piece.
Much to his surprise, this caused the scientist to chuckle and quip, "I don't think you'll need to worry about that Jaune."
"Why do you say that?" He asked before he moved his Knight and called check.
She gave him a knowing smile, before moving her Bishop and declaring, "Checkmate."
Jaune stared at the board, blinked twice, and then said, "Dang it, you got me. Not that it matters. You were blatantly holding back it I managed to push you that far to begin with."
Much to his surprise, the genius of the family shook her head 'no,' prompting him to ask, "No, whattaya mean no?"
"It's 'what do you mean no' Jaune, and I meant exactly what I said. I was not holding back against you whatsoever. If you seem to be capable of adapting in the heat of the moment to changing battle conditions now."
"Cool…so now what?"
"Now, I need you to come with me kiddo."
The group looked to the shadows of the room, where a crimson portal had opened up a few feet from which, stood Rouge's partner, Raven Branwen.
"Miss Branwen? You need me to go somewhere with you?" Jaune asked, confused by her request but not unhappy to see her again so soon.
"Yeah, our boss, your sisters' and mine, would very much like to meet you."
Cocking his head to the side, he asked, "Why?"
"That's what we would like to know." His father commented darkly coming to stand protectively behind his son's chair.
Raven took a step back. She knew well the power of Xanthus, son of Charlemagne Arc, Vale's Last King. His semblance was that of Absolute Command, the same as his father. If he spoke and gave an order, all those he was talking to were forced to obey. She knew his wife's semblance had something to do with energy manipulation, but he wasn't sure to what capacity.
Bowing respectfully, she spoke, "Your Highness, I come on behalf of my employer. Who believes your youngest may be able to assist him in some fashion."
Slowly, Xanthus nodded, "And who is your employer Miss Branwen?"
"To be honest, I don't know his name. None of us who work for him do, but he said he would recognize his codename of Crown."
Jaune's jaw dropped in shock the moment he heard that "Merrem? Merrem Solomon is here?"
"Is that his name? Merrem Solomon…hmm…doesn't seem to fit him for some reason." Raven mused to herself.
Looking down at his son, Xanthus inquired, "You know her employer son?"
"From another time…in another life, yes." Jaune responded wistfully.
Xanthus was slightly confused by the reply, for he couldn't recall his son ever meeting such a man, 'perhaps he helped him out in town one day? Could be.'
Sighing, Xanthus asked, "Jaune, do you want to go see this person?"
The sole heir to the Arc family name looked up into his father's eyes for a moment, before nodding and saying, "Yeah, if Merrem's asking for me, it must be severe."
"You trust him?"
"With my life," Jaune affirmed briefly looking back on the memories he had of Crown and the many times he and Shirou had each other's back when one was being trained as an executor under Yumi.
The patriarch of the Arc family nodded a couple of times slowly before asking one final question, "Are you sure you feel well enough to go?"
"Something wrong with the kid, he sick?" Raven asked, something akin to concern tingeing her tone.
It was Jaune's mother, who had remained quiet up until now, who spoke up, "He had a rather severe fever last night brought on by Acute Aura Poisoning."
Raven's crimson eyes widened in surprise, before softening, "You ok kid?"
In truth, Jaune was feeling a bit embarrassed from all the attention he was receiving, looking away while rubbing the back of his head, he groused, "I'm fine, really I am. Would you like me to make you some tea Miss Branwen, maybe heat up some leftovers from last night?" he offered.
She had half a mind to refuse, but using her semblance took a bit out of her, so she thought better of it, "Only if it isn't too much trouble."
"Not at all, I'll be right back," Jaune promised before getting up from his chair, stopping both Roberta and Sebastian when they attempted to get the food for his guest.
He made his way to the kitchen, and after getting out a step stool, he rifled through the kitchen cupboards till he found green tea leaves. He filled the kettle with water and set it to boil before he mosied over to the fridge and picked out some of the food he recalled her eating yesterday. He was pleased to see most of the food was that he'd helped prepare himself. As he had a plate heating in the microwave, he tossed some tea leaves into the now boiling water allowing them to seep as the food finished warming.
A trio of beeps signaled that the food was most likely warm now, so he poured out a cup of tea before adding the kettle and food onto a serving tray, and returning to his guest. Raven greeted him with a smile when she saw the small feast he was toting in for her benefit.
"Thanks, kiddo, you didn't have to do that. Why don't you sit down? You're looking a little peaky." She sounded concerned at the end.
His mother gave him a once over, "She's right, you do look a tad pale. Sit down, and let's have Sebastian fetch you a cup of tea. It might be just what you need."
The eight-years-old stubbornly shook his head, "I'm fine. I just need a minute."
Roberta who had returned with an empty cup from the kitchen, gave the stubborn youth a sharp glare, "Young Master, you are going to drink this tea, and you're not going anywhere until you don't look like a corpse warmed over, understood?"
"Yes, Roberta." He replied meekly. He knew better than to anger the maid, she could be scary when she wanted to be. On occasion, she would get this glassy look in her eyes, and she would try her hardest to suppress a shiver. On several occasions he had seen her with her sleeves rolled up in the kitchen and saw her arms crisscrossed with faint scars. Knowing that aura heals all but the most significant of injuries, not even leaving a scar, meant she must've seen serious combat at some point before becoming a maid.
His suspicions were confirmed when he decided to try Tracing her parasol one day for practice and discovered it was a makeshift shield, an over-under scattergun, and had a stiletto knife hidden in the handle. He knew her past then. She was a former member of Vacuo Special Recon and Logistics or Visceral. A unit comprised of trained hardened killers, whose job it was to make sure things in the desert continent didn't get too out of hand, by discreetly taking out foreign elements and possible rabble rousers that could stir up civil unrest in Vacuo.
Like for example, the attempt of Vacuo's government to crack down on the lawlessness that plagued their Kingdom. Within a week of all the new sanctions being announced, the Council members were eliminated one by one. Some were shot, others stabbed, one was lit on fire, but the message was clear. Don't stick your nose where it doesn't belong.
Roberta's past was one of bloodshed and struggle. But he knew full well she was the strongest person in the house bar maybe his Old Man. The things she's done horrified him but also made him appreciate her so much more. For despite her bloody past she was one of the kindest people he knew. It was at his insistence that she was given a vacation.
Once Jaune finished his cup, he turned to Raven and said, "I'll come with you to see Merrem, but on one condition."
The charcoal haired huntress narrowed her crimson eyes, furrowing her brow before she asked, "Which is?"
"Roberta comes with me," Jaune replied, serious.
The maid herself was quite surprised by his demand, "Me, Young Master? But I'm just a servant."
Turning to her with a smile on his face and sadness in his blue eyes, Jaune replied, "We both know that's not true Roberta."
Cloverfield stiffened for just a moment before asking, "How did you find out?"
To which Jaune tapped the side of his head, pointing towards his eyes. "These eyes tell me everything."
Roberta lowered her head in shame, before speaking quietly, "I see."
"Roberta!" The maid looked up sharply when the young boy called her name. Holding her gaze steadily in his own, he spoke, "I don't hold anything you did against you. Up until recently, I only knew Roberta Cloverfield as my friend and maid. But right now, I don't need Roberta, the maid."
Jaune paused to catch his breath, his cerulean blue eyes never leaving her dark green ones, "Right now, I need Rosa Cancha del trébol, the Bloodhound of the Desert."
Roberta shivered as she heard her real name spoken for the first time in almost a decade. She took a shuddering breath, before giving him a smile. Yet her eyes were darker than the void of space, and her tone clipped and cold as she replied, "If that is what you require, Young Master."
"Yes?" She replied her voice soothing and chipper once more, the light of humanity returning to her gaze.
Giving her a warm smile, he replied, "Go get your things."
"I'll be back in just a moment. Please, excuse me." She left with a bow, her tone once again frigid and eyes hard.
After she had left, Raven commented, "I've see a lot of shit, but someone who can go from kind and caring to cold-hearted killer in the blink of an eye? That's new."
"Roberta or Rosa, if you prefer, has had a difficult life." Xanthus began, his voice solemn "She was forced to fight and kill from a young age. When she came to me, she was only a couple years older than Jaune is now, asking for asylum. We offered to adopt her, but she was more than content taking up the position of a maid in our household."
Sebastian let out a rueful chuckle, "Yes teaching her how to be a maid was hell. I can't rightly recall how many plates she broke in the first year."
"Remember the time she set the kitchen on fire making breakfast?"
Sebastian nodded, "Yes, it gave us an excellent excuse to redecorate."
The sound of someone clearing their throat caused the two reminiscing men to turn to the entrance where Roberta stood holding a black silken-steel mesh parasol in one hand and a black handbag in the other. She was giving both of them the evil eye even as she blushed in embarrassment. Both master and servant looked away abashed as the former child-soldier approached her young charge.
"Got everything you need Roberta?"
She was silent for a moment before nodding, "Yes, I think I've prepared for every possible situation."
Jaune stood popping his back before saying, "Then let's go. Miss Raven, if you would?"
"Sure kid." Raven drew her crimson blade and slashed the air, causing a red portal to open.
"Ladies first," Jaune said with a bow.
The trio found themselves in a darkened office, but due to his heritage, Jaune could see just fine. A polished oak wood desk sat on the other side of the room, bookshelves lined with tomes covered the wall behind it, and he could tell he was standing on a rather intricate looking rug depicting a mandala on its surface in golden thread. An overstuffed swivel chair sat in front of the desk, currently facing away from the trio.
Taking a couple of steps forwards, Raven saluted, via slamming a clenched fist against her chest, "Ut Quod Illustratum. Mission complete sir. I brought the boy…"
"But?" The voice that echoed out from the shadows, sounding curious, kind, and slightly malevolent all at once.
"I was forced to reveal your presence to some of his family members, and he refused to come with me unless he was allowed to bring his maid with him, sir."
A few moments passed, and then a chuckle rang out of the black, "Ah, I see you're still quite stubborn. Always wanting to do things your own way. You haven't changed much have you, Shirou?"
The figure turned around in his chair, revealing his face. His skin was pale white, his face aristocratic with high cheekbones, a narrow jawline, and a thin nose. His hair was long and dark and hung like a veil of black silk from his head, while his eyes shown as two perfectly carved sapphires in his face, his lips curved in a caring yet somehow cruel smirk. He was clad in a simple blue silken kimono with white snowflakes.
Jaune stared at him for a moment before pointing at him and bursting out laughing, "Oh god! Solomon, what happened to you man?! You're a bishōjo now! AHHAHAHHAHAHA!"
"I'm a boy you jackass…and its Kaie Karyou nowadays." he sulked.
Jaune doubled over in laughter, "That's even worse, you're a Bishōnen!"
"Oh yeah, what about you?! Blonde hair, blue eyes, wearing orange and black, got any kunai hidden anywhere maybe feel the urge to yell the name of your emo best friend?"
Jaune looked down at his attire then face palmed, "Damn it! I didn't realize."
"What, no believe it, no exclaiming about how you're going to become Hokage?"
Jaune flipped the vampire the bird, "Go Fuck yourself with a cross, Crown."
"I don't swing that way Tsurugi. It's nice to know you feel comfortable enough to be open about your sexuality, though."
"That's funny coming from a guy whose left leg is a windup sex doll." Jaune shot back.
The two silently glared each other down for a moment, and tension filled the air. For a moment, Raven thought the two were going to come to blows, only for them both to burst out into raucous laughter before they each moved forward and greeted each other like old friends, with Crown having to take a knee so the two could share a manly hug.
"Would you hold it against me if I picked you up and started singing Circle of Life?"
To which Jaune deadpanned, "Let me go, you pedo-priest."
"So that's a no then?" Kaie asked for confirmation.
Pulling back, Jaune said flatly, "Do it, and you're going to be missing your prick afterward."
"So mean, threatening my manhood like that." He sulked before letting go.
Fixing his clothes, Jaune replied, "Who said I was talking about your junk?"
It took a moment, but the vampire's eyes widened in surprise before turning deep crimson, and he covered his mouth protecting his precious fangs therein. "You wouldn't."
Jaune smiled in faux-innocence, "Of course I wouldn't buddy, just like you wouldn't pick me up and try and reenact the opening of the Lion King right?"
Clearing his throat, the vampire, abruptly stood saying, "No, no of course not."
"So uh, what exactly did you need me for? I hope it's not for a fight because I'm not really up to scratch at the moment."
"Oh no, no, nothing like that," Kaie promised while leading the way out of his office.
People shuffled to and fro each wearing an overly large Grimm mask. When they saw Kaie, they stopped and saluted before going back to their business. As they walked down the halls, Kaie spoke, "I'm sure you're wondering what we do here?"
"ta crossed my mind."
"We are the Artificers. We catalog, maintain, and safeguard humanity by remembering their history, their accomplishments, their mistakes, their wars, and we make sure they don't make the same ones."
"So, you've established the Executors two-point-oh in other words."
Shaking his head, Kaie replied, "You don't understand. All these myths, fairytales, and legends that float around Remnant? They are not just stories. Each one holds a grain of truth. Truths humanity has forgotten due to their constant warring and destruction. It is the job of my organization to hunt down the truth amidst the legends. To find the facts and if necessary, suppress long lost knowledge for the continued survival of humanity."
"In other words, the Executors two-point-oh, minus the religious fanaticism."
Sighing, Kaie replied, "It appears I will have to show you, come."
He led them to an elevator. Clamoring inside, Kaie hit a button, and the elevator began a slow descent, the sound of metal grinding against metal was audible from the start. Turning to the person next to him, who happened to be Roberta, Kaie smiled kindly and said, "Well hello there, I don't believe we've been properly introduced. Moryou Kaie and you are?"
The kind smile never left his face as he inquired, "And how do you know my old friend, Miss Cloverfield?"
The hardened killer found herself stuttering slightly, "I-I'm his maid like Miss Branwen said."
"Ah, is that what she said? I kind of tuned her out after she had said she arrived with Shirou." This response earned an aggravated sigh from the older woman who was standing directly behind her boss and a laugh from Jaune.
"And you, how do you know Jaune, and why do you keep referring to him as Shirou?" Roberta inquired her eyes narrowed in slight hostile inquiry.
On hearing this, Kaie turned to Jaune and said, "You didn't tell her?"
"I haven't told most of them. I'm giving them time to adjust. Hell, I'm still trying to adjust." The blonde replied while rubbing the bridge of his nose in exasperation.
The vampire ruffled his hair good-naturedly, "Give it time, it'll get easier."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Jaune admitted, "At what point does Jaune Arc begin, and Shirou Emiya end?"
"Don't think of it like that, think of it as a circle, it has no beginning, no end it just is." The elder boy said sagely.
Shrugging the eight-year-old replied, "Can't be any worse than trying to deny his existence I suppose."
"Excuse me, but would one of you mind explaining what's going on?" Roberta asked, her voice tinged with annoyance.
Kaie shared a look with Jaune, one that asked, 'Do you want to tell her or should I?'
To which, Jaune silently nodded his assent to the older boy.
Kaie turned to the killer maid and said, "I call him Shirou because that's what his name was in his past life. His previous incarnation was that of one Emiya Shirou one very stubborn boy who really wanted to be a hero."
Turning to her young charge, Roberta asked, "Young Master, is what this man says true?"
It was a simple admission, but it raised so many questions in the maid. She opened her mouth prepared to ask one of the many inquiries on the tip of her tongue when the elevator finally came to a stop. Once the doors clattered open, all of them couldn't help but stare in awe.
For before them was a massive titan of metal. Easily one-hundred feet tall seemingly made of solid bronze, with a left hand made of pure silver. It had a face carved of a bearded man and massive arms carrying a bearded axe that looked to also be a giant cannon. Sigils all across its form seemed to glow a luminous blue, from its eyes to the gaps in-between its beard, to runes carved into its chest.
After a moment, Jaune asked, "Ok, I'll bite, what's with the Numidium?"
"That is Tyr, one of the Deus Machina."
Sighing, Jaune said, "God Machine? A giant mecha, seriously?"
"A giant mecha powered by human souls." Kaie corrected.
Doing his best suppress a groan, Jaune said, "Let me guess, ancient cultures that practiced human sacrifice used them to power those things?"
"Got it in one." Kaie said walking over to a monitor that appeared to be showing a time-lapse of Remnant. As the group watched it showed one giant landmass, and five random symbols, a Wand, an Axe, Twin Daggers, A Sword, and a Shield. Then it was shattered and vast tracts of land sunk into the sea, leaving behind the continents as they were known today. Two symbols, the Axe and Twin Daggers, ended up in what would become the continent of Sanus housing both Vacuo and Vale. While the Wand ended up in frozen Atlas, and the Shield in Minstrel.
The Sword alone ended up on the uninhabited Dragon continent.
"What are we looking at here Kaie?" Jaune asked as the visual began to loop.
"What you're looking at is the power of these weapons. At in time from what we can piece together, the world was one continent, then as often do, greed and a lust for power took hold, giving rise to God Machines. The five great nations at the time warred and tore the supercontinent apart. Atlas became a tundra, Vacuo once a verdant forest by all accounts became a desert with few oasis' surviving, and Minstrel became a swampland."
"So, what do you need me for exactly?" Jaune asked.
In response, the Vampire led his old friend over to a trio of half broken pillars, which had various researchers surrounding them. Each was covered in cuneiform. The moment he saw them, he knew exactly what he wanted. Turning to him, he stated flatly, "I'll trace the pillar on two conditions."
"Conditions, the old you would've done it just to be helpful…your maturing, I'm proud of you."
"Firstly," Jaune began pretending he didn't hear the vampire, "I need access to any information on bounded fields you may have, I'd like to peruse through your weapon cache."
His eyes twinkling with mirth, Kaie retorted, "Oh deciding to actually try hard at being a magus this time around are we?"
Shrugging, Jaune replied, "Eh, I've got time before I join someplace like Beacon or whatever unlike last time around, so why not?"
Nodding sagely the vampire inquired, "And the second condition?"
"If this happens to lead us to a certain Golden Jackass, and I somehow end up having to fight him and survive…I. Am going. To kick. Your ass…"
Jaune shook his head, "No you don't. It was annoying enough dealing with that egotistical jackass the first time around. So if I have to deal with that blonde-haired prick again, because of your meddling, I am going to kick your ass so hard, your next incarnation will still be feeling the phantom pains, caprice?"
The two stared each other down for a moment before the vampire finally nodded, "Understood."
"Good, now stand back and hand me something to write with, this is gonna be a pain in the ass."
Accepting a pen and paper from one of the researchers, Jaune laid a hand on one of the obelisks and prepared to write with the other. "Trace on!"
It was old, older than Kaie even but the intentions of the writer still sung out just as powerfully as when he first thought to carve them down in the first place. So Jaune began to write, and by the time he'd finished, he had a translation that was roughly a paragraph or so long. It read:
"The King of All, waits, sleeping beneath desert sands.
To those who would seek to rob the Kings treasury, follow the setting sun.
But beware. For the sentinel of mud ever stands guard, over his sleeping friend.
When the key meets the lock, the King shall rise again, and reclaim the greatest treasure."
Looking down at the paper, Jaune felt the urge to curse under his breath. Instead, he said, "Well, that's ominous."
Showing the writing to Kaie, Jaune asked, "Your thoughts? Because I think it's Gilgamesh."
Quickly reading over the note, the vampire reluctantly agreed with his friend's assessment, "This is as I feared."
Sighing Jaune ground out, "Why did I have a feeling you knew about this already?"
"I didn't know, I just suspected." Kaie defended.
The duo looked over to see Rouge approaching her gaze fixed on her superior, and if she could kill him with her glare, he would likely already be dead.
Pointing at Kaie with his thumb, Jaune proceeded to throw his friend under the proverbial bus, "This guy tricked me into coming here. He expects me to fight a golden-haired demi-god who can fire mythical melee weapons like arrows."
"I do not." Kaie retorted.
"Oh so you think you can beat the King of Heroes all by yourself?" the blonde challenged.
"…Ok, so maybe I had ulterior motives, but it's for a goo-" He was silenced by Rouge's glare alone.
She then turned a sweet loving smile on her little brother and said, "Hey Jaune, can I talk to you over here for a sec?"
Seeing no harm in it, he followed her over to a corner, but not before saying, "I'll be right back, take five people."
"Will do kid. Take your time." Raven said not unkindly.
Once the two were tucked away, Rouge sighed and asked, "What did you do to make Raven like you so quickly? Do you know it took me over a year to get her to stop speaking to me in grunts?"
Shrugging, Jaune replied, "I don't know, I thought she was always that nice."
The eldest Arc child shook her head, "No, she usually has this holier than thou attitude because she thinks she's the strongest one around…then again, I don't think even she's ever one-shot a Nyctimene."
Jaune cleared his throat, cutting his sister off and saying, "Uh, Rogue, I hate to interrupt, but you didn't bring me over here to complain about my relationship with Miss Branwen did you?"
Rouge sighed, "No, no I did not. Jaune, I know you just want to help, but I don't want you involved in this, not any more than you already are."
He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze, "Sis, I know you want to keep me safe, but this may be something only I can do."
"Due to your hax semblance?" she guessed.
"Most likely." He affirmed.
Biting back a curse, the Artificer rubbed her temples and said, "I can't just convince you to drop this?"
Giving her a sad smile he replied, "Afraid not. It's true what they say you know? Once one knows something, they can't unknow it. That and he who increaseth Knowledge-"
"Increaseth Sorrow." She finished the quote. "I wanted to spare you from all this, I wanted you to just be a regular Huntsman fighting average Grimm. Not fighting monsters out of myth and hunting down super weapons of mass destruction. But if your dead set on this…"
She then leaned down and pressed her lips to his brow, keeping them there just a tad too long in his opinion, but he chose not to comment on that. "That's for luck, and to remind you that you need to stay safe, for all our sakes. Now, I think it's time you go on back home, don't you? Besides, I need to have a 'chat' with my employer."
Returning her smile with one of his own, Jaune replied, "I would like to sis, but he promised me some books if I helped translate those pillars, and I haven't gotten them yet."
Walking up to the vampire and giving him a pointed look, she said, "Books, then home. No buts."
Kaie sighed and motioned for an Artificer wearing a vulture-themed mask, and he presented the boy with a small black USB drive. "Everything you could ever want to know about that particular subject can be found there."
"Thanks, Kaie, I appreciate it," Turning to Raven he commanded, "Home Jeeves."
Giving him a slight glare Raven retorted, "Keep it up kid, and we'll see how long it takes you to swim back home when I drop you in the middle of the Lunus Ocean."
Jaune was silent for the rest of the trip back. Partly out of worry of provoking his 'ride' but mostly out of his eagerness to begin digging through the information on the USB Drive.
Chapter Length: 7,579 words Number of Pages: 16 Date Completed: 2/23/17
AN: This chapter was brought to you today by the Hemmingway method of writing! That and Rock 'n' Roll. I am for the most part happy with this chapter. The only part I'm slightly dissatisfied with is the revelation of Roberta's backstory. But I just couldn't think of another way to do it without rewriting hundreds of words.
So that aside, I'm happy with how this chapter turned out and I hope you all are too. In particular I liked writing the Kaie and Jaune interaction. They act like best friends who don't hesitate to mock and threaten each other. They act like brothers basically. Expect a lot of that whenever they're around each other. I don't really have much to say, so I'll end it here with I hope you all enjoyed and till next time, Bubbajack out! Peace!