Volume 3: Chapter 8: Destiny

"Anyone know what this title means?" Oscar asks.

"I dunno." Sun replies. "I was expecting something more ominous given how the last one ended."

Pyrrha stay quiet. She knows the title probably refers to her own views, but she'd rather not talk about them right now. Maybe later.

But just thinking about it makes her worried. Given how on edge she's been since learning about the Fall Maiden, her other self must be having it far worse. This opportunity to fulfil her destiny seems impossible to pass up, but the possible price is so steep.

After the opening, the scene opens on the outside of Team RWBY's dorm, with two Atlesian Knight-200s guarding the room.

"I'm sorry, but you've left us with no choice." Ironwood says.

"Is Yang under house arrest?" Jaune wonders. "Or... Dorm arrest I guess."

"Probably, but can you blame them?" Weiss says. "I can't imagine them being able to give a lighter punishment than that."

"Will I ever get our of this?" Yang groans. "My entire life seems ruined at this point."

'There may be a chance.' Ren thinks. 'But that's only if something far worse completely overshadows it, and it's unfortunate how likely that seems.'

"But he attacked me!" Yang yells, from her position sitting on a bed.

"Video footage and millions of viewers say otherwise." Ironwood states, pacing around the room.

"Hard to argue with that." Sun says.

"But if we catch Emerald and show her Semblance to everyone them that should be enough." Ruby says.

"Easier said than done." Blake says.

"But Yang would never do that!" Weiss argues, from the other bed.

"Yeah!" Ruby stands up from beside her sister.

Yang hears this and is relieved. At least her team will be there to...

Then she realises that Blake hasn't said anything. Will her other self have to go through that too? Will it be worse since it might not reach a clear conclusion like they did? She doesn't want to see her other self go through any of this. Why can't the videos just skip these parts?

Ironwood turns around as Yang sighs and places her head in her hands. "You all seem like good students, and the staff here at Beacon are fully aware that you would never lash out the way you did... under normal circumstances."

"Does that mean he's clued in?" Oscar wonders.

"Doubt it." Blake says. "Cinder covered her tracks far too well. If I weren't horrified then I'd be impressed."

Ironwood continues as Ruby sits back down, the entire team looking despondent. "What I believe and hope this to be is nothing more than the result of stress and adrenaline. When you're out on the battlefield, your judgment can become clouded in an instant. Sometimes you see things that simply aren't there. Even after the fight is past..." With that last statement, he looks to the right while rolling his right shoulder.

"Is he talking from experience?" Jaune asks. "He seems really... sensitive about the matter." That's one word he never expected to use about Ironwood.

"He probably is." Pyrrha replies. "It may sound weird, but it does really happen. I've heard stories about required huntsmen who break their ovens after it seems to growl like a Beowulf. It only happens to certain kinds of people though."

"At least he's giving the benefit of the doubt." Weiss says. "That's more than we could have hoped for."

Yang complains. "But I wasn't..."

"That's ENOUGH!" Ironwood yells with a stern anger. When the room falls silent, he goes on. "The sad truth is, whether it was an accident or an assault, it doesn't matter. The world saw you attack an innocent student. They've already drawn their own conclusions. And it's my job to inform you that... you are disqualified."

"I actually forgot about that." Yang says. "The tournament seems so unimportant now that I honestly don't care about it."

Yang's shock turns into miserable understanding when she looks to the ground, and Ironwood leaves the room.

"Seems your other self doesn't feel the same way." Nora notices.

"We may be reaching the point where our thoughts don't line up with our other selves." Ren says. "Though whether that's because of a change of ideals or knowledge is unclear."

"It's knowledge." Yang says. "If I didn't know about Cinder's other plans then I'd be furious."

"You guys believe me, right?" Yang asks.

"Duh!" Ruby says.

Weiss shakes her head. "You're hot-headed, but not ruthless."

"Thanks Weiss." Yang says. "I really needed that."

Blake takes this like a punch to the gut. Why isn't her other self saying anything? Is it going to happen again? If other Blake doesn't say something then it'll just widen the rift between them. She's not sure she'll have a chance at fixing things at that point.

After a pause, Yang realizes one of their number hasn't spoken. "Blake?"

Blake turns her gaze away, earning a shocked look between Ruby and Weiss.

Yang knows this was bound to happen, but it still hurts. She doesn't want to see any of her relationships broken, especially with Blake.

Blake shrinks into her seat. Why can't she be more forgiving? She was far too forgiving with Adam, so she should at least give Yang a chance.

"I want to believe you..." Blake says.

"Huh!?" Ruby says.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Weiss demands.

Yang's eyes widening, tears forming instantly as she says in a hurt voice. "Blake?"

There it is. The reaction Blake feared. She's never seen Yang like that before and she hopes to never see it in reality.

Yang can understand why it hurts so much, this is admittedly a rather sore spot for her.

"How can you say something like that? Yang would never lie to us!" Weiss says when Blake looks up at Yang, then back down.

Hearing herself say this does comfort Weiss a bit. The situation may be terrible, but at least she knows she'll be there for her friends if something like this ever happens. Looking at the way Blake's been reacting, maybe she needs to be there for them now.

Blake glances at Weiss, then takes a deep breath before starting. "I had someone very dear to me change. It wasn't in an instant, it was gradual - little choices that began to pile up. He told me not to worry. At first they were accidents, then it was self-defence. Before long, even I began to think he was right."

"You're talking about Adam?" Ruby asks.

Blake doesn't say anything, instead just nodding.

'No wonder she reacts so badly before.' Yang thinks. 'This is probably one of her biggest fears.' She feels like now she knows this they can properly move past it. No problem actually occurred so nothings wrong.

"This is all just... very familiar." Blake says, as Yang looks up, tears now falling down her face. "But you're not him. And you've never done anything like this before. So... I want to trust you. I will trust you. But first, I need you to look me in the eyes and tell me that he attacked you. I need you to promise me that you regret having to do what you did."

This brings immediate relief to Blake. She's still capable of forgiveness, of giving the benefit of the doubt. Their relationship isn't doomed, so there's a chance they can mend the rift she made.

Yang wipes her eyes of tears, then says as calmly as possible. "I saw him attack me, so I attacked back."

"That's... not what she asked for." Sun says. "And you don't sound very regretful."

"It's honest." Blake says. "That's worth more than any amount of begging."

Yang smiles. That's probably why she decided to say it. If she were to back out and apologise it would mean admitting she really did act ruthlessly, when that's clearly not the case.

Blake lets out a deep breath as she closes her eyes and smiles, then looking back up at her partner. "Okay. Thank you."

"Told you it would be enough." Blake says.

"I didn't disagree." Sun replies.

Yang still looks down. "I think I'm gonna rest up."

Blake stands up with Weiss and Ruby, all of whom are smiling. "We'll get out of your hair."

"Is that really for the best?" Ruby asks. "If you want to talk about it with us then we're there for you."

"You might be right." Yang says. "I'm not really sure what's going through my head at this point, but I probably just want some time to calm down about all this."

"The sooner this gets resolved, the better." Weiss says.

"If it even gets resolved." Ren says.

Cut to outside the room, where Ruby is closing the door, pausing only for a second to see Yang slump forward before shutting it completely. She joins Weiss and Blake in the middle of the hallway.

Weiss shakes her head and sighs. "This is a mess..."

"Understatement of the century." Nora quips.

"I hope Cinders plans for the next match aren't as bad as this." Ruby says.

"I just want it to not happen to any of us." Jaune says.

"But for someone else to go through this..." Ruby says.

"If this were actually happening then, it's be bad either way." Jaune says. "But it's not, so... yeah you're right, we'll feel terrible either way." 'I just don't want Pyrrha to have to go through anything else, is that too much to ask?'

"She doing okay?" Jaune peeks out of Team JNPR's room, with his team peering around the edge in concern.

"She's doing the best she can." Blake replies.

"How long until you think you'll feel better?" Oscar asks.

"I don't know." Yang replies. "I've never been through anything like this before."

"It varies from person to person." Blake explains. "For some people it can take a day, and for others... They never really recover."

'It'll probably just be a day for me then.' Yang thinks. 'I'm stronger then most people, so I can't imagine it taking much longer then that.'

Ruby holds her hands up. "I heard Mercury and his team rushed back to Haven to be with his family. So, until they land, no one can really question him about what happened."

"If course that's what they claimed." Sun grumbles. "They can't let us have an easy way out."

"But this means they can't make any more public appearances." Ren says. "If that's the case, they must be reaching their endgame."

"I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing." Weiss says.

"It means we'll know about it soon." Ruby says. "If we look at it that way, it doesn't sound so bad."

"If there's anything we can do, please don't hesitate to ask." Ren says.

Ruby looks down. "All right then. If that's the case..." She turns her gaze up again. "Pyrrha?"

Pyrrha looks to the younger girl as she gets herself seated on a bed. "Hm?"

Ruby holds her clenched hands up as she tries to put on a grin. "You be sure to win one for Beacon, okay?"

"No!" Ruby yells at herself. "Don't put that kind of pressure on her now, now really isn't the time!"

"Thank you for the concern." Pyrrha says. "But I'm sure it's fine. I can handle something like this." In truth she's not sure. She knows her other self is having it rougher then she is, so there's no way of knowing how she'll feel about it.

Weiss nodding as she and Blake also smile sadly. "It's what Yang would want."

"Can't deny that." Yang nods her head. "Ignoring the fact that we now know about the Cinder plot."

Pyrrha turns her head away before coming back with her attempt at a confident look. "I'll... do my best."

Ruby silently whimpers. Pyrrha's clearly not fine with it. Why did she have to add more pressure.

The answers obvious, she has no way of knowing the difficulties Pyrrha's currently going through. But knowing this doesn't make her feel better in the slightest.

"I'll be sure to watch tonight in case you're picked!" Ruby says excitedly.

"Please don't let that happen." Jaune says. "I have no idea who I'm begging to right now, but please, for the love of all that is good, don't let Pyrrha be in the next round."

No one responds to that. They all agree, at least to some extent. But the fact it was mentioned makes them worried. If this were a traditional story, Pyrrha's participation would be inevitable, so they all cling to the idea that the unusual nature will change things somehow.

Pyrrha's smile dips down into worry as she looks away.

"Are you okay?" Blake asks.

"I'm fine." Pyrrha responds. "My other self is probably having difficulties since there don't seem to be any good options. But I know there are better ways right now. As long as I keep reminding myself that, I should be able to get through this."

"Sorry but, I think I've had enough fighting for one year." Blake says to Weiss.

"Ditto." Weiss nods. "Coffee?"

Blake smiles. "Tea."

"Any chance we'll just be getting a light hearted episode from now on?" Sun asks, hopefully.

"I wish there was, but it's almost impossible." Jaune says, with the least amount of enthusiasm possible.

The three members of RWBY walk down the hall, and Jaune only closes the door when he sees Ruby disappear behind the corner. Pyrrha continues to look forlorn, until...

"You heard the lady! No more moping around!" Nora suddenly gets all up in Pyrrha's surprised face, grinning madly.

"Leave it to Nora to make everything upbeat again." Yang giggles.

"It's what I do." Nora grins.

"We gotta get your butt in shape for the big fight!" Nora, now clad in pink workout clothes and sweatbands, starts doing random exercises - running in place, pushups, jumping jacks - while she speaks. "It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be the most important fight of your entire life!" She culminates this demonstration by lifting a barbell tipped with 1000 pound weights on each end, holding it in the air and sweating profusely before falling backwards.

"There's no way Nora actually changed that fast, right?" Oscar says. "That has to be another editing trick."

"I wouldn't be so sure." Weiss says. "Hyperactive seems like too calm a word to be applied to her."

"We used to have a room made entirely of pancakes." Jaune says. "Now it looks more like a disaster zone than a room."

Nora just grins. She likes to think of these as compliments.

Pyrrha smiles a little in bewilderment. "Um..."

"Nora's right." Ren agrees, now wearing a pink apron reading 'PLEASE DO NOTHING TO THE COOK'. "You can't let your concern for Yang hold you back. You need to focus. You'll be defending the honour of Beacon Academy."

"Why do you have an apron that says that?" Sun asks.

"It's a long story." Ren replies.

"But to make it short..." Jaune explains. "Nora likes to steal cookie dough, but she also likes to obey clothing."

"But only when it's funny." Nora amends.

'This is the weirdest group of people I've ever met.' Oscar thinks. Not that he's met many people, but the point still stands.

Pyrrha nods. "Of course. I…"

"This blend of herbs and vegetables is filled with nutrients vital to your body's well-being." Ren cuts her off as he holds a glass filled with a green liquid making bubbling noises in front of her face.

"Could you please stop cutting Pyrrha off." Jaune says.

"I'm... sorry." Ren replies. "I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself."

Pyrrha's startled. "Oh, that's…"

"Please, there's no need to thank me." Ren interrupts again.

"Sorry." Ren repeats himself.

"You better be." Nora says. "That looks like you're worst concoction yet!"

"Thank you?" Nora looks at her partner with a disgusted face. "Ugh, that looks like slime from a lakebed!"

"Exactly!" Nora agrees with herself.

"It does look pretty gross." Ruby says.

"Herbal remedies are meant to help the body, not fill it with sugar." Ren says.

Ren turns away from her, cradling his creation. "Algae contains numerous spectacular properties. See for yourself." He lifts it towards her mouth.

"What's Algae?" Ruby asks.

"It's the slime you'd find in a lakebed." Weiss answers.

Hearing this, Ruby can't help but turn a little green.

Nora sips it down and immediately regrets it, face turning the same sickly green as the healthy sludge. "BLEGH!" She goes straight over to the waste basket and dunks her head in, getting all of the liquid out while continuing to make disgusted noises until she turns back around to Ren. "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!? Ugh..."

"Why would you drink it!?" Ruby yells. "You can literally hear it bubbling!"

"He practically shoved it in my mouth, what was supposed to do!?" Nora shots back, not angrily, just shouting.

"You could have at least tried to keep it in." Ren says.

"It tasted so bad it made me throw up! How is that anything but a bad sign!?" Nora says.

"You're not meant to taste it before swallowing." Ren replies.

"You could have told me that first!" Nora yells. "And that defeats the entire purpose!"

As this goes on, everyone else just rolls their eyes or revels in the now easy-going atmosphere.

"Do they often get like that?" Oscar asks.

"We think it's their way of showing affection." Ruby replies.

Ren gestures. "Me? You're the one that wasted perfectly good juice."

"We're supposed to help Pyrrha, not poison her!" Nora says.

"There was absolutely nothing wrong with that." Ren argues.

If the rest of the video could just be scenes like this, they'd all be happy. Arguments like this aren't exactly nice to watch, but Nora and Ren always have a level of light-heartedness when they do it. It's certainly better then watching themselves be miserable.

Nora holds her hands on her hips as she resolutely states. "If it looks the same coming up as it does going down, then there's something wrong!"

"Truer words were never spoken." Yang agrees. "But I'm guessing one person here would know all about it."

"That was one time." Jaune says. "Are you seriously never gonna let that go?"

Yang considers for a moment.


Neither of them notice Pyrrha's smile at their antics go on, though their leader does from the doorway.

"Hey, how about we all get some fresh air?" Jaune comes over and placing a hand on the not couples shoulders.

Pyrrha looks up at Jaune, who grins at his troubled friend.

"Thank you Jaune." Pyrrha says. "I probably really needed that."

"It's no problem." Jaune replies. "I always pay attention to how my teammates are feeling." As he says this, he puts his hand on hers.

Sun grins. "Are you sure it's not just... Oww!" Sun turns to the girl who pushed him off his seat.

"You were ruining the moment." Blake deadpans.

Yang, still in the dorm sitting on Blake's bed, looks out the window at the members of JNPR walking in the courtyard outside, Nora marching alongside Ren with Jaune and Pyrrha in the back, all of them looking happy to be with each other.

Things go quiet in the room as the upbeat atmosphere fades. Yang's side is probably the least enjoyable to watch right now, though Pyrrha's would be a close second if she wasn't with the rest of her team.

"Hey there, firecracker." Qrow is suddenly revealed to be leaning against the door, arms crossed and a small smile on his face.

"Think he's there to cheer you up?" Weiss asks.

"Unlikely." Yang says. "He's not exactly the best at that kinda thing, and he knows it."

"Why am I not surprised." Weiss grumbles.

Yang's too dejected to turn around, she instead gazes down. "Hey, Qrow."

Qrow snorts like her response was funny before becoming serious. "So, why'd you do it?"

"Not even Qrow believes you?" Ruby says. This fact isn't the most comforting.

"The fact that he and the rest of Ozpin's group are so on guard is probably why Cinder needed such an elaborate plan." Ren says.

Yang takes a second to respond. "You know why."

Qrow uncrosses his arms as he leers at her. "All I know is that you attacked a helpless kid. So either you're lying or you're crazy."

"Why couldn't Qrow have just noticed that Mercury was one of the people who attacked Amber." Sun complains. "That would clear everything up so nicely."

"It does seem like a pretty big potential flaw in their plan." Ruby agrees.

"They probably didn't have a choice but to risk it." Weiss says. "Framing Yang seems like a very important part of their plan. I doubt they could have a backup that doesn't lead to one of them being a public figure."

"The more we learn, the more it seems like just telling Ozpin will be enough to fix everything." Ren says. "Which begs the question, why wasn't he shown all of this?"

"I hasn't even considered that." Jaune says. "It does seem pretty weird."

"Could it be another limitation on them?" Ruby asks. "The people brought in must be under 20, or something?"

"That sounds pretty arbitrary." Blake says.

Yang stares resolutely at her uncle. "I'm not lying."

Qrow makes a disappointed noise. "Crazy, got it." He walks to the centre of the room, hands in his pockets.

"I don't know which sounds worse." Yang says. "I don't want people to think I'm a liar, but seeming crazy has all the same problems."

"Who knows? Maybe I am." Yang says.

This startles Yang. She knows the situation, but calling herself crazy seems far too sudden.

Qrow shakes his head as he continues pacing. "And here I thought your dark-haired friend was the emo one."

"That's..." Blake's taken aback by this accusation. "What have you been telling him about me?"

"I don't know!" Ruby says. "This hasn't happened yet."

"I may have sent him a few sarcastic messages." Yang says, averting eye contact. "I guess the sarcasm didn't really come through."

"I saw my mom." Yang suddenly says, causing Qrow to suddenly stop with a shocked reaction.

"Oh..." Yang gasps. "Now I get it."

"Get what?" Pyrrha asks.

"This is the second time other me's seen something that probably wasn't real." Yang explains. "I guess I understand why I'd think I'm crazy at that point."

"I-I was in a lot of trouble. Took a pretty hard hit. But when I came to, the person attacking me was gone. And I thought I saw... her. Her sword, like the one in you and dad's old picture." Yang explains

Qrow chuckles. "You're not crazy, Yang." He turns and nods, smiling sadly. "That was your mom, all right. Let me guess - she didn't say a word, did she?"

Yang's eyes widen. Something about the way he said it seems like he knows it for fact, rather than deduction. But that would mean... Could that really be the case?

Yang finally looks up as he walks up to her between the bunk beds. "How did you know that?"

"I don't see my sister very often, but she does try to keep in touch... whenever it suits her." Qrow explains.

"All this time." Yang whispers. "All this time he's been meeting with her! And he never told me!" The whisper turns into a shout. "I've been searching so hard, but he's known this entire time?!"

"Yang." Ruby's not sure what to say. Yang does have the right to be at least a little mad right now. Even she's annoyed at Qrow for this betrayal, but she hopes and believes there'll be a good reason.

Yang punches the palm of her hands so hard the noise can me mistaken for thunder. "I'll wait until this video's over. After that, you may want to leave before I start breaking things."

Yang shakes her head at the revelation. "Wait. You mean you talk to her? That was real?"

"Future Yang seems a lot more calm." Jaune says.

"After what she's been though, she's probably emotionally exhausted." Weiss says. "I don't blame her."

"Yeah, she found me." Qrow says. "Had a tip from my most recent assignment and wanted me to give you a message."

This snaps Yang out of her anger. The chance to hear a message from her mother? She's wanted something like this for years. If it's an apology she doubts she'll be willing to accept it, but if it can clue her into where she's located, that's more than enough.

"Why didn't you tell me sooner!?" Yang demands, you can hear the hurt in her voice.

Qrow lets out a sigh as he goes over to the window, not looking at his niece. "I was tryin' to wait for the right time, and this sure ain't it. But I guess you deserve to know."

'Of course I deserve to know.' Yang thinks. 'In what kind of world don't I deserve to know?'

Qrow looks back at Yang, gravely solemn. "She wanted me to tell you that she saved you once, but you shouldn't expect that kindness again. Raven's got an interesting way of looking at the world that I don't particularly agree with. And she's dangerous."

"That's it?" Yang says, baffled by the complete lack of caring that comes with the words. "After all this time, that's all she had to say to me?"

"It sounds like she's not a good person." Jaune says. "No offence Yang."

Yang just shrugs. After all this time she's just taken that as a given. No good person would just abandon their daughter like that. That's not to say it doesn't annoy her. She's furious, but this is meeting with her expectations, no matter how many of her hopes are dashed.

Qrow points at her, back to smirking again. "But you're a tough egg, kiddo. Shouldn't let this tournament thing get'cha down. You had a slip-up, sometimes bad things just happen. I say it's time you move on."

"That line!" Weiss notices. "That's what was written in Ruby's letter."

"And it's apparently what I say to her before she leaves." Yang says. "I don't think there can be any doubt that it refers to the catastrophe at this point."

"But that makes it sound like it's just an unlucky situation." Ruby says. "We must have some idea that Cinder was behind it at that point."

"It does seem unusual." Ren agrees. "She can't have stayed hidden and made everything look like an accident, else you'd have been willing to send the message through the CCT. I can only guess that it's another thing that we'll get an explanation for later."

"Move on to what?" Yang stares up at Qrow.

Qrow leans down on the dresser under the window. "Well... Raven let some info slip before she took off. If you ever wanna track her down, I think I might be able to help."

He glances back at Yang, who looks at him with her full attention.

Present Yang is also enraptured by what Qrow just said. Directions to where her mother is? Is this really happening? After so long?

"I think we now know what Ruby's letter meant by Yang needing to focus on herself." Blake says, waving her hand in front of Yang's face, which takes an unusual account of time to snap Yang out of her stareing contest with the screen.

"But I..." Yang realised what Blake's insinuating. "I wouldn't do that, if Ruby might be in trouble I would..." She stops herself. Is she really so sure? She wants to believe she would value helping Ruby over anything else, but this is the one thing she's wanted for so long. Is she really that obsessed?

"Yang, it's fine." Ruby says. "I don't blame you. I can take care of myself." She means it. She knows how much this means to Yang, so it's fine if they're separated for a bit.

"I..." Yang still doesn't want to accept that might be possible, but at the same time, she wants to search for her mom so much.

In the twilight, Pyrrha sits alone outside the dining hall, head bowed as the wind rises.

"Damn it!" Yang groans. Still slightly mellowed by her dilemma. "Why couldn't they show that one part?"

"I hate to say it, but that's another story thing." Jaune explains. "Cutting away from 'unnecessary' information happens all the time."

"How is this unnecessary!?" Yang yells.

"It doesn't have anything to do with character or plot progression." Jaune defensively says. "If this were a piece of fiction, that would be filler information that would just drag things out."

"It's more than a bit annoying that our lives are being treated like a piece of fiction." Weiss says.

Pyrrha sees the air blow a single autumn leaf onto the cobblestones at her feet, and she looks at the fall colours with a face of total fright, remembering the sight of Amber in her comatose state and the choice weighing her down.

Pyrrha shrinks into her seat. Just this small glimpse is enough to remind her what her other self is going through, and how heavy the decision must be.

Even now she's still worried about the Maiden situation. She knows things aren't so desperate now since they know about how Cinder stole the power, but that doesn't mean something can't go wrong.

"Hey." Jaune cuts through her flashback, having arrived with a large cone of cotton candy. "I-It's no green goop, but I think it still might do some good."

"Hope this is what I think it is." Sun says. "It seems like you really need some cheering up right now."

"I... I don't know." Pyrrha replies. Technically she hasn't told anyone about her and Jaune's new relationship, but that's mostly because it doesn't really change anything. Is not as if they were suddenly super lovey dovey about each other, they were close enough beforehand that being official would feel more like a formality then anything. Together they'd decided to wait until this 'viewing' is over until they announce it. They didn't want to distract everyone from what's truly important.

But if her and Jaune start dating in the show then that changes things. It would probably help her future self through a tough time, but it'd also make things slightly awkward right now. She can already imagine how team RWBY would react, and she doesn't want that kind of attention right now.

Pyrrha stares at the offered treat while she comes back to the real world before hesitantly taking it. "Um, right. Thank you, Jaune."

Jaune's also a bit unnerved by the situation. But more than anything he wants his other self to cheer up other Pyrrha. Seeing Pyrrha so depressed, even if it's not real, it makes him feel bad inside.

Jaune's beam fades as he sees her still-tormented face, and looks to the far end of the building as Nora and Ren come around, the latter carrying a cotton candy, a tub of popcorn, and a drink to sip on.

"Get out!" Nora yells at herself. "Leave right this instance!"

"I'm sure we'd appreciate the company." Jaune says, though he does silently hope she does leave.

Nora gives Jaune a look like he's the craziest person on Remnant. "You clearly don't understand women."

Nora's sixth sense kicks in. "Uh... come on, Ren. Let's go back to the fairgrounds. I'll win you another stuffed animal." She drags him away from Jaune and Pyrrha's private scene.

Even Oscar can't help but laugh at this. "Stuffed animals?"

"She insists that I want them." Ren says. Even just saying that much seems like an adequate explanation.

"Don't lie, you love them." Nora says.

Jaune looks back to Pyrrha and takes a seat next to her. "You were the first person to ever believe in me, you know that?"

Jaune puts on a small smile. So that's the angle he's going, it certainly should work. He's not sure how he feels about everyone hearing this, but at least they're people he trusts. Even with the small amount of time he's known Oscar, he's confident he's a good guy.

Pyrrha's shocked. Does she really mean that much to him? She knows she's important to him, but hearing him say this seems beyond belief.

Actually, the worst part is that it seems far too easy to believe. Seeing everything that's happened in the videos so far, it's clear that before Beacon no one ever supported him in his dream of being a Huntsman. She's not sure if it's bad family conditions or just them being overprotective but he's always had the potential, it's just needed to be nurtured.

Jaune manages to get her to look at him as he laughs in sadness to himself. "Even when I told my parents I was going to Beacon, they told me not to worry if I ended up having to move back home. How depressing is that?"

"I don't want to break the mood, but you did fake your way into Beacon." Weiss says.

Jaune sighs. "And in still sorta ashamed of that, but I wasn't sure what else I could do."

"You've earned your place now." Ruby says. "Be proud of yourself."

"I'm sure they didn't mean…" Pyrrha's sorrow becomes surprise, eyes widening and dropping the pink fluffy snack as she realizes Jaune's hand is placed upon hers.

'Now this is just adorable.' Yang thinks. It seems like such a happy moment, far better then anything she was expecting this video.

"I guess... I'm just trying to say that... you've always been there for me... even when I didn't deserve it." Jaune says. "And I can tell there's something on your mind, so... I don't know. How can I help?"

"Thanks for noticing." Pyrrha says.

"How could I not." Jaune says. "I've never seen you so... distant before. Any good leader has to notice when a teammate's having trouble."

"That's right." Ruby agrees.

"I'm sorta lucky that my team rarely needs this kinda help." Sun comments.

Blake rolls her eyes. Ignoring Sun showing how much of a dork he is, she's more than confident Jaune didn't just notice because he's team leader. It doesn't take a genius to realise something else is going on there.

Pyrrha's astonishment melts away into contentment, she leans over and places her head on a startled Jaune's shoulder, closing her eyes. "You're already doing it."

Jaune and Pyrrha both blush to the point their heads feel dizzy. They both sneak a quick glance at each others expression before deciding not to make eye contact again. Worse then that is the gazes of everyone looking at them. Neither's sure how they'd answer a question asked to them now.

Thankfully, no questions come. While the others do gush a little over the cute scene, they're at least respectful enough to not speak any words.

Jaune quickly matches Pyrrha's smile with his own, and the two stay there for a long moment, but as an additional autumn leaf joins the first, Pyrrha's expression darkens once more.

"Jaune..." Pyrrha gets up from her nestling.

"Hmm?" Jaune responds.

Pyrrha suddenly takes her hand out from his, looking away. "I don't know what to do."

"You're not gonna tell him, are you?" Yang asks.

"I can't." Pyrrha replies. "I understand how important this secret is. I can't even tell someone I trust absolutely without permission."

"W-What do you mean?" Jaune asks.

Pyrrha glances up as she wonders what to say. "Do you believe in destiny?"

"Title drop." Nora says.

Ignoring this, Weiss asks. " Pyrrha do you..."

"It's not what you think." Pyrrha replies. "I'm sure I'll explain."

Jaune's taken aback. "Um... I-I don't know. I guess that depends on how you view it."

'A perfect non answer.' Blake thinks. 'That's probably best though. This way he can adjust what he says based on Pyrrha's view.'

Pyrrha explains her opinion as the wind blows the two leaves away. "When I think of destiny, I don't think of a predetermined fate you can't escape. But rather... some sort of final goal, something you work towards your entire life."

"Okay. Uh, yeah. I can see that, sure." Jaune agrees.

"I'm not sure you can really call that destiny." Oscar says. "It seems more like... I'm not sure there is a word for it."

"I know it's not a popular definition." Pyrrha says. "But it's what I think of by the word destiny."

"I like it." Ruby says. "It's definitely more optimistic then other versions."

Yang has to agree. She's not a big fan of destiny, preferring to live her own way, but Pyrrha's version would give her much more room to be who she wants. Though she's not a fan of the idea that every person has an intended purpose.

Pyrrha struggles to find the right words as she glances at him. "Well... what would you do if something came along that you... never expected? Something that had the potential to stand between you and your destiny?"

"Is that really what you think of it?" Weiss asks.

"In a way." Pyrrha answers. "It's more like I've been shown a dangerous shortcut, and now I'm not sure my original route will lead me to my destination. If I don't take the offer, I'm sure I'll regret it."

"Like what?" Jaune asks.

Pyrrha barrels on in stress. "Or what if you could suddenly fulfil your destiny in an instant, but at the cost of who you were?"

"I think you're giving away more then you're meant to." Blake says. "Not that I blame you. Loosing everyone like that just seems so frightening."

Pyrrha freezes. She hasn't considered that. She'd probably tried to block the idea of without noticing.

If she goes through with it then she might change so much that she'll feel like a different person. Someone who doesn't care for her current friends like she does. Everyone might suddenly start to feel like strangers, even Jaune. She doesn't want to imagine what it would be like for them. No wonder her other self is so worried, this terrifies her more than any level of moral ambiguity.

Jaune leans over and attempting to place his hand on her shoulder. "Pyrrha, you're not making any sense."

Pyrrha stands up away from his touch, holding herself as if on the verge of tears. "None of it makes sense! This isn't how things were supposed to happen!"

Ruby doesn't like these parts. The stories she enjoys rarely have these moments of emotional turmoil, and the ones that do can always just be overcome with confidence and positive thinking. This is a disaster waiting to happen no matter what choice is made. Can't some special solution just appear. She doesn't care about 'narrative cohesion' as long as everything ends well.

Jaune gets up as well, spreading his arms in confusion. "I'm sorry! Please, I-I'm just trying to understand what's wrong."

"I've always felt as though I was destined to become a Huntress - to protect the world..." Pyrrha sighs. "And it's become increasingly clear to me that my feelings were right." She turns to look at Jaune. "But... I don't know if I can do it."

"That's a pretty big burden to put on yourself." Ren says.

"I never thought it would be so literal." Pyrrha says. "I thought I'd just have to do whatever I can to help. To push back the creatures of Grimm. I never thought I'd have to hold such a big responsibility alone. I won't deny fantasising about it, but that's completely different."

Ruby understands, she's often felt the same way. She knows that if she were in this position she'd have a hard time too. She's not sure what decision she'd make. Hopefully the situation won't ever call on her like that, one where she's the only person who can prevent disaster. She'd much rather work together with friends, and much much rather not have disasters appear in the first place.

"Of course you can." Jaune says. "The Pyrrha Nikos I know would never back down from a challenge. And if you really believe it's your destiny to save the world..." He moves towards her, confident in his answer. "You can't let anything stand in your way."

"YOU IDIOT!" Jaune yells at the screen. "Why would you say that!? Why would you say that now of all times!? Literally any other time would work, but this is... this is..." He doesn't know how to end that sentence. He's just angry at himself. Angry that he said those things with such a smile. Pyrrha was going through enough before, and now...

He turns to see how current Pyrrha is reacting.

Pyrrha's not taking it well. Hearing those things hurt. Especially having come from Jaune. He basically just told her to abandon him, to abandon everything she has. She knows the circumstances, how future Jaune doesn't understand the situation, how current Jaune regrets that he'd ever say those words. But it still hurts so much.

She doesn't cry thought. No matter how much she may feel like it. She knows how bad that would make everyone feel, especially Jaune. So she doesn't cry. She can't help that her face is filled with misery. But she refuses to cry.

Jaune isn't sure what to do. Seeing Pyrrha like this, he feels like he must be the worst man in existence. Since he's not sure he simply follows his gut and pulls her close into a hug. It may or may not be the right thing to do, but he needs this just as much as she might.

The others don't say anything. This is an emotionally charged moment, and they don't feel like they have any right to interfere.

Pyrrha doesn't exactly feel better, but she's at least calmed down a bit. To show that she's ready, she shifts herself so she and Jaune can still see the screen. She's not exactly looking forwards to her other self's reaction, but she has to get through this.

Despite Jaune's intentions, this doesn't bring relief. Instead, Pyrrha looks absolutely shattered, covering her mouth as she begins to sob.

"Pyrrha?" Jaune realises his mistake.

Pyrrha turns away, face still in her hands. "Stop..."

"You can ignore what I said." Jaune says. "I didn't know what you were going through so I said the wrong things. None of this is actually happening, so you don't have to worry about it."

"I know." Pyrrha says, still leaning into Jaune. "This is just... A lot. Don't worry, it's not your fault."

"And we can fix all of this." Weiss remind them both. "At this point we already have the barest outlines of a plan, and at the very least we can make this a non issue."

Jaune continuing to approach. "Did I say something wrong?"

"STOP!" Pyrrha yells. She holds her hand out, a black energy surrounding it as she unintentionally uses her Semblance to push Jaune's armour and its wearer into the dining hall column. He weakly watches her from his spot above until she opens her eyes and realizes what she's done.

Pyrrha's whole body tenses, cutting up to become as small as possible. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." She's told herself she wouldn't cry, but this is just too much. Without realising it, she lets the built up tears flow.

Jaune's shocked by this development, but he understands why it's happening. Future Pyrrha is going through more stress then he can even imagine, and then he went and said something so cruel without even realising it. He ahs to make it up to her. "I don't blame you." He hugs her tighter. "This is just a really bad situation, so I don't blame you in the slightest."

"B-but I…" Pyrrha sobs.

"I'm the one who said those things so it's my fault." Jaune interrupts. "Just please don't beat yourself up over this. None of it's real, so you can't be blamed."

Pyrrha wipes away her tears. She wants to argue that it is her fault, how could it not be? But there's no point arguing over this with Jaune, he'll always take the blame if he can. Instead she does her best to clear herself up and shove down those feelings of self-loathing. They have a video to watch, and it'd be inconsiderate to interrupt it.

"Jaune!" Pyrrha lowers her hand and lets him fall to the ground, finally letting the tears come as he looks up. "I'm... I'm sorry..."

'History has a way of repeating itself.' Blake thinks. 'Though in this case it's not really repeating and more like… synchronising?' She's not sure if that word is the best one, or if there even is a word that fits.

"Pyrrha, wait!" Jaune's outstretched arm does nothing to stop her from running away, and he faces the ground, cotton candy still discarded beside him. "What did I say?"

'Things turned out so much better with us.' Ruby thinks. 'That's probably partially because we didn't actually go through it, but it could also be because our Pyrrha and Jaune stayed together. As long as we properly work together things should turn out better then in the videos. If there's one thing we should take away then it's that.'

At the cliffside docking bays down the main alleyway and under the floating Amity Colosseum, Ruby walks up to the end of the line waiting to get in the transport up to the arena. She turns her head to see Brawnz and Nolan talking outside the line, and beyond that, Sun walking away with a familiar rabbit Faunus snapping photos of him.

"Another moment of calm to break thinks up?" Ren wonders.

"Possibly." Weiss says. "But the way thinks have been going, I doubt a video would end with something that's not important."

"It does seem to have a thing for cliff-hangers." Yang agrees.

Ruby steps out of line and approaches her from behind as she continues taking pictures with her camera until she notices who's behind her.

"Ruby, how you going?" Velvet greets.

"I know this should be important, but I can't imagine how." Sun says. "You and velvet aren't exactly... meaningful characters at the moment."

"Huh." Ruby says. "I guess it is weird."

Ruby raises a hand in greeting. "Hi, Velvet! What're you up to?"

Velvet rolls her eyes happily. "Oh, you know. Just working on my photography. Do you wanna see?" She offers her camera to Ruby, looking extremely delighted. Ruby immediately notices that Velvet didn't even get all of Sun in her picture, cutting out his head and feet.

"Err... Why?" Sun asks. "This does creep him out a bit."

"I'll explain later." Ruby says. "Is actually really interesting."

"This wouldn't happen to relate to her weapon, which you've been so adamant about keeping quiet on, would it?" Weiss asks.

Ruby averts her eyes. "Maybe..."

"That's... better." Ruby steps away as she grins in forced approval.

"It still seems like a writer's hobby for her." Yang says.

"I'm... sorry to hear about your sister." Velvet decides to ask in concern. "Is she doing okay?"

Ruby looking away. "Yeah, she's fine… heh, thanks."

"Guess that's what's on everyone's minds at the moment." Blake says. "Not that we can blame them. It was an incredibly public event."

"I think it's just awful what people are saying about her." Velvet puts her camera away in the box on her back. "Yang's such a nice person."

Ruby laughs a little as she rubs the back of her head. "Well, I'm glad someone thinks so."

Yang smiles. It's good to know that the people who know her are on her side. She's a good enough person that they won't just leap to the worst conclusion.

Velvet shakes her head, arms crossed. "Most people don't know what it's like on the battlefield. I mean, even experienced fighters can get scared and start seeing things. If it happened to Coco, it can happen to anyone."

"What's Coco got to do with this?" Nora questions.

"Emerald used her Semblance on her too!" Weiss remembers. "If you could just put two and two together this'd be perfect!"

"It does seem like a leap in logic though." Jaune says. "It's right, but I wouldn't expect anyone to figure it out."

Weiss sighs. She knows he's right. There's no real basis for suspicion.

Ruby still holds onto hope though. If there's any chance things can be fixed before they get worse, she'll take it. She forgets about all the evidence, instead trusting that things will turn out well.

Ruby cocks her head to the side. "Coco?"

"Yeah." Velvet says. "She swore she saw Yatsu with her in the forest during the fight with Emerald and Mercury, but he never even made it out of the geyser fields. Stress-induced hallucinations, apparently."

"Yeah..." Ruby turns her head away in thought, only to look back at Velvet after a quick flash startles her.

Velvet lowers the camera from her face, smiling apologetically. "Oh! Sorry."

"Ruby." Weiss says. "I swear, if you figure it out, I'll take back every bad thing I've ever said about you behind your back."

"What have you been saying!?" Ruby asks.

"Unimportant." Weiss replies.

"At least you seem to be catching on about something." Blake says. "That's more then the rest of us can say."

Back in the Colosseum, people are back in the stands cheering and ready for entertainment as Ruby descends down the steps to an open seat. Despite everything that's happened, she's smiling widely, looking around at the assembled crowds... until her stupefied eyes see a familiar, glaring face on the other side of the arena. "Emerald's... here?"

"Yes!" Nora cheers. "They messed up! They spread the story about going back to Mistral, but forgot about this."

"It does seem like they might have made an oversight." Ren agrees. "It's not surprising given how complicated their plan must be. We're just lucky one of us noticed."

"Does this mean you'll take back whatever you said?" Ruby asks Weiss.

The heroes rolls her eyes. "You get half points. It's good that you noticed, but this was a very big clue for anyone paying attention."

"I notice that it didn't show you figuring it out." Yang comments.

"I just want lucky enough to be in the right places." Weiss argues.

As if sensing she's being watched, Emerald leans forward to glare at Ruby, who suddenly gets up with a worried expression and runs towards the exit tunnel.

Checking to see if no one's around, she enters a door labelled with a yellow maintenance sign and finds herself inside of the Colosseum.

'If I can get to Emerald before her plan starts then it's our victory.' Ruby thinks. 'Everything will be over and all the problems will be solved.' The solution seems to convenient but she doesn't care.

She walks forward with determination as the announcers' voices are heard, muffled behind the brick walls.

"All right, it's now time to begin the randomization process for our next fight!" Oobleck says.

The sound of the roulette is heard faintly, but what makes Ruby stop in her tracks is the sight of another unexpected 'friend' stepping out from a nearby tunnel, completely unharmed and definitely not going home.

"What is he doing here!?" Sun yells. "I thought he was meant to be playing low."

"He should be." Blake agrees. "This may not be a public area, but it's so weird that he's here now. It's like they don't need to keep up appearances much longer."

Ruby squinting as if making sure. "Mercury?"

"It looks like our first contender is... Penny Polendina from Atlas..." Port announces.

Ruby catches her breath.


That's who they want to disgrace next? She hates the idea of it. Stopping them is so much more important now. If Penny's secret gets out, she doesn't want to know how people will react, especially if Cinder's the one presenting it.

"Now we know why Cinder was so interested in learning about Penny." Weiss says. "They plan on revealing her to the world."

Ruby's attention goes from the broadcast to the fraud. "What are you doing?"

"And her opponent will be... Pyrrha Nikos from Beacon!" Port announces. Hearing this, Mercury's grin gains an insufferable smugness.

Everyone goes quiet for a moment before they all rage.

"Why!? This is so unfair!" Yang yells.

"Those monsters!" Blake snarls.

"I'll make them pay for this!" Nora yells.

Pyrrha doesn't say anything. She just grips her shoulders as takes it all in. She didn't think things could get much worse for her, but it did. These videos feel more like a nightmare than anything else.

Ruby's head dips in thought until she realizes the awful truth. "No..."

Mercury puts a hand to his chin. "Ooh, polarity versus metal. That could be bad."

Ruby covers her mouth with her hands. "Please don't…" She understands what this means, but she doesn't want to.

"Ruby I'm…" Pyrrha's tears return. "I'm so sorry."

At that moment Ruby doesn't really understand. Sorry for what? What's going to happen is she'll get past Mercury and put an end to the plot before anything bad. That has to be what happens. The alternative is…

She'll definitely stop it.

Ruby glares at her new opponent, reaching back to grab Crescent Rose, only to remember she doesn't have it on her. Mercury simply grins maliciously and sets himself up in a fighting pose.

Outside, the arena's centre is lifting back into the air, and an oblivious Penny is grinning wildly, with her fellow redhead Nora cheering excitedly from the stands, even getting Ren to let out a reluctant 'Yaaay...' The screen fades to black as Pyrrha, face and body still filled with depression, looks to the ground while the stage finishes being set up.

Weiss sighs. "It might be best that we stop here."

"But why!?" Ruby argues. "We have to see how we stop it! I can't wait until tomorrow."

"But what if we see something we don't want to see." Weiss replies, doing her best to stay calm. "We can probably finish the volume tomorrow, and we all need the rest."

"But that's impossible!" Ruby yells. "It can't…"

"RUBY!" Yang interrupts. "You need to accept it. Penny might actually…" She pauses, struggling to say the words. "She might die."

Ruby tears up, hearing Yang say it like that. She was denying it to the best of her ability, but those words broke down that barrier. "I… I…."

Pyrrha understands Ruby's reluctance to accept it. The idea that she could kill an innocent girl, even under manipulation, disgusts her. But she knows her abilities better then anyone, and given her other self's state of mind it seems far to possible.

"I need to see it." Ruby says. "I just… please, one more video."

Weiss sighs. "Fine. Oscar, start it up."

No one objects, but they aren't happy about it.

Ren's Notes:

Team RWBY's room, Ironwood telling of Yang

Ironwood and public completely deceived by Emeralds deception

Weiss and Ruby defend Yang

Ironwood believes/hopes it's result of stress and adrenaline

Yang disqualified

Blake hesitant to believe Yang (past experiences with Adam), eventually accepts that she deserves a chance

RWB decide to give Yang space, JNPR asks if she's alright

Everyone believes Mercury and his team left for Haven, no more public appearances means nearing their endgame

Pyrrha still bit down from learning about Maiden situation, Jaune decides to take team for a walk

Yang in room, Qrow appears

Qrow also fooled

Cinder's team took a big risk that Qrow would recognise them, must have been very important

Yang thinks she might be crazy due to previous time seeing something that might not be real

Qrow confirms Yang's moms appearance, say they keep in touch sometimes

Raven has message for Yang: saved her once, won't again

Sometimes bad things just happen line from note appeared

Qrow about to reveal Ravens location, we didn't hear it due to editing

Pyrrha outside dining hall, contemplating her choice

Jane appears with cotton candy to help cheer her up

Nora and Ren appear, but immediately leave

Jaune talks about how much he appreciates Pyrrha supporting him, wants to return favour

Pyrrha talks about her problem without explaining it. Destiny is something you strive towards

Jaune tries to be supportive, but lack of information makes him say the wrong things

Pyrrha attacks Jaune I'm moment of extreme stress, apologises, then runs away

Ruby at Beacon cliff, meets Velvet

Velvet understands Yang has it hard, mentions how Coco also had 'stress induced hallucinations'

Ruby becomes suspicious something's up

At Colosseum Ruby notices Emerald on other side, goes around back to get to her

Next match about to begin

Mercury blocks Ruby

First contestant: Penny

Second contestant: Pyrrha

Polarity vs metal means very bad things

Video ends

Very high likeliness that Emerald tricks Pyrrha into killing Penny