(River outside the walls of Teras Nabad)
(The First Age)
Crying lightly with her bruised arms wrapped around herself as she sat against the tree beside the river just near one of the windmills, Perenna had never felt as low she as did ever.
"A-are you ok?"
The rabbit beastkin gasped lightly as she nearly jumped in fright when she saw the human boy around her age standing above her. If it wasn't the green robe that he wore that denoted that he was a noble child from the royal districts of Teras Nabad that startled her, it had to have been his bright, gleaming silver eyes that indicated that he was descended from the first humans that rose from the wake of the holy Wraiths' forging Argent D'Nur. And here he was looking down at her gently.
And Perenna wasn't having any of it. She scowled, "What does it matter to you, human? Was there anything else you wanted to take from me?"
"…no?" the Boy answered, unsure.
"Then leave me alone!" she exclaimed, burying her face back into her knees.
The Boy blinked and just stood there. Perenna noticed he was still around her and wondered if he was slow. "I said-!"
"Did someone take something from you?" he asked, concerned.
Perenna was taken back by the human's interest in her. "M-my grandfather's pendant." She wiped her eyes, "Some boys took it off me. When I tried to get it back, they shoved me down and called me a filthy half-breed."
"…." Perenna noticed the Boy had gone silent at the mention of half-breed.
"…I…it's the only thing I have left of granddad.
"You're lucky. My grandpa's mean and he calls me 'half-breed."
"Where are these boys?"
"D-down by the river."
"Ugly little thing, ain't it?"
Surrounded by four others like him with their fishing rods lying on the ground, Mica looked the atypical peasant laborer's son of twelve years – tall, broad-shouldered, brown-eyed, dark-haired tied in a winding tail that went all the wall to the small of his back with dark skin tanned from working outdoors, slaving away for the noble Sentinels that lived within the walls of the royal city Teras Nabad. He held the triangular bronze pendant in the palm of his hand as he stared at it intensely.
"Then why'd you steal it from that rabbit, then?" one of his friends asked him. "Leaving her sobbing in the dirt was enough."
Mica couldn't answer that. Because she was a beastkin? Because his family barely had anything that the beasts didn't deserve to have anything either?
Mica's ear perked up, and he stood up from the log he was sitting on. He scowled when he saw a noble son approach them, being followed by that same beastkin that hid behind him like the scared animal she was.
"You're a long way from home, noble boy" Mica said. "Is that beastkin yours?"
The others all visibly panicked. To harm a beastkin indentured to a noble was considered the same as harming its master – and the peasantry that didn't have the silver eyes always suffered the harshest penalties. The Boy visibly recoiled at the suggestion that she owned the rabbit beastkin and shook his head, "No. I just want you to give her back her grandpa's pendant."
Mica looked at the Boy like he was crazy. First came the chuckles, "You're serious?" And then full-blown laughter. "You're gonna ask me to just hand over that beastie's trinket?"
The Boy blinked.
"…." Mica dangled the pendant in front of the Boy's face, still smiling. "Why don't you come and take it, noble? You silver-eyes think you're are all special, aren't you?" He turned to Perenna, "Or better yet, why don't you sic your beastkin on me?"
Perenna shook his head, tears welling in her eyes as the fright took hold, "I-no…I-"
"Thought so, stupid rabb-"
Mica's eyes widened when he realized he was clutching on to air, that the Boy had taken advantage of the distraction to swipe the pendant out of his hand. The Boy smiled triumphantly, which disappeared when the bully suddenly grabbed him by the scuff of his robe, his face now red with embarrassment, and rage.
The Boy did not break eye contact with the snarling bully as he raised his fist and snarled, "You spoilt little race traitor-!"
"Stop, he's got silver-eyes!" the second tallest bully exclaimed, panicked. "They're the Maykrs' chosen!"
"...so?" Mica's fist stopped mid-punch, scowling even harder as his hair at the mention of the Maykrs. "He's just another noble brat! I'm not scared of the Sentinels."
"We're not supposed to lay a hand on a silver-eyes!" another Argenta cried. "The Khan Maykr would have us burnt at the stake if we cross him!"
Mica saw how fearful his friends looked. Inwardly, he was disgusted at them, and at himself for being just as scared as they were, but the front he was putting up was convincing enough that everyone thought he didn't give a damn about the consequences. And that was the Night Sentinels burning their village down for daring to lay their hands on a chosen of the Maykrs.
Mica and his family had suffered under those false god worshipping fanatics for too long. This was as close as he was going to get to sticking it to those bastards.
"Fine, keep the beastkin then, you noble freak eyes!" Mica exclaimed, releasing the Boy. Turning to his cohorts he said, "C'mon. Let the freak play with his pet bunny alone."
The other children all looked at each other worriedly, before running off in a panic and leaving Mica behind. The oldest bully was surprised that they were that eager to run away. He shot the Boy and the beastkin another glare before running off after them.
"Hey, wait up you chickenshits!"
The Boy sighed as he adjusted his robe, mumbling to himself something about his mother scolding him for messing up his clothes, seemingly unaware that Perenna, in the midst of a panic attack, had fallen to one knee and was struggling to breath. The Boy saw this, though, and walked over to her.
"I…I can't breathe," Perenna choked out, tears burning in her eyes. "H-humans…. always out to hurt me…my family-"
The Boy reached for shoulder.
"GET AWAY!" she reflexively swung her hand, and the Boy pulled his head back to avoid it. He grabbed her hand and put her pendant in it.
"Hey, you just need to breath."
"You count to four, then breath in. After that you count to four, then you breathe out," William said. "That's how my dad says to do it."
The rabbit beastkin did as the Sentinel child suggested, taking a deep breath then holding it as she mentally counted to four. Opening her eyes, Perenna couldn't help but be dazzled as the Boy flashed a bright, toothy smile, his eyes closed for good measure.
She blushed lightly when she thought he looked a bit cute, for a human that is.
"D-did you know he would just give it back?" Perenna asked.
The Boy nodded, smiling, "Yep. Dad says bullies are always yellow."
"It's Terran speak for scared," the Boy replied. He smiled, "I'm William Joseph Blazkowicz," the Boy said his name. "But you can call me BJ."
Her eyes widened, "Wait…Willia-?" She gasped, "Your Lord Knight Blazkowicz and Deag Aelia's son."
"Mmm-hmm," William nodded. His eyes brightened and he reached for Perenna's hand, "Say…"
Perenna gasped, "HEY!"
"Wanna meet em' and my lil' brother?" William asked, still smiling. "They're just up the creek."
Getting over the shock of being grabbed so suddenly, and by a human, Perenna said, "I-I-"
"Don't be scared. Daddy makes the monsters go away and mom likes kids," William said. "She'll like you."
In the presence of this silver-eyed Sentinel child, Perenna felt all her fears, her misgivings, her prejudices toward humans, just up and disappeared. She felt her own smile return once again, and clutching her pendant to her chest she nodded.
And William let out a laugh as he gently pulled her along as they went to find his parents…
The Slayer's path had taken him to the lost colony of Reliquiae, one of millions of worlds spread out across the Empyrean Void, brimming with power, magic and the same soulless horrors our people had spent generations attempting to eradicate but which numbers were ceaseless as they poured out from the Land of Darkness. Upon their discovery that this world was once the cradle of the evil Kingdom of Immora, the Night Sentinels chose to abandon it. The colonists and their beastkin slaves were left to fend for themselves against the blackened hordes.
For behind the red walls of Immora, atrocities that defied reason had been committed, and as punishment the gods saw fit to bring the entire kingdom to ruin.
A month has passed since the Dark Realm was denied entry, but at great cost. The Dark Lord has turned his wicked eyes upon this Remnant of a forgotten world. His agents sow chaos and discord through the Four Kingdoms as the forces of darkness prepare once again for another onslaught within the fractured Kingdom of Mistral – with the Witch Queen Salem and the Heresiarch Marcus Black as their heralds of destruction.
And You will unite the beleaguered kingdoms of our wayward cousins, bring to justice the cowards who dare run from this war and bring a final, lasting end to the Creatures of Grimm. Their end will come when you bring the final end to the Land of Darkness, and cast down the false gods whose arrogance has brought ruin to the universe.
(The Vault, Beacon Academy)
(Vale City, Kingdom of Vale)
(The Fourth Age)
For those two youngsters, it had been one of their happier memories, the Wraiths saw so did Amber. It was their memories she would lose herself in whenever the pain was too great. Memories of Argent D'Nur, the World Spear that pierced the planet from one end to the other, of the Wraith that been watching William since his birth, as if it – all of them – knew how his life was going to turn out, and it hadn't bothered to steer him and his family toward a better, more ideal path. Like it had counted on the misery he was about to go through courtesy of the machinations of House Ateius of Teras Nabad that would shape him into the Doom Slayer he was today.
Amber weakly raised her hand toward the glass of water at the desk she was sitting at. She was once again weak from a fever. To spare her from the pain of having her soul cleaved in half, Ozpin had insisted she return to the pod and put back into a medically-induced coma, she refused. Instead, she was confined in her suite underneath Beacon Tower.
She wanted to be completely lucid when the Slayer finally found Cinder Fall and ended her, where the Maiden's power would finally return to her, and would be finally be able to cut loose and cleanse this world of Grimm and demon filth alongside the Slayer.
Time willing, she'd return with him to Hell and burn those monsters out of their holes…her glass cracked from her grip as she felt her anger boil over and she immediately calmed herself, ashamed over losing control.
The rage was infecting everyone, and it was long before the Slayer has arrived and, admittingly, made everything worse by his presence alone.
"So, how are classes going, Ruby?"
"…fine, I guess."
Dressed her in school uniform, Ruby laid back on the couch as she stared up at the ceiling fan as she answered resident therapist Dr. Sofia Cyclamen's questions, the woman in questions sitting behind her test with her portable terminal's holo-screen bringing up her patient's file, including her progress over the past month. Ruby rolled her eyes over toward the middle-aged woman, wondering if the color in her hair which was her namesake was natural or dyed, as she hasn't spotted a single grey hair.
"It's a month into your first semester at Beacon. Do you feel like you've acclimatized to academy life away from home?"
Ruby blinked, "Ac…acclimi-what-?"
Cyclamen smiled understandably, "Have you gotten used to being here?"
"Oh...yeah," Ruby nodded, smiling. "My big sis is here." She became despondent, "I'm sad that dad couldn't have stayed, though. Guess Signal really needed him back."
Typing away at her terminal, Cyclamen nodded, "To help deal with the fallout over Epsilon."
"…." Ruby became silent.
"Are you still having nightmares?"
"…yeah," Ruby replied, quietly. "But…I don't think they scare me anymore. I mean, I've…well…seen the worst there is…I don't think anything can beat what me and my team have been through."
"I see," Cyclamen replied.
"…I…uh…still keep Crescent Rose underneath my skirt. Just in case, y'know?"
"What about him?" Ruby asked. Unknowingly, she had his family picture that she had been keeping in her pocket in his hands, and was startled when she realized this.
"Have you feelings changed regarding-"
Ruby frowned and interrupted her, "He…did what he had to do, alright?" She looked at the photo, on the younger William specifically. "I said that the first time you asked me, and my answer will never change."
"…." Cyclamen herself had mixed feelings about what had happened, once the Epsilon Incident became public knowledge. The whole planet was divided on whether its destruction had been necessary to prevent another demonic invasion that would have proven more than the combined militaries of Beacon could handle before anyone – even the Slayer – had a chance to stop them. Or if it had been a complete act of hubris on the Slayer's part that he didn't believe the Atlesian military could have easily held back the demonic hordes and seal that Slipgate themselves and his subsequent detonation of a volcano and causing an abrupt environment shift that, combined with the negativity generated by everyone's fears because of said event and loss of faith in the Atlesian military, had all been nothing.
Except for a massive spike in Grimm attacks throughout the planet. Then again, the spikes started happening after the Slayer first set foot on Remnant.
"Hey, um…how's Dr. Catrice?" Ruby asked, remembering that Cyclamen and many of the other therapists that Beacon had brought in had come recommend by the former SDC hire following her incarceration, and abrupt release after a week in General Ironwood's custody.
"Lucy is fine," Cyclamen replied. "She accepted Ironwood's deal."
"…that's good," Ruby smiled. "She helped us. She did some bad things, but she helped us." She looked up at the ceiling, "She should get the chance to make up for the bad things she…" she paused, trying to find the write words. "Participated…in?" she finished, unsure.
Cyclamen was silent. Lucy Catrice's arrest by the Atlesian was again another point of contention, as was her abrupt release. Then again, drafted into the Atlesian military barely counts as being released, for her it'd just be another cage, the kind she had already escaped once.
And Team RWBY's hands – Ruby's – weren't clean, either.
"And that's why you're here, Ruby," Cyclamen reminded her. "So, you will be able to deal with the things you've done, and have the opportunity to move on and grow from them." Her terminal ringed, indicating that their time was up. "And that's all we time for today."
Ruby sighed and sat up, feeling her neck crack as she moved her head about and she stretched her arms. "Ok, doc." She sat up, "Hey listen, about Yang-"
Cyclamen cleared her throat, "We've discussed this. Doctor-patient privilege-"
"…aw…" Ruby bemoaned. Getting off the couch, "Welp, see you next time."
"Don't forget to fill in your diary."
Stepping out of the psych's office, she made a beeline back to her room with a smile on her face. The diary can wait.
Right now, there was a package waiting on her bed for her to collect, and she had a good feeling that she knew what it was.
(Tukson's Book Trade)
"Need anything else, Qrow?"
"I'm good, Tukson."
The dark-haired Faunus proprietor of the bookstore shrugged and carried on with checking his inventory list, leaving Qrow to browse through the 'FAITHS' section and the book he was currently skimming through, one that was titled 'Remnant's Fables, Myths and Legends'. Out the corner of his eye, he noticed the familiar raven perched on the side of the street outside the window, closing the book he let out a sigh and closed the book before taking it up to the front counter.
Which surprised Tukson. Usually whenever Qrow came by it was just to pick something off the shelves, read it and put it back as if the place was a library. "You're actually buying something from me for once?"
"Heh," Qrow shrugged and let out a chuckle. "You could use the business."
After paying for his new book, he stepped out of the story, took a right and went into the alley.
And there she was, his sister Raven with her Grimm mask on. She was leaning against the wall with her arms crossed. Her sword Omen was in its sheath, and Qrow kept a wary eye on it as he approached her.
"Relax, Qrow," Raven said. "It's just me."
"Yeah, I know," Qrow replied. "You haven't exactly been an endearing person as of late, Raven."
"Especially the shit you've pulled last month."
"And you're just eager to remind me," Raven retorted, sardonically.
"Don't need to, you were theere," Qrow said. "I always thought were smart enough not to mess with things beyond human comprehension." He glared, "How'd you know that the Relic would be at Epsilon, anyway?"
"VNN was broadcasting the apocalypse for the world to see, including the sticks in Mistal," Raven answered. "It didn't take me long to realize where you, and Blazkowicz, would be." She sounded smug, "And what happened at Shade Academy-"
"You had a feeling the demons would come for the Sword?"
"And where it would end up," Raven finished. "The SDC were investigating the Sentinel ruins in all four kingdoms, including Mistral. And we knew where Atlas' main research hub was located-"
"And you acted accordingly," Qrow observed. He narrowed his eyes, "Good thing Tai was there to give you another point of entry, in case something happened to me or Yang." He paused, "I noticed you haven't asked about your daughter."
"Yang got out alive, Qrow. You all did."
"Only thanks to Blazkowicz," Qrow countered. "The second you got you wanted you pissed off and left us breathing in volcanic ash."
"And now the Sword is in better hands," Raven replied, smug. "And with it, I've rallied many of the other bandit tribes and brought them into our family." She was now seriously as she went, "We're building an army, Qrow, one to challenge Marcus' and his infernal crusade."
"Are you planning to actually push back against him?" Qrow questioned, intensely. "Or are you just surrounding yourself with as many human shields as possible?"
"…." Raven gestured toward the bandanna Qrow wore around his forehead, "I won't be caught off guard like you were."
"…." Not the answer Qrow was looking for. "Answer me this at least..."
Raven put a hand on her left hip, "What?"
"I haven't forgotten how your Semblance works, Raven," Qrow said icily. "Neither has Oz. How have you bonded to Blazkowicz?" He glared, "And don't tell me it's because his bloodlust turns you on."
Raven chuckled, "Wouldn't you like to know?" She noticed the disgust on her brother's face, "I wasn't being serious."
"Thank the brothers for that," Qrow muttered.
He knew what turns her on, unfortunately.
"I dumped him in Mistral to buy the tribe more time, to take the heat off us," Raven explained. "More time for you and Ozpin as well, incidentally. So, you're welcome."
He crossed his arms, "I wonder how the asshole would react if he found out his savior was the head of a tribe of merciless, unwashed bandits that freely prey on people unable to fight back? Something I'm positive he has a problem with." He glared, "If you try raiding a village and he's passin' by-"
"How many cemeteries has the Slayer's temper tantrums filled ever since he arrived on Remnant? Him going out of his way to save a few weaklings rings hollow compared to all the death and destruction he's caused by existing alone," Raven explained. She growled, "He'll see it's pointless in the end."
"I dare you tell him that. To his face."
"And that tribe of 'merciless, unwashed bandits' is your family."
Qrow sighed. Raven had a very skewed perception of the word.
"And I'm trying to save them by telling you to give it up and hand the Relic back over to Ozpin where neither Salem, Marcus or the Slayer can get their hands on it!" Qrow fired back. "Think, Raven! You really believe you can give them the slip forever while you're carrying the Relic of Destruction?!"
"…." Raven briefly went silent. "This is a war between gods and demons and we – humans – have no business being part of it." She glared at him, "You want to try and get in between monsters as they're killing one another? Go right ahead. I swore to not be part of Ozpin's machinations-"
"You think Salem cares? Or Marcus, or his bosses?" Qrow cried. "I've...!" He calmed down, "I feel like I'm not making it clear enough for you so I'll try again." He took a deep breath, "You and the family can either surrender yourselves and the Relic and join us in defending our world and maybe, just maybe, we can push Hell right off it and we can go back to concentrating on Salem. Or you can remain isolated in Mistral and gradually get picked off by the Grimm, by the demons, and – once you've done something to piss him off – the Slayer. In which case, the Sword falls into either of their hands. Blazkowicz will either simply use it to keep killing or destroy it to keep it from falling into Salem and Hell's hands; which they'll most likely use to kill the planet and everything with a pulse on it."
"…." Raven drew Omen and created a portal behind her. Obviously, that wasn't something she wanted to hear.
Dejected that once again she was running away as things didn't go her way, Qrow said, "You'll beg Blazkowicz to save you. Believe me, you will."
Raven disappeared without another word, leaving Qrow alone in the alley. He sighed and got out his scroll, and dialed…
"Hey, Tai. Just spoke with Raven."
"How'd it go?"
"…not good. She just up and left me when I told her how it is."
"I've been there."
"Right. Well, it's worse than, well, anyone can imagine."
Qrow shook his head, glumly. Tai sounding depressed was getting to him, "You know where this is going to go, Tai."
"…what do I tell Yang?"
"Nothing," Qrow answered. "Her own daughter's nothing to her."
"You don't believe that."
Qrow was put off by how subdued Taiyang sounded. "I'm not convinced it's to the contrary, either."
"How're you feeling, Qrow?" Taiyang asked, changing the subject, which Qrow was grateful for.
Qrow produced a pill bottle from underneath his right sleeve, and stared down at it, shaking it and listening to the capsules inside rumble, "Doc says to keep taking the antibiotics 'till they're all gone. Hopefully…" he paused, hesitant to broadcast what it is he's actually suffering, despite Taiyang already knowing. "…it will clear up by then."
"Is it working?"
"It's giving me the shits, so yeah," Qrow retorted. He unscrewed the top of the bottle and let a capsule tumble out onto the palm of his hand. Swallowing it down he stored the pill bottle back up his sleeve.
Shaking his head, the Signal Academy teacher looked at him with pity, "You're the last person I imagined catching-"
Qrow glared, "Tai, next topic."
"…losing Yang and Ruby," Taiyang frowned, finishing what he was trying to say.
"Fuuuccccckkkkk…now we're doing this?" Qrow groaned. It only took a month to finally broach the subject. Qrow explained, "Look, I didn't expect Marcus to barf out a portal to Hell and send em' straight to the other side. It's a good thing he was along for the ride."
He, referring to William Joseph Blazkowicz. The Kingdom of Atlas' Public Enemy Number One.
"So, what's Oz's next move? Anything you can tell me?"
(Terminal Room, Vale Cross Continental System)
"Have you been to see her?"
"…no," Blake confessed. "I…I can't. Not after-"
Blake looked away from the screen and took a deep breath. It had taken a lot out of her to finally put that call home, and the conversation just had to turn toward Fiona, the little girl that she, Ruby and the Slayer had managed to save when they had first met.
Brothers, it felt like that happened years ago.
The black-bearded, yellow-eyed Faunus man on the other end, her father Ghira Belladonna, appeared understanding. "If there isn't anyone in Vale that can take her, we can find a place for her here," Ghira said. "We can arrange things on our end-"
Blake sighed, "I'll…take care of things here."
"That it's been so long," Blake confessed. "I c-can't come home. Not yet. I can't abandon my team. I-"
Ghira nodded, "I understand."
"No, you don't dad. Things are going to get worse!" Blake exclaimed. She spoke softer as she continued, "Right now, I think I'm where I'm supposed to be. And Menagerie…" she paused. "The White Fang are going to take advantage of the chaos right now to stir thing between Faunus and humans, and Menagerie is going to need you more than ever."
"...Corsac and Fennec Albain have been of some concern as of late."
Blake didn't look surprised. The Albains were the White Fang's representatives on Menagerie. No doubt they were try and stir trouble during this time."
"We're keeping an eye on them, don't worry," Ghira reassured. "You just worry about yourself."
"That's hard for me to do." Sullen, Blake added, "They're making us see a psych." She shrugged and smiled sadly, "That's something I suppose."
"It's a start. Take care of yourself, love."
"…you too, dad."
Blake was the first to disconnect. She sat at the terminal for some time, staring at a blank screen, several different emotions running through her at that moment she thought she would burst into tears unless she got up and left the CCS; which she did with haste.
Her scroll dinged, indicating it had just received a message.
Session over. Waiting for you outside. ;-)
(Ghira's Study, Belladonna Household)
Ghira himself was also quiet for some time as he processed everything that Blake had told him, and how it related to the events of the past month. Increased Grimm attacks, civil unrest in all the kingdoms, and the hideous violence within the wildlands of Mistral perpetuated by the White Fang, bandit tribes and demon cults; all of which came about after what happened int the frozen tundra outside Atlas. And Blake herself had been there.
His terminal buzzed, indicating that he was receiving another call.
He answered it, and was unsurprised to see that it was Sienna.
"Hello, Ghira," Sienna greeted.
"…Sienna," Ghira replied, cordially. "This is unexpected. To what do I owe this please?"
Sienna nodded, "You were just speaking to Blake? Did she tell you everything?"
"She didn't have to," Ghira said. "What happened in Atlas has been felt everywhere." He became sullen, "You were there?"
"To save our people from the SDC," Sienna said. "Every last brother and sister under me was lost, save for Ilia."
"And what do you want from me? My life for you to throw away as well?"
Sienna visibly flinched at that, "No. Your help. More than ever, we need strong leadership, and I won't be able to keep Adam Taurus from attempting to take advantage of the chaos for much longer."
"Please don't make me beg, Ghira. I will not be like old times, I know. But we…I…need you by my side."
He looked up to see his wife and Blake's mother, Kali. The cat Faunus standing anxiously in the doorway.
"Kali? What's the matter?"
"The Albains are here. They said it's urgent."
(Training Field #13)
Team CVY watched as Weiss checked her watched for, maybe, the thirteenth or fourteenth time, amused by how perturbed she looked as she waited for the rest of her team to arrive.
"RWBY and JNPR were still joining us today, right?" Velvet asked, looking up at Yatsuhashi.
"Last I heard," Yatsuhashi replied.
"We had an agreed upon time," Weiss grumbled, more to herself. "Past events demonstrate how important it is to remain punctual."
"Calm your tits, Schnee. They'll be here," Coco said. She then chuckled.
Weiss rounded on her, red in the face and glaring, "Excuse me? 'Calm your tits'?"
"Sorry…" Coco replied. "Should I even call you Schnee? Seeing as how you disowned your family and everything."
"…." Weiss' glare lost some of its intensity.
"Heard your dad got off scott free after that whole thing at Epsilon," Velvet said, bitterly. "If he bought his freedom I guess he must have all the money in the world-"
"Velvet…" Yatsuhashi said.
"NO, HE-" Weiss cried, before calming herself. "The courts determined he's not culpable of any of the atrocities committed by Dr. Merlot and his research staff."
"…well, lucky him, then," Velvet frowned and said, a bit louder than intended.
"Fuck me…this is what my shrink meant when he-" Coco muttered, taking her glasses off to pinch the bridge of her noses. "Ok, let's stop right this right now." She turned to Weiss, "I'm sorry – for real – I was just being smart."
"…let's just forget it," Weiss nodded. "I-"
"Hey, what'd we miss?"
All eyes turned to see Yang and Blake approach the training fired, together. Everyone noticed that for the past month they were seemingly joined at the hip.
"Nothing our therapists haven't talked to us about for the past month," Weiss deadpanned. "We're still missing Ruby and Team JNPR…oh…"
Speak of the Reaper herself, Weiss could barely make out a red blur moving past the trees before touching down on one knee with her hood covering her head right in front of the other Huntsmen and Huntresses-in-training. Standing up, Ruby pulled her hood down and flashed them all a smile.
"Hey!" Yang's eyes lit up and she smiled, "You brought the old combat skirt back."
They noticed that Ruby was wearing her skirt over her armored pants. She shrugged and returned the smile, "Heh, they can't grab hold of anything if I'm too fast for them."
"Touché," Yang replied. What she saw sewn in red near the end of the skirt made her drop that smile.
Yang, Weiss and Blade noticed that she had the Mark of the Doom Slayer sewn onto her skirt. Ruby saw what they were staring at and became crestfallen, "I can't stop thinking about what we heard…about mom."
"Ruby," Yang reached out to her in worry.
"There was so much we didn't know about her," Ruby admitted. "And we find out she's possibly from the same place as William." She downcast her eyes, "That I'm the same as William. Was mom a Night Sentinel as well?" She looked down at her hands, "Would that make me one too?"
"The Wayfarer?" Weiss remembered how the Dark Lord had referred to Summer Rose. "As in 'traveler', 'wanderer', 'drifter…"
"She travelled a lot," Ruby smiled. "And between dimensions too?"
"Uhh…not to make light of your identity crisis," Coco interjected. "But do you really want to go around parading that sigil" She pointed to the Mark of the Doom Slayer on her skirt. "That's kind of a hot topic at the moment, and not the good kind."
"…." Yang remembered she still holding a certain keepsake for William in her pocket.
Ruby smiled, "People see the mark as a bad thing at the moment, right? Well." She twirled around for effect, making sure they could get a good look at the sigil, "I'll make it something people will be glad to see."
"Like a symbol of hope?" Velvet asked.
"…good luck with that," Velvet mumbled.
"Hey, we…uh…interrupting something?"
Always glad to hear Jaune's voice, Ruby spun around, "Jaune, you made it I-uh?"
Teams RWBY and CVY turned to see Team JNPR approach, and for the first time saw them in their new uniforms,
Coco raised her glasses to get a better look. She smirked, "Whoa…"
Describe Team JNPR 2.0 in one word: Armored. On top of his newly-clean diamond shaped chest plate, spaulders, elbow guards and rear braces; the new additions to Jaune's suit were steel greaves, gauntlets and armored boots, with light-weight chainmail shielding the parts in-between. And, of course, there was the steel helm with a yellow plume on top. Crocoa Mors was sheathed on his left hip.
Jaune raised his visor, an embarrassed smile on his face, "Sorry we're late. Our new uniforms came in today."
He turned to Pyrrha. The Mistral Champion also had several practical alterations to her breastplate corset, red sash around her waist and bronze gorget – these were circular bronze plating covering her shoulders and bronze-painted chainmail covering the formerly unprotected parts of her including her chest, arms and thighs. Her miniskirt was also replaced with bronze chainmail and, like Jaune, she wore a helmet that looked like it was straight out of ancient pre-history times which included the nose guard, and a red plume at the top. Miló and Akoúo̱ were already in her hands, ready for sortie.
Nora settled for a pink and white combat vest, with pink armor plating on the shoulders and arm. Coupled with her white armored pants left no left inch of bare skin exposed, along with her usual pink skirt, armored boots and a pink Yarm helmet with mechanical blue eye-ports. In short, an armored pink tank with her personal hammer symbol of the left breast.
With Magnihild held over her shoulder, Nora commented, "It's…going to take some time to get used to all the extra padding."
As for Ren, in attempting to keep a balance between durability and speed he went for a suit of dark green lamellar scale armor, with holsters strapped over his hips for StormFlower, and a sheathe on his back for his dagger. The bangs of his hair were tied back to keep them from his eyes, and the armored green headband around his forehead.
Ren sighed. He thought he looked ridiculous. Nora on the other hand turned her warm, lidded gaze at him and added, "Though, I think the view is worth it."
"…uh-huh," Ren replied, seemingly oblivious."
"BJ kicked our asses for a week non-stop right here," Yang replied, Ember Celica locked and loaded. "Let's see if any of that managed to stick." She turned to Ruby, sister and team leader, and deferred to her. "What do you say?"
"…." Jaune was silent, where he was reminded of the voices in his head that mocked him for how useless he had been during that time.
He hadn't heard them in a month. Not after Pyrrha had insisted on training him.
Ruby smiled. She looked over at her Jaune, her fellow team leader, and asked, "Jaune?"
Jaune nodded and smiled, his sword raised as his teammates readied themselves for training, "We're not going to be left behind again."
"Glad to hear it, kids" Coco switched Gianduja into its gatling gun configuration and leveled it both Team RWBY and JNPR's way. Velvet and Yatsuhashi readied themselves as well. "Best out of three rounds, last one standing is the winner…"
(Headmaster's Office, Beacon Tower)
Another day. Another crisis meeting with the other members of his little circle, yet Ozpin still carried himself with that air of dignity that he had, which – last month – for a few moments had faded when the Slayer had declared his intent to challenge the Brother Gods.
Ozpin addressed the holographic representation of Hazel. Last month when Atlas had pulled its forces out of Vale, Gretchen, his cultist sister, also had been renditioned from Vale to Atlas for further interrogation and had been held within Atlas itself. And she still managed to escape.
"She had help on the inside, Hazel," Ozpin answered.
"…." Hazel didn't answer. He simply scowled.
He turned to the holographic projection of General Ironwood, "James?"
Everyone – Ozpin, Glynda, Hazel, Leonardo – noted how unkempt Ironwood appeared: Five o'clock shadow, unbuttoned uniform and tired eyes, but ignored it.
"They had been part of the security team meant to transfer her back to maximum security," Ironwood explained. "They were halfway to the border before we even realized there was something wrong." He looked serious, "They're everywhere, Oz-"
"James…" Ozpin tried to soothe the general.
"We need to accept Black's followers have infiltrated the kingdoms," Ironwood declared. "And we have to start taking extreme measures to root them all out."
Glynda frowned, "More extreme than the measure you've already cajoled the Atlas council into ratifying?"
Curfews. Outlawing suspected demonic imagery. Banning large gatherings. Raids on suspected cult sites. Confiscating mythical texts. Increased surveillance and robotic military patrols on the streets and arresting anyone who didn't comply.
Mostly in Mantle. Not the rich and powerful hovering above in Atlas.
"It's necessary, Glynda," Ironwood replied. "I would close the border too if I didn't need to deploy forces outside Atlas to repel the Grimm."
"Small miracles," Glynda grumbled. "The Atlas council wouldn't agree to that."
Ironwood narrowed his eyes, "I wouldn't give them a choice."
"Can we please circle back to why we have called this meeting?!" Leonardo cried, more on edge than normal. "The Doom Slayer draws closer to Mistral with each passing day. Grimm attacks are rising with the hour-"
"Which are being put down at increasing rate if the reports are to be believed," Ozpin checked his scroll. "I'd say the only reason why Blazkowicz hasn't arrived at Mistral already is because he is taking his time exterminating every Grimm, demon and cultist that crosses his path."
"And he's making the situation even more volatile…if that's even possible," Leo replied. "Bandit gangs are becoming more desperate and are raiding the isolated villages and towns that Grimm and the cults haven't already obliterated."
"Are the Mistral council prepared to take steps to defend the capital from an invasion?" Ironwood inquired.
Leo swallowed, "From the Grimm? The demons? The Slayer?"
"…they…" Leo rubbed his clammy hands. "They voted to…rescind the 'Kill or Capture' order and to assist him once he arrives. And provide resources tracking down and eliminating the cults-"
Hazel let out a dark chuckle. No way they would antagonize someone that singlehandedly burn Mistral to the ground. Better to point him in the direction of the nasties and let him loose.
"What?!" Ironwood angrily exclaimed. "The kingdoms all agreed to prosecute him with extreme prejudice."
"Those that wanted to continue to prosecute the Slayer were outvoted by the councilors that have changed their stance," Leo said. "Mistral's huntsmen are stretched thin holding the line and, I loathe to admit it, we are desperate. Marcus' forces have been spotted a least a couple of miles away from the city." He paused and sighed, "Our present circumstances are…grave."
"I agree," Ozpin concurred.
"Ozpin?!" Ironwood rounded on him.
"Gentlemen, please," Ozpin added. "Like it or not, the Slayer is still an asset, possibly our most valuable one at the moment. An unpredictable one, sure, but we need him." Ironwood was about to open his mouth again, but Ozpin rounded on him. "And we cannot let out personal feelings, disgust, fear or pride deny that fact."
"Are you suggesting I'm-?" Ironwood stopped himself. He closed his eyes, sighed and calmed himself. "You can't ask us to overlook his destruction of Epsilon and the fallout it's caused."
Ozpin frowned, "But I would ask you to consider what would have happened if he hadn't destroyed Epsilon and the slipgate."
Ironwood didn't want to think about it. He refused to think about it.
"We cannot keep dwelling on what could have been," Ozpin said. "Only thing we can do is move forward. And to do that, we must be rid of the demonic remnant that had escaped Haven Academy during the first attacks, followed by Marcus Black and his cult." He turned to Leo, "And there's no one better qualified than William Joseph Blazkowicz III."
Leo visibly sweat underneath Ozpin's gaze, "You…you're asking me to risk the lives of my faculty, my students?"
"And your life, Leo," Ozpin admitted. "I know it's a lot of me to ask of you, but-"
"I swore an oath, Ozpin," Leo said, glumly. "I understand. If you'll excuse me, I need to talk to the Mistral Council regarding…those missing Huntsmen and Huntresses."
Ozpin nodded, "You are excused."
Leonardo's hologram faded, leaving the rest of them to awkward, resigned silence. Each of them were waiting for someone else to say it.
Glynda took her glasses off and rubbed her temples, "Its…it's Leo, isn't it?"
The traitor the Slayer had warned them about. That Salem had overconfidently alluded to.
"It's clear as day the man is compromised, isn't it?" Hazel pointed out. "We have the Slayer on our side and he's still afraid."
"…." Ozpin downcast his eyes, sadly. Leonardo's fear had gotten the best of him, long before the demons arrived.
"Want me to deal with him?" Hazel inquired, sounding dangerous. "If you like, I can make sure he doesn't see it coming."
Ozpin shook his head.
Ironwood snarled, "You'll leave him to Blazkowicz?"
++I understand, Professor Ozpin.++
All this time, that rogue A.I. had been listening in on their conference.
"I suggest you find out everything he knows first," Ozpin instructed. "Then, Blazkowicz can do what needs to be done."
'And no blood on our hands, either,' Glynda bitterly admitted to herself.
"This meeting is now adjourned."
(Command Center, Atlas Academy)
(Kingdom of Atlas)
Gripping the holographic projector desk with both hand, Ironwood's Semblance – Mettle - kept in him in focus to follow his present course: Kill the traitorous demon-worshipping cult. Destroy demonkind and raze Hell. Kill Salem and her followers. Hang, draw and quarter Leonardo Lionheart and finally, kill the Slayer for his wanton and ongoing humiliation of the Kingdom of Atlas. It was bad enough Jacques had managed to beat the charges against him, that the courts decided he wasn't responsible for those atrocities committed, but now he was being asked to just forget about bringing justice to a demigod that could bring Atlas down all by himself if he was sufficiently pushed.
The Slayer would bring Atlas down if he continued to antagonize him. He saw the merit in Ozpin's reasoning (though he would never admit it), and so he decided, for now, he would co-operate in making sure the Slayer's weapons were pointed in the direction of those that needed to die – Demon, Grimm, human or otherwise.
His scroll beeped, and he remembered he was expecting a status report from Winter.
It wasn't Winter, though.
"General Ironwood, we have a breach in the academy, sir!"
Ironwood gritted his teeth and shouted, "Where?!"
"…in your office, sir."
With the Ace Ops backing him up and several more heavily armed squads waiting in the just outside the office, Ironwood was the first through the door, Due Process drawn and pointed at the source of a breach.
It was something that was…completely alien. It stood eight feet tall and floated off the ground, encased in white and red armor. Its fangs were the only visible part of its face, the rest of it covered by a its curved two-pronged helmet with a golden halo – Orator Ring – fused to its back. In its left hand was a technologically ornate staff, its center glowing yellow.
In short: It looked like an angel from a twisted, alien version of heaven. It turned around to face the Atlesians present, the Ace Ops readying their weapons just in case."
"Greetings and salutations, General James Ironwood," the Angel bowed his head. "I come in peace."
James kept his guard up, "Excuse me if I believe otherwise."
"Your cause for alarm is understandable. If I mean you harm, I would have done so already,"the Maykr said. "No one in this academy would have been left standing if I chose to…come in through the front door."
"You're still welcome to try, demon," Harriet dared, Fast Knuckles primed and ready.
"Easy, Harriet," Clover hushed her, Kingfisher in hand
The Angel gave a dark chuckle, "I am no demon, quite the opposite actually."
"Where are you from? Where have you come from?" Ironwood asked. "Who sent you?"
"I am emissary of Urdak – the true heavens of this world – of all worlds - and as the voice of my people."
"What are they?" Ironwood inquired.
"'Makers'?" Elm mouthed, perplexed.
"The plights of this world has drawn the attention of those who wish to bring enlightenment to those who will accept," the Angel – Maykr – announced.
Clover's face fell flat. He knew what was coming. He could only hope the general didn't feel desperate enough to solicit help from another group of monsters.
"I bring good tidings, courtesy of the Khan Maykr…"
A/N: Welp, first chapter finished on my brand-new gaming laptop. Figured it was time for an upgrade.
Think I might have described Pyrrha's new uniform sometime earlier, but not Jaune, Nora and Ren's. So, I decided to fix that. Team JNPR will get a fair bit of focus in the next arc.
I'm annoyed that canon never addressed Ironwood's Semblance 'Mettle', at least not in the show. It would have been a big opportunity for the show to acknowledge that his biggest strength was the reason for his downfall in the end.
I know, I said it would be 4,000 – 5,000 words a chapter. Buuuuttttt…the word count tends to go up when you're really getting into it. There has to be balance between how detailed you want a scene to be and advancing the plot.
Recently, symptom99 on deviantART suggested to me that the Doom Slayer should have some basis with a fairy tale or a myth/legend of old, in keeping up with the themes of the RWBY character being based off legendary/mythical figures I guess if you wanted to, you could compare the Doom Slayer in this fic to two or three literary characters of old:
The Black Knight and the Green Knight of Arthurian legend. s99 suggested the Black Knight for his propensity for villainous acts, and I think the Slayer has a lot of things in common with the Green Knight: Both were empowered by an external, morally ambiguous force (Morgan le Fay and Samur Maykr). The color of the Knight's armor typically symbolizes nature – including fertility and rebirth, while the Slayer was in a way reborn after exiting the Divinity Machine and he continues his father – Doomguy – legacy. As for the whole bit about the Green Knight's head being chopped off and him putting it back on his body, well, the Slayer's ancestor B.J. Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein had his chopped off and was transplanted on a super soldier body so…there's that.
You could compare the Slayer to KingArthur himself. A great warrior-king that rises to defend his homeland, and in the end after a final grueling battle is spirited away to Avalon to heal and will return when he is needed once again. Kind of like the Slayer's fate in the end.
Hell, the techno-medieval setting of Argent D'Nur could be considered a throwback to Arthurian legend.
I'm glad to see people liked reading my MHA/DOOM oneshot Supervillain. I've had difficulty trying to decide what my next major fic should be.
Anyways, Loomings II: Consecrations, which sets up the villains for the next arc comes next. See you then.