Ruby circled nervously around the airship, "Come on, tell us! What's wrong?"
The pilot was kneeling next to the backside of the Airship, checking on the insides, "That's the thing, I don't know..." he sighed, smacking the thing once or twice and then taking out a wrench, screwing and unscrewing some components. "I don't understand, it was working last time...I even made sure to change the Dust for this voyage."
"It is impolite to keep ladies waiting, you know." Weiss, still with her hair down, stated. The group was all gathered around the airship, standing there or sitting on the grassy ground. They had to make an emergency landing on the northern edge of the continent due to a mysterious malfunction.
"You're not ladies, you're teenagers!" Polnareff sat down on a tree stump, hands on his knees. The only things of interest around were trees, trees, and more trees.
Weiss gave him an ice-cold stare before saying "Unnecessary comment, let us move on."
"Still, this is fun! I've never been so outside the borders before!" Ruby jumped up a tree and moved her legs back and forth while sitting on top of the tall tree branch.
Kakyoin was just under her tree, arms crossed, "I would say 'get off that tree! It's dangerous!' But I don't think such a small fall would hurt you anyhow."
"'Fun' aside..." Blake started, "How long will it take you to fix this?"
The pilot scratched the side of his head, thinking, "Hmm, about a day or so."
"What?! That's outrageous! We need to go to Atlas immediately!" Weiss couldn't believe those words were coming out of her mouth. She didn't think even for a second about coming back to Atlas before this turn of events.
"That's the minimum! Or do you want us to crash in the middle of the ocean mid-flight?" the pilot asked, going back to fixing up the airship.
"But what about food and shelter?" Blake was starting to get a little bit nervous, she didn't like this situation one bit. "As far as I know there are no villages for miles and miles."
The pilot was head deep into airship's engine, fiddling around with it, some nuts and bolts would occasionally fly out behind him. "There's some canned food for emergencies, it should last us the day. And the forest will do as a shelter."
Judging from their expressions nobody at all was pleased with that idea. "What about the Grimm?" Jotaro simply asked.
"Oh, come on, no need to worry about that!" Yang announced, cracking her knuckles. "We're all experienced fighters here, right? A few Grimms won't be a problem if we keep an eye out for them!"
And so they did. They worked for three hours for establishing their temporary shelter: a rudimentary campfire, a couple of cut down logs for benches and very uncomfortable beds, and a couple of pillows they managed to bring along for the trip, though not enough for all eight of them.
"Haah...haah..phew. Finally, it's done." Ruby took some deep breaths, "At least moving around those logs was some good training."
"Yeah, seriously. I might build up some serious muscle if this keeps going!"Polnareff flexed his arms, showing off.
"You're already muscular, how much more beefy can you possibly get?" Blake shook her head, sighing.
"Hey, more is better. Right?"
"In other news!" Ruby suddenly changed the topic, "The pilot said the airship should be up and running tomorrow morning! So for now we'll just have to sleep here. So...we should give out guard duties!"
"Count me out! I want to sleep." Weiss quickly said, head fall into the pillow laying on the hard cut wood, her hair was an absolute mess, nobody in her team ever saw her like this!
Yang raised a hand, "I have an idea!" she started, and began explaining as soon as all eyes were on her. "How about we have two persons on guard? One of our team, and one of Jotaro's group!"
"What? Why couples?" Kakyoin spoke up, confused by the concept.
"Well...four eyes are better than two, right? And by doing so, you boys get to pull your weight."
Kakyoin closed his eyes. "But if we're doing turns that would mean that all of us will have to have at least one guard duty each, while one of you won't need to do it at all."
"I think it's less about us 'pulling our weight' and more making us do all the work..."
"C'mon, Polnie. I wouldn't think of something so selfish."
Polnie? Where did that come from?
He sighed, and looked over at Jotaro, "Whaddya say?"
Jotaro simply nodded, as if he barely heard the discussion. He was oddly silent...too silent even by his standards.
"Then it's decided!" Ruby announced.
After that they played Rock Paper Scissor to decide their turns, and it went out like this:
Blake:Kakyoin, then Yang:Jotaro and lastly Ruby:Polnareff. Weiss was the lucky winner and was promptly left out of the guard turns, just as she wanted.
Jotaro seemed to stare emptily ahead, beyond the fire of the campfire and into the shadows of the forest.
"Hey...do you feel fine? You seem out of it." Yang looked at him from the other side of the campfire, sitting on the ground. Everyone else was sleeping on top of the cut down tree logs, and
Jotaro closed his eyes and gritted his teeth tightly for just a second, as if in pain, before going back to his previous expression.
Yang sighed, placing a leg on top of the other, "I know you're not as emotionless as you want to let on, you're just thinking about something, aren't you?"
"...huh?" As if snapping back to reality, Jotaro looked at Yang like she grew a second head.
"See? You weren't even listening to me." Yang pointed at him, as if to say 'gotcha'. "You barely spoke a word today, and you didn't even eat."
"Don't be such a pain. Yes, I've been thinking, what about it?" Jotaro replied, "That's what most people do, right?"
"Then let's talk about what you're thinking. At least we'll pass this boring guard trip quickly." She gave him a relaxed smile.
"Fine, fine, damn." Jotaro sighed, and looked up at her. "It sounds stupid, but I've been having some strange...visions while we were on the airship, and the more we got closer to Atlas the more vivid they become."
She tilted her head, "Visions? What kind of visions?"
"That's the thing, I don't know for certain." He touched the side of his head, "But what I know is that it's giving me a big headache, and there's some sort of...spinning..." Jotaro paused, gritting his teeth again, "...disk. And it just keeps happening."
"Why didn't you tell us about this sooner? We could have helped you, y'know." Yang said that instinctively, but on second thought...what could they have done to fix something so strange?
"I actually got an idea on why it might be happening." He started, "For two times, after having some strange dreams, I woke up with strange cuts on my arms and legs, one time I even passed out in public. For the longest time I couldn't remember what the 'dream' was, but..."
"You remember the fight at the tower, right?"
"Duh, too bad I wasn't there to see it."
"Well, when that 'Hunter' used those silver objects he called 'replicas', I suddenly remembered. Despite Kakyoin and Polnareff also being affected by this 'dream', I was the only one to remember them, and then be affected by these visions..."
"So you're saying the visions have some sort of connection to the Silver Records?"
Jotaro nodded and then took a deep breath, finally speaking to someone about it felt like taking a load off his chest.
She looked down, arms crossed over her chest, "Just what are these Silver Records anyway? From what we know it could really be anything."
She blinked and then yawned, stretching her arms upwards, looking at her asleep teammates. "All this thinking is getting me tired, think it's time to change guard?"
However, without even having said 'good night', Jotaro was laying on the grass, asleep. It seemed he had exhausted all energies for that day.
"Wow." She laughed under her breath, and then wished him a good night before waking up Ruby and Polnareff for their turn.
Josuke looked down at his hand. Where the hell was he? Wherever he looked was snow, snow, snow, and more snow, like an infinite icy desert. And yet he didn't feel the single bit cold.
"What the hell..? I was just sleeping in that stupid broom closet, and now-"
Then something seemed to appear out of the snow. Four silver circular disks, big as bike wheels, floated in the air, all four lined next to each other. The hollow centre began to glow red, and suddenly it felt like four giant eyes were staring Josuke.
"T-The hell's is this?!" Josuke got chills, was this a dream? It had to be one of those lucid dreams he had been hearing about, he closed his eyes and tried to tell himself to wake up.
"ACTIVE THREAT DETECTED. EXPULSION. EXPULSION." The loud mechanical voice boomed in his ear, making him stagger backwards. Then the loud sound of a siren started to reverb around the place. But it didn't make sense, how could it reverb if it was in such an open place?!
Okay, now he was really, really freaking out. The scenario around him seemed to twist and turn and melt, it was like something from a fever-induced nightmare. He could just imagine those spinning disks shooting out giant laser beams at him.
Wake up wake up wake up wake up wake up!
He repeated it over and over in his head, closing his eyes. After a certain point he felt everything go silent.
He woke up in the middle of the night, his bed a sweaty mess, he found himself sit up and breath heavily, clutching at the covers. "W-what the…?"
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was just a dream, he was safe there, he was sure of it.
He looked up and glared at the camera. It was best he didn't act weird, he had to lay low as much as possible. It was possible that someone was watching him right at that moment.
He laid down again and covered his body with the thick fur covers
"Father." Fiore called out, stepping into the wide room. No, it was not a simple room, it was more like holy ground.
Half of it was a huge underground cathedral, with symbols of the Silver Records spread out on banners, the other half was a deep void that went down and down and down, deep into the bowels of the earth, and in the depth laid the most precious items of all, the true Silver Records. That is where they gathered for the most delicate rituals and sacrifices.
The hooded master was standing on the edge of the void, looking down below, "Yes?"
Only she ever called him father, not even as a child Brick called him that. "I just wanted to let you know...I was serious about my offer. I will take on any punishment for letting Brick die. Take my arms or my legs, or even my life if you wish." She looked down, sombre.
"Do not be foolish." He turned around, facing her. "I am just glad that you are now safe."
It was just as Brick said, her father would not shed a single tear if he died, he only cared about her. That didn't make her feel better at all.
"And do not even dare think 'It would have been better if it would have been me.'" He walked towards her, keeping his head down, and placed a hand on her shoulder, "Fiore, you are so much more important than you think, you are not a simple Hunter of Men, you are gifted with a power like no other, the power to control the Grimm naturally. If it were not for you I do not think we would have come this far."
She looked down, silently. "Because the Silver Records need both human blood and Grimm essence to create Elixirs, I know." A tear rolled down her cheek, her mascara along with it, "I just...wish I could have given this idiotic gift to someone else."
Even the master of the Silver Records could not bear see his daughter in such a state. He embraced her into a hug, petting her head. For that moment the cold hearted leader seemed a bit more human. "There there, soon our ultimate project will be complete."
She looked up at his fathere, clearing away her tears, "Y...you me-"
Suddenly, someone ran inside the Cathedral. A simple member of the Silver Records, looking agitated, "Master Bronzo! The Records! They're...agitated!"
He quickly dissolved the hug, letting the daughter sit on a stone bench. "In what sense 'agitated'?"
"I-I don't know...it's just acting strangely!"
Bronzo quickly apologized to Fiore and left the cathedral.
Soon after he was inside the Chamber of the Records. The chamber was wide, and the smell of blood covered it entirely, like how stains of dried blood covered the ground and walls. And in the centre there was a large pedestal, with the four spinning Records. Two Records spun on top of one-another, and the other pair did the same.
They should have, at least. The four records were floating and seemed disjointed, floating restlessly and spinning quickly.
Bronzo's eyes went wide with shock and surprise. "I...cannot believe this, the Silver Records themselves are afraid."
The shadowy large figure moved around the mansion, looking out lazily outside the window of the mansion. This was the only time he was allowed a safe viewing of the outside. He touched his bare chest, his wound was almost completely healed, it was only a matter of time.
"Sir, the preparations are done." Another figure, one of a bald man in an Atlas uniform, wandered inside the room, holding up the severed head of a man by the hair.
"Ah, yes, Steele." Dio turned around, his body covered by the shadows, "To think that one must go through so much just to summon one's Stand...How ridiculous." He mused, arms crossed.
The ex-Officer Steele bowed down before his master, dropping the head.
"But I have to give credit where it is due. You have done well serving me, and your Stand opens the door of my plan." Dio smirked devilishly, "Just a bit more time and I, Dio, will be the one ruling over that woman, and then none shall stand in my way ever again."
[To Be Continued]-