Chapter 1: New pieces
"The air tastes... different."
"We finally escape back to the real world, and your first words are a complaint about air quality?" Dante jabbed at his more stoic brother. "We're in a forest and not in hell, of course it smells fresher."
"Like always Dante, you miss the grandest of changes by looking to the most trivial of things," Vergil countered.
"So where should I be looking, my wise older brother?" Dante teased.
Following his brother's eye line, Dante stared up into the night sky and saw something biblical. The moon was shattered across the sky like a grand broken jewel trailing into nothingness.
"Okay," Dante admitted. "That's different."
For a few long moments, the two brothers just stared into the light of the shattered moon.
Growling brought the brothers' attention back to the ground. Red glowing eyes surrounded them as obsidian beasts circled them. Leaves rustled, bushes parted to reveal more monstrous forms descending on the brothers.
"Well, at least some things haven't changed," Dante joked, pulling out his pistols.
"Indeed," Vergil replied, breaking the seal of the Yamato with his thumb.
"Bet I can kill more to lengthen my lead over you," Dante cockily stated, headshotting two wolves that decided to start the attack.
"What are you talking about?" Vergil asked, bisecting some kind of bear creature with his sword. "We're even!"
Gauntlet thrown, the brothers swept into opposite sides of the horde, determined to win.
Hunters, almost by definition, are an insane group of people.
They are individuals who strapped high recoil guns to themselves or grabbed pointy metal sticks and then ran at monsters that exist only to kill people. Crazy was almost in the job requirements.
It could be argued that each of the men inside the bullhead flying over the forest were in fact crazy. But the main difference between hunters isn't training or talent but experience. An experienced hunter will either be broken or hardened by the years. At the very least, they grow more used to the ridiculous.
For example, of the six hunters in the bullhead, ready to drop out of the open floor at any moment, you could tell which were freshly graduated. They were the ones that were startled as a man vaulted into the bullhead while it was still in flight.
The man wore a grey dress shirt with black and dark grey accents, along with black shoes and dress pants. Other than that, he wore a tattered red cape, as well as a crooked cross necklace and a few rings on his calloused hands. The gruff-looking man had messy black hair, slight stubble ghosting his jawline, and dull red eyes reflecting his years of tragedy. On his back was some sort of large metallic weapon in its dormant 'sheathed' form.
The freshly graduated group of four huntsman quickly pulled out their weapons while the two veterans just looked at the new arrival as if he hadn't just jumped into a moving aircraft.
"Mr Branwen! I wasn't aware you were joining us for our hunt!" The joyful tone of professor Port sang, ever positive before a mission. He wore his classic red suit outfit, brandishing his axe blunderbuss and a impressive moustache.
"Don't call me mister, Port," Qrow replied, pulling out his flask and taking a gulp. "I'm not as old as you two."
"Did he just jump into our bullhead?" One of the ex-students whispered.
"Yes, indeed he did," professor Oobleck loudly replied. "It is rare for Branwens to use doors. Still though Qrow I must ask why are you here. The Grimm horde, while substantial, wouldn't usually attract your attention."
"Why is this normal?" Another student asked only to be ignored entirely.
"Well," Qrow took one last gulp of his flask before pocketing it. "I was just passing through, so I thought I'd run some recon for you old-timers."
"He was just passing through a Grimm infested Forest?" Increasingly confused ex-students muttered.
"Aha! So what beasts shall face our blades today?" Port exclaimed, spinning his blunder-axe. "Nevermores? Griffons? Deathstalkers? Come, Barty, let's show these fledgelings what their old professors can do!"
"Calm down Port. At the rate they're being wiped out you might not even get to see any big Grimm."
"There's already a group fighting the Grimm?" Oobleck pushed his glasses up his nose. "Did they not require your assistance Qrow? It should have been a substantial horde to fight."
"Oh it WAS substantial alright, but they definitely didn't need my help." Qrow's dull red eyes seemed to sharpen when he next looked at the older hunters. "I don't suppose you're backup for a pair of extremely badass Huntsmen sent ahead as a coordinated team?" The silence spoke for itself. "Well, let's hope they're friendly then."
Moments after those words were spoken the huntsmen dropped. After employing their own landing strategies, the seven broke off into a run.
Along the way to their objective, each dealt with a few Grimm stragglers, but not as much as they should. It was barely enough for a pack, let alone a horde.
That was until they reached the edge of a clearing.
It was not a natural clearing. In fact, it used to be a part of the forest, but the trees had been eviscerated as collateral damage, with black smoke from vanquished Grimm filling the air. At the other end, a man in blue was surrounded, multiple packs all pouncing at him at once.
Oobleck was about to dash in when Qrow grabbed his shoulder, gesturing towards a thin smokey barrier surrounding the man. A moment later there was a slash. Then ten. Then a hundred. Then more and more as the air within the circle of smoke was shredded by perfectly straight slashes.
When it ended, the man in blue was at the centre, sheathing his sword. Around him not one of the Grimm had a piece left large enough to be called a chunk. The defeated packs rose into smoke that would likely be believed to be a forest fire by those in the distance.
Their observations of the man in blue were interrupted by a pained screech. Looking up, they saw a falling nevermore... slam into another larger nevermore… slam into another even larger nevermore.
Skewered together by something, they fell towards the earth. Above them, a man in red fell down as well, shooting his guns into whatever was skewering the birds, forcing them to fall faster.
There was a splintering shockwave as they hit the ground screaming but seemingly alive. That was until the man in red landed on their chests, pulled his ridiculously large sword from their breasts and beheaded them in one smooth motion.
"Three in a row, high score," the man stated, jumping from the smoking corpses.
"Check again, Dante," the man in blue interrupted. "I killed more, you lose."
"You killed more, but mine were bigger and could fly," countered Dante.
"Yet each only count as one. You still lose."
"Whatever," Dante chuckled. "We've got company anyway."
Nodding, the man in blue followed Dante towards their observers. A couple of Grimm tried to make use of the distraction. The man in blue bisected the charging Boretusk mid-air while Dante shot the leaping Creep in the head. Both men killing without even looking at the target.
"Hey there, I'm Dante, this is my twin Vergil, lovely day today isn't it?" The man in red, Dante, balanced his massive sword on his shoulder as he talked to them.
"Ignore Dante. Tell us, why are you here?" Vergil commanded.
Cold pressure flooded the air. Vergil giving off an 'answer or die' aura, unlike his casual brother. A feeling completely ignored by Port.
"Why young man, we are Huntsmen! Wherever monsters lurk, we are not far behind. The stories I could tell you," a cough from Qrow cut off that detour from Port. "Anyway, we were on our way to kill the very horde you seem to have just finished off. A pity, I was hoping to show a few Grimm the business side of my blunderbuss!"
"Wait," Dante requested. "Is the business side the gun or the axe?"
"Why both of course! When it comes to killing monsters, any side of my weapon is ready to cut straight to the business."
"Or shoot straight to it," Dante joked, receiving a chuckle from Port. "May I?"
"Of course young man, but only if I can get a look at that sword of yours!"
Dante dropped his sword, one-handed, into Port's grasp. The older man buckled briefly under the weight before swinging it easily, surprising everyone with his apparent strength. Meanwhile, Dante checked the sights of the blunder-axe before swinging it in a seemingly perfect dance. "Nice."
"If you two are quite done," Vergil glared at his brother to no effect. "What do you want? I doubt you watched our fight for entertainment."
Qrow took over, "we were just wondering who you were. And why two upstanding guys such as yourselves decided to take on a Grimm horde alone."
"You must not have been paying attention, although I rarely listen to Dante myself, so I will repeat. I am Vergil, that is my twin Dante, and the vermin annoyed us, so we exterminated them."
To his credit, Qrow didn't flinch under Vergil's gaze. "Then we'll have to bring you to our boss, Ozpin, back in the kingdom, for you make a report and collect your reward."
Watching the brothers, Qrow saw no recognition in either of their faces. Vergil seemed like someone who could hide it, but Dante seemed more honest. Anyone who serves… her would know about Ozpin. So did a lot of people but he had to start somewhere.
"Cool so where's this Kingdom of yours, and who's this Ozpin guy?" Why did he even bother to read faces when this guy was just going to make his life more comfortable.
"Enough questions Dante," Vergil moved past the Huntsmen without so much as a backwards glance. "Remaining here is pointless, let us go to this, 'Kingdom'."
Despite the condescending tone of the agreement, Qrow just nodded as they made their way towards the bullhead. Content to keep the silence until they knew who these guys were.
Dante was not.
"Ah, brother, why so quick to get out the Forest?" Dante breathed deeply through his nose, "don't you just love that fresh air?"
"Your welcome to stay Dante," Vergil stated, getting comfortable as he glared the students whose spot he'd taken to the other side of the bullhead. "I'll make sure to think of you as I enjoy fine meals and you forage around here eating dirt."
At the back of the bullhead, Qrow couldn't help but sigh; this was going to be a long flight.
Looking at his scroll, Ozpin's face stayed neutral as he read.
NEW PIECES ON THE BOARD. ON ROUTE TO BEACON.
"Glynda," the strict headmistress looked at him questionably. "Head to the landing pad; Qrow is bringing in some interesting guests."
"Where. Is. He?" To most people, the award-winning glare of Glynda Goodwitch was enough to crack stone. Annoyingly, Vergil was not most people. In fact, he seemed quite amused at her attempted intimidation.
"Why should I keep track of Dante's location just because can not?" If looks could kill, Vergil would probably have had to of found another way to come back from the dead.
Sighing, Glynda pinched the sides of her nose, wondering how Qrow WASN'T the most annoying person she had to deal with today.
Out of the two men the Huntsman team brought home, Vergil had seemed like the dangerous one. His constant, 'you're beneath me' attitude, the cold air around him screamed it. Not to mention how he completely ignored her to stop and admire Beacon's architecture. Even getting into a few detailed discussions with Oobleck about the building's history, before Glynda loudly cleared her throat to remind the Doctor they had somewhere to be.
It was during one of these distractions that Dante, the seemingly relaxed, fun-loving brother, vanished! How the 4 veteran hunters missed his disappearance, Glynda would never know. Hell, even if Glynda and the other professors let their guard down a bit around Beacon, Qrow was always… well, not alert but aware…
Where the hell was Qrow…
"Son of a bitch," the men around her looked startled (or in Vergil's case amused) at the headmistress' language. Alright, if threatening didn't work, try to try a different method. "Vergil," Glynda tried not to act pleased when the man in blue actually gave her his full attention rather than just barely listing like he had done before. "The more time we spend looking for your brother, the more of your time we waste."
A moment of silence stretched between them.
"You make a good point," without another word, Vergil turned and started striding confidently down the halls. Seemingly not caring if the professors were following him or not as he arrived at… the cafeteria?
The few students who stayed over the break stared at the new arrivals, curious about the new hunters and wary of the very angry Goodwitch.
"Your finest blend of tea," Vergil commanded, inwardly smiling as the man behind the counter rushed to fill his order.
As Vergil took his tea from the shaking hands of the concierge, Glynda turned her ire to the person she knew was going to ruin her day. "Qrow." He stopped mid sip of his flask to nod in acknowledgement. "Why did you sneak off with Dante?"
The brother in question gave a wave from his seat, finishing off his first of two boxes of pizza as he did. "What, you didn't notice us leave?" Tucking away his flask, Qrow smirked, "getting sloppy Glynda?"
With a distinct eye twitch, Glynda herded the idiotic men she worked with as well as their guests towards Ozpin's office.
Why was it that children were so much easier to deal with than the insane, idiotic men in her life?
Ozpin had still been reviewing what little footage Qrow had sent when his guests had finally arrived. Glancing at the clock, the headmaster realised it had taken them quite a while to reach him from the landing pad.
Had the new arrivals caused trouble? People from outside the kingdoms tended to be a bit… rough. Perhaps a fight had broken out, and they had to be dragged here. Maybe one of them needed medical attention after the mission or the fight…
What Ozpin didn't expect was that everyone in the party seemed to be consuming something as they departed the elevator. Except for Glynda, who had the 'I've had to talk to Qrow for five minutes' look, seemingly more tired than she was annoyed.
But still very annoyed.
Qrow and Oobleck were drinking their usual beverages, joined in the activity by Vergil who's cup of tea that never spilt despite how he moved. Meanwhile, Peter devoured a large chicken drumstick next to Dante, who was working his way through a box of pizza.
"You stopped for food?" Despite how experienced Ozpin was in the ridiculousness of hunters (looking at you Qrow), he couldn't help but let surprise leak into his voice.
"Obviously," Vergil answered, settling himself against one of the walls. Port was summarily ignored as he started talking about how all great Hunters need great sustenance.
"You would not believe how long it's been since I had a decent pizza. Dante by the way," the man in red held out his hand which Ozpin gladly shook. The moment their hands parted, Dante had his feat on the table and resumed eating his pizza without a care in the world.
"Vergil," Ozpin turned his head to the other man. Unlike the relaxing aura of his brother, this man felt dangerous. From the footage, Ozpin knew neither brother would be an easy fight, but Vergil made no attempt to hide his apathy towards niceties. His piercing gaze seemed to judge Ozpin's very soul, looking for every strength and weakness all at once.
The two of them reminded him of another set of twins, a meaningful look at Qrow showed him that the similarities weren't lost on him.
"Hello, I am professor Ozpin." It was a good sign that the only hostility from the twins was another muttered 'obviously' from Vergil. "I thank you for coming all this way, but I must admit I'm curious what the two of you were doing wandering around the forest; it's not a place frequented by many. I'm also curious where you learnt this."
Turning a screen so the brothers could see, Ozpin started the replay of their rather impressive fight with the Grimm. Both brothers seemed briefly surprised at the footage. Evidently, Qrow hadn't been noticed, but once their surprise faded, they both watched their playback.
While Dante looked as if watching TV, Vergil seemed to be reviewing it, judging their performance. An act shared by the other huntsmen in the room. Most only witnessed a few actions, the glorious ultra-violence on display was an impressive continuation.
"That was sloppy Dante," Vergil stated as he watched his brother eaten by some kind of giant bird.
"Yea," he admitted as he watched his sword cut the bird open from the inside. "But it was pretty awesome."
Watching the rest of the professors watched and couldn't help but agree. Each brothers feats were impressive, especially knowing the reported size of the horde. They must have been fighting all night yet neither looked particularly scruffed up or even tired.
"We taught ourselves to fight," Vergil stated as the video ended. "And we were in the forest on a whim."
"You see," Dante interrupted, throwing his now empty pizza box to the side as he leant forward. "Me and my brother-"
"My brother and I," Vergil corrected.
"We brothers," Dante continued not missing a beat. "Are looking for a new home, we've never been out of the wilds before so thought, why not head generally towards a kingdom?"
"You've never been inside the Kingdom's before," Glynda said somewhat disbelievingly. "Not even to attend combat school?"
"Hmm, there is little you could teach me."
"What my brother means," Dante quickly interceded. "Is that we never really went that route. We killed monsters as kids, kept it going as we grew up and never really stopped."
"Don't put words in my mouth Dante," Vergil glared.
"Leave this to the people person brother," Dante ignored the 'I'm stabbing you later' look Vergil threw at him. "So anything else you want to know?"
Ozpin gave each brother a long look. "No. I think we all could use a day to wind down. A life of only fighting is one fatigued, rest must be taken when it can."
"Amen to that," Dante was halfway to the elevator before his brother had even moved. Vergil gave Ozpin a searching look, before matching his brother's gait.
"Glynda, if you could show them to accommodations and any facilities they may desire. Tomorrow, once you're rested, I'd be more than willing to help you with settling into kingdom life."
Once the Glynda and their new guests left, Ozpin turned to the remaining colleagues in the room. "So, what do you think of them?"
"Certainly talented fighters." Port puffed out his chest, "they would even give even myself a run for my money."
"Indeed, from what we've seen, it wouldn't be a stretch to say they would rank in the upper echelons of Beacon graduates. In terms of fighting strength that is," Oobleck continued with a sip of his thermos. "They are also quite well adjusted. Many of those who live outside the kingdoms historically have idiosyncrasies. Several only even come to the academies to learn how to fight higher-skilled enforcement officers."
Qrow looked a bit uncomfortable at that before putting in his own opinions. "Both of them are capable killers, that's for sure," Qrow paused to swig his own drink. A beverage that no professor actually knew the contents of, only that it was a mix of several cheap spirits. Despite being a capable hunter, Qrow only kept a fraction of his money for maintenance, lodgings, and alcohol. The rest went to the family he still cared about, helping any way he could, even if he couldn't stay long. "But they're complete unknowns. No known loyalties or motivations, we need to handle them carefully."
Nodding, Ozpin considered his options as the professors continued to list what they thought.
Whatever was decided, there were new pieces on the board now, and Ozpin hoped they would pick the right side.
"Here we are," Glynda said, suppressing a scowl as Vergil strode past her without so much as a glance back.
While his brother had elected to 'chill' in their assigned room, Vergil had surprised her; asking to be taken to the library. Perhaps Vergil wouldn't be as infuriating as she thought. After all, Glynda was described as… prickly; before you got to know her.
Maybe Vergil was the same.
Meanwhile, Vergil quietly smiled at Glynda's bemused expression as he asked to be guided not to local information, or history sections, but poetry.
A small part of him admitted that annoying her was growing to be an enjoyable pastime. One he seemingly didn't have to try at.
Still, looking at his selection of books, it took him nearly the entire evening to decode the scribbles. Keywords and features helped, as well as patterns, words, and shared symbols between worlds.
Settling into his book, Vergil decided to enjoy the rest of the evening. Tomorrow he could start seeing what power lurked in this world. A meaningful look with Dante earlier showed him that his brother's devil trigger wasn't working either.
What in this world was suppressing their powers? What did this world have to offer in return? How long would he and Dante spend in this world before they or Nero found a way for them to return?
Smiling, Vergil thought of one last question.
How much of a challenge could he and Dante find?