A One-Shot RWBY story, set in the aftermath of Volume 5. Also my first story for this site. I hope somebody will enjoy it.
The feeling of triumph was almost alien to Qrow; He had fought hundreds of battles throughout his life - mostly with Grimm, though he has faced quite a few human and faunus opponents as well - but he rarely felt really triumphant. Every Grimm slain was just another mission completed, and it was hard to feel proud of killing another person, no matter how much of an asshole they were. But this - this was a legitimate victory for him, the kids and Mistral itself.
After a long and, for him at least, painful battle their enemies had retreated. Most of them anyway - Leonardo was killed by some weird Grimm he held in his office and nobody was really sure what happened to that crazy „Cinder" witch. Qrow felt only a little sorry for the former, not in the slightest for the latter. Whatever their motives might have been, they got what they deserved. Period. He wasn't going to let that stop him from celebrating, and so he celebrated in his usual way.
Right now, he was moderately drunk. Not seriously drunk, like when he needed to forget something that was haunting him, but significantly more drunk than in his usual state. That is to say he consumed the dose of alcohol that would kill a normal man, but should only cause him a mild hangover afterwards. Hopefully. He wasn't sure how the kids decided to celebrate, but he didn't really care - though it was easy to forget sometimes, most of them were adults by now and he was sure Yang wasn't going to let Ruby touch any alcohol until she was at least thirty years old. Safe in that knowledge, Qrow prepared to take yet another swing.
"Hey, can you help me with something?"
That was the voice of Jaune Arc, the wannabe huntsman and sort-of team leader. While he and Qrow had gotten off on a wrong foot, the kid wasn't all that bad. As a person that is. As a fighter, he was a disgrace to all swordsmen who ever lived. Right now, however, he was standing there awkwardly, waiting for the older man's response.
"What is it? Want a sip? I've got only the strong stuff I'm afraid." Qrow responded, without stuttering in the slightest.
"What? No, I mean... I know I should be having fun or resting, but I've been... curious."
"If you mean what I think you mean, then sorry, but I don't swing that way" Qrow replied after a short pause.
"I mean my Semblance!" Jaune growled "It's kind of a big thing to me, you know? I want to know how I can utilize it best."
Oh, yeah. The kid has activated his semblance in the battle that night - thought the huntsman - It does seem pretty useful. Better than mine of sure, though that doesn't really say much.
"And I've been thinking" Jaune continued "How does it exactly work? Healing is pretty simple stuff, but it also seems to... empower other semblances. Like, if I use it on Blake, will she just create more of those clones each time, or will they be stronger somehow? But right now she is being questioned by the rest, so that will have to wait."
"And?" Qrow urged Jaune to continue, already not liking where this conversation was going.
"And I wanted to do an experiment, but with yours. Semblance, I mean. You generate this aura of bad luck, but how does it exactly work? If it becomes stronger, will the area of effect be larger, or will there be more accidents, or will those accidents be somehow worse... I thought it might be interesting to find out."
Now that Qrow thought about it, it kinda was. Interesting, that is. The thought of having even worse luck then usually wasn't particularly appealing to him, but if he could figure out how this damned semblance of his worked, then maybe he could learn how to weaponize it better, or maybe even to counteract it somehow. And besides, what would be the worst thing to come out of this? Spilling some booze? Breaking some glasses? Maybe ending up in an embarrasing situation that everyone will forget eventually?
"Alright kid" after a long while came the reply -"Gimme a boost."
Four of them, actually. Salem stood menacingly before four of her followers who had managed to escape from Haven mostly unscathed. Emerald Sustrai, Mercury Black, Hazel Rainart and Adam Taurus all had their heads low and eyes focused on the floor. The three males all wore the expressions that betrayed a mix of embarrassment, shame and fear, though each in different proportions. Mercury was mostly scared, Hazel more ashamed than anything and Adam... well, it was hard to tell actually, but he seemed to be at least a little distressed. The girl didn't express any of those emotions, but only because she was far more overcame with grief. As for her other followers, Tyrian was currently in his quarters and Watts was yet to arrive to the fortress - he wanted to investigate something before departing from Anima. But it was alright - they weren't responsible for the failure that has occured two days ago.
"HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!?" Salem half hissed, half screamed. All four of her subjects visibly flinched. They were right to be afraid, even if she wasn't going to kill them just yet.
"The mission was as simple as it gets." the Queen continued after a moment of silence, her voice softer now, but not by much "Get the maiden, bring her to Haven, get the relic. I gather that Cinder wanted to kill Qrow Branwen as a part of some deal. This was not her smartest move perhaps, but still shouldn't have resulted in that!"
"We didn't know Ozpin would be there" Hazel was the first one to speak out, a little more used to Salem's presence than the others "And then there were those huntresses..."
"Of course" his master interrupted "They had three more children with them than expected! There was no way you could deal with these overwhelming forces, could you?"
Silence again. In her dark, twisted mind, Salem sighed. The truth was, she wasn't too angry at the people in front of her. The failure was mostly Cinder's fault, and while losing the relic to Ozpin was a setback, it wasn't something that would change the outcome of their war. She would win eventually. Time had no meaning to the Queen of the Grimm. She would have her victory, even if that was to take another few years. Or another few decades, or centuries, or...
In this moment, another person entered the room. It was Doctor Arthur Watts, wearing his usual, now a little worn down suit and in one of his hands he was holding...
"I'm sorry for the intrusion ma'am, but I bring the good news" he said, pulling the Relic of Knowledge a little bit higher "It looks like we have won."
And yet again, silence. Only now it was not a terrified sort of silence, but a confused one. For the first time in this century, Salem found herself lost for words.
"Watts.. how did you get that?" she asked after a few seconds.
"I found it near the river" he replied matter-of-factly.
For the second time in this century, Salem found herself lost for words.
"I suppose this sounds ridiculous when I put it like that" Watts sighed "But I assure you, it makes even less sense in context."
"Please explain it either way" Salem ordered bluntly.
"As you wish, ma'am" the man cleared his throat "From what I gathered, after your defeat" he turned his look towards his co-workers, then back at his master "There was a short celebration involving the faunus forces, newly arrived Mistralian students and, of course, Ozpin's juvenile followers. I say 'short', as it was called to an end prematurely due to Qrow Branwen, the children he brought with him and a number of unrelated people dying in a series of lightning strikes and heart attacks."
"Due to the intense negativity those events generated" he continued, as all his listeners were too dumbfounded to interrupt him "a rather huge horde of Grimm was drawn towards the city of Mistral. Naturally there were huntsman in place to protect the populace, but they weren't able to do much, especially since all their weapons, including the melee ones, all started to continuously jam and misfire."
"I wasn't able to figure out the exact chain of events from then on, due to nearly everyone in Mistral dying and such" still no interruptions "but this is what I think has happened: Somehow, in the mayhem of battle, the Haven Academy was set on fire. For some inexplicable reason, somebody has put the relic near the storage of explosive materials that later detonated due to being ignited. In an incredibly lucky coincidence, it landed in the nearby river, and was brought along with the flow only to be thrown to the edge near the camp I stayed in. Naturally, I saw it fit to take it with me on my way back here. I performed some tests just a while ago and I am convinced that it is one of the Four Relics. Cinder's fate aside, it appears we have completed our main objective. And believe me, it sounds as absurd to me as it does to you, but..."
For the third time in this century, Salem found herself lost for words. Still, her followers weren't any better; Every one of them, including the normally expressionless Taurus, had their jaws open wide in disbelief.
"Well," Salem spoke after the longest moment of silence yet. "I congratulate you all then. It looks as though we have achieved victory after all."
For some reason, nobody felt too proud of that.