Remnants of Another World
As long as the birds sang, they were safe. At least, that's how Pyrrha hoped it worked. In Remnant, the birds would fall silent in the presence of Grimm—how they responded to threats in Halkeginia, she didn't know. Still, the beauty of their calls and whistles soothed her.
She rode in a wagon through the forest with Louise. They had gotten to know each other better since her arrival; the girl was proud, stubborn, and refined, exactly the same way Nora wasn't. In fact, in some ways Louise reminded her of Weiss from Team RWBY. She had progressed fantastically since Pyrrha started training her to use her Aura, and she could only wonder what Louise might become in time.
Kirche and Tabitha rode with them in the wagon. Tabitha was quiet and introverted while Kirche was the complete opposite. Tabitha had barely said two words to Louise and Pyrrha, and there were generations of bad blood between Louise's and Kirche's families, but both of them had volunteered to help when Louise decided to go after the thief Fouquet.
Longueville, the headmaster's secretary, held the reins, leading them to the cabin in the woods where Fouquet had been spotted. They were going to find the place and retrieve the relic Fouquet had stolen. At least, that was the plan.
Still, she wished she had a weapon.
Colbert wished he had given her a weapon. There was honor, or at least prestige, in forging a weapon for Gandalfr herself, even if she didn't yet know who she was. The Colbert of twenty years ago would have jumped at the opportunity, but that Colbert had been a warrior. Now he was a teacher, a coward, a man who knew that killing some to save others left nothing but ash.
Still, the blueprints Pyrrha left behind were a miracle of engineering. One hundred and eight interlocking parts, precise to a thousandth of an inch, combined into a sword that could become a spear that could become a rifle. He should have thrown them out when he told her that he wouldn't build it for her, but Founder, it was a work of art!
And then there was the bribe she offered. "I enjoyed your lecture, Professor," she had said after class one day. "I didn't expect to find a steam engine in this country."
She had a name for it. Colbert hadn't even thought to call it anything. Sure, he saw possibilities in using fire and water to create motion, but he was a scientist! He saw possibilities in everything. One hundred and eight interlocking parts, a weapon more advanced and elegant than anything ever seen. He shivered.
"Oh, you have these where you're from? And they work?"
She nodded. "We used to use coal and more advanced forms of energy propellent to move trains and ships." After an explanation about what a train was, Colbert grew convinced that Pyrrha was from a futuristic kingdom beyond imagination. No, not futuristic. Halkeginia had barely changed since the time of the Founder, and it seemed content to fester in its own traditions for another six millennia to come. Pyrrha's country was advanced.
"Though honestly," she continued, "these days we use these sorts of engines to generate electricity, and then go from there."
Hook, line, and … "Electricity? You mean lightning? You can create lightning without magic? With just fire and water?" He was a fire mage, but any commoner with dry wood could make fire. Lightning seemed divine, straight from the clouds of heaven. Brimir's wrath.
"Of course," she said, smiling. "It's a basic law of electromagnetics that just as a moving electric field creates a magnetic field, a moving magnetic field creates an electric field."
He felt like a beggar following a noblewoman tossing diamonds. He knew what electricity was, though that was more strictly under the domain of wind mages, but what was an electric field? He had a mental image of a farmer's field with lightning rods instead of wheat, but how would that move?
"How would you, hypothetically, build this …"
"Generator? I confess, I'm not an engineer, but I've always had a special interest in magnetic theory. I think I could help you through the basics. Though, if it's not too much, I would like your help with something in return." And that's when she had brought out the stack, page after page of blueprints, designs for a weapon without equal, not in terms of power but in terms of grace, a mix of beauty and deadliness that never should have existed. Every fiber of his being wanted to say yes, but he had walked those fields of ash before, and he would never go back.
He had made her a shield, though. That was the least he could do. Still, he felt guilty about letting her and three of his students go to face Fouquet. Had he been braver, he would have gone instead, but again, he was a coward.
Of course, both Kirche and Tabitha were extremely skilled mages, and Pyrrha herself was the legendary Gandalfr. He was sure they'd be fine.
They were not fine. They recovered the Staff of Destruction from the cabin without incident, but then Fouquet's golem ripped the roof off from over their heads. Neither Kirche's fire nor Tabitha's icicles could harm the thing, and all Pyrrha had was a shield.
"Retreat," Tabitha said, her voice absolutely calm.
Pyrrha nodded. She held the case that contained the Staff of Destruction, and that was all they had come for. Kirche ran out the front door and Tabitha went out the back while Pyrrha remained where she stood, waiting for an opening.
The golem raised a fist and struck. It was strong and faster than it looked, but also clumsy. It telegraphed every move, and so Pyrrha dodged it easily.
She ran up the construct's arm—shield in one hand and case in the other—before it could react. It looked like it was made of dirt, but most of its body was stone. It had the general shape of a human, but with longer arms, shorter legs, and lump with black pits for eyes instead of a head. She jumped off of the golem, flipping in midair before landing.
"Did you get it?" Louise asked, who had been standing watch outside the cabin. "You got it! Now what?"
"Now we return victorious!" Kirche said, running past them.
"Really?" Louise said. "It looks like you're running away."
"We have what we came for," Pyrrha said. "Let's go."
"We can't do that!" Louise protested. "Nobles do not retreat."
"What, are you worried you're going to fail at that too?" Kirche asked over her shoulder.
"You know what, you can shut up!" Louise turned back to Pyrrha, ignoring the golem lumbering toward them. "If the golem is here, then Fouquet is too. Even if we don't capture him, we can still show him not to mess with us!"
Pyrrha considered that, but something more important grabbed her attention. "Where's Longueville?"
Longueville had stayed behind to investigate the surrounding woods. If Fouquet was close enough to create the golem but wasn't in the cabin … Louise's eyes widened. "Do you thing she ran into—"
Pyrrha threw herself into Louise, knocking her out of the way of the golem's attack. "It's possible," she admitted.
"Then we have to stay!"
"Don't fight me on this, Pyrrha! We can't leave until … you're not fighting me on this."
"No. Your reasoning is sound. What's the plan?"
"Plan? Um, I don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead."
"Then go grab the others and work something out. I'll buy time." Pyrrha ran to the golem to do just that. It turned on her, swinging a massive fist at her. She rolled under the attack and sprinted between its legs, slashing at it with the edge of her shield. Chips of stone flew off from it, but for a construct so large it was barely a scratch.
Still, she had distracted it, and that was all she needed to do. With no weapon and so little metal around, she doubted if she could destroy it if she wanted to, but she could dance with it well into the night.
She jumped into the air and landed on the thing's head, slashing at its eyes, and then leapt out of the way as the golem smashed itself in the face trying to hit her. Chips sprayed off of it, but they reformed, making the golem whole again.
You're made of stone, you can regenerate, and you're the size of a house. Nora would love this. Pyrrha was considered the strongest member of Team JNPR, but strength was more dynamic than that. She was quick and precise, making her effective against human sized opponents, but such a massive foe was best matched against raw power.
Louise ran up to her. "Tabitha and Kirche are in the woods looking for Longueville. We have until they get back to take this thing down! Any ideas?"
Pyrrha could stall the golem just fine on her own, but if Fouquet was healing it, then if they did enough damage to the golem, they could drain Fouquet dry. At least, she thought so, assuming the rules of magic here were at least as logical as the ones back home. "I have one," she said. "You're skilled enough with Aura to take at least one hit, I think." They had been going out at night for the last few weeks to train, just like she had with Jaune. Louise had no weapon specialty and no known Semblance, but she could use her Aura as a shield.
Louise frowned. "I don't like where this is going, but go on."
"I'm going to launch you onto the golem's face, and you're going to cast a spell at it, point blank."
"Right. Which one?"
"Which spell do you want me to cast?"
"Don't they all do the same thing when you cast them?"
Her lips curled in a pout. "It might not."
"Hope it does. We don't need skill or subtlety here. We just need power, and I know I've told you this before, but you have an incredible amount."
The golem struck again, but both of them dodged it. Louise hopped five feet up in the air, a feat that she would have called impossible for her a few weeks ago, and Pyrrha dove under her so Louise landed on her shield. They both took a deep breath, and Pyrrha shoved toward the sky, launching Louise upwards another fifty.
As a mage, levitation was just another spell that Louise couldn't cast, but she had flown before. Sometimes someone else would cast the spell on her and she would float weightlessly through the air, or she would ride a winged beast like a dragon or her mother's manticore.
This was nothing like that at all. There was no control, no safeguards; it was a leap of faith.
And she loved it.
She reached the zenith of her arc and began to fall. The golem looked up at her and raised a fist to swat her out of the air. Ah. That was unfortunate. Louise realized the fundamental problem of committing yourself to the air without the ability to fly: there was no such thing as dodging.
Just as she braced herself for impact, a whirlwind engulfed her, flaring her skirt up and slowing her fall so the golem's attack missed her entirely.
Then she landed right on the construct's face, her Aura absorbing the impact as the shock went through her legs. No skill. No subtlety. She stabbed the golem with her wand, planting it in the dirt. "Fireball!" No heat, not flame, just an awesome concussive blast. Chips of stone flew in every direction, but Louise stayed on.
She cast another spell. "Transmute!" The golem didn't change from one substance to another, it just broke down under the force of the explosion. It staggered and swayed, but Louise held on.
"Silence!" Ha! No, just the opposite, a deafening burst as earth crunched beneath her. She slipped a little, but she didn't lose her grip.
"Levitation!" Instead, she fell, the remnant of the golem no longer capable of holding her up. She stood in a pile of inert dirt that had once dared to threaten her.
"Louise!" Pyrrha said, running up to her. "I knew you could do it." She brushed a bit of gravel out of her hair. Louise knew she probably looked a mess, covered in dirt and debris, but she didn't care. She felt lightheaded a giddy. She had won!
"I did it." She barely believed it herself.
"How did you slow your fall like that? Was that your Semblance?"
Louise blinked and shook herself. "Right. Um, I think that was Tabitha. What's a Semblance?"
"I'll explain later," Pyrrha said, spotting Tabitha emerging from the forest. "Tabitha! Did you find Longueville?"
"No, but I did," Kirche said, coming from the other side of the clearing. She was holding her hands above her head with Longueville behind her. "I found Fouquet, too. The bad news? They're the same person."
"What?" Louise asked. "Kirche, don't even joke like … oh no, you got captured, didn't you?"
Kirche gave a shrug. "Full on damsel in distress. I wouldn't mind so much if there was a knight in shining armor to come to my rescue, but while Tabitha is technically a knight, and Pyrrha is wearing armor, that's not really what I'm going for."
"Founder, you talk a lot," Longueville said behind her.
Kirche shrugged again. "It's one of my best features. And, trust me, the competition there is fierce."
"Quiet, Kirche, you're not helping." Founder, it felt good to say that. Petty, perhaps, but true. "Why are you doing this, Longueville?"
"Doing what?" Longueville said conversationally. "Stealing the Staff of Destruction or luring you kids to it?"
The report that Fouquet had been spotted near the cabin had come through her, Louise realized. "Yes."
"Money and money. It seemed valuable, but after I got it, I couldn't figure out how to use it. I figured that if I led one of the the teachers her, they'd demonstrate its use against my golem, but it turns out your teachers are all gutless cowards. And Osmond, who's just a pervert. Honestly I'm impressed that you kids came instead—you managed to prove that you three are dumber than all your teachers put together."
"Thanks. Jerk." Also, there were four of them, not three. "Now what?"
"Now," Longueville said, "you all drop your wands unless you want to see your friend die. Your shield, too," she added to Pyrrha. "I've seen what you can do with it."
Tabitha let go of her staff, and Pyrrha dropped her shield. Louise didn't move.
"Didn't you hear me?" Longueville said.
"Oh, I heard you," Louise said. "I'm just considering my options." There were a lot of people she didn't like at school, and Kirche had always been number one. If something tragic befell Kirche, Louise doubted she'd need therapy, especially if she had the glory of defeating the infamous thief Fouquet and recovering the Staff of Destruction to ride on.
"What options?" Longueville asked. "Either you surrender, or your friend dies."
Louise cocked her head. "Friend? Friend is such a strong word."
"Seriously, Zero?" Kirche said. "You're going to do this now?"
"I haven't done anything yet, but good job on calling me names at a time like this. Way to make my decision easier by reminding me why I don't like you."
"Yeah, well, if you ever need a reminder on why no one likes you, it's because of this! I actually have friends I don't own. Like Tabitha. See Tabitha? That's her murder face. I know this because friendship."
Louise looked at Tabitha, who was staring completely emotionlessly. At her. The girl had never been very expressive, but she also never made extended eye contact with anything besides a book.
Louise felt a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, Louise," Pyrrha said. Her voice sounded strong and gentle, a voice that made everyone else sound like whining brats in comparison. "We'll get through this. I promise."
"Well, I suppose this is the honorable thing to do," Louise said grudgingly. "But for the record, I didn't screw everything up. I'm pretty sure a lot of people just lost a bet."
"Finally," Longueville said. "That was far more tedious than it needed to be. Now, Pyrrha, set down the Staff of Destruction—gently! It could be fragile. Good. Now the rest of you, back away, and keep your hands where I can see them."
They complied, and Longueville pushed Kirche forward until she reached the metal case. "This whole thing has been a mess. Now I have to go back, explain how you all died, and convince those old idiots to send another search party into an ambush. Really, it's all one big headache."
"So you are going to kill us anyway," Pyrrha said. She didn't sound scared. Her voice was completely calm. No, not calm; ice. She spoke as though she were passing judgement instead of receiving it.
Longueville cocked her head. "Were you under the impression that you were useful alive?"
Pyrrha shook her head. "No. I just wanted to make sure what you were willing to do. Thank you."
And with that, the case containing the Staff of Destruction came to life. A black penumbra surrounded it and it floated into the air. Longueville backed away from it in panic and raised her wand, but she wasn't fast enough. It crashed into her, knocking her to the ground. It rose into the air and slammed down into her.
Pyrrha stepped forward, examining her wand which was snapped as cleanly as her arm. "Oh dear. I did not mean to break you so much. If it's any consolation, I do not normally fight people who are so fragile."
"What—what was that?" Louise demanded. "How did you do that?"
"Ah, that. I used my Semblance. That's one of the more advanced forms of Aura training."
"Wait, Semblance?" Kirche said. "Aura? I don't know what you two are talking about, but I know magic when I see it. I thought you summoned a commoner."
"It's not magic," Pyrrha said. "It's a Semblance."
"And she's not a commoner," Louise said. "She's a Huntress." Though she had to admit, making inanimate objects attack your enemies seemed an awful lot like magic.
Kirche raised an eyebrow. "What do you think, Tabitha?"
"I don't believe it either."
"Well, I supposed I do owe you an explanation," Pyrrha said.
"No you don't," Louise said.
Pyrrha shot her a look full of patience. "They did fight alongside us. I'll explain everything on the way back."
"PLKT. TKLP. KLPT?"
"LPTK? How liberal of a definition are we using for 'word?'"
After returning with the Staff of Destruction and the captured thief, the four girls spent the rest of the afternoon preparing for the Ball of Frigg. Louise had wanted to take Pyrrha shopping to pick out a dress, but with their mission, they hadn't had the time, so Pyrrha ended up borrowing one. Pyrrha was too tall for anything in Louise's wardrobe, but Kirche had volunteered to lend her one of her own gowns.
If Pyrrha had known that Kirche's definition of a conservative neckline meant one that didn't reach her navel, she might have pursued other options.
Still, despite their preparations, Pyrrha doubted that any of them would make it to the dancefloor.
"KTLP. KPLT. Catapult?"
They had more important things to work on.
"Team Catapult? I think we can do better than that."
"I've yet to see any evidence to the contrary."
Looking back, Pyrrha's respect for Headmaster Ozpin grew as she realized just how difficult it was to take four random letters and make a word out of them.
"Okay, here's an idea. There's no rule that says we have to use our first given names, right? So if we replace the L with a Z—"
"And replace the K with an S …"
"Pardon me," a well dressed young man said, approaching them. "Might you honor me with a—"
"No," Kirche said.
"Beat it, loser," Louise said. "We're busy."
Pyrrha stood up and put a hand on his shoulder. "We are actually in the middle of something, but that girl sitting alone over there looks like she hasn't been asked to dance in a while, and I'm sure she'd appreciate it."
On the way back from the mission, she had told Kirche and Tabitha about Aura just as she had with Louise weeks before, which led to questions about Semblances, Huntresses, and finally teams.
"You done with the list, Tabitha?" Kirche asked.
Tabitha nodded and handed her a piece of paper.
KTLP KTPL KPLT KPTL KLPT KLTP
TKPL TKLP TLPK TLKP TPLK TPKL
LTPK LTKP LKPT LKTP LPKT LPTK
PKLT PKTL PTKL PTLK PLTK PLKT
"Well, these are horrible. Pyrrha, quick question. If your initial comes first in the team name, does that make you leader?"
"Generally, yes," Pyrrha said. "When I was on Team JNPR, my friend Jaune always led us on missions." Jaune, Nora, Ren. She could not have wished for finer friends. She had no idea if she would ever see them again, now that they were a world apart, but she would never forget them. Now, forming a new team with new friends, she wasn't replacing them, but she was moving on, and she hoped that the rest of Team JNPR would be able to do the same.
"So really," Kirche said, "we just need to pick a leader and take it from there."
"I vote for anyone besides Kirche," Louise said.
"I vote for anyone besides Louise," Kirche said.
"Pyrrha," Tabitha said.
Pyrrha snapped out of her reverie. "Wait, what?"
"Alright, it's unanimous!" Kirche said, grinning.
Louise threw a fist in the air. "Team leader Pyrrha!"
Kirche held up Tabitha's list. "So we've narrowed it down to Team Pickled, Picktle, P-patkle? Um, Pitlock? P-platonic, maybe? Oh, I can see that turning ironic. And Plankton. Right."
"Maybe we should sleep on it?" Pyrrha suggested.
"Wait," Louise said. "What did you mean by ironic?"
"We should definitely sleep on it," Kirche said.
Eventually the ball ended, and they all went their separate ways, ending what Pyrrha would later remember as the first mission of Team Not Heretofore Yet Named. All things considered, it could have gone much, much worse.
A/n If anyone can come up with a decent team name out of those four letters, let me know, and I may write a Pyrrha III chapter. I like the idea of Pyrrha spreading the knowledge of Aura until she can set up her own Huntsman Academy of Tristain. Or, you know, she could be boring and follow the Prime Directive.
Anyway, thank you to everyone who left reviews, and thank you Magery for editing this chapter, as he has so many times before.
Also, fun fact and totally unintentional. Not Heretofore Yet Named spells NHYN, pronounced Nine, which is which chapter this is.