Some time after the Fall
Saphron Cotta-Arc awoke with a start.
She was back in her bed. Back in the safety of her home in Argus, the most protected city on the northern fringes of Mistral. She was back with her family; back with her wife Terra and their three-year-old son Adrian.
Not in wherever fresh hell she was in her dream.
It was the same dream—no—the same nightmare. Details varied but it was always the same. And it hurt the more it lingered in her addled mind. So vivid, so real, it was like reliving someone's life in a world so different yet so similar.
Saphron dropped her head into her hands only to find them trembling, damp with her own sweat...and perhaps tears, too. Her nightmares were unrelenting in the display of the worst horrors humanity could endure: the unforgiving cold from the rain, the stale soup served on tin plates, the odor of rotting corpses left unburied across the battlefield. And there was the desperation brought by the desire to survive, the misery of living in a muddy trench, the searing pain from horrid injuries.
Her fists clenched; she needed to get a grip! This was getting out of control and it was affecting her. Affecting Terra. Affecting Adrian. Though technically improbable, she believed that her mounting fear, anxiety, and general negativity might spiral into a beacon for Grimm, Atlas protection be damned.
Terra Cotta-Arc stirred in the sheets beside her. She switched on the lamp and donned her glasses. Now she was awake at three in the morning.
"Hon? Oh Gods... Is it...?"
Saphron nodded, tears threatening to burst through. "It's back...it's back again..."
Terra wrapped her arms around her spouse. "Oh, Saph, honey."
She reciprocated the embrace with one persistent thought resurfacing out of the flood of images that lingered so damningly clearly in her mind: she needed to find the Huntsman who recovered the Arc family heirloom Crocea Mors from the ruins of Beacon Academy. She needed to track down Qrow Branwen for answers. Answers that may be vague or may not help at all.
At this point, however, long after riding the emotional roller-coaster that followed the devastating news of the fate of her dearest brother Jaune, she could care less. She wanted something. Desperately needed something. Concrete or intangible so long as it assuaged this plague on her psyche.
Anything to explain even in the slightest why she was constantly dreaming about this horrifying...war. Where men in blue uniforms willingly charged to their deaths over cratered battlefields only to be ripped apart by the guns of soldiers wearing black. Where she found herself in the body of her reportedly late brother Jaune Arc.
Unkempt, uneasy, unwell. Unmistakeable. Dressed in a blue uniform, ripped and tattered, bearing holes where gaping holes and ugly gashes were sealed up by a honeycomb glow. Wielding either a period rifle or a bloody shovel. Words of a different language echoing over the noise of battle.
Screaming at the top of his voice until his throat was sore. Charging wildly into the fray, caring not for his own well-being or of those around him.
Shooting without mercy. No remorse for those felled by his dented spade.
But still alive. Watching open wounds and bleeding gashes seal up through the power of Aura. Pulled back to be treated by stressed medics. Then cleared and thrown back into muddy trenches to fight again.
Tonight was no different. Tonight, she had once more been imprisoned in the body of her deceased brother. Watching him shave in front of a cracked mirror. Dry, empty eyes stared back through the glass. Hollow blue irises devoid of the life that defined him. His blonde hair was a dirty mess while his arm was wrapped in layers of sullied, bloodstained bandages. Bandages that he unwound shortly thereafter to reveal scars freshly healed by Aura.
Without a doubt, these wounds would either be reopened later or replaced by new ones. Then someone screamed orders. Up and down the trench, the men in blue affixed bayonets at the end of their rifles. Others propped up ladders with a foot on a rung ready to go over the top. She could not control his hands as they locked the handle of the blade below the barrel of the gun. She tried to stop his legs from moving over to a vacant ladder, trailed closely by the eyes of every other soldier he passed.
She screamed when the officers blew the whistles. She screamed when he went over the top. She screamed and she screamed until she woke up.
Saphron withdrew from her wife and took a moment to compose herself. The quirks of being married to a technician working for the Atlas military meant being made aware every now and then of certain bits that were not meant for the public. It also meant an occasional off-the-record favor. "Terra. I'm going to need your help."
Terra cautiously regarded her. "... Is this going to involve the military?"
"Maybe. Maybe not."
Her wife raised her brow. "You think the military will get you out of your funk?"
"Not the army specifically," Saphron clarified. As far as she knew, Qrow Branwen was a Huntsman with a reputation that slipped through the tight lips of the Huntsman world. The man did have an interesting history with the Atlas military, having had many public spats with General James Ironwood himself...and getting into a destructive brawl with one of his specialists. "Only a certain someone who they might know."
"Someone in the Atlas military?"
"No. But getting to him might involve a lot of someones in the Atlas military." Saphron found it hard to look her wife straight in the eyes, instead finding her twiddling thumbs far more interesting. She knew she was pushing the envelope here. "... You don't have to do it, though. I mean, if it's going to cost you your job—"
Terra rested her hand over hers. The look on her face conveyed nothing but comforting support. "I'm on board."
Saphron beamed. "Thank you."
"Anything for you, hon."
ORIGINALLY DRAFTED: February 14, 2019
LAST EDITED: February 28, 2019
INITIALLY UPLOADED: February 28, 2019
NOTE: Surprise. I could not ignore this idea. And for the information of anyone out there wondering, this is related to my spinoff story Carry Me Home revolving around Qrow and Winter.