Beta by UGX7 and TheMischieviousPuppyDog.
I know, shorter than usual, but been having trouble with this story.
Jaune was the last one to land into canals before quickly scanning the area. So far, there were no signs of whatever was moving underground.
"So far so good," stated Ren, who had activated his Semblance upon landing, just to see nothing out of the ordinary.
"Maybe we scared them off?" suggested Yang.
Jaune narrowed his eyes for a bit before replying, "No...they're still here. I can feel them through Fafnir."
"Fafnir?" asked Maria, but nobody bothered to explain that to her.
"Then we should eliminate them," suggested Ruby, cocking her gun.
"Only way I suppose," sighed Blake.
"Then let's go!" exclaimed Yang, pounding her fists against each other.
They barely took a few steps forward, going right into a four-way intersection when they heard loud scuttling noises, followed by loud groaning noises. In an instant, coming from all four lanes, Grimm shuffled out.
Maria froze when she saw just what sort of Grimm they were dealing with.
'Grimm Apathy!? And such a large horde at that! And we're surrounded. We have to move or-'
Maria didn't have the chance to finish her thought as the Apathies unleashed its ability, screaming at them from all four corners. Maria instantly fell to the ground, feeling her whole self growing numb. She cursed her disability once more, growling as her mechanical eyes twitched. If only she hadn't lost her sight and powers due to that ambush, the Apathy would never have been a match for her! Instead, she was on the ground, trying to push through the Apathies screams with her will and her years of training before the injury. It seemed as though these Apathies were using their full power to break their will
'The others!' thought Maria as she craned her head up to see if they were alright.
What she saw shocked her so much that she thought her mechanical eyes had malfunctioned. Each one of them was straining a bit, but each one of them was still standing with their weapons out. They were doing far better than even the most experienced Huntsman or Huntresses. What astonished her the most was Jaune's face. It wasn't pain, or sleepiness, or even dullness. It was just pure rage.
One of the things all dragons had in common was pride. A sense of freedom. To never be controlled like a puppet or a slave. Lung Wang was probably the most prideful of all of Jaune's contractors, but each one of them had their own pride.
Which was why they were all furious when the Apathy tried to 'control' Jaune. Jaune himself had inherited this pride, being a seven dragon kings' contractor. One of the few things that one should never do to a dragon is an attempt to control his or her will. And the Apathy had touched that forbidden scale.
"These Grimm dare to control our contractor...his mates and retainers...and by extension us!?" growled Lung Wang.
"Show these puny Grimm just who they have decided to anger!" roared Ryo-Wo.
Jaune growled in agreement as he raised his blade up high, the edge shining in bright light. Its blade had been infused from Andusk's power from full immersion link. Before any of the Grimm could react, Jaune swung his blade down.
Maria's jaw dropped as a wave of white energy blasted off from Jaune's swipe, instantly vaporizing the Apathy as it came into contact with it. The wave of annihilation continued forward, destroying the Apathy in front of Jaune as they tried to escape. Then Maria noticed some light in her peripheral vision and turned in time to see Ruby standing up, her eyes glowing with white light.
"Argh, you are all so annoying! LIGHT!" shouted Ruby as white light flooded the corridor she was staring at, instantly destroying the Grimm Apathy there.
With two corridors free of Grimm, that Apathy's attempt to neutralize them lowered drastically.
"Assholes!" growled Yang as she got up, her hair lighting up in flames, "I'll kick all your asses for that!"
Then without hesitation, she dove into a crowd of Apathy and started punching them, each hit leaving a scorching mark as they began to die. Blake quickly went to help Yang while Weiss began to summon her Dragoon knight to help Ruby, leaving the other corridor that was left to NPR. Nora cackled as she blasted herself forward with her hammer, slamming her hammer into an Apathy. Pyrrha and Ren began to lay covering fire at once, drawing nearer to help Nora.
Maria was left speechless as she saw the eight students destroying the Grimm Apathy horde without hesitation, shrugging off its ability to rob wills.
"Maria, keep close to me for safety!" yelled out Jaune as he sliced another Apathy, pointing his shield at another with the shotgun muzzle out. The shot blasted several Apathies into pieces.
Maria huffed as she quickly walked towards him but decided to join Ruby instead, seeing that Jaune would be well off by himself. Just because she was old, didn't mean she was helpless! She drew out a gun and began to lay supporting fire for Jaune. Since the Apathy was quite weak individually, a single shot took one out.
Ruby and Weiss
Ruby was slicing through the Apathy with her beloved Crescent Rose. She had upgraded it quite a few times, enhancing the blade to be stronger and capable of storing some of her Silver Eye powers into it. Several Apathy tried to dogpile her, only to miss as Ruby transformed into a flurry of rose petals. After a few experiments, she had found out that she didn't have a mere speed semblance. Thanks to training with Qrow and Raven, she found out that she could actually transform into countless rose petals while maintaining high speeds, making it difficult to land a hit on her.
Weiss was maintaining her Dragoon knight while dashing into the fray, piercing countless Grimm with her rapier. Her Dragoon knight covered her back, sometimes hurling its spear into others before summoning another one.
Whenever the Apathy tried to use its screams, it was easily countered by Ruby's Silver Eyes.
Yang and Blake
Yang and Blake were destroying the Apathy in their section of the corridor, not letting any get away. Yang dashed in, her hair burning in golden flames while leaving streaks of fire as she weaved and punched. Blake created several clones to help speed up the process.
Pyrrha, Ren, and Nora
Pyrrha uncorked a small container and, using her Semblance, pulled out liquid metal from the flask. With a flick of her wrist, the liquid metal hardened into balls and flew at the Apathy at untold speeds, shredding up anything in its path. The Grimm Apathy tried to use its screams on them, only for Ren to play a small song from his knife, creating a shield to protect them. Nora jumped from behind Ren, and with a maniacal grin, smashed the head of the leading Apathy.
Maria was telling herself to head back to Atlas first thing when they hit civilization and get her mechanical eyes checked. Because there was no way that the Grimm was actually trying to flee from Jaune. It wasn't trying to use its scream to weaken Jaune. It wasn't trying to lure it to a trap. It was literally running for its life, scraping up against the wall in the attempt to dig itself out. Not that it had any success, as Jaune sliced right through them.
Not even an Alpha version of the Apathy, the Grimm Lethargy, tried to fight against a furious Jaune. Though the Lethargy was a bigger and more powerful version of Apathy, it's strength and defense weren't that high. Its' scream that robbed willpower was much higher, but when used against Jaune, it just pissed off the dragons even more.
Soon enough, the Grimm in the underground water system was completely exterminated.
"Woo, that was fun!" grinned Nora, spinning her hammer.
"I'm glad that we were the ones to deal with that," stated Blake, "I can't imagine any other teams doing as well as us, thanks to the blessings we have."
"Did explain why I didn't feel so energetic," nodded Yang.
"Or why Jaune seemed so angry," added Pyrrha.
"Another question is how did all these Grimm get into the water system?" asked Ren.
"Maybe there are some journals that explain it," suggested Weiss.
"We'll look for answers later. Now that we wiped out these things we should probably bury the dead," said Jaune, "They at least deserve that."
"Wh-what the hell are you kids?"
The two teams turned to Maria, who was looking at all of them in shock and awe.
"You just wiped out a whole wave of Apathy with no problems. The Grimm itself is not strong, but in a group, even the strongest Huntsmen and Huntresses can fall prey to them," said Maria.
"Bah, we have Jaune and Ruby," scoffed Nora, "One already scares Grimm and the other can just stare at 'em and turn 'em to stone or annihilate them."
At that statement, Maria almost tripped at that statement. Then she remembered that Ruby did have light pouring out her eyes before the Grimm had been destroyed.
"You can petrify Grimm?" asked Maria.
"Err, yes," replied Ruby in confusion, "I've been working on it for a while now."
"Do you have silver eyes?" asked Maria, her eyes narrowing in response. Ren and the others couldn't help but admire the fact that the goggles seemed to react according to her eyelids.
"Yeah, so what?" asked Yang as she stepped in front of her sister, as if to protect her.
"You best be careful," warned Maria, "There are forces beyond Grimm that would seek to destroy your eyes and the power they give you. Some whom you chose to defend are willing to stab you in the back."
"Like how you lost your silver eyes?" said Jaune softly.
Maria slowly but mechanically turned her head from Ruby to Jaune in shock and awe, "How do you know I had those?"
"Do you know the origin of the Silver Eye Warriors?" asked Jaune back.
Maria shook her head, "I never really knew anyone else with my eyes. I was pretty much alone in it, and managed to unlock that ability after many training sessions with my late master."
"You can explain more later, let's get out of here first," suggested Yang.
The others nodded as they quickly traced their steps back to the well. It didn't take them long before they jumped out of the well and back onto the snow-covered land.
"Weiss, Pyrrha, could you two take over for a bit?" asked Jaune, "I have something to discuss with Maria."
The two girls nodded and quickly started barking orders. Ren and Blake quickly went to the manor once more to find if there were journals. Weiss and Yang were making sure that missing team was feeling okay. Pyrrha and Nora stood guard while Jaune gently took Maria to a corner.
"Are you going to see him?" asked Ruby, "Can I come with?"
"See who?" asked Maria as Jaune nodded in reply.
"To reveal your origins," replied Jaune before he closed his eyes.
Seconds later, Maria and Ruby were dragged into Jaune's mindscape.
"Where are we?" asked Maria as she blinked in surprise, raising her hand to adjust her goggles, only to find it missing, and yet she could see perfectly.
"We're in my mindscape," explained Jaune.
"Okay, why?" asked Maria.
"Because I wanted to see the human that was blessed with my power," declared Andusk, appearing before them.
Maria's face went slack-jawed as she witnessed a white dragon appeared in front of her.
"Hey Andusk!" cheered Ruby as she hugged his leg, "I'm getting better at using my Silver Eyes now!"
"Indeed you are child," smiled Andusk, "I could not ask for a better mate for my contractor."
"That's...that-" stuttered Maria until Andusk turned towards her, lowering his head to her. Maria instantly froze, wondering what the dragon wanted.
"Poor child," breathed out Andusk, "Your eyes… From the looks of it, your eyes were slashed out by one horizontal strike. The blessings that I gave are stuck inside you, with no way to come out."
"Wait, your blessing?" questioned Maria in confusion.
"The power of the Silver Eyes comes from me," explained Andusk, "Long ago, your ancestors were a part of the Dragon clan, within that clan were a group of people whom I blessed. Their powers were passed down to their descendants, where they seemed to have forged their own legends. It saddens me that the ones who were given a portion of my power to be reduced to only two people, one of whom is unable to access her own birthright. How did this happen?"
"Well, it's a long story," sighed Maria as she sat down, "It happened when I was younger. I never went to any of those big Academies, instead I trained under a lone master. I learned about the legend of the Silver Eyes, and how Grimm feared the power. I soon found out why when I finally unlocked its power. Soon, I traveled around the world, killing off Grimm that stood in my path. I earned the moniker 'the Grimm Reaper'. I had hoped to find similar people like me. Instead, I found myself being hunted."
Maria shook her head as she continued, "I wore a mask in hopes of disguising my eyes. It didn't work out very well. I was too confident when a team of probably Huntsmen and Huntress rejects ambushed me. The leader was a Lizard Faunus who's semblance gave her invulnerability for a short amount of time. Her teammates tried to kill me, but I managed to kill them first. After that, her Aura would be shot. However, it was within that minute that she caught me off guard, destroyed my mask, and without hesitation, slashed my eyes out."
Jaune and Ruby winced as they looked at Maria's face. Now that her mechanical goggles were off, they could see a scar across the bridge of her nose."
"I remember she told me that I was hunted because of my eyes. That her master wanted them destroyed," mused Maria, "Of course, she got too arrogant, and once she let her guard down and thought me too weak to be a threat, I cut her damn head off. After that, I had to stumble my way to get to a city before heading to Atlas where a good friend of mine made me those mechanical eyeballs."
"After that, I decided to retire. I still traveled, as I always wanted to, but I could no longer travel through unknown lands to hunt Grimm. Instead, I had to take the beaten old paths that people traveled. I was still looking for people with silver eyes though. Perhaps to seek out companionship or to warn them about the dangers, or even train them. One day, I heard about another Huntress wearing a white cloak who was said to have silver eyes."
Ruby gasped as she heard that. The only one that fit that description was her own mother.
"Course I tried to follow her trail, but being much older then, I couldn't keep track for long. Just when I finally thought I could track her down, she died. Official reports state Grimm killed her, but I call bullshit," scoffed Maria.
"Salem," said Jaune, causing Maria to turn to him, "That's the 'master' that your would-be assassin was working for. And you're right, Ruby's mom, Summer, didn't die from Grimm. But rather a hit team with a Scorpion Faunus called Tyrian Callows killed her."
"Tyrian, the mad assassin?" questioned Maria.
"Yeah, but my dad kicked his butt!" cheered Ruby, "Cut off his tail! Then Yang beat him senseless the last time we met each other."
"Well that's certainly entertaining," chuckled Maria, "So what now? I'm glad I finally got to know the origins of my eyes and meet someone with it, but after that...well I haven't really planned that out."
"How about staying with us at Vale?" asked Ruby, "I'm sure Junior has something for you."
"Not much I can offer," shrugged Maria, "I'm too old to do anything now."
"Then I can offer you sanctuary," offered Jaune, "Protection. Safety. With your silver eyes, that means you were once part of the Dragon Clan. One of the descendants from whom Andusk blessed. That means it's my responsibility to give you peace of mind."
"Peace...," mused Maria, "It has been a long time since I've thought about that."
"C'mon, it'll be fun," pleaded Ruby, "I've always wanted to talk to another silver eye person!"
"Well...fine," sighed Maria with a smile, "It would be nice to retire in peace."
Jaune nodded, "Then let's get back."
"Ah but first, while we're here, let me say something," asked Maria before turning to Andusk, who was still watching over them, "Thank you for your power. Though I've dealt with hardships from it, I've also had the fortune of being able to save others, to protect humanity."
Andusk rumbled in pride as he lowered his head to meet Maria's eyes, "Take pride in yourself. Though it pains me to see you this way, I am glad that there is more than one who has my blessings. Go, and live the rest of your days in peace."
With that, the trio vanished from Jaune's mindscape.
Yea pathetically short. Sadly, the muse for this story hasn't been working well. I have the timeline events of how I want it to go. The only problem is trying to connect those events smoothly. Still trying, but it's a work in progress.