And so begins my first foray into RWBY fanfiction, heaven help me. I do want to note ahead of time that despite the story's title, this does not have any relation to Coeur Al'Aran's Not This Time, Fate, nor does it utilize similar concepts used within that story. The title's use of Fate is purely coincidental.
"Fuck my life, it's like someone gave a 3 year old pencil crayons and told him he's Picasso."
Pawn of Fate
The world burned.
Glowing embers leaped and twirled in a fiery dance, twinkling like stars against the background of choking clouds of smoke and ash, billowing into the skies. The cinders burst up in swarms with each smoldering structure that collapsed from the flames incinerating their supports. Beams were eaten away, crackling and popping within the inferno, mortar weakened and shifted, and the stones came crashing to the ash. Shockwaves from the collapsing walls quickly blasted the surrounding colonnades. He could hear nothing but the blaze as it turned the citadel into nothing more than a charred corpse.
The fires raged, painting what little visible sky that could be seen an angry crimson. Above, the moon hung, a baleful eye glaring down upon him as he struggled to pull himself through the cinders. The fierce, bright light scorched at his eyes, and the overwhelming heat–that oppressive roasting hotness–weighed down on him and every inch of the landscape. He tried to scream, to cry for help. Instead his lungs burned, the fire and the howling wind robbing him of voice and leaving his every breath a burden to take. Sweat poured from his brow, and his muscles screamed with each movement. He knew he had to keep moving. He knew if he stopped, it would spell the end of him. With monumental effort, he forced himself up onto one foot, then the other.
He wasn't alone. Up ahead he could see movement, someone else struggling to survive this hellish courtyard. He focused on that figure, squinting through his tears. It was a man clad in green, his clothes dark with soot. He staggered through the rubble as if wounded, glancing behind him as if he was being chased. The man's foot caught on a broken stone and he tumbled with a pained cry. The weapon he carried in his hand clattered to the ground ahead of him, and he reached out to take it back.
So focused was the man in green on trying to get his weapon, he never saw the thing that approached him from behind. He hesitated to call it a woman. He'd never seen such a woman before—her black dress went untouched by the hungry flames and noxious smoke as she strode through the ruins of a shattered statue. The cinders and ash in the air marred neither her alabaster skin nor her ivory hair, but volcanic cracks split open her cheeks and glowed like the fires that burned all around her. Her crimson eyes zeroed in on the man in green, glaring at him like the bloody moon hanging above them as he struggled.
The thing lifted her pale, cracked arm to her side, and was consumed in stygian flames that billowed out in a line and solidified into a vicious weapon of her own. He tried to scream a warning to the man in green, to tell him to watch out for the monster behind him. Instead heat seared at his throat, leaving him choking for air. He collapsed to his knees once more, and could only stare in growing horror.
The man in green had realized the danger he had been in, snatching up his discarded weapon and twisting about with a slash, only for the monster to bat it aside with the haft of her weapon. She stepped to the side and smashed a slippered foot on his forearm, grinding it against the stones beneath him. The look on the man in green's face was a mixture of shock and fear, met easily by the cruel, victorious smile of his opponent as her weapon came up in her hand.
There was nothing he could do as the weapon speared downwards and through the man in green's chest. A red deeper than the flames splashed across broken rock as its blade tore through his back, biting into the floor.
The man in green opened his mouth—to scream, to curse the monster, to draw a desperate breath—and blood spattered down his chin, even as more blood spread from the wound of his pierced heart.
With a trembling arm extended out to his murderer, he shuddered, and died.
The monster gave the corpse one last look of disdain as she wrenched her weapon free from it. Around them the wind began to howl, whipping the infernal flames into a frenzy. Above them, the moon reached its zenith, hanging above the tower as it burned and collapsed. The wind reached a crescendo, scattering ash and cinder about into a hellish storm. Terror rose within him as slowly, the monster's gaze trailed up from the body and met his own.
And it burned with hate.
Jaune Arc awoke with a start.
The jolt that came with his awakening on the hard lounge chairs of the airport resulted in the lad pulling a muscle in his neck, and he pushed himself up with a groan, slapping a hand over the sore spot. "Man, what the heck was that?" he complained to himself, using the bare fingers of his right hand to rub the sleep out of his eyes.
It was well into morning in the Kingdom of Vale. Light poured in from the windows of the terminal, giving promise to a sunny, almost cloudless day. A quick glance at the clock showed his flight to Beacon would be boarding soon, with not enough time to get a proper meal if he wanted to get through security and their permit check in time. Jaune grimaced—not like he could even if he had time, given that he was about to step onto an airship and fly across the sea. That was going to end poorly no matter what he did. With a sigh, he shrugged the strap of his duffel bag onto his shoulder and stood up.
There, he paused. It was like he could still smell the ash and smoke.
He pushed the thought away, shaking his head in irritation. It was just a bad dream. That's all it was. Still trying to convince himself, he hurried along to board his flight.
And what a miserable flight it had proved to be. Not only had Jaune predictably failed to keep his nausea in check, he had managed somehow on a rather attractive blonde's shoes, coming away from it with a humiliating nickname from the short brunette that had been with her, one he had the misfortune of hearing. He had barely been able to focus on the Beacon faculty member that had appeared on the holo-display.
He'd then found himself puking once more into a trashcan the moment he got out of the airship, after it had docked. Spittle dripping from his lips, he closed his eyes, not willing to look at the mess he'd made in the wastebin, lest he have another episode.
"This is not my day," Jaune muttered, wiping his mouth as he pushed himself away from the trash can he just threw up in. It really, really wasn't how he had wanted to start his day: the day he would finally become a student of Beacon.
Even if he'd become one through… less than legitimate means…
The boy began making his way down the airship dock, staring in barely contained wonder like everyone else present. The terrible taste in his mouth was forgotten, lips parted in awe.
Beacon Academy was everything he had hoped it would be. The Cross-Continental Transmit Tower was the stunning centerpiece to the schoolgrounds, towering over a multitude of spires that loomed over the colonnades, the lampposts, and pools of the courtyard plaza. Prospective students had spread out as they made their way down the main avenue to the school, all of them gazing around at the structures and the trees filling the courtyard. Indeed, all the campus seemed to lack was a wall of ramparts around its perimeter that'd make it seem like a castle. But even then, the academy looked magnificent.
A flash of white caught Jaune's eye, and his head turned to follow it. He found himself stopping in his tracks. "Speaking of magnificent," he breathed.
It was her silvery-white hair he noticed first. It swept out behind her in a sidelong ponytail from her brisk walk, the crown-shaped ornament holding it glinting in the sunlight. She was wearing a stunning dress and jacket of a white and blue gradient, the hem of its sleeves and skirt seeming to sparkle in the sunlight. She had creamy, pale skin and a lithe, slender build, with icy blue eyes glancing down at the expensive-looking Scroll as she showed two men in suits something upon its screen. She was beautiful. She was exotic. She was… about to have her luggage collide with the cloaked brunette from the airship!
The servants pushing the trolley were so distracted by what was being shown them on the Scroll, they never saw someone was in the way. Jaune could only wince as the cloaked girl collapsed onto the luggage trolley, causing the girl in white to stomp towards her in a rage and start yelling at her. "What are you doing!?"
"Sorry? Do you have any idea of the damage you could've caused?" she snapped as cloak-girl handed over one of the cases she knocked over, and getting it snatched out of her hands for the trouble. "Gimme that!"
"Ah, man," Jaune muttered as the girl in white continued to scold the other girl, pulling out a vial of Dust as she lectured her on the dangers of such. He knew he shouldn't get involved, his sisters had warned him never to get between any heated exchange between two girls if he wanted to keep his hide intact. Ignoring their advice, he made his way towards the girls, hoping to at least get them to break it up. Wait, what was that sparkle-?
One sneeze later, his leg was on fire.
"Shit!" he yelped, slapping away at the flames burning away at his jeans. The two servants rushed to his aid to help put out the flames as the girl in white's shouts gained an octave. The moment the fire was put out, he gave the men a brief "thanks" before stepping forward again, carefully stepping through the luggage and the rubble of the newly formed crater until he was able to get between them.
"Okay, okay, I think she gets the point!" he said, cutting off the cloaked girl before she could snap back at the girl in white. She turned her icy gaze from her and onto him. "She looks like she's feeling pretty bad about it, and we really, really shouldn't be arguing about it out here, right? We could end up late for the orientation!"
She looked as if she was going to argue further for a moment, but then the girl in white let out a breath and stepped back. "Fine. You're right," she said curtly. She stepped past him to stare imperiously at the cloaked girl. "You! Help clean up the mess you made and we'll consider it even."
Jaune sighed. Best she could hope for, he thought, as the cloaked girl scrambled to her feet to start picking up the suitcases scattered about the crater. He knelt and picked up one himself to put back on the trolley. "Here, let me help," he said to the cloaked girl. She flashed him a grateful smile, and thankfully the girl in white said nothing about his aid. From the corner of his eye he saw a girl with black hair and gold eyes wordlessly hand over a discarded bottle of Dust to the girl in white before walking off.
When she handed the last suitcase to one of the two servants, the cloaked girl pivoted on one foot to face her persecutor. "There, all—"
She cut off with a squeak as the girl in white thwacked a small pamphlet against her chest. "Take this. Read it. And don't let me catch you being so irresponsible around Dust again," she warned. She spun on a booted heel and strode away from the disaster, her servants following with her luggage. The two of them watched her depart with a sigh, before the cloaked girl looked at the object in her hands.
"Dust for Dummies," she muttered, and groaned. "Ugh. Welcome to Beacon…"
"Hey, it could've been worse," Jaune told her. "I'm glad I was able to talk her out of chewing you out more."
"Easy for you to say. You didn't get blown up."
"My pants caught on fire, actually," he rebutted, pointing at the char on his jeans' pantleg. The girl in the cloak glanced at it and flushed in embarrassment. She opened her mouth to speak, probably to apologize. He cut her off.
"I'm Jaune," he introduced. "Jaune Arc."
"Oh! Um, I'm Ruby," she told him after a moment. She blinked as she got a better look at him. Then she smirked. "Aren't you the guy who threw up on the ship?"
He scowled. Definitely not his day.
"I can safely say that this is a new record on property damage this year," A man said to no one in particular.
The Headmaster of Beacon gazed down at his academy from his office in the CCT Tower, a mug of coffee in one hand and his cane in the other. He could see the wisp of smoke rising from the newly formed crater in the street leading to the main plaza. Property damage was nothing new here, of course. It was expected to happen at a combat school. Inevitable when you pack a large group of heavily armed, hormonal teenagers looking to prove themselves to their peers into the same facility. But technically the year hasn't even started, and there was already something he'd need to send his deputy headmistress to repair. Won't she be pleased?
It was shaping up to be an interesting year, Ozpin decided, as he set his cane against his desk and looked over the tasks he'd set for today. The teachers on duty had their rosters, and the second years will by now have gotten their assignment to prepare the Emerald Forest for tomorrow's Initiation, to get the Grimm population within sufficiently wary and riled—contrary to popular belief, the creatures of Grimm are normally not attracted to exhilarated teens looking for a fight.
It would be a good lesson in stealth, tactics, and restraint for the older students. Some of them he felt were a little lacking in that last trait last year… particularly when it came to the leader of Team CFVY.
Seeing that everything was in order, Ozpin tidied up his desk and finished his morning coffee before taking up his cane and departed from the office. Glynda Goodwitch met within the elevator, and greeted him with a simple nod as they made their way down the tower to the auditorium. Wisely, the headmaster chose not to mention the damage to the school path just yet. It wouldn't do to set her off before the opening speech.
"I trust all of the preparations are being made," he spoke to his companion. Glynda nodded, glancing down at her Scroll.
"Of course. The other teachers should be informing the second-years of their tasks as we speak," she informed him. "They'll be deploying a few minutes after you wrap up the welcoming speech."
"Good. Let's hope it goes as smoothly for them this year as it has for the last two," Ozpin said as the elevator made its way to the ground floor. "After that it should be business as usual for the third and fourth-years… How about our new arrivals? Were there any irregularities we should be concerned with?"
"Other than the low turnout we expected, and the one you yourself orchestrated..." Glynda told him, and he knew she was referring to his transfer of Ruby Rose to the academy. "There was one entrant that caught my eye."
She brought up an image on her Scroll and leaned it over to him to examine. The headmaster saw the profile of a young woman with black hair and yellow eyes, and a bow atop her crown. She continued to speak, expressing her concerns on the matter. "Unlike the others, she's gained enrollment through our entry exam. I oversaw it myself, and her skill is not in question, but if you take in the features and look at her name…"
"Blake Belladonna? Curious," he said, gently taking the Scroll from her to examine her more closely. "You think she's related to them? I haven't heard of them having any children."
"It's a little early to tell, but the warning signs are there. Perhaps we should keep a watchful eye on her."
"I'll trust your discretion on the matter. Anything else?" Ozpin asked, returning the device to her. The elevator car came to a stop and the doors opened, allowing them exit.
"True to her word, Weiss Schnee arrived with the rest of the new students. I guess her father wasn't able to convince her to stay after all. Were you still planning on observing her?"
"Yes. I'm still convinced that it's her sister we should be concerned about, but it wouldn't do to be mistaken at this junction." They crossed through the breezeway between the CCT and the school proper, entering through the back. "Oftentimes personality and conviction is the indicator we need, but there have been aberrations before…"
"Very well, I'll leave a note to those in the know about having her classes examined," Glynda said, plugging in a note onto her Scroll. She shifted gears. "How are we doing on the requisitions for this year's festival?"
Ozpin grimaced at that question. "About as well as you can expect, with the thefts going on," he told her. "The scarcity of Dust will make it an expensive prospect this year, if we have to start ordering from the SDC direct…"
They were just about backstage to the auditorium when the headmaster stopped dead in his tracks, his answer trailing off. Glynda took a couple steps past him before she realized it, and turned back to him, confused. "Sir…?"
He didn't even hear her. The man stared ahead, seeing but processing nothing. He was focusing on the sudden tug within him, a warmth that suffused his soul. It was… a resonance? Yes, that is exactly what it was. It had been so long since he felt this that he had tucked the old feeling into the back of his mind, having been unneeded for some time.
Now, of all times?
It was impossible. Wasn't it?
Ozpin stirred, glancing down to his hand and flexing it when Glynda's voice registered finally. "Sir, are you okay?" she asked, glancing down at the curious action.
"I… yes, it's…"
He could feel a wave of nostalgia tugging at his mind. It had been a long, long time indeed since he had felt this. He had to focus, suppressing the warmth that had suddenly filled him. He turned his gaze back to his deputy headmistress. "I'll explain in a moment. For now, let's take care of this…"
He slid his right hand back into his pocket as he strode out onto the stage. The chatter quickly stilled at the edges of the crowd, though most in the center had not noticed his appearance yet. He hardly even noticed. As he had stepped out, the warmth seemed to pulse, and his eyes quickly locked onto that of another in the crowd. Suddenly, it all made sense.
He was not the tallest boy in the crowd, nor did he stand out any more than the others. His blond hair was unkempt but not wild, his blue eyes were not particularly knowledgeable but they were alert. He wore plain clothes in comparison to the more fashionable outfits his contemporaries around him sported, the armor strapped to his torso and shoulders were unremarkable, as was the sword strapped to his hip. The boy's own gaze was locked to his, and even at this distance, he could tell that he was alarmed, unnerved by his own arrival to the stage.
But when he looked at the lad, Ozpin knew that the time had at long last arrived. It was almost bewildering for him. Ah, but this changed things. He allowed himself a small smile. He let go of his cane for a moment, leaving it comically balancing on its point as he adjusted the glasses resting on the bridge of his nose, then calmly placed his hand back down upon its handle before it could tip over. He spoke into the microphone before him.
"I'll… keep this brief," he said, deciding not to waste any more time here than was necessary. The chatter died down in an instant, and the budding argument that looked to be beginning between Ruby Rose and Weiss Schnee, both standing next to the boy he kept glancing at was quelled in an instant. "You have traveled here today in search of knowledge. To hone your craft, and acquire new skills. And when you have finished, you plan to dedicate your life to the protection of the people."
Well, best not to beat around the bush. It was not a happy life they were training for. "But I look amongst you and all I see is wasted energy… in need of purpose, direction." He could see the children gathered before him look amongst one another nervously, unsure as to why he was addressing them in such a manner. The boy just continued to look out of his depth. Was he aware of it as well? His mouth continued to speak even as his mind wanted to be elsewhere.
"You assume knowledge will free you of this, but your time at this school will prove that knowledge can only carry you so far," he informed them. "It is up to you to take the first step."
With that, his speech was over, and he took one last glance at the blond-haired lad in the crowd before ambling away from the microphone, letting Glynda take over. She gave them her parting instructions and then hurried off to catch up him, away from the stage proper.
"It seems we have a change of plans, Glynda," he said as she reached his side. "Back to my office for the time being. I'd like to go over the first-years' transcripts again. We have much to do. Let us not waste time doing it."
What the hell was that?
"… he seemed kind of… off," Jaune heard Ruby's sister say.
"It's almost like he wasn't even there…" Ruby agreed.
Jaune ignored them both. He also ignored the white-haired girl at the edge of his vision, the unease that had settled within him demanded all his attention. Why had the man in green's arrival set him off like this? Why did he feel that sensation, that feeling of something tugging at him the moment he appeared before him? He had no reason to experience such emotions and sensations. It was so… foreign in nature. The possibilities scared him.
Jaune backed away from the space in the crowd to leave, half-remembering Glynda's instructions for the students. He had to go clear his head.
Man, this was seriously not his day today.
Weiss Schnee strode through the hallways of Beacon confidently, unmindful of the other prospective students all heading to the same destination. She paid them little mind even as a few glanced at her and whispered among each other, recognizing her for who she was: heiress of the Schnee Dusty Company. Under any other circumstances, she would've preened, at least in secret. Today, however, her strides only masked the annoyance she felt from the previous day. Her first day at Beacon made into a trial on her patience, well into the night.
The sources of those annoyances were within sight the moment she opened the door to the locker room, a red cloak trailing behind the girl in the black dress as she scampered behind a taller blonde. Weiss' eyes narrowed, as if to torch the stray petal that seemed to break away from the garment with the heat of her glare. Instead of taking a tour of the facilities of Beacon Academy, the incident in the courtyard forced the heiress to go through her belongings and check and recheck each vial of Dust she had brought with her. Particles of Dust were miniscule and when scattered in the air could hardly be seen save for the faint shimmer of light upon them.
It had been careless of her to shake the vial so, but she had been certain that the collapse of one idiotic child wouldn't be enough to compromise the seal on it.
The resulting blast had, as she feared, compromised many more of her Dust vials, and she had neither the time to find replacements for them, nor time to transfer the contents of each damaged vial into the hypothetical pristine ones if she did have them. All because of one sneeze. She had been willing to make peace with the other girl after that boy had interrupted her lecture and pointed out the situation, but then the foolish brat had the gall to cause a ruckus later that night when they were trying to settle down! It was like she wasn't even aware of the no doubt rigorous testing they'd be receiving all too soon.
No, Weiss, don't let your anger get the better of you again, she told herself in her head, fighting down her irritation. Instead she made her way to the locker in which she had stored away Myrtenaster and her surviving supply of Dust. With a little luck and clever application, what she could still safely use would be enough for whatever Initiation would throw at her.
Well, some luck, clever application, and the incredible opportunity that just stepped into her line of sight as she reached the locker. Had she seriously put her belongings alongside those of the Mistral tournament champion? She couldn't have engineered a better chance if she'd tried.
The redhead was looking at a piece of paper to read the combination for the lock as Weiss approached, around the same time as a dark-haired boy and his loud-mouthed companion passed by them. "Pyrrha Nikos, right?" she spoke, making the other look up and turn to her. She held out her hand.
"Ah, yes," she replied quickly taking the proffered hand and giving it a firm shake. "You're… Weiss Schnee. A pleasure to meet you."
Just nearby there was an outburst just a few rows over, and it sounded uncomfortably like that… that girl that blew her up. The boy from that same incident walked past, muttering to himself in frustration. Though she didn't catch his words over that of the cloaked girl snapping at her blonde companion, she felt she could sympathize, if he had to walk past that.
Weiss and Pyrrha took the opportunity to gather their things from their lockers, and once Myrtenaster was secure at her hip she turned back to her fellow prospective student. Time to make something of the opportunity that just fell into her lap.
"So, Pyrrha," she began, and Pyrrha turned her attention back to the white-haired lady. "I'm sure everyone must be eager to unite with such a strong, well-known individual such as yourself."
"Hmm… I'm not quite sure," was the reply, as Pyrrha contemplated it for a moment. Really? No one had tried to make an alliance with her already? "I was planning on letting the chips fall where they may."
Well, it couldn't hurt to try her pitch then. She gestured with her open palm. "Well, I was thinking maybe we could be on a team together."
Pyrrha smiled at the offer—definitely a good sign. "Well, that sounds grand!"
She smiled back. "Great!"
This will be perfect! The heiress thought, triumphant as she turned back to close her locker. The smartest girl in class combined with the strongest girl in class—together, we'd be unstoppable! Nothing could come between us now!
Someone chose that moment to come right between the two of them. The boy from earlier appeared by their side, a confident grin on his face beneath the mop of blond hair. "Teaming up with you does sound like a great idea," he said, blue eyes fixed on Weiss. She blinked at the sudden arrival, and gave him a once-over. She quickly noted that plain jeans with the singed leg and the black hoodie. She also noted the well-fitted armor he wore over it, and the simple-looking blade strapped to his hip.
"You're… that boy from yesterday?" she said, still off-guard.
"Jaune Arc. Nice to meet you," he introduced with a wave. Weiss folded her arms beneath her breasts.
"Weiss Schnee," was her terse response.
"So, you heard the rumors about teams too? You and I, we'd make a pretty good one too. What do you say?"
She arched an eyebrow at the offer—and at the lack of his reaction to her name. Odd. He didn't look like much, but he certainly thought he was something if he so easily approached the two of them. Pyrrha chose that moment to speak up. "Actually, I think the teams are comprised of a group of four students, so…"
"You don't say. Well, play your cards right and maybe you can join us on the winning team," Jaune said, turning towards Pyrrha and tapping his breastplate with his thumb.
No! No way was this little upstart hijacking her opportunity like that!
Weiss darted around and put herself between the two, pushing Pyrrha and Jaune away to step in the gap before turning to the boy. "Jaune, is it? Do you have any idea who you're talking to?" she demanded.
He leaned forward, still smiling. "Not a clue, Weiss."
"This is Pyrrha," she said, gesturing behind her.
"Hello again!" Pyrrha said. She could practically hear the smile.
"Pyrrha graduated at the top of her class in Sanctum."
Jaune shrugged. "Never heard of it."
"Ah! She's won the Mistral Regional Tournament four years in a row! A new record!"
"That's… impressive?" he said, his smile losing a bit of confidence, but only to give way to consideration, it seems.
Weiss was confused by his lack of reaction. Did he not know who Pyrrha Nikos was? How could anyone training to be a huntsman not know who Pyrrha Nikos was? She turned back to the champion to share a look, but paused when she saw the look on her face. The redhead was still smiling, ever polite, but her eyes were sharp, as if pinning the boy down like a spear. Did she… see something in him?
Weiss knew that Pyrrha was shrewd. You didn't get through four high-profile combat tournaments and come out on top each time on power alone. It was clear she saw something in the unassuming boy.
She shook the thoughts from her head and put her hand on her hip as she turned back to Jaune. "Do you still think you're in a position to ask her to be on your team?" she asked, as if to gauge his reaction.
He glanced to the side, hand on hip and sighed. "I guess not," he remarked.
The heiress finished gathering her gear and shut her locker with a huff. "If you can't, then I don't see how you think you're in a position to be asking me the same."
Jaune blinked, returning his gaze to her. "Wait, are you supposed to be famous too?"
Weiss stared as Pyrrha suddenly broke out in giggles.
In retrospect, with his lack of recognition of either her name or Pyrrha's, she should've known. It didn't make it sting any less.
The champion stepped past Weiss and clapped a hand on his pauldron. "Don't worry about it, Jaune. I think you'd make a great leader," she told him.
Weiss blinked as he perked up at the praise. Was that what she saw in him? She grimaced and shook her head. No one, not even Pyrrha could determine that after such a short meeting. It had to be lip service to comfort Jaune. Had to be. "We won't know that until the actual Initiation," Weiss refuted, sounding dubious of Pyrrha's claim.
"Guess we'll see then, won't we?" he remarked, leaning over to her. "Pyrrha's on board for Team Jaune, so the spots are filling up quick. You don't want to miss your chance, do you?"
She sighed. Pyrrha's amusement was not helping matters. Just where did this boy get his confidence…?
Before she could say anything else, the intercom on the wall activated, and the voice of the Deputy Headmistress issued through.
"Would all first-year students please report to Beacon Cliff for Initiation? Again, all first-year students report to Beacon Cliff immediately."
"And time for us to go," Weiss said, pivoting on the spot to leave.
"It was nice meeting you," Pyrrha said as she passed by Jaune, giving him a short, polite bow as he walked by.
Weiss could hear him sigh. "Likewise."
She spared him a glance over her shoulder, considering that confidence he kept displaying, and the measuring looks that Pyrrha had given him. She supposed they'd see when the test began.
Turning her gaze forward once more, Weiss pushed open the door to the locker room and proceeded onwards to Initiation.
Jaune, Ruby, and Yang were the last of their group to arrive at the designated spot on the Beacon Cliff, where the masters of the school awaited them. Most people had already lined up on the metal panels set into the ground, and Jaune followed Ruby to the remaining spaces, where he stood at the end of the line, closest to the headmaster.
The man in question gave him a nod over his mug as he stood on the plate. The boy gave him a weak smile in return, grateful that the sense of alarm from the day before was absent. Heaven help him if he had to deal with that today. He was so not ready for this—this was not at all what he had hoped for by coming here, but he'd gotten so caught up in everything that now he didn't know how to handle whatever was to come next.
Ozpin began to move, speaking as he did so. "For years, you have trained to become warriors. And today, your abilities will be evaluated in the Emerald Forest."
Jaune tried his best not to cringe at the guilt that suddenly welled up within him.
Glynda was hot on the man in green's heels, a large Scroll carried in the crook of her arm. "Now, I'm sure many of you have heard rumors about the assignment of teams," she continued on, drawing the eyes of the other students. "Well, allow us to put an end to your confusion. Each of you will be given teammates…"
As she mentioned it, Jaune stole a glance at Weiss towards the other end of the line, lamenting he couldn't attempt to talk her into teaming up with him further.
His attempts before weren't entirely because he was completely entranced by her beauty, or so he tried to tell himself. He would need a capable teammate in what was going to come, and someone that beautiful and confident had to be an amazing fighter, right? Right?
Beside him, Ruby cringed. "What? Aw…"
At least he wasn't the only nervous one around here.
"These teammates will be with you for the rest of your time here at Beacon," Ozpin spoke up, raising his voice so the people at the ends could hear him from the middle of the group. "So, it is in your best interest to be paired with someone with whom you can work well."
Ruby whined in fear. Jaune was starting to think she was more worried about this than he was, and he didn't even have the proper qualifications to be here!
The man suddenly grinned beneath his spectacles. "That being said, the first person you make eye contact with after landing will be your partner for the next four years!" he cheerily explained.
"What!?" Ruby yelped. Jaune stared in shock, mirroring the girl's sentiments perfectly. That didn't make any sense! Ozpin continued, unperturbed by the clamor that rose among the first-years.
"After you've partnered up, make your way to the northern end of the forest. You will meet opposition along the way," he warned them, as a strong wind picked up around them, tugging at Ruby's cloak and Yang's hair. Jaune felt a chill that had nothing to do with that gust as Ozpin's tone changed entirely. "Do not hesitate to destroy everything in your path, or you will die."
That's reassuring, Jaune thought with a frightened chuckle and a gulp. The headmaster went on to explain the objective, and Jaune listened the best he could. Abandoned temple, find a relic, make it back here alive, 'cause the instructors won't help us stay that way. Easy. Definitely easy.
Not even he could buy his attempts to fool himself. Seriously, he should step back right now and try to explain the problem—
"Are there any questions?" Ozpin asked.
Oh, do I have plenty, Jaune thought, his mental voice sounding almost hysterical. But the man was too far away, and while he thought he heard someone else speak up with one of their own, Ozpin ignored them. "Good! Now take your positions!"
One after another, the boys and girls lined up down from Jaune started to crouch down into a ready stance. Some of them drew their weapons. Then, there was a sound distinctly like that of a catapult, and Jaune saw someone flung at high speeds into the air over the forest. Followed by another.
His eyes shot down to the panel he stood on, at the ones Ruby and Yang and everyone else was standing on. Oh. Oh no.
Weiss was launched sword-first into the sky, like a needle-tipped missile.
"Did they give us parachutes for this sort of thing and we just didn't see?" he asked, wishing his voice didn't sound as high as it did. The cloaked girl beside him grinned in response.
Ozpin had returned back to this end of the line, and continued where she had left off, mug of coffee still in hand. "You will be using your own landing strategy, Mr…?"
"Ah, Jaune, sir! Jaune Arc!"
"Well then, Mr. Arc, I wish you and the others good luck," he said, giving him a reassuring smile, as Yang was shot into the sky.
"Right, thanks," Jaune replied hysterically, hunkering down like Ruby, just as the girl was launched. He swallowed again. Did he say yesterday was not his day?
He felt something click beneath the platform.
Today was not his day.
Ozpin's gaze followed Jaune as he was flung skyward, into the valley. He took a sip of his coffee and smiled, watching as the forms of the children shrank as they began their perilous descent into the Grimm-infested woods below.
"Feeling sympathetic for a change, sir?" Glynda said, her voice curious. She never did like how he revealed to the first-years the hypocrisy of how they formed teams, and his offering well wishes to one of them was completely unlike the man. She knew, however, his response to such matters, ever since she first asked.
Everything happened for a reason, after all.
"Let's say I was feeling generous today," he told her.
Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god…
The wind seemed to tear at his eyes, and the watering made it hard to see where exactly he was going. The roar of it was obliterating his hearing.
Not that Jaune really needed to know. He knew that if he didn't think of something damn quick, he was going to end up wrapped around a tree for the remainder of his miserably short life. That, or become a smear on the ground.
Why did I think this was a good idea!? He screamed in his head as his vision started to be made up of more green trees than blue skies. The first step in being a huntsman or huntress was a small one, carefully considered as it'd change their very lives—and here he was literally taking a flying leap into it!
Suppressing the scream that desperately wanted to escape his throat, Jaune shook his head. His mind raced a mile a minute, looking for a way to survive. All he could think of was his gear—if he could get Crocea Mors' shield between him and whatever was coming and pray for landing on something relatively softer than a rock, he might make it out of this alive.
His hand shot down to the scabbard on his belt. And that's when he saw the flash of red and orange, followed by the sound of a gunshot.
The spear caught him through the hood, nearly cutting off his ear in the process, and yanked him sideways through the air. His scream came unbidden before it finally cut off as the spear slammed its blade into a tree trunk. His chest slammed against it a moment later, momentum carrying him back down the haft and knocking the wind out of him. It was a miracle he stayed conscious from the impact.
"What the hell?" he growled, shaking the disorientation from his head. He looked up at the spear pinning him to the tree, noting the red and bronze coloration and wondering who must've thrown it. "Is this Pyrrha's spear…?"
Did she just try to kill him!?
With a grunt he planted his feet on the tree trunk and wrapped his hands around weapon's haft, and pushed as hard as he could. "Come—on—you—" he growled as he pulled the spear free centimeter by centimeter.
After a moment, the weapon popped free, and Jaune realized his mistake.
He didn't even have a moment to yelp as he plummeted feet first to the ground. The landing jarred his legs and he fell onto his butt, with the spear hitting the ground beside him a moment afterwards.
"Ugh… so not my day…"
Woozily he got up and picked up the discarded weapon, examining it for a moment. He could see bits and pieces that seemed just a little out of place for a weapon. That looks like a gun barrel, he thought. Mechashift weapon then? Ruby said her scythe was also a gun… too bad he didn't really know how to use the more advanced weapon types. He had no way of switching it into another form like this. Still, a spear could be useful here. Better hang on to it.
"Well, I don't have time to stick around here," he said to himself. He gave his surroundings a quick glance, looking for a path through the foliage. Finding one, he quickly trotted off through it, unaware as a pair of familiar, arguing voices drifted into the area behind him.
It wasn't much longer before Pyrrha burst into the little clearing, shield at the ready in case of any danger. But she heard no snarls, no intimidating growls. Just rustling leaves and faint, feminine voices deeper into the woods. If her calculations were right, this was where Miló would've touched down, with Jaune with it. She glanced up, confident that he was...
… not here?
"What?" she blurted, not seeing any blond-haired boys in the forest canopy.
Oh no, did I miss? Was I wrong?!
No, wait, there! Green eyes squinted at the tree, and quickly spotted the telltale wound in the tree where her weapon had embedded itself into the wood. Was Jaune able to free himself?
Oh no, that's what must've happened. He got himself free and left. And took Miló with him at that. He couldn't have gotten far though. She took a step, eyes scanning for signs of his passing.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end as the bushes behind her rustled. It was followed by a menacing growl.
"This thing sure is handy," Jaune remarked as he used the spear to cut off yet another offending branch so it wouldn't smack him in the face. He made sure that Crocea Mors was mounted on his fist, ready to spring open at a moment's notice if anything hostile showed up. So far, nothing had. Small mercy, that.
"Oh, that looks like a clearing up ahead!" he exclaimed. He pushed forward through the undergrowth, eager to see if this had what he was looking for. C'mon, all I need is one rock or tree… there's gotta be one I can… yes!
He saw it at the base of a broken stump, strewn about all over its side: moss.
Perfect. Now I know which way I need to go, he thought as he knelt to examine it. His dad's survival lessons, a long-needed reprieve they needed from their female-dominated domicile, had been useful on the trip to Beacon and they were certainly paying off now.
He turned north, in the direction more moss was growing, and hefted up Pyrrha's spear. All he needed to do now was get to the temple and get a partner along the way, and not run into any Grimm.
He took exactly one step when that plan was blown straight to Hell.
His first thought was that it was big. Sinewy muscle rippled beneath the black fur on the Beowolf as it stalked out from beneath low-hanging branches of a tree, staring balefully at him through the bony mask upon its snout.
With a snarl, the black beast lunged. Jaune shouted as he dove aside. He rolled, spat grass and dirt out of his mouth, and forced himself standing. He squeezed his left hand, and Crocea Mors' shield snapped into place. Just in time, too, as the Beowolf's claw crashed against it, making a horrid screech of nails on metal. The blow sent Jaune falling back with a yell.
The claw flashed out again. Jaune raised the spear to catch it.
Pain tore through his system as the slash cut through his glove and flayed open the skin beneath. With a pained cry, he staggered back. Pyrrha's spear sank into the dirt point-first as he dropped it. His hand felt aflame. He lifted it up into his vision, and his cry of pain caught in his throat as it beheld the light shining from the wound.
It blazed, sweeping over him in an instant. The Beowolf shrank back with a frightened growl, as if shielding itself from the light.
My… my Aura!?
Jaune's mind whirled at the implications, at the sheer impossibility of it, even as it knit the wounds he took before his very eyes. Soon it was like he'd never been hurt at all.
The light faded, and the blond flexed his hand. The glow it held was etched into his mind, as if it were still there. He could feel it. Jaune's thought processes ground to a halt as the Beowolf roared, enraged at what it beheld. Its fur stood on end, muscles flexed, ready to pounce.
Jaune snatched up the spear at his side brought it and the shield up to bear. Despite the fear, despite the shock, he grinned.
Halfway across Remnant, a dreaded evil stared out across a vast hellscape illuminated by a shattered moon. A hellscape she did not see, as she was consumed by the awakening within her. Her infernal eyes were wide with shock.
"Impossible," she breathed.
Author's Note: As a word of warning, I'm fairly new to writing for RWBY and I'm still getting a hang of the characters' personalities and manners. Updates to this story may be a little bit slow in the meantime, especially with other writing projects also needing my attention. Hopefully it won't take long for me to adapt!