Blood. Blood was the first thing she noticed as she returned to something resembling full consciousness. It dripped from the shaft of the scythe in the Knight's left hand, ran in thin streams from the claws jutting out from the fingers of her right. It decorated the interior of the Archon's bridge in streaks and splashes, formed puddles under bodies, not all intact. It warmed her face and matted her red-black hair, gave her Knight's Armor a grisly pattern.

She slowly looked around, retracting her weapons into her fingers with a wet metal sound. Everything had fallen silent, and she stood alone, everyone and everything else dead. At least, she hoped so.

Her left hand, revealed by damage to her Armor, came up to rub at the bare metal of her right arm, also revealed, the metal on metal sound snapping her completely into the present, and she doubled over, fighting to keep from vomiting, moving the hand to her mouth. Some of the bodies around her were her friends, her comrades, men and women she'd worked with almost intimately for months at the absolute shortest, some she'd known for nearly a decade, more than half her still-young life. And some, slowly liquefying into black puddles, were the monsters who'd butchered them, who'd made her become the Black Princess again.

"Focus, master." Her Intelligent Device's soft, feminine voice sounded in her head. "I don't mean to sound cold or rude, but there are more incoming. You have minutes at most."

She just continued to look around, stunned and overwhelmed.

"Focus. Stand firm, and focus. Now is not the time. I hate to say this, but you must mourn them later." Another voice -her Lord's (her Mother's) voice- in her mind snapped her out of the near-catatonia, and she felt herself detaching from the situation. It was still there, of course, but felt more like it was happening to someone else.

"Yeah… Yeah. Okay." She spoke aloud, her voice shaking as she straightened up. "I.."

"Center command console is still functional. FTL Communications are still online." Her Device spoke up again. She staggered over to it, leaning on the console for support.

"Just… Tell me what I need to do."

"Already working… Done. Channel open, urgent distress frequency." She straightened up again, noticing the holograms spring into being above the console. Directly in front of her, they read [Channel Open - Transmitting].

A deep breath, then;

"This is the TSAB Battleship Archon to anyone on this frequency, over." She didn't know what else to say. Her training hadn't covered this. None of the things she'd been taught applied here and now.

The reply took several seconds.

"Archon, this is Admiral Harlaown of the TSAB Claudia. Authenticate, your vessel is flagged as lost, presumed destroyed." A familiar voice responded. She latched onto it, needing the stability familiarity provided.

"Chrono, it's me, it's Ruby. I don't… I don't have the codes. Everyone's dead, it's just me left." She partially collapsed onto the console, causing the holograms to flicker. Her voice was hollow, she noticed in her detached state.

"Ruby!? By the Saint King, I thought you were dead, we all did! Where are you, where's the Archon?"

"I don't…" "Rosenkreuz, where are we?" The question was addressed to her Device, still in her scythe configuration.

"Unknown. While I have determined our location in our current system, I do not recognize the system, nor am I aware of precisely where this system is. General coordinates only, sending now."

"That's-" Chrono was cut off by an explosion behind Ruby. "What was that?"

"Mariage units encountering a few obstacles of the explosive sort." Rosenkreuz spoke up, aloud this time. "We're running out of time."

"Mariage? Shit." Chrono, quite uncharacteristically, swore. "Here, too…"

"Yeah." Ruby pushed herself off the console and tapped a few of the holographic buttons, attempting to open up a visual communication line. The computer beeped at her, informing her the equipment was too damaged to do so. "We were attacked from… I don't know where. Engineering went silent, then the Living Quarters, and then they hit the Bridge. Captain and XO died quick, those of us who survived took what we could from the Armory and what was left of the LQ, then barricaded ourselves in Medical about the same time the ship made a Dimensional Jump. After we felt the ship drop out of the Sea, we made an attempt to take back the Bridge. Given I'm talking to you right now…"

"You succeeded. But there's still Mariage onboard." Chrono's tone indicated that he didn't like where this was going.

"Yeah. And I can't fight them all off on my own."

"Ruby?" Chrono sounded both worried and confused. "What are you-" Ruby cut him off. She knew what she needed to do.

"Admiral Harlaown, as the last living member of the Archon's crew, I'm requesting permission to scuttle the ship."

A few seconds of silence passed, before another explosion sounded, closer this time.

"How?" Chrono's voice dropped to a near whisper.

"There's a planet nearby that seems to possess a natural AMF, and I'm going to crash the Archon into it. Hopefully the impact'll kill the all the Mariage, and even if not, there won't be a ship for them to take anymore."

"Ruby, you do realize that means-"

"I know." There was a brief pause.

"Saint King protect you." Chrono told her in Belkan, sighed, and spoke again. "You know the system won't allow non-officers to helm the ship under lockdown?"

"I was about to ask you how to deactivate it." Ruby admitted.

"You'd have to be a Lieutenant Commander or higher to do so. No, I've got a better idea."

"Chrono?"

"Knight Ruby Nakajima of the Saint Church of Belka." Chrono stated, using her full name and rank. "I am here by field commissioning you as an officer of the Time-Space Administration Bureau Dimensional Navy, at the Rank of Second Lieutenant. The command codes appropriate to your rank are being uploaded to your Device through this terminal now."

"Received." Rosenkreuz's red 'eye' at the top of her shaft flashed twice as the Device spoke aloud for the first time.

"Thank you, Admiral." Ruby turned as a third explosion sounded, very close this time. She pushed herself off of the console, staggered over to and sat in the Captain's chair, pulling up the holographic controls and setting a course onto the planet. The ship rumbled deeply as the engines activated. "Do me one last favor, please?"

"Name it." Came the immediate response.

"Say goodbye to everyone for me. And tell Cinque… Tell her…" Ruby trailed off, hoping Chrono would understand what she was trying to say.

"I will. I promise."

"Thank you." Ruby took a deep breath, steeling herself. "This is goodbye, then. I'll see you in the next life."

"Godspeed, Ruby-"

The comm cut out as the Archon entered the planet's AMF, the wards damaged from the battles onboard and unable to protect the ship. The sound of straining metal reached Ruby's ears as the damaged sections of the ship began to fail under the stress of orbital reentry. She reinforced her Knight's Armor, repairing the damaged sections and replacing destroyed layers.

"Sorry, Rosenkreuz. Didn't think we'd go out like this."

"I don't regret a thing, Master."

Ruby smiled, and converted Rosenkreuz to her storage form: a tiny metal cross with a single round, blood red gem in the center of where the arms met. Hopefully, the more compact form would cause the Device to be damaged less by the impact. She clipped Rosenkreuz to her armor, and looked back up, setting her hands in her lap.

She didn't have long to wait.

The impact threw her from the Captain's chair into the bloodstained ceiling, and everything went black.

"Hey, Oz, I'm at the crash site, and if there's one thing I'm not seein' it's Atlas markings. Pretty sure this isn't one of Jimmy's." Qrow Branwen told the man on the other end of the call as he picked his way through the metal debris that had once been a corridor.

About an hour ago -almost dinnertime-, he'd been his way back to civilization from another fruitless hunt when, rather suddenly, a rather massive airship of a design he didn't recognize had flown from absolutely nowhere and slammed into a mountain, creating a rather spectacular sight, and rather surprisingly staying mostly intact afterwards.

Qrow being a curious but cautious sort, he'd immediately dialed up his friend, mentor, and boss Ozpin, and asked if Atlas, the only kingdom he could think of that'd build an airship this big, had any ships passing through Vale territory at the moment. Ozpin had told him no, and asked him to investigate. Qrow being Qrow, he'd wanted answers and wouldn't tell Ozpin no, so he'd said yes and gone to check it out.

So far, though, he'd seen nothing but a lot of wreckage and bodies, some in varying states of dismemberment, some burnt, which bothered him a bit, but was to be expected in such a crash. It's what he hadn't seen that unnerved him; no identifying markings of any sort. And he couldn't even identify the language on a few intact signs and labels on the walls. Considering that he was trilingual, speaking all commonly used languages of Remnant save Atlesian, which he could at least recognize, that was a distinctly unnerving detail.

He shook his thoughts out of his head as Ozpin replied.

"I am unaware of any other Kingdom what would build something like this ship, let alone conceal it."

"Yeah, true, but there's a few things not adding up. Anyway, there's a more intact section up ahead, I'll keep you posted." He clipped the scroll to his belt, keeping the call open.

Normally, he'd have shapeshifted into his crow form, but he didn't want to run the risk of others showing up and seeing that, so he settled for exploring normally.

It took several minutes of picking his way through the damaged but remarkably intact airship before he came to a large blast door, mostly intact, though stuck partly open. He pulled his scroll off his belt.

"Think I'm at the ship's Bridge. Door's open, and I'm going in."

He pulled Bad Luck Charm from it's position on his lower back one-handed, extended the blade, and slipped between the doors.

This is the Bridge, I was right.

He glanced around, slowly, notice the very large amount of bodies, and that most of them weren't burnt, but were all dismembered or disemboweled to varying degrees.

"Lot of bodies in here." He quietly told Oz, carefully picking his way through the corpses and mechanical debris.

He was nearing the most intact console when his instincts told him to freeze.

And as he did so, sometime moved behind him. Several sharp metal edges pressed against the front of his throat, two more against the back of his neck, and he immediately tried to turn before light pressure convinced him not to. Or rather, to consider his options first. He could-

"Nicht bewegen. Wer bist du?" The-person, apparently- behind him asked him something. What he'd been asked, he had no clue. The voice, on the other hand, sounded quite familiar. For half a second, he thought it was Summer, and nearly turned despite the metal blades on his throat. No. It's not her. Too high pitched, too young.

The thought had no sooner crossed his mind than another did.

Wait, like Summer but too young, it's not-He tried to turn again, and the blades tightened again.

"Ich sagte, beweg dich nicht. Wo bin ich und wer bist du?" The voice asked him.

"I can't understand you." Qrow told the voice, not moving. "Do you speak Valian?"

"Valian? Ich verstehe dich nicht wirklich."

"Mistralian? Vacuo?"

"Sind diese Sprachen, Vogelmann?"

"Ja, ist er. Ich bin Ozpin von der Beacon Akademie und du bist in von der Welt der Remnant. Das Königreich Vale, um genau zu sein. Bitte kooperiere mit diesem Mann und zeige deine Identität. Er wird dich zu mir bringen, junger Ritter von Belka, und ich werde es erklären." Ozpin abruptly entered the not-really-a conversation through Qrow's scroll, speaking the same unrecognized language as the girl.

"Ich kenne Remnant oder dein Vale nicht, aber ich werde deine Bitte respektieren. Für jetzt bitte ich nur, dass du mir sagst, wenn wir uns treffen, wie du weißt, dass ich ein Ritter bin."

The blades came away from his throat, and a wet metal sound announced that they'd probably slid back into housings of some sort.

Qrow spun around rapidly as the girl spoke again.

"Ich bin Ritter Ruby Nakajima von der Heiliger Kirche von Belka, dem Dimensionalen Kriegsschiff Archon zugewiesen."

The girl was the spitting image of Summer Rose, save for clothes (damaged black and red armor of some sort, bloodstained as well) and hair length (down past her shoulders, he couldn't see more). It is! It's her!

"Ruby?" Qrow asked with a shaking voice.

"Ja, das bin ich." The girl -Ruby!- looked at him as he said her name. No, she didn't look at him, she looked through him with a thousand-yard stare.

"Do you… Do you remember me?" Qrow asked, taking half a step forward, towards his long-lost niece, collapsing Bad Luck Charm as he did so, and sliding the weapon back onto his back.

"Ich kann dich immer noch nicht verstehen."

She said, and took a few steps backwards, confusion lightly writing itself across her face as she noticed his expression. "Was ist los mit dir? Warum schaust du mich so an?"

"Qrow. Don't try and tell her yet." Ozpin's voice interrupted Qrow again.

"Wait, what? Why?" He turned half-away, and took his scroll from his belt, holding it up so he could see the screen.

"For one, we don't know her circumstances. For all we know, that isn't really your niece, and even if she is, she probably doesn't remember or recognize you, and won't anyone else either. She may not even know where she's from, or that she's not from… Wherever she went, if she really is her." The headmaster told him, ever the wise and collected man. "Please, Qrow. Focus. If you can, bring her to me, we need to speak. At least, I'd like to speak with her."

"Yeah… Yeah. I get it." Qrow took a deep breath, and closed his eyes for a few seconds before returning his gaze to his scroll. "Alright, I'll get her out of here. Was going to anyway."

"Knew I-"There was indistinct noise in the background from Ozpin's side, interrupting him. "I need to go. Never a dull moment as the headmaster of a Hunter Academy." Ozpin snarked, and cut the call. Qrow began to ponder possibilities for communicating with Ruby, given that neither spoke the other's language.

"I think I can understand you now." Ruby's voice derailed his train of thought, the strange language she spoke still audible, but drowned out by a louder version of her own voice that spoke Valian. Qrow glanced over at her. Problem solved, apparently.

She'd taken the cross off of her belt, which had unfolded several sections to point up, above which were bright red holographic screens.

"Well, I could understand that." Qrow told her, mouth twitching at a smile. He heard his own voice, in the same language she spoke.

"And I could understand that. Please allow me to reintroduce myself." Ruby said, and straightened up. "Knight Ruby Nakajima of the Saint Church of Belka, assigned to the Dimensional Warship Archon. I presume that-"

What.

"Okay, okay, slow down. First off, my name's Qrow, Qrow Branwen, and second, what the hell are you talking about?" Qrow was, to put it mildly, confused. And what kind of a name is Nakajima?

"I am Knight Ruby Nakajima of the Saint Church of Belka, assigned to the Dimensional Warship Archon. I don't know why you are confused."

"Knight?" Qrow asked. "Of a church?"

"Correct." Ruby nodded. "The Saint Church has a small number of combat personnel, and in keeping in with Belkan traditions, we are called Knights. We work closely with the TSAB Armed Forces, hence my assignment to this vessel, the Dimensional Warship Archon." As she spoke, the girl leaned backwards, against what remained of a console.

"Okay, ignoring that last part for now, does that mean you're basically a heavily-armed nun or something?" The corner of Ruby's mouth turned up slightly.

"Not quite, as I chose not to become a nun, but close enough."

"Alright. Next question: what the hell's a 'Belka'?"

"Well, that alone tells me this isn't an Administrated World, not that that says much." Ruby noted, folding her arms across her chest, the metal-on-metal sound partially catching Qrow's attention, but not enough to distract him for her comment.

"Explain, please." He asked.

"Belka, The Belkan Empire, Ancient Belka, whatever you want to call it, was, until about five hundred years ago, the major dimension-faring power in known space. It began to fall when Belka itself vanished, and completely fell when the last of the Saint Kings, Olivie Sägebrecht," Ruby bowed her head briefly, before resuming, "martyred herself to end the Unification Wars. The Saint Church is the modern successor to Belka's traditions, and we are guided by Olivie's teachings." I don't even know.

"Alright then… Dimensional warship Archon? I'm presuming that's this ship, but what the hell's a Dimensional warship?" Was his next question, as he leaned against the side of a still-intact chair, the captain's chair, if he had to guess, arms crossed but still holding onto his scroll.

"A spacefaring warship designed to be able to travel the Dimensional Sea between worlds." She glanced off to the side. "Look, can we get out of here? I don't want to be here any longer, and we can talk elsewhere."

Qrow followed her gaze, and noticed that she was staring with obvious distress at a few of the corpses almost littering the floor.

"Yeah… Yeah, let's go." He agreed. I don't want to run into whatever killed them...

...

...

"So this 'Dimensional Sea' is the gap between worlds?"

"Correct. It is analogous to space, and Dimensional Jumps are sometimes thought to simply be a way of traveling through space at FTL speeds via dimensional transfer." Ruby responded to Qrow's question as the two walked down the damaged corridor, Qrow on the left and Ruby on the right. "In fact, that is the current position of most scientific think tanks and major universities within Administrated Space."

"FTL?" Qrow didn't have any idea what she was talking about, and was beginning to accept that that was the normal state of affairs.

"Faster Than Light. Under standard protocol, I'd currently be using the ship's Faster-Than-Light communication system to call for help, but it was damaged in the crash." The knight stated matter-of-factly, every few seconds tapping the metal cross, which was still apparently serving as a translator, but was now clipped to her belt.

"Right. I keep forgetting that you don't seem to have much respect for the laws of physics." Qrow noted wish no small amount of sarcasm, then frowned. "You still haven't told me why-"

Abruptly, Qrow stopped. Something was wrong, and Ruby seemed to feel it too, as she stopped just as suddenly.

The door on their right side was ripped from its tracks with a screech of straining metal, and hurled towards Qrow, who barely managed to dodge in time, the metal slab embedding itself in the wall behind him.

"Umkommen." The voice, left untranslated by the device Ruby carried, was metallic, synthesized, but still carried such an air of menace in its utterly chilling tone that it gave him pause. What truly made his stop, however, was what had spoken. A woman stood there, moderately tall, short brown hair, wearing an odd short robe or dress of some kind, armored but lacking sleeves, armored gloves making up for part of that lack. A strange visor covered the upper part of her face, concealing her eyes, but that was not what nearly stopped him cold. No, it was her injuries that did so; horrific as they were. The right side of her face had been torn away up to the bottom of the mask, revealing bloody flesh and bone. Her right arm had lost all skin, revealing gleaming metal and black muscle, and a gaping hole through her chest shown broken wires, ripped metal, and tattered flesh in equal measure. The fuck?

As he stared, her gaze swing around to Ruby, who was currently nearly doubled over, her head in her hands and whimpering.

"Umkommen." The strange woman repeated, and as Qrow watched, her right arm from the elbow on down morphed into a blade, before she swing the sword-arm at Ruby.

Qrow moved, drawing Bad Luck Charm as fast as he possibly could-

There was a resounding clang are Ruby's left hand shot out to block the blade, catching it with the inside of her hand. From as close as he was, Qrow could see that the glove she wore had disappeared, revealing bare metal.

"Ende." Ruby's tone was the same as the woman's, and he heard the same metal sound from when Ruby had held him at knife-point earlier, before she slashed her right hand up and across the woman's face, spraying blood in streaks and shredding the strange mask. The woman did not stagger or give any response other than drawing back her blade, as if to wind up for another swing. This proved to be a mistake.

With her now-free left hand, Ruby reached into the hole in the woman's chest, and plunged her fingers into the side of the hole, ripping it further open, as her right hand stabbed into the woman's throat.

Now the woman staggered back, ripping Ruby's fingers from her body, causing even further damage.

"Stirb auf den Nägeln des Schlächters." Ruby told her, and, stepping forward, plunged both hands into her already-torn-open throat, before ripping in opposite directions, decapitating the woman.

Qrow stood in place, his mouth slightly open. He'd seen some brutal things in his life, even having recently seen a girl get half of her soul ripped out, but he'd never seen humans or faunus visiting such visceral violence upon each other. It took him a second to speak again.

"What the fuck was that!?" Ruby turned to him, and he was struck by the crazed expression on her face, mixed with tears flowing from slit-pupiled eyes. The hell!?

"That… Was a Mariage. A dead thing made for the purpose of killing." Ruby told him, her expression slowly returning to the blank, neutral expression she'd had earlier, and her eyes returning to normal. "The things that hijacked this ship. I had to crash the Archon to try and kill them." She looked down at the floor a brief moment, then glanced up again. "The things that murdered my friends."

Qrow continued to just stare at her for a few seconds, before shaking his head as he came to a realization. What does that mean, 'a dead thing made for killing'? Wait… So, these 'Mariage' are what killed everyone else here and left all the bodies all over the place. No wonder Ruby ripped it apart.

"Yeah, that I understand." He then came to a second realization. "Wait, how did you…" He gestured at the corpse. "Do that without a weapon?" He did not expect Ruby to give him a sickly smile in response.

"Who says I didn't use a weapon?" Qrow cocked his head in confusion, and Ruby brought her hands up, palms facing upwards. As he looked close at her hands in confusion, he saw the weapon she had used on the 'Mariage'. Or rather, weapons.

Thin blades ran down the inside of every finger, extending to a full inch afterwards, meeting blades projecting from her fingertips, lengthening them by another two or so inches. The knife-edges gleamed dark with blood, running in thin rivulets down the blades and around her fingers to drip from the backs of her hands.

The blades weren't the only things he noticed. Her hands were metal, not flesh, quite obviously cybernetic replacements. It reminded him of Ironwood's right hand in a way, save that Ruby's hands somehow seemed more advanced, though that may have been influenced by the technology he'd seen on the ship and that had been described in detail to him, though he still didn't really believe her, thinking that he was getting played for some unknown reason.

Out of curiosity, he gently prodded one of the blades, and was rewarded with a light slice across his finger, even through his Aura, and despite the fact that Ruby's hand hadn't moved at all.

"The hell?" Qrow drew is hand back, sticking the cut finger into his mouth, and returned his gaze to Ruby's face, noting the edge of her mouth twitching in amusement. "Okay, two things; One, what happened to your hands; and Two; What the hell is with your finger blades? I just cut myself through my Aura on that, and that's not supposed to be possible."

Ruby let out a snort of something approaching amusement, and she dropped her hands to her sides before responding.

"In answer to your first question, I was caught in a terrorist attack, a bombing, about two years ago. Having nearly completed my training as a Knight, I chose duty to help over personal safety, and ran in to help, thinking my Knight's Clothing would be enough to protect me. When the second wave of explosives went off, I learned it was not. At least, not when you are standing directly next to one of the bombs, anyway." She stated, as if it didn't particularly matter, and began to walk down the hallway again. "It took nearly a month to put me back together again, and that was by the premier expert in cybernetics in Administrated Space, a man named Jail Scaglietti and his daughter Uno. Don't bother asking after him, by the way. Everything related to him beyond that is classified." She added.

"Alright… And the second question?" Qrow asked asked, catching up and keeping pace easily.

"That ties into the first, actually. When Jail and Uno were putting me back together, Jail, for reasons beyond me, decided that as a Knight, I needed some kind of built-in weapon. When Uno asked me, during one of my brief instances of regaining consciousness, if I would like such a weapon installed within my cybernetics, I said yes. I did not anticipate the weapon in question being claws of a sort… Or that the Butcher's Nails, as these are called, would be so deadly." Ruby told him, again raising her hands to show him that she still hadn't retracted the blades, now named as the 'Butcher's Nails'.

"That wasn't my question." Qrow clarified, not bothering to touch the subject of the blades' ominous name. "I was asking how I cut myself through my Aura on them."

"If by Aura you mean the crude Mana shield you're covered with, the answer to that's simple. The Butcher's Nails have a natural Anti-Magilink effect, and an incredibly strong one at that."

"Mana shield? Anti-Magilink?"

Ruby threw him a look of puzzlement.

"Mana is the basic energy of magic. An Anti-Magilink effect damages the bonds of Mana, making it harder to cast spells, and damages existing ones. This planet has a weak natural Anti-Magilink Field." She answered slowly, as she retracted the Butcher's Nails into her hands.

Wait, WHAT!?

Qrow stopped dead in his tracks.

"Magic." He said slowly. "Honest-to-god magic. That's what you're talking about?"

Ruby gave him another very slow, measured look.

"I think I need to stop talking." With that, she fell silent, and no further attempts from Qrow could get her to talk again.

"A'right, we're clear of the wreck, wave g'bye!" The odd tiltjet VTOL pilot's cheery voice rang out, translated by Rosenkreuz.

Ruby snorted. Some hell of a goodbye, coming up.

Ruby, during the walk out of the Archon, discovered that she and Rosenkreuz had, at some point, regained control over the battleship's weaponry.

I can't risk any of the Mariage leaving intact. Not after… Not after that.

"Rosenkreuz, are you still connected to the Archon's fire control systems?" She asked her Device, thanking the Kaiser that her cybernetics allowed her to communicate with her Device regardless of the planet's AMF. Without the electronic telepathy, she'd have much less privacy talking with her Device. While she was confident that neither the Guardian Beast who called himself 'Qrow' nor the pilot knew Belkan or Midchildan, she was very unwilling to risk being recorded and translated. The only one she even remotely trusted was the man who called himself 'Ozpin', though she didn't know why his Guardian Beast didn't know much about magic or really any other well-known topics in modern society.

"Yes, Master. Links to secondary weapons batteries still active. Actually, the secondary batteries are still remarkably intact, and the main gun is almost completely undamaged!" The Device sounded quite happy with this fact.

"Can you trigger a feedback loop in the power supply for the main gun?"

"Yes, I can! And we're outside the potential blast radius, too. Tell me when!" If anything, the exuberance in Rosenkreuz's 'voice' increased.

"As soon as possible." Ruby told her Device, glancing out the window at the remains of the Archon.

"I thought you might say that, so I've been holding the system on the edge of destabilization! Detonation in five! Four! Three!"

Ruby turned completely, gazing out the window. She couldn't help it, she liked explosions. She liked them a lot, in fact. To the extent it occasionally worried her trainers, Knight Carim in particular. Knight Maximilian, on the other hand, often encouraged her. And her mother... Well, destruction on a massive scale was her specialty.

"Two! One! Detonation!"

"That was disappointing. A bright and flashy disintegration more than anything, just an iridescent sphere of light that didn't leave much behind. I wanted a fireball, damnit!"

"Oh, well. Maybe next time we cause an explosion, Master!"

...

"Ich nehme an, du bist Ozpin?" Ruby spoke aloud again as she entered the office at the top of Vale's Cross-Continental Communication Tower, her question directed to Ozpin, standing behind his desk and staring out the window at the last fading remains of the sunset, as if waiting for the two.

Qrow had been frustrated repeatedly during the bullhead ride to Beacon after the ship had blown up, and during the walk to the CCT. Even during the elevator ride up, she'd said nothing, simple gazed down at the holographic screens projected above her strange ornate cross, evidently her society's equivalent of scrolls. She'd even switched off the translation system. Though, at least she cleaned the blood off her face...

"Ja das bin ich. Ich nehme an, du bist Ritter Ruby. Bitte nehmen Sie Platz." Ozpin turned and gestured to a chair in front of his desk, and as Ruby sat down, took his own seat. Qrow leaned against a wall, groaning. The same language as earlier. Oh, this'll be fascinating…

"I'll translate a bit." The headmaster assured him, then turned back to Ruby.

"Ich entschuldige mich nicht dafür, dass ich den Archon gesprengt habe. Vorschriften hindern mich daran, die Überreste des Schiffes in unbefugte Hände fallen zu lassen." Ruby told him immediately after. Ozpin chuckled.

"Das war im Moment keine meiner Sorgen." He tilted his head towards Qrow. "She just said she isn't apologizing for blowing up her ship." The headmaster turned back to Ruby. "Eigentlich wollte ich ein paar Fragen beantworten, um die Dinge für uns beide einfacher zu machen. Zunächst einmal die offensichtlichste Frage. Warum spreche ich Belkan?" The headmaster said.

"Du bist ein Magier, nehme ich an. Ich kann die Verbindung zwischen dir und dem Wächterbiest namens Qrow fühlen." She gestured to Qrow as she said his name. Ozpin chuckled again.

"She knows I'm a magic user." He observed to Qrow. "She also keeps referring to you as a 'Guardian Beast'. It's Belkan terminology, don't worry about it. Just know, if she says 'Wächerbiest', she's referring to you." Ozpin returned his attention to Ruby.

"Du hast recht, obwohl er kein normaler Wächterbiest ist und ich kein normaler Magier bin. Ich bin selbst Ritter, und ich würde dich fragen: Wie geht es Belka?" Ozpin asked, his face earnest for once, and Qrow could see how excited he was for Ruby's answer. He could also see how Ruby's face turned ashen, and she hung her head, speaking her next words in a whisper.

"Es tut mir leid, Wolkenritter. Das Imperium ist gefallen, vor einhundert standardjahren."

Ozpin didn't move for a moment, didn't even blink as his eyes teared up.

"Was ist passiert?" He whispered in turn. Wait, what? What did you say, Ruby?

"Krieg. Als Belka in einer Dimensionalen Verzerrung verloren ging, fiel das Imperium auseinander. Nach hunderten von Jahren Krieg, Olivie Sägebrecht, der letzte Heilige Kaiser, starb der Märtyrer, um die Kriege zu stoppen. Mit ihrem Tod war das Imperium nicht mehr." She reached across the desk, and grasped his right hand in both of hers, the knuckles of his turning white from how hard his hand gripped hers. "Es tut mir Leid, Wolkenritter. Aber weißt du das, du bist nicht allein."

Qrow slipped off the wall, and walked over to his friend and mentor, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. Chin up, Oz.

"Oz?" He asked, softly.

"Belka's gone. It's gone. My home's gone. Wer ist noch übrig?" Ozpin asked, his voice brittle.

"Signum, Shamal, Vita und Zafira. Der Wolkenritter klammerte sich an den Wälzer des Nachthimmels. Das Buch der Dunkelheit überlebte, obwohl es in den Wälzer des Nachthimmels gereinigt wurde. Die unzerstörbare Dunkelheit lebt noch. Ich glaube, sie macht gerade humanitäre Arbeit." At that, Ozpin's head jerked up.

"Ich bin nicht alleine?"
"Nein, bist du nicht. Ich entschuldige mich dafür, dass ich dir jetzt nicht erlauben kann, mit ihnen zu sprechen, aber meine Verbindung mit dem Buch des Nachthimmels wurde durch das Antimagiefeld dieser Welt unterbrochen."

"Das ist nicht nötig." Ozpin shook his head, his emotions seeming to come back under control. He slipped his hand out from Ruby's, who returned her hands to her lap. Qrow took his hand off Ozpin's shoulder after giving it one more comforting pat.

"Möchtest du ein anderes Mal sprechen?" Ruby queried.

"Ja. Nur eine letzte Frage, Wenn Belka gefallen ist, für wen kämpfst du, Ritter?"

"Nur weil Belka weg ist, heißt das nicht, dass die Traditionen des Imperiums sind. Ich bin ein Ritter der Belkan Heiliger Kirche, nach den Lehren von Olivie Sägebrecht und, für diejenigen von uns, die Waffen tragen, die kriegerischen Traditionen des Imperiums. Wir sind daher stolz, uns Ritter der Kirche zu nennen, und unser Glaube ist so standhaft wie unsere Magie und unsere Klingen." Ruby stated, as her right hand formed a fist she placed over her heart.

"Gut gesagt, Ritter." Ozpin told her after a few seconds, giving a very small smile, as Ruby dropped her hand down again. I really gotta learn this language.

"What'd she say?" Qrow stage-whispered his query.

"She was… She spoke about the Saint Church of Belka." The headmaster responded, as if he wasn't quite sure how to put it.

"Ah." Qrow nodded, still curious, but not particularly willing to ask further right that moment.

"Ich selbst habe jetzt nur eine Frage, der Rest kann warten. Wo werde ich jetzt einquartiert sein? Meine Kybernetik benötigt Wartung." Ruby was the one to ask this question, her third since her arrival in the office. Ozpin deliberated a few seconds before responding, addressing Qrow first.

"She's asking if there's a place for her to do maintenance on her cybernetics." He turned back to Ruby again.

"Wenn Sie sofortige Hilfe benötigen, dann ist die Krankenstation hier in Beacon, obwohl sie nicht ganz den Standards des Imperiums entspricht, noch ziemlich weit fortgeschritten. Wenn nicht, dann würde ich dir eine Frage stellen."

"Und diese Frage ist?"

Ozpin hesitated briefly before responding, folding his hands over the desk.

"Weißt du wo du herkommst?" At this, Ruby looked confused.

"Was?"

"Machst du?"

"Nein…" She trailed off, tilting her head in apparent confusion before speaking again. "Warum fragst du mich das?"

Ozpin took a breath, and let it out slowly before replying, taking out his scroll as he did so, and pulling up an image Qrow knew well. So, you're telling her, huh?

"Dieses ist eine Fotografie einer Frau, die Summer Rose genannt wird. Ihre Tochter Ruby ist vor zwölf Jahren verschwunden, nicht lange nach ihrem Tod." Ozpin flipped the scroll around, showing Ruby the picture on the screen.

Ruby's response, however, was not remotely expected.

"Hmm. Es scheint also, dass dies die Welt ist, in der ich geboren wurde. In Ordnung." She shrugged, not seeming impressed, confused, or really much at all. "Um ehrlich zu sein, ist es nicht sehr wichtig für mich. Warum zeigst du mir das? Du hast mir gesagt, dass sie tot ist."

"Sie ist, ja. Aber der Rest ihrer Familie ist es nicht." Ozpin told Ruby, only for her to wince.

"Ich habe bereits zwei Familien, die erste ist ziemlich groß; Die Heilige Kirche von Belka. Ich habe viele Brüder und Schwestern im Ritterkorps und im Priestertum, Mütter und Väter in ihnen, Tanten und Onkel in der Verwaltung, sogar Großeltern in den höheren Rängen des Klerus. Die zweite, in die ich geheiratet habe, und die Nakajimas sind immer noch groß für eine konventionelle Familie." Ruby declared, and Ozpin raised an eyebrow at the last sentence, which Ruby noticed. "Ich bin im heiratsfähigen Zeitalter, wenn auch nur knapp." She seemed to be assuring Ozpin of something. "Außerdem ist es für mich nicht sehr wichtig, was Sie zu diesem Thema zu sagen haben. Cinque und ich haben geheiratet und das ist es." She told him, and Ozpin's mouth quirked up in a smile.

What? What'd she say?

"Es ist immer besser, etwas zu haben, wofür man kämpfen kann. Aber das war nicht die Richtung, in die ich ging. Ich wollte dich eigentlich bitten, bei ihnen zu bleiben." At this, Ruby seemed to become immensely confused.

"Warte, was? Warum?"

"Zwei Gründe. Eine, um Ihnen einen Überblick über Remnant hier zu geben. Wie du wahrscheinlich bemerkt hast, hat Remnant kein wirkliches Konzept von Magie und keinen Kontakt mit anderen Welten. Sie müssen einen Weg finden, sich anzupassen, und dort kommen sie ins Spiel. Das zweite ist mehr aus persönlichen Gründen." Ruby sighed at Ozpin's words before responding.

"Um der Familie eine Art Schliessung zu geben. Deshalb diskutiere ich. Vielleicht haben sie seit Jahren nach mir gesucht, aber ich wurde erst jetzt auf ihre Existenz aufmerksam gemacht. Ich bin kein ... Rose, ich glaube du hast den Familiennamen als gegeben. Ich bin nur Ruby Nakajima von der Heiliger Kirche von Belka." She sighed again. "Sehr gut. Ich stimme der Bedingung zu, dass sie nicht in meine Vergangenheit eintauchen und dass sie erkennen, dass ich nicht für immer bei ihnen sein werde." Ozpin smiled faintly at that.

"Sie werden auch mit Ihren ... Sprachkenntnissen helfen. Du sprichst Valian nicht, das ist offensichtlich."

Ruby snorted at the headmaster's statement.

"Ich bin gerade erst angekommen. Der einzige Grund, warum ich mit Ihrem Wächter-Biest kommunizieren konnte, ist, dass Rosenkreuz Lücken in Ihrer Netzwerksicherheit fand und ein Sprachwörterbuch mit Übersetzungssoftware heruntergeladen und mit bestehender Übersetz ungssoftware kombiniert hat." Ruby stated with amusement.

"Whar. Also, Ritter Ruby Nakajima von der Heiliger Kirche von Belka, haben wir eine Vereinbarung?" Ozpin asked her.

"Ja, tun wir, Ritter Ozpin des Vale. Ich habe schon zugestimmt." The headmaster smiled, and stood as he spoke.

"Sehr gut. Ich glaube, dass das Geschäft für heute abschließen wird."

"Fast. Auf dieser Reise verfasste ich einen Bericht über die Ereignisse, die zu meinem Versuch führten, den Archon über Gebirge zu versenken. Indem ich sehe, dass Sie die nächste Autorität sind, der ich vertrauen kann, möchte ich eine Kopie in Ihrer Obhut hinterlassen. Wenn du dein Gerät aushältst…" Ruby also stood up, taking the cross off of her belt. Ozpin slid his scroll over the desk, leaving it in front of Ruby.

"Dies ist das lokale Äquivalent. Nicht annähernd so nützlich, aber es ist alles, was ich gerade habe, mein Gerät wurde vor Jahrhunderten zerstört." Ozpin told her, and Ruby held the cross out over his scroll, which beeped a few seconds later.

Ruby clipped the cross back to her belt, bowed, and walked to the elevator.

"Danke für deine Großzügigkeit, Ritter Ozpin. Ich werde im Erdgeschoss auf dein Wächterbiest warten." She added, and tapped a button. The elevator doors slid closed.

Ozpin sighed, and slid back into his chair, his head in his hands.

"Oz? What the hell is all this about?" Qrow finally asked the question that had been on his mind since he'd started investigating the crashed ship.

"A part of my past no one else alive save the Other and I know of, come back very abruptly." Oz told him, which really didn't alleviate Qrow's confusion. Then the headmaster fixed him with a look. "On a note related to Ruby, I have asked her if she would be alright with staying with you and Taiyang for now." Qrow's thought processes stopped dead.

"What."

"I informed her of the continued existence of her family, though not on the composition of the Rose-Branwen-Xiao Long household. That will fall to you." Ozpin smiled up at him.

Well, fuck.

"Either you need to learn Valian, or I need to learn Belkan." Qrow told Ruby as the two walked through the Beacon Academy grounds toward the Airdock.

Ruby had been, as she'd apparently told Ozpin, waiting on the ground floor for Qrow, though at some point she'd somehow managed to remove sections of her armor, and Qrow had no idea where they'd went. The only remaining plates were her breastplate, gauntlets, and armored metal boots. The rest was simply black and red cloth, arranged in a pattern that combined a robe and a dress. She'd also donned gloves as well, somehow.

How did you do that?

"My learning Valian would be more advantageous in the long run." Ruby responded, apparently having reactivated her translator. "I would be able to understand significantly more during my stay here."

"Yeah, I get that. You don't really count here as home, do you." Qrow didn't have to ask, simply stating it. It was, to him, obvious. She'd not been on Remnant since she was three years old, it stood to reason that she didn't count a world she'd never really known of as home, especially given the way she'd been acting.

Qrow now truly accepted that she had arrived from space. Ozpin had vouched for it, after all, and he trusted the man implicitly. If Ozpin said it was true, it was true. "So, where'll you be going back to, once you can?"

"Midchilda, the TSAB's capital world." Was the immediate response. "The Grand Cathedral to be specific, to check in again and see my family, then... Wherever Cinque wants to go."

"Your family? I did notice that you've introduced yourself as Ruby Nakajima." Qrow was, admittedly, genuinely curious about the life his niece had lived. "Is that the name of the family that adopted you?" Ruby chuffed in amusement, like a large dog.

"No. I was raised in an orphanage attached to the Grand Cathedral of the Saint Church of Belka, or in the halls where the Knights trained, as I was becoming one myself. I have two families, but the one I'm talking about having to go see is, to be honest, the entirety of the Church. The Knight Corps and younger clergy are my brothers and sisters, our commanders and the older clerics are my mothers and fathers. The TSAB personnel who work with us are my aunts, uncles and cousins, and the highest ranks of the church are my grandparents. As for the Nakajimas, well… I wouldn't even make it planetside before everyone showed up, no need to go looking. If anything, they'll probably come find me first, before I find my way home." She smiled as she spoke, seeming to be fondly reminiscing about her 'families'.

The two continued in silence for a moment, Ruby apparently about the topic just spoken of, and Qrow about what she'd said.

Wait, who's Cinque?

"We're here." Qrow spoke up a few minutes later, the two having reached the Airdock. A single Bullhead VTOL waited on a landing pad off to the left, the pilot leaning against the side of his craft helmet under his arm. He threw up an arm as Qrow and Ruby approached, to which Qrow waved back at his friend, though Ruby just nodded.

"Hey, Flavius. One more trip for today, we're headin' home to Patch." Qrow told the blonde man, who nodded, Husky ears twitching a bit as he did so.

"Alright, jus' so long as th're's no sudden lightshow this time." The man chuckled. "Load up yer stuff." Ruby nodded at him, and climbed into the tiltjet. "So, you ever goin' to tell me what the hell that was about?" Flavius asked Qrow.

"I wish I could. But this is so friggin' secret not even Glynda can know. Hell, Ironwood's not getting told anything he can't get himself. And, Flav?"

"Yeah?"

"She doesn't exist." Qrow told one of his closest friends in the world, one of a handful of people who knew nearly every secret he had. Hell, this was the guy who'd flown Amber to Beacon after That Bitch had taken half her soul. This was the guy who'd brought over from Atlas all the pieces of Ironwood's Aura Transfer machine. This was a man who had been brought into a conspiracy numbering barely under a dozen people across Remnant. And he still wasn't allowed to know.

"Sorry, who's this 'she' yer talkin' about?" Flavius asked, grinning. Qrow clapped him on the shoulder, glad he understood.

"Thanks, man."

"Any time, Qrow. Any time." Flavius clapped him on the shoulder in return, and slipped his helmet on. "Now, get in. I've been ready fer takeoff since we got here, 'cause I thought I might have to take you guys somewhere. Get in back an' we'll be off, and I'll drop you off in yer backyard."

"Alright, thanks again, Flav." Qrow did as Flavius told him to, pulling out his scroll at the same time. "Have to make a call." He explained as Ruby, sitting in the corner and staring at the holographic screens above her scroll-equivalent, tilted her head to the side.

"Ah." She nodded, and returned her attention to her odd device, tapping a few things on the holographic screens. She then glanced up and spoke again.

"Kannst du mich noch verstehen?"

Qrow gazed down at her blankly, and she nodded, seemingly satisfied, before returning again to the odd scroll-equivalent. He shook his head, and took out his own scroll as he felt the engines start up. Alright, then.

Qrow flipped through his scroll's screens to his speed dial, and called the second number on the list.

Taiyang Xiao Long answered on the first ring.

"Qrow. What's up, you usually don't call this early at night." Taiyang said. "I'm kinda currently looking after a busload of kids at Signal, waiting for parents to come pick them up, can I call you back?"

"No, you can't, this is kinda urgent. Do we still have that spare guest room set up?"

"Qrow, that sort of thing isn't very urgent. Besides, my class can hear you, and now they're all giggling. Except Yang, she's laughing." Taiyang's voice was very disapproving.

"Wer ist er? Wen rufst du an?" Ruby asked from where she sat in the corner of the Bullhead. The blood red holograms in front of her face gave her a bit of a sinister air, Qrow had to admit.

"Who's that? Qrow?" Now Taiyang sounded confused. "She sounds familiar, but what's she saying?"

"She damn well should be familiar, but I have no idea what she's saying." Qrow told him. "That said, take your scroll off speaker, Tai. This is important enough I haven't had a drink since it all started." There was a click on the other end of the line.

"Alright, I have, and I even walked around the corner of the building. Now, what the hell's going on, Qrow?"

"Er kling wütend, Wätcherbeist. Was hast du gesagt, um ihn so kuzer Zeit zu verärgern?" Ruby added to her previous statement.

"Well, I'll give you a friggn' hint, Tai. I found her in a wrecked ship, and she's her mother's spitting image."

There was a pause if a few seconds before the man on the other end spoke again.

"You're not… You're fucking joking. You're just fucking with me, aren't you." Now Taiyang was pissed off, and it really showed in his voice. "Aren't you?"

"Not a chance in hell, Tai. Even called herself Ruby when we met. I'll send you a fuckin' picture if you don't believe me." Qrow turned, flipped his scroll up, and took a photograph as Ruby looked at him in vague confusion, the metal cross set onto the floor, one hand on her opposite shoulder, the other poised at the edge of a holographic screen. The photo sent immediately, and just seconds later, there was a sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line.

"You weren't. You weren't fucking kidding. My god, you were right. It is her." There was muffled speaking on the other end of the line for several seconds, then Taiyang came back. "Yang and I are on the way home, we'll meet you there. And yeah, there is still a guest bedroom set up. She can… She can have it, permanently if she wants." Taiyang sounded like he was having a hard time not bursting into tears of joy.

"I'll tell her. We're not that far out from Patch, we might beat you home. After all, we're on a Bullhead, coming in from Beacon. I'll tell you everything when we get there."

"I'll be waiting on the porch for the both of you." Taiyang confirmed. "Goddamn, she's finally home."

"If you could understand me, I'd say 'Welcome home', but I don't think you currently can." Qrow told Ruby, waving back at the VTOL as it receded into the distance, the last of the sunset long gone, the shattered moon in clear view. "Can you?" He glanced back at her.

"Hmm?" She glanced over at him, and turned back towards the house they'd been dropped off behind. "Ich nehme an, das ist dein Haus?"

"I still can't understand you without your translator." Qrow told her, starting to get a bit frustrated with the language barrier. "You really need to learn Valian."

Qrow was prevented from continuing by the sound of a pair of engines pulling up to the front of the house.

"That's probably them." He noted aloud, not particularly caring that Ruby probably couldn't understand him. "Come on." He made a 'follow me' gesture, and set off to the front of the house.

About halfway there, footsteps raced out to meet the two.

"Uncle Qrow! Uncle Qrow! Is it really-" Yang Xiao Long, his eldest niece, skidded around the corner, blond hair even more wild than usual. "My god. It really is." Yang stopped dead, lilac eyes going wide as she saw Ruby standing behind Qrow, who simply regarded her with confusion.

"RUBY!" She practically roared as she launched forwards, arms wide.

A wet metal sound emanated from behind Qrow, who immediately threw his arms out to stop Yang, and, glancing behind him, confirmed what he feared.

Ruby had dropped into a combat stance, her gloves gone and her claws out.

"Wer zur Hölle bist du?" Ruby demanded. A second set of footsteps sounded, and Taiyang came around the corner. He stopped dead upon seeing the scene in front of him, and Qrow could guess that this wasn't how he'd imagined things would go. To be fair to the man, Qrow hadn't expected things to go like this either, but he could at least understand that things wouldn't always go according to plan.

"Ruby?" Taiyang asked, slowly, as if he didn't entirely believe the girl in front of him was his daughter.

There was a faint burst of red from the odd cross-shaped scroll on her belt.

"Yes." Ruby spoke again, the odd scroll translating her words this time. "That would be me." She turned slowly from Yang, who's expression was a mixture of confusion and shock as she struggled against Qrow's arms, to look at him. "Who might you be?" Qrow didn't fail to notice that her stance had not changed.

"Taiyang. Taiyang Xiao Long." Taiyang introduced himself slowly. "Do you remember me?"

"No, why would I?" Ruby tilted her head in general confusion, but relaxed her stance slightly. "And who's she?" With a toss of her head she indicated Yang, who's expression hadn't changed, but she'd stopped struggling against Qrow's grip, having noticed the claws extending from Ruby's fingers.

"I'm your father, Ruby." Taiyang said, looking at Qrow in confusion. "That's Yang. She's your sister." Qrow shook his head, indicating that no, she didn't remember.

"Alright." Again, Ruby's surprisingly blasè response threw everyone else present for a loop. "What?" She asked, noticing the expressions she got in return. Taiyang opened his mouth to speak before Ruby cocked her head as if listening to someone else present before sighing. "As seeing as I don't remember any of you, and you knew very little of me, given my age when I disappeared, it seems the best course of action would be to take this is as if neither of us knew each other beforehand." She retracted her claws and put her hand out. "My name is Ruby Nakajima."

"Yang. Yang Xiao Long." Yang put her hand out to take Ruby's, having been let go of by Qrow.

"So, what's with the metal gloves?" Yang asked Ruby, curious. The two of them sat in the workshop of the Xiao Long house, Ruby at the main worktable, running some kind of diagnostic on her odd scroll, Yang next to her, arms resting on the back of her chair. They were alone, Qrow having taken Taiyang aside earlier to speak with him, after which Taiyang went to make dinner. Ruby had asked to be taken to a workshop of some sort, and Yang had obliged, showing her around the house first.

Truth be told, she was having a very hard time restraining her curiosity. Alongside other emotions.

The last time she'd seen Ruby, her little sister had been about three years old, Yang being a few days before her fifth birthday. The two of them had been playing in the woods right next to the house, which had been specifically cleared beforehand by Taiyang of Grimm or anything else harmful.

Yet after about an hour or so, Yang had notice that she hadn't seen Ruby for a while, and went looking. And hadn't found her after several minutes, so she'd gotten Taiyang, and the two had begun to look for her. After an hour with no sign of Ruby, Taiyang had called Qrow, and the search had begun in earnest. After several days with not even a trace, most of the searchers had called off their attempts, citing Grimm and the incredibly low chance of finding Ruby alive at that point as their reasons. But Qrow and Taiyang had kept searching, not stopping until winter's first snows came. Oh, they knew they had no chance at that point of finding Ruby alive. No, they'd been desperate for closure. Closure they'd never gotten, until, according to Qrow, an airship had crashed almost right in front of him, with Ruby aboard.

"Metal gloves?" Ruby asked in confusion, and Yang could hear the strange language she spoke faintly, but mainly overlaid by her own voice speaking Valian. She'd asked earlier how she was doing that, and had been told that it was a translator she had to rely on, as she didn't speak Valian. But Yang was distracting herself, she knew, and she forced herself to refocus on Ruby.

"I'm not- Oh. You mean my hands." Wait, what?"

"Your hands? Yang asked, confused.

"My hands are cybernetic replacements." Ruby informed her, turning in her chair to show Yang what she had though were gloves. Yang stopped, slightly stunned.

"When? What happened?" She asked, taking one of her sister's metal hands. Ruby looked at her, unamused, and withdrew her hand from Yang's, turning back to her 'Device'.

"I was blown up," She casually stated. "Sixty-eight percent of my body is cybernetic." She shrugged, continuing on, as Yang stared at her, horrified. How can she be so casual about that?

"Ask Qrow if you want the full story, I told him earlier. I don't really want to talk about it right now, if you don't mind." Yeah, I get that. I wouldn't want to talk about it much, either.

"Soooo…" Yang trailed off, mentally searching for a topic. "Are you in training to be a Huntress or something? I mean, you've got those claws, after all."

"No. I am not in training anymore, and I am not a Huntress. I am a Knight of the Saint Church of Belka." That took several seconds for Yang to process, by which point the table was somehow covered in a mass of interconnected components, most of which looked like weapon system parts.

"What."

"Hmm?" Ruby glanced over at Yang's baffled face, before going back to the weapon parts. There was a red flash of light, and different parts now covered the table.

I'm going to go back to that topic another time, I think.

"Alright. So, what's this, and how did it change like that?"

"My name is Rosenkreuz!" A cheery feminine voice rang out from the table. Yang nearly jumped back in confusion. What? "Look in the corner!" Yang did so, and saw the metal cross from earlier, the red gem in the center flashing in time to the voice. What.

"What are you?" Yang asked, thoroughly confused, and resolving to make sense of everything later.

"Rude." Ruby commented with a wry smile.

"I'm an Intelligent Device! I assist Meister Ruby!"

"Meister?"

"It's the Belkan word for 'master'." Rosenkreuz explained. "At any rate, my internal components are what is spread across the table. Meister Ruby is checking for damage to my systems." The 'Intelligent Device' informed her.

"Internal components? That's a lot to fit into such a small 'Device'." Yang commented, looking out over the table.

"Who said I was small?" Rosenkreuz responded, red gem still flashing with every word. "My full internal weight is approximately one hundred ninety-five kilograms of systems currently in use, not counting the Fortress System!"

"How the heck's that work?" Yang asked, baffled.

"Dimensional pocket technology." Ruby was the one to respond this time. "It's classified."

"Yeah… I don't really know what that means. The dimensional pocket thing, not the part about it being classified. That I get." Yang clarified.

Ruby chuffed in amusement, and shook her head. There was a red flash of light, and the weapon components disappeared, the ornate metal cross sitting the the center of the table. Ruby picked it -I guess that's Rosenkreuz- up, and clipped it to her belt.

"That's that." Ruby noted with satisfaction. "No damage to Rosenkreuz, and I ran checks on my cybernetics on the way here. No damage to them, either." She grinned. "Knight's Armor is just that protective, I guess."

"Knight's Armor?"

"It's a protective spell." Ruby casually stated, then looked down at herself, standing up as she did so. "And I'm still in my Knight's Clothing. No need to wear it here, I think." Spell? Wait, like-

Red light sprang into existence around Ruby, flashing bright and then rapidly fading from existence as her current clothing deconstructed into fading lines of that same light.

Now she was dressed in a black longcoat, buttoned once at the mid-chest level, under which she wore a plain completely-black suit of some kind, with a propped collar. Rosenkreuz had also disappeared.

"The hell?" Yang asked, sliding herself and her chair backwards. "What the hell."

"Oh, this?" Ruby glanced over at her, gesturing to herself. "Standard Knight's uniform, just in black instead of white. And with a longcoat, of course. Not going anywhere without my longcoat." Ruby's right hand came up, reached into her shirt, and pulled a chain up and out of her top, revealing a tiny Rosenkreuz, which she then let fall to hang in front of her uniform.

"That's not what-How did you do that?"

"Magic." Ruby casually replied, as if it were a completely normal topic. "Knight's Clothing is a Field-Type protective spell, of which Knight's Armor is a more protective variant. Though, actually, it's the other way around, as Knight's Armor was developed first."

"Magic." Yang repeated. "Magic. That's what that was?" What the fuck.

"Correct. I am an accomplished Knight, with a Rank of Triple-A, Air specialty, and a Mana Capacity Rank of the same, though I doubt I'll ever advance higher in either. My Magic System is Ancient Belkan, and my combat style is mixed Shooting/Bombardment with an emphasis on the former, though I'm no slouch in melee, thanks to Rosenkreuz and the Butcher's Nails, along with basic Strike Arts training, modified to accommodate my different Magic System, and some skill in the Kaiser Arts as an Inherited Ability." Ruby informed her.

"What."

"In basic, that means Meister Ruby excels in long-ranged combat, but isn't bad at close-range either!" Rosenkreuz spoke up from her tiny pendant-cross.

"... Alright. I'm just going to nod and say 'Okay'." Yang said. Ruby chuffed in annoyance, then sighed.

"I can demonstrate a few less-powerful spells later, if you would like- Actually, wait a minute." Ruby seemed to space out for a few seconds, then nodded, grinning. "Nevermind later, how would you like to see a few now?" She asked.

"Hell yes!" Yang, having gotten over her initial shock, was now bouncing in her seat at the possibility of seeing actual, honest-to-god magic.

Ruby grinned.

"Let's go, then. Outside."

With that, she turned and left the room, crossing to the back door just at the end of the hall, passing Taiyang and Qrow in the kitchen, deep in conversation.

"If you want to see a demonstration of magic, come with me."

Taiyang just looked at her, apparently baffled by the change in outfit, but Qrow grinned eagerly and followed Yang and Ruby out into the backyard. Yang heard her father sigh, and follow.

Ruby walked out to the center of the yard, and turned before asking a rather odd question.

"What's the air traffic around here like?" Everyone looked at her oddly, and Qrow answered after a few seconds.

"There really isn't much. About two flights from the mainland a day, morning and evening, unless there's some kind of emergency. " At this, Ruby nodded.

"Good." Ruby raised her hands to Rosenkreuz as the Device hung around her neck, then swept her left hand out to the side, as, with a burst of red light, the small pendant unfolded, -How the hell?- metal components sliding into being in red light, to become a staff of some sort. A blood red triangle formed of bands of light formed beneath her feet, a circle at each point and one more in the center, the three circles at the points connected to the center circle by more bands of light. An ornate cross formed in the center circle, and odd writing Yang didn't even recognize flashed into being within the bands of light, and larger text formed within the outer circles. "Ritterkleidung."

There was a flash as lines of blood-red light raced up Ruby's body, then with another flash, the lines instantly formed into the outfit she'd worn earlier; a breastplate, gauntlets, and armored boots, along with some kind of robe-dress.

"This is my Knight's Clothing. You might recognize it." She stated offhandedly. "It is the primary defensive spell used by practitioners of the Belkan Magic Systems. But this is not all I have to show you. Flügel der Dunkelheit, gewähre mir Flug!" Ruby called, raising Rosenkreuz skyward, and a wave of red light sprang from her back, forming into a pair of large black-feathered wings. Yang stared, her eyes going wide.

Then, Ruby leapt into the air, and as her wings spread out, took off in a blood-red burst of energy, a trail of the same color behind her as she flew, darting out of sight behind the house, only to abruptly come back into view as she came around the other side, body parallel to the ground and ten feet off it.

Woah. This… She wasn't lying. Magic's real. It's real!

Ruby stopped abruptly in front of the three stunned individuals, tilting her orientation from horizontal to vertical again, but nobody missed the thin trails of red streaming from her wings, or the fact she was still hovering six feet off the ground.

"This is Sleipnir, an Ancient Belkan flight spell. It was taught to me by Lady Hayate Yagami, the Mistress of the Night Sky, and an extremely powerful mage-knight." Ruby smiled. "She taught me many of my spells." Then, Ruby's mouth twisted into a half-grin-half-wince. "And also spent far too much training time trying to get into my other teacher, Knight Carim's habit, if you understand my meaning."

Yang threw back her head and laughed, Qrow burst out laughing, and Taiyang sighed, facepalming.

"There are rainbows straighter than Lady Yagami!" Rosenkreuz chimed in, causing Yang to practically roar with laughter, the volume of Qrow's guffaws to increase, and even Taiyang to chuckle, before he stopped suddenly.

"Wait, who said that?" Taiyang looked around, searching for someone else present, and seeing none.

"I did! My name is Rosenkreuz! I'm an Intelligent Device!" The Device's voice sounded even more cheerful than it had in the workshop.

"My weapon is the one speaking." Ruby informed him.

"Hello!" The gem at the odd top of the mechanical staff flashed as the Device spoke.

"What." Taiyang sounded confused, but Qrow just snorted, still chuckling lightly.

"I suspected something like that." He admitted, then frowned. "Wait, previous topic, habit, as in, a nun's outfit? Aren't nuns supposed to be chaste?"

A ringing came from with in the house, interrupting Ruby as she opened her mouth to answer.

"That was the timer I set." Taiyang noted. "Dinner's ready."

"So, you were about to say earlier?" Yang asked Ruby, as the younger girl finished her second plate of food. "About nuns being chaste?"

"And why were you taught by a nun?" Taiyang added his own question, leaning over his plate.

"Second question first; I was taught by a Knight of the Church, not a nun, though she dresses the part of a nun sometimes. I was taught by a Knight because I, myself, am also a Knight of the Saint Church of Belka. In answer to the other question, nuns of the Saint Church don't have to be." Ruby told him with a grin. "Enforced celibacy would be weird considering the woman who's our Messiah figure was noted for having a… Taste for such pleasures-Oh, who am I kidding, she practically had a harem." Ruby noted.

"Harem means a bunch of women and- Wait, you mean-?" Yang asked, grinning.

"Yes, the Heiliger Kaiser had many female lovers. And a few men too, most notably a probable relationship with Hegemon Claus Ingvalt of Shutra, but most of her known or suspected lovers were female." Ruby told her, the expression on her face identical to the one on Yang's for a moment, before her face fell. "Though, can we discuss this another time?" She pushed the plate away from herself and stood up. "This discussion's just reminding me it'll be a long time before I see Cinque again." She turned, and began to leave in the direction of the guest room she'd been given, nodding at Taiyang as she did so. "Thank you for dinner, it was excellent."

"Uhhh, you're welcome, but, who's Cinque?" Taiyang asked as Ruby entered the hallway. She paused, and glanced back at the three still at the table.

"Cinque Nakajima. My wife."

WAIT, WHAT!?

Too many, too many. Every time one fell another took its place. She'd been too slow, and they'd all failed.

Rosenkreuz was destroyed, her Knight's Armor was failing, only the Butcher's Nails were left.

She twisted to slash at-

"MEISTER RUBY! WAKE UP!"

"AAAHHH!" Ruby screamed as she awoke suddenly, her Device's voice snapping her out of the nightmare.

The slash she'd aimed in the nightmare now wasn't a mere thought, and her arm came down, the Butcher's Nails shredding the nightstand next to her, before a series of noises in the hallway triggered her combat reflexes.

She leapt from the bed, darting forward to slam her claws through the wall and into whatever was in the other side when her Device spoke again.

"You are safe. Relax, Meister. It's okay."

The quiet voice of Rosenkreuz in her mind, while stopping her movements, was not enough to halt her momentum completely, and her claws embedded themselves in the wall, up to where her fingers started.

Taiyang exploded through the doorway, his fists raised.

He glanced about the room wildly as Ruby began crying, the day's stress, the hijacking, the horrific events she'd been grasping at anything to stave off caught up with her all at once.

She slumped to the ground, her claws still in the wall, leaving long gashes down the wall as she slid downwards.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." She whispered, speaking Midchildan for the first time since the crash.

"Ruby?" Taiyang whispered, before saying something in his strange language. He knelt down next to her, inadvertently triggering her again.

"Get away from me!" She screamed at him, and tore her left hand, the one closer to him, free from the wall, slashing it at him.

Her reach wasn't far enough, but it got the message across. Taiyang put his hands up, and slowly backed away. More footsteps raced up the hallway, and another pair of voices sounded. She couldn't understand the words spoken, and couldn't concentrate enough to pick up on the tones.

"Meister, please, just calm down. You're safe, you're safe. It's all going to be fine." Rosenkreuz told her. Ruby half listened to her Device, but something else caught one of the pieces of her attention.

A small, cold, wet nose pressed against her bare stomach. She glanced down through tear-filled eyes, the tiny, detached part of herself noting that she was only wearing panties and becoming embarrassed. And as she looked down further, she came eye-to-eye with a small, grey corgi.

"Arf." The tiny canine barked softly, and snuggled into her stomach, heedless to the tears falling onto his fur.

Ruby retracted the Butcher's Nails, and slowly moved her left hand to pet the corgi, needing the affection of something small and cute, something not remotely threatening.

After several minutes of gentle corgi-petting, Ruby had calmed down enough to slowly stand, picking up the small canine as she did so. She slowly made her way to the bed, and sat down on the edge, pulling her longcoat over her shoulders and returning to petting the small fuzzy animal and trying very hard to just not think of anything for a while.

Sometime after she sat down, she registered the voices in the hallway leaving, and noted that the door had been closed at some point.

This suited her quite well.

"You ought to try and sleep again, Meister."

"I don't think I'll be able to, after that…"

"Then I'll stay awake with you. So, what do you want to talk about? Or do you want to watch a movie or TV show?"

Ruby glanced over at her Device.

"Let's… I need to learn Valian, so let's start with that."

"Okay! So, first off…"

{End, Prologue Part 1}