I've been looking forward to this chapter for a while. I wanted Jaune and Ruby to head to Atlas to start the process of looking into things that I feel the actual series glanced over. I'm not going to spoil it up here though. You'll see in this chapter what's happening. I also know there's some people griping Pyrrha kind of got the short end of the stick. She kind of did. At no point am I bashing her though. I'm trying to show that without Jaune, her life in Beacon is going to be a lot more isolated. Pyrrha came to Vale and Beacon to avoid that situation in Mistrial. Due to her actions, even though they were right and good intentioned, she ended up in the situation she dreaded. Naturally, there are some people who will take advantage of that. It would not take long for people to hear, 'Pyrrha Nikos is in our class, but she avoids everyone.'

Special thanks to ancientdragonduelist for Betaing.

Disclaimer: I do not own RWBY.

"I hate you. I hate you so much." Winter grumbled, her arms crossed and eyes narrowed from her seat in the Bullhead.

"Yeah, I know." Qrow smirked. "But it was worth it to see the great Ice Queen freak out."

Ruby was pressed up against the wall. Across the ship's hall, Jaune was breathing heavily into a paper bag, his eyes closed, and his face was a sickening shade of green. Next to him, the bravest Huntress out of all of them, Penny was patting Jaune's back. The poor boy had not gotten over his motion sickness and was suffering on the long flight to Atlas. He had already thrown up and was currently dry heaving. Penny was trying to help him while the others stayed away because of the smell.

"How are you so close to the stench?!" Ruby asked.

"I have disabled my olfactory sensors!" Penny replied cheerfully. "I do not need to recognize other scents at this time, so there was no reason to keep it operating."

"Luuucky." Qrow muttered.

Winter had no idea what was going to happen when Qrow suggested she sit next to Jaune. It was thanks to her reflexes she managed to get away before the poor boy lost his breakfast. Right now, she was pushed against the corner wall next to Ruby, her nose twitching.

"Sorry!" Jaune apologized again, sounding like his partner back at Beacon.

"It's not your fault!" Ruby called out from her position, still not willing to sacrifice her sanity to help him with this. "You'll get over it eventually!"

"You know air is the primary means of travel!" Winter added, annoyance in her voice. Though her gaze was mostly directed at Qrow. "As a Huntsman, you can't keep getting air sick!"

"Yeah, I told him that already too." Qrow shrugged, leaning backwards and resting his head on the wall of the ship. "Look how well that turned out."

"Do not worry, Jaune." Penny assured her. "We only have four more hours until we reach Atlas."

A loud groan escaped the poor boy.

"There it is!" Ruby gasped. "Woah… Jaune! Jaune! You have to see this!"

The girl could not contain her excitement as she gazed out of the window toward an enormous floating city. Literally just hovering thousands and thousands of feet above the ground. A mass of metal over the earth that seemed to have lifted right out of the ground. It was something she would never have dreamed of seeing. She wanted to know how it was flying. Enormous Dust engines seemed to be the most logical option, but the amount of fuel had to be staggering. Below it, another city known as Mantle rested. Countless ships of all sizes, including giant battleships were flying around the cities. It was incredible for Ruby and she couldn't stop gawking. Vale had been a huge city compared to her home in patch. But this? This was an entirely new level of wonder.

Jaune didn't get to see anything until after they landed.

"You going to be able to walk, kid?" Qrow asked, as the back ramp began to lower.

"Y-Yeah, I'm fine." Jaune was still slightly green, but now that the ship wasn't moving, he was already feeling better. It helped that everything in his stomach was gone already. "Thanks for the help, Penny."

"It was my pleasure to help my friend," Penny assured him. "I suggest you look into medicine to help deal with your motion sickness. It would make flights more pleasant."

"Wait… they have medicine for that now?!"

"Unnecessary expense." Qrow mumbled.

"I vote he gets it." Ruby interjected quickly.

"Same!" Jaune called out.

"I'll make sure you get some before you leave," Winter offered, a smug smile on her face as she glanced at Qrow. "It's the least we can do after everything that happened."

The five of them exited the ship and Jaune was the happiest one to be on solid ground. Well, it seemed solid after the large Bullhead. Atlas was large enough and stable enough that it didn't actually feel like they were flying. The moment they stepped off the airship, several men in white-gray armor, carrying rifles, rushed up and stood in two parallel lines. Between them, a well dressed man with black hair with a little gray above the ears stepped forward. He wore a white overcoat, with a gray undercoat, black sweater, a red necktie and a white glove on his right hand. His suit pants shared the same color as his overcoat and were tucked into silver boots accented in gray.

Instantly, Penny and Winter snapped to attention, saluting as they greeted the man.

"General Ironwood, sir!"

"At ease." The man called Ironwood told them with a small smile. He turned his attention to Qrow as the two females relaxed. "Qrow, it's good to see you."

"Hey, Jimmy." Qrow greeted informally with a grin. "Sorry for the short notice, but a lot of shit has been going on."

"I heard." Ironwood's relaxed look hardened and his brow furrowed. "Dealing with a wanted Criminal was probably outside your estimates for training." He turned toward Ruby and Jaune. "Forgive my manners. Let me introduce myself. I am General James Ironwood, Headmaster of Atlas Academy and General of the Atlas Military. You must be Ruby Rose and Jaune Arc."

"How did you know?" Ruby gasped, as she shook the man's hand.

"I sent him a report ahead of time," Winter explained. "That's why he was expecting us."

"So you know everything that happened?" Jaune asked as he shook Ironwood's hand.

"Yes, and I have to say you three fought admirably against a very dangerous foe," Ironwood assured him. "Most people would not have lasted as long as you did."

"It was thanks to Penny," Jaune admitted, rubbing the back of his head. "She kept us alive long enough for Qrow and Winter to show up." Penny smiled and shifted slightly where she stood.

"Penny, you did an excellent job and I'm proud of you." Ironwood put a hand on her shoulder. "Now, I heard about your injuries…" His eyes darted to her stomach, which was covered by her clothes. "You'll need to see your father for a full check up."

"Understood, sir!" Penny agreed. "My father will make sure I am running at 100% efficiency."

"Good to hear." Ironwood let out a short laugh.

"Can we… go with her?" Ruby asked timidly, not sure about the proper etiquette in this situation.

"There is no need," Ironwood answered warmly. "Penny's father will have her healed up in no time. I actually want to talk to you three first in my office while she's gone."

"Yeah, we got some stuff to discuss." Qrow agreed, crossing his arms. "Let's get going. The cold isn't pleasant, even with Aura. You'll freeze in minutes outside the city limits. So don't dress like Yang here, Squirt."

"Ugh, I like my own clothes, not hers." Ruby complained.

"I shall return as soon as I am able," Penny assured Ruby, clutching the girl's hand with both of hers. "Then I can give you a tour of Atlas."

"We look forward to it." Ruby smiled. "Take care."

Penny waved goodbye and was escorted by two Atlas soldiers. Of course she was considered valuable and they couldn't just let her go without proper security. Ruby, Jaune, and Qrow then followed Ironwood and Winter into a shuttle that took them to another area with Atlas Academy standing tall and proud. It was a smooth flight and short enough that Jaune didn't even have a chance to puke. They then went inside and down pristine hallways until they reached a large office with a view overlooking Atlas.

"Have a seat." Ironwood sat down behind his desk and gestured to the empty chairs. "First, I want to congratulate you all. Winter, for taking the initiative and following on Qrow's discovery. If you hadn't, we might never have realized Tyrian Callows was in the area."

"It's a shame we couldn't capture him, sir." Winter sighed. She purposely directed the topic away from the fact she hadn't been willing to get involved until Qrow mentioned the SDC. "As I said in my report, I don't think he had any connections with the slavers."

"No, I don't believe he would either." Ironwood shook his head and picked up a small stack of papers off his desk. "Tyrian… is insane. Someone who kills because he just likes killing. The problem is, he's also intelligent and skilled. Otherwise he wouldn't have eluded our capture for so long. It's a very dangerous combination."

"We experienced that first hand." Jaune rubbed his arm nervously.

"Er, about the slave traders," Ruby interjected. "Is Atlas going to investigate the companies involved… sir?" The girl was trying very hard to be polite and not say something that might indicate that Atlas would overlook such injustice.

"Yes, we are." Ironwood nodded. "Slave trading is illegal and does nothing but cause negativity and problems. The information I received is going to be the key. It's not like we can just arrest people on suspicion of illegal activity. There are laws for us too."

"Ah, okay."

Qrow managed to hold back his tongue. Part of him wanted to say that Ironwood's words were political talk for saying they would look, decide it was too much work, and do nothing. Seeing his niece's relief on her face caused the words to freeze in his throat. It wasn't really her concern with what happened next. They did their job.

"I was wondering if you two could give me a run down of your fight with Tyrian Callows," Ironwood continued, looking back and forth between Ruby and Jaune. "Anything that you might consider important. We're trying to figure out why he was there."

So Ruby and Jaune reiterated what happened. When he showed up, stabbing Penny, and just taunting them while knocking the three of them around.

"The only thing I can think of is he kept referencing a Queen of some kind." Jaune explained. "Like he was following some kind of royalty or goddess."

"But he didn't give us any information on who it was," Ruby huffed. "Just insane rambles."

"We established the man was insane pretty quick." Qrow snorted. "But yeah, that's about it." His eyes met Ironwood and he shook his head ever so slightly slightly, letting the man know there was more he couldn't say.

"Umm, sir?" Ruby interrupted. "How long do you think it will be before we can meet up with Penny again?"

"Hmm…" Ironwood tapped his fingers together. "You shouldn't know about her situation, but after everything that happened and Winter vouching for you, I think it will be good for her development to have friends. Especially when she goes to Vale for the Vytal festival."

Jaune and Ruby gave each other a low five.

"Her repairs probably won't take more than a couple hours at most," The man continued. "They will be doing a full diagnostics of her system. After they are done, I promise you can meet her again."

"Until then… Jimmy, think you can let these two take the leadership test you give your teams?" Qrow asked. "The questionnaire and the simulation? They have time to kill."

"Wait, test?!" Ruby sat up in her seat. "There's no need for that."

"What kind of tests?" Jaune asked, not sounding eager, but waiting to hear more.

"We have yearly tests we give to our team leaders to see their progress," Winter explained quickly. "It's a written exam with questions and situations that don't necessarily have a right or wrong answer. We figure out how people think and act as leaders to determine what kind of missions would best suit their strengths and weaknesses. Then we have a simulation where you defend Mantle and Atlas against Grimm."

"They spend millions of Lien on a huge tower defense game that just gets harder the longer you play," Qrow gave his own lighthearted twist on the simulation. "Eventually, you get overrun and they score you."

"It's more than a game, Qrow!" Winter snapped.

"If one of you two don't get the high score, I'm thinking of making sure all your trail food is a very specific ration bar."

The two kid's suddenly grew so pale, that Winter looked like she was tanned next to them.

"Why do you want to test them, Qrow?" Ironwood raised an eyebrow.

"I'm working on their combat skills, situational awareness, stuff they can learn quickly in the field," Qrow tapped the desk. "But there's limits I can do with team leader training. I have an idea of their strengths and weaknesses, but this way, you can verify it for me. Will save me a lot of time if I know what specifically we need to work on."

There was a moment of silence as the General thought about it.

"Very well," The man gave Qrow a curt nod. "Winter. Can you take them to the testing room? Tell them it's a special situation while they are in Atlas. I take it you three won't be here that long?"

"Nah, but feel free to put those two to work until we leave."

"Come along, Jaune, Ruby." Winter stood up. "Please ignore what Qrow told you about the simulation. It's a state of the art program that will examine your leadership style and strategy."

"We usually ignore him." Jaune assured her with a grin.

"Heard that, brat." Qrow grumbled as Ruby giggled.

Winter couldn't help a small smile on her face as she led the two out of the room and the door slid shut behind them. The moment they left, Ironwood leaned forward and examined Qrow closely before speaking again.

"I take it you have information you can't say in front of them?"

"Yeah, Winter may be trusted by you, but she's not in the inner circle," Qrow leaned forward and rested an elbow on the corner of his desk. "Winter might not have explained the situation completely near the end. You know she got away, but did she tell you why?"

"Her report stated you were attacked by Grimm."

"Yeah, figured." Qrow rubbed his brow with both hands. "Grimm did attack me and I had to finish them off. The bastard escaped during that time. The thing is, the Grimm never went after him. Tyrian was bleeding all over with a broken arm, wailing about how he failed. The amount of negativity should have had the Grimm jump on him like starving wolves on a bone. Yet, they didn't. The Grimm ignored him completely and only went after me. Can you figure out what this means? The fact he's talking about a Queen like a goddess?"

Ironwood's expression hardened as he hand gripped his desk.

"Tyrian Callows is working for Salem." Qrow spat out ominously.

"I'll contact Ozpin," Ironwood stated, a lot calmer than he looked. "He will need to know."

Jaune found himself sitting at a computer desk inside a cubicle. Honestly, after all the traveling and Grimm fighting they did over the last couple of weeks, sitting at a desk felt foreign. Yet, as the screen began to flicker to life, he once again felt the rush of nervousness he always had when taking a test. Even knowing this wasn't going to be graded like one, part of him still felt like he couldn't fail. Failing meant he wasn't learning all the lessons Qrow was hammering into his mind and body. The words from earlier might have been an idol threat, but part of him still worried a poor performance might have him sent back.

He wondered if Ruby felt the same nervousness.

Ruby was hidden by the walls of another cubicle, as the room was designed for multiple people at once. It was a simple anti-cheating screen to prevent wandering eyes. There was no way he could see her friend's expression, but he could imagine it. Ruby was probably shifting around in her chair, wanting to get done as quickly as possible and head out. At least Weiss wasn't here to berate her about not getting the top grade as a team leader.

The test was different from the ones he was used to at Beacon. It wasn't one where you could just memorize the answers. There were all sorts of scenarios, what if questions, and ones that asked about his opinion. Two questions stood out. The first was one asking in his opinion, what would be the most useful item to bring with him into the field outside the basic essentials like food, water, knives, etc. Thinking back to what Qrow made them bring, he had fun writing down all the uses he and Ruby found for the hammock, along with what he imagined it could be used for.

The second question that really stood out took away any enjoyment he found in this test.

You're in charge of evacuating a town from a massive Grimm threat. 75% of people are ready to evacuate, but 25% are still delayed inside. What will you do?

"Is this where Qrow got that question he asked me?" Jaune sighed to himself, finding his hand shaking a little. "My answer really hasn't changed." Sighing, he began to type, both what he should do and what he would do.

The test ended a little over an hour later and the two of them were led by Winter to the simulation room. Ruby seemed happy and not at all like what she was like after a test back at Beacon. The girl nudged him and whispered into his ear.

"Did you like question 7?" There was so much amusement dripping in her voice.

"Loved it," Jaune replied. "What item would be most useful? Obviously one that's all purpose."

Both of them snickered as Winter glanced back at them with a neutral expression.

Ruby was actually enjoying herself a little more than Jaune expected. It's not like she liked tests, that was Weiss' forte, but this one was different. It was a chance to show her knowledge and all the stuff she learned during their travels. She was showing the people at Atlas how amazing her uncle was at being the best teacher ever. Some of the questions were about situations they talked about during their travels, so Ruby knew she would score full marks. Weiss would be proud.

The simulation game was amazing. Ruby thought she and Yang kept their game systems up to date, but this one was decades above theirs. Atlas and Mantle looked so real. There was a short introduction about the hordes of Grimm heading toward the kingdom and it was up to her to protect it. She needed to spend resources in research, building defenses, expeditions for new mines, pretty much all the things needed to run the kingdom. No politics though, as the young team leader gave a sigh of relief.

Smiling to herself while thinking about her team the entire time, Ruby liked to use strike forces against the enemy, weakening their lines so they fell to her defenses. Yet the girl was quickly getting frustrated as the endless number of Grimm slowly pushed her back. Then after one wall fell, she pretty much got overrun.

"Nooo!" Ruby pounded her fists on her computer desk. "The game cheated!"

"Heh, you'll be surprised how common that reaction is." Winter walked up behind her and placed her hand on Ruby. "The fact remains that the number of Grimm on Remnant is unknown. It is possible they can swarm our cities with numbers beyond what our defenses can withstand. It's why we must stay ever alert, improving and growing when we can. It's how Penny was made after all."

"Is Jaune done yet?" Ruby asked.

"No, he's still holding on, but from what I saw before coming to get you, he's being pushed back too," Winter explained.

"Jaune always was better at video games than me," Ruby let out a soft giggle. "He showed me a lot of tricks I used to beat my sister. She gets so upset because she was under the impression she was unbeatable."

"Being an older sister myself, I can sort of understand her." Winter smiled and her tone betrayed her amusement. "We want to guide and help our younger siblings along, and part of that is showing we know what we're doing, so you'll follow in our footsteps. That doesn't mean we make mistakes though. I look back at things I've done and didn't do with Weiss and regret some of the choices I made. That doesn't mean I don't love her."

"My sister… tended to treat me like a kid far too long," Ruby looked at her feet as she talked, feeling bad with what she said to Yang before she left with her uncle and Jaune. "Eventually, I snapped and said some things I regretted. We did work past it, but I see what you mean. She may have made mistakes in what she did, but she does love me. Sometimes, I forget all the amazing things she does for me when I'm upset."

"Weiss never had that luxury back home," Winter admitted. "We had to keep a strict appearance in front of our father and others. It's one of the many reasons she went to train at Beacon over Atlas. I encouraged her to find herself and make her own decision, even if I would have preferred her staying here."

"You're a good big sister, maybe you can give Yang some pointers." Ruby quickly wiped her eyes when she felt them getting wet.

"If we meet at Vale, just introduce us." A twinkle of amusement was in her gaze.

A short time later, Jaune came out looking tired. When he saw Ruby, he quickly grinned and gave her a thumbs up.

"Hey, looks like I lasted longer than you did, Rubes." Jaune teased light-heartedly.

"Pssh, I probably got more points." Ruby elbowed him in the side. "I was doing great until the game cheated and summoned an infinite horde of Grimm."

"Yeah, I was doing fine until that happened," Jaune admitted, sighing. "I even set up a perfect defense line, but if this game is set up so we'll lose regardless… though there was a problem at the end…"

"Eh, oh well." Ruby shrugged. "It's just a game for us to get feedback and improve. Plus it was fun." Raising her arms, she stretched a bit. "Hope we get to some training or missions or something. I feel like I've been sitting too long."

"Same." Jaune spun his arm around as he stretched himself. "First all day on a Bullhead, now sitting down for tests. It's completely different from what we got used to."

"Then would you like to visit our training rooms?" Winter suggested, understanding where they were coming from. This was a common occurrence for people who spent extended periods of time out in the field. They get restless cooped up in civilization. Since Qrow was planning for them to head out soon enough, it was probably better for them to keep moving so their bodies don't get used to comfort. Constant shock back and forth would only deteriorate their learning. "I didn't get to observe you fight with Tyrian, so if you would like, I could give you my opinion on things to work on."

Jaune and Ruby shared an expression of eagerness.

"Weiss always said you were an amazing Huntress," Ruby told her. "We would love to get some advice."

"Maybe show us something we can use to shock Qrow in our spars and hit him for once." Jaune added.

"Didn't you already get a good hit on him that one time?" The woman asked mildly.

"Er…." Jaune gulped, but Winter didn't seem to be mad at him. If anything, it was an odd combination of amusement and respect in her gaze. "That was a special occasion."

"Hopefully you get more of those. That was a very pleasant surprise." Winter surprised both youths by winking at him. "Follow me. I trust you'll be impressed by our training facilities."

They were indeed.

The Training Room was a giant empty square room with a light blue grid on the floor. Winter explained to the impressed kids that it used Hard-Light Dust to generate cubes that could be placed anywhere in the room. The grid could generate and stack numerous Hard-Light blocks to create walls, platforms, and cover. Virtually any scenario could be represented in this room. Unlike back at Beacon, where they didn't have access to the quantity of Dust.

"I'm sure you're aware during your travels," Winter continued explaining, as Jaune and Ruby went to expect some of the blocks. "That fighting is done on all sorts of terrain. Versatility is an important aspect of any Huntsman or Huntress. Here, we train our students to fight in all environments."

"Yeah, for sure." Jaune nodded, running his hand over one of the cubes. "Fighting Grimm on a muddy cliffside is completely different than a road or clearing."

"I can't swing Crescent Rose when we're inside a dense forest, it's really annoying." Ruby pointed, clutching her weapon. "I have to either lure Grimm out, or swap to her gun mode."

"It takes experience to truly understand how to fight in disadvantageous conditions," Winter informed them simply. "We can go over theory in classes for years, but students still won't fully grasp it until they go out into the field. This training room helps decrease the difference between theoretical knowledge and practical experience."

"A good explanation, Specialist Schnee."

"Clover? I didn't expect to see you here."

"Well, I just got some time to myself and saw the training room active, so thought I would take a look inside."

Clover was a man with short brown hair and teal-green eyes. He wore a sleeveless Atlesian Specialist uniform that consisted of a white sleeveless double breasted coat with red and blue accents, a broad tail with red lining, and a four-leaf clover pin on the lapel. His belt had a rabbit's foot keychain hanging off it. The man also wore white pants and covered his hands with brown fingerless gloves.

"Ruby, Jaune," Winter introduced the man known as Clover to the two students. "This is Clover Ebi, Leader of the Ace Operatives, an elite group of Huntsman and Huntresses that operate directly under General Ironwood. Clover, this is Ruby Rose and Jaune Arc. Two students from Beacon who are in the middle of an apprenticeship with the Huntsman, Qrow Branwen."

"All the way from Vale?" Clover raised an eyebrow. "Interesting. Nice to meet you both."

"Likewise." Jaune shook his hand, noticing how strong and confident the guy seemed, but at the same time, didn't seem to be trying to brag. That was the confidence his mother always told him about. Ruby shook his hand next and seemed eager, as she was bouncing up and down on her feet.

"Are you as strong as my uncle!?"

"No idea, as I never faced him before." Clover laughed. "But I heard a lot of good things about him from the General. He's a top Huntsman for sure." he turned to Winter. "So are these two going to be using the training room?"

"They are a little restless being cooped up after their work in the field, so I was going to spar with them and point out where they can improve while waiting for General Ironwood and Qrow to finish their meeting," The Specialist replied. "It's been going on for a while."

"Tell you what," Clover scratched his chin. "I'm free right now. Why don't I spar with them and you can monitor from the observation deck. It would be easy to critique them when you're on the outside."

"Hmm." The woman considered that for a moment before addressing Ruby and Jaune. "Are you two okay with this?"

"Get to spar with an Atlas Huntsman?!" Ruby gasped. "You bet we are!"

"Hehe, sure." Jaune chuckled awkwardly. "Try not to go too hard on us."

"I'm sure you two can handle it," Clover winked at them. "But to humor you, I'll start off slow and get you all warmed up."

There wasn't any real reason to refuse, because it was obvious Clover knew fighting students wasn't going to be the same as fighting a real enemy. Winter left the room and emerged on the observation deck, a windowed room above them, with computers and sensors monitoring their status. Ruby, Jaune, and Clover slipped their Scrolls into the machine to start. Their Aura levels appeared on the wall to make sure they would stop if someone got too low. Pretty standard procedure for all Huntsman Academies. Winter sat in a chair and waved at them to start.

"Let's give it our all!" Ruby called over to Jaune. Slipping a hand under her cloak, she pulled out her beloved weapon. Clicking the switch, the rifle began to stretch out and elongate, gears turning and segments splitting to reveal Crescent Rose's scythe mode.

"No one would ever dream of telling you to think we will lose." Jaune pulled out Crocea Mors from its sheath on his belt and then used his left hand to swap the sheath into its shield form. What used to require conscious thought now was effortless to the boy. It barely registered in his mind what to do after being forced to draw his blade day after day.

"Huh, that's your weapon?!"

Ruby's shocked voice caused Jaune to focus on the weapon Clover pulled out. They were used to seeing all sorts of weapons at Beacon. From Ruby's scythe, to Yang's gauntlets, to Dust rapiers, swords, hammers, guns, with nearly all of them being mechoshift weapons capable of becoming more than one thing. Clover's weapon appeared to be just an iron fishing pole with a large hook on its tip. The weapon was almost entirely silver in color, and its reel appeared to be stylized like a gun's barrel.

Clover didn't respond except giving Ruby a confident smile. He slung the fishing rod over his shoulder, held out a hand, and gestured for them to make the first move. It was an obvious provocation into a trap, but Ruby and Jaune had no idea what the man's fighting style was, just like he didn't know theirs. Both were going in blind, but Clover was a professional. He was probably used to this and didn't consider the kids a threat.

Ruby wanted to prove him wrong.

Without another word, Jaune charged forward, keeping his shield up. Pulling his arm back, he swung diagonally downwards with enough force that Clover should either have to block step aside to avoid. What the man did instead was move his iron rod at an angle against the side of Jaune's blade, pushing it to the boy's right. Force applied correctly on he side can divert the strongest blows. Jaune realized that while it wasn't a large weapon with sharp edges, it was flexible. Still, Clover's attention was on his attack.

Ruby appeared behind him, swinging downwards with her scythe as she suddenly appeared in a flurry of rose petals. Clover seemed to have just noticed her but there was no way he would be able to react in time. Ruby's speed was unrivaled. What they didn't expect, or even notice, was the hook at the end of the pole. Clover's weapon was a fishing pole after all. With a flick of his wrist, the line came up and hooked onto Ruby's sleeve. As he finished deflecting Jaune's blow, he pulled Ruby to the side, causing her slash to miss.

"Woah!" Ruby cried as she skidded onto the ground and raised her scythe, only to barely stop a slap from Clover's iron pole. The sheer strength sent a shockwave through her arms and pushed her backwards. He was a lot stronger than he appeared.

"Take this!" Jaune yelled, as he pushed forward, throwing his weight behind his shield to unbalanced Clover. He collided with his target, but a Huntsman was used to full size Grimm charges while holding back teeth and claws. Clover countered Jaune's charge by shoving his shoulder back against the shield. Qrow's training took effect and Jaune swung his blade in an arc from below.

It was all for naught.

Clover pivoted his body against Jaune's shield, spinning on one foot to sidestep the attack that harmlessly passed up through the air. He didn't stop there. In a show of just how much experience he had and the difference in skill between a Huntsman and a student, the Ace Op member spun completely around Jaune until he was directly behind the boy. Then he flicked his pole in a mini casting motion, causing the hook on the string to fly up a short distance, before falling back down against the base of Jaune's sword. Jerking the pole once more, the hook wrapped around the metal hilt and connected to the string.

"Here we go." Clover warned, before jumping away, yanking at Jaune's weapon.

Fingers instantly tightened around the hilt. This wasn't a decision made consciously by Jaune. It was made by the pain of remembering what happened during his lessons with Qrow. If that sword slipped out of his hand, Qrow would smack him around a few times as he desperately scrambled to pick it up. While Jaune's mind still wasn't capable of making decisions instantaneously in the heat of battle, his body was already beginning to.

Of course, he had nothing to grab onto as Clover yanked at the line.


Jaune was pulled off his feet. Clover was much stronger than him and knew how to use his weapon to the fullest. Using a fishing pole against Grimm was probably a lot more difficult than against a kid. The string wasn't a typical line either and must have been some special metal to withstand so much force without breaking. There was a moment of air time as he was pulled, followed by skidding along the ground, as Jaune refused to let go of his weapon.

"Not bad," Clover complimented. "Thought for sure I would take your weap-... hey now!"

A deadly scythe blade cut where he would have been if he didn't step to the side. Ruby had attacked when she thought Clover had been distracted. Not that it worked, but the girl didn't expect a single attack to work against a professional Huntsman. She was already spinning her blade around in a circular motion so that every attack was following up almost instantly. Ruby may have been young, but Clover whistled, impressed at the speed and fluidity of her blows.

Sparks flew as Clover used the pole end of his weapon to deflect and parry Ruby's attacks, not wanting to take the hits head on, he would duck, weave, or side step every chance he got, only using his pole when necessary. Pushing at an angle, he was able to deflect each swing with minimal effort. Though, his movements were slightly slower than usual because during all of this, Jaune was still holding the end of the line.

Ruby unleashed a couple circular vertical blows on both sides of Clover, trying to limit his movements. It actually forced Clover to step back to get into position to counter, only to have Jaune pull back at his weapon. The boy had gotten back to his feat and was using both hands to hold on. It was preventing Clover from moving like he wanted. Shaking his head, the Ace Operative made a surprising move and actually stepped forward toward Ruby. That may have seemed insane from an average person's view, but against a scythe wielder? That was actually the best strategy.

Scythes were not good when your opponent was right up against you.

Eye's widening, Ruby was about to zip back, but Clover grabbed her arm. Lifting her into the air, he spun on his right foot and tossed the small girl right at Jaune.



Jaune managed to catch her, somewhat, as they both tumbled backwards across the training room. Clover used the distraction to his advantage and the moment Jaune loosened his grip on the line, Clover pulled it back. A true enemy would have charged forward and kept attacking while the kids were disoriented, but this was only a training session. Still, Jaune and Ruby got back up to their feet pretty quickly, impressing Clover and Winter.

"He's strong." Jaune muttered, shield raised high. "Any ideas?"

"Cheat Code 3?" Ruby suggested.

"Wait, we had a third one?" Jaune tried to remember without taking his eyes off Clover.

"I just thought of it." Ruby whispered from behind him, using Jaune's larger body to escape Clover's sight.

"Are you going to tell me what it is?"

"Sure." Ruby grabbed his wrist holding his sword. "Buff me, white mage."

That was actually a pretty good idea and Ruby wore a smug smirk on her face for coming up with it. They would face plenty of people who had no idea what Jaune's Semblance was. If Ruby yelled out something like 'buff me' or 'use your Semblance,' people would be on guard. As they found out with Tyrian, yelling out 'Cheat Code' confused their opponent. It also wouldn't be giving anything away. Jaune hadn't used his Semblance since back then, but this was a training match, so what time could be better? Focusing, the boy prepared to transfer his Aura to Ruby for her to become the Red Storm once more.

Seconds passed.

"Er… Jaune?' Ruby whispered. "Nothing's happening?"

"I'm trying!" Jaune hissed back.

Clover frowned as he watched. He knew they were up to something and he was going to let them try whatever they were planning. When nothing came, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Pulling his arm back, he cast the line over the kids' heads. The hook bounced off the wall and headed into Ruby's back. Just another advantage of having such a flexible weapon. Latching onto Ruby's cloak, Clover yanked and pulled the unsuspecting fish out from her safe place.

"AHHHHH, help!"

It was too late, Clover dashed forward and collided with Jaune, sending him crashing into a wall, before Ruby even hit the ground. He walked over and put a foot on her stomach, but didn't push down. The gesture was just designed to show he won. Looking up at Winter in the observation box, he waved, indicating the fight was over.

"Not bad,' Winter told them from her observation booth. "I do have some notes for you from watching your fight."

"It wasn't so much a fight, but a slaughter." Jaune groaned, standing up and rubbing his arm. "We couldn't touch him."

"I mean, if two first year students could stop an Ace Op, you would either be immediately promoted or we would be demoted," Clover laughed, twirling his fishing rod as he retracted the line. "We're supposed to be the best of the best. You two have a lot of work ahead of you, but I saw some talent there. Ruby? You're definitely skilled with that scythe, but try to avoid people getting in close."

"Yeah, I usually can with my speed." Ruby giggled nervously, swaying back and forth.

"And Jaune?" Clover continued. "Holding onto your sword shows you had some intense training. Most students would have let go. You not only didn't, but you grabbed the line to hinder me. Excellent strategy."

"T-Thanks." Jaune stammered, not used to being complimented like that.

"What were you two trying to do near the end?" The man asked, looking between them. "I couldn't hear what you were saying."

"I was wondering that too," Winter added through the microphone. "I'm sure both of you are aware that just standing there and doing nothing won't accomplish anything. Can you tell us what you were going to do? I hope you weren't trying to come up with a plan on the spot. As you saw, Clover isn't the type to let that happen."

"We were trying to use Jaune's Semblance to give me a boost since Clover was so strong." Ruby called up. Clover raised an eyebrow at him.

"But I couldn't get it to work." Jaune admitted, shame in his voice.

"Ah, I see." They could see Winter rub her nose. "Lisen, you just unlocked your Semblance. Using it in an actual fight was a very stupid idea. You need to practice using it first."

"What is your Semblance?" Clover couldn't resist asking.

"If Jaune needs practice, then might I suggest practicing now?" A familiar voice interrupted as an orange headed girl stepped up next to Winter in the observation box. "Clover could experience it first hand and we could try to measure Jaune's output while he's here."

"Penny!" Ruby cheered, her voice brimming with excitement. "Are you okay now?!"

"I am operating at 100% efficiency," Penny replied. "Do not fret, Ruby. My father patched me up immediately."

"Penny does have an interesting suggestion." Winter mused. "Clover, do you have a little more time?"

"I can spare a few more minutes." The man shrugged. "Since you won't tell me, my curiosity is aroused."

"What do you want me to do?" Jaune asked.

"Take a few deep breaths and try to recall what you were feeling back when you used your Semblance for the first time," Winter advised. "Take your time and try to recreate that feeling. Once you do, try to transfer your power to Ruby."

"Okay, I'll try." Jaune inhaled and then exhaled slowly. "Try to remember…"

"You got this," Ruby whispered, moving in front of him and lifting his hand to put it on her shoulder. "Just relax."

Under the watchful eyes of Ruby, Winter, Penny, and Clover, nervousness welled up within Jaune. He wasn't used to being observed so intently like this. Closing his eyes, the pressure lessened a fraction as he wasn't focused on them. He could feel his hand on Ruby's shoulder and it actually relaxed him. No matter the outcome, she would support him and help. That eased the burden he was facing. At the same time, Jaune didn't want to keep relying on her. He couldn't keep relying on her. At some point, he needed to step up and take the lead.

Jaune's mind focused on the memories of when he first used his Semblance, like Winter suggested. He had been terrified at losing his best friend. Ruby had been dying and his medical training hadn't been working. Some nausea welled up in his stomach, but he pushed it down. Focusing on what ifs wasn't going to solve anything. Instead, Jaune tried to remember the feeling. The warmth in his hand as his Aura moved through his body. The desire to protect and save.

Something inside of him churned as the strange, yet familiar feeling of warmth moved through his body.

"Jaune… You're doing it." Ruby whispered, stiffening up under his touch.

Jaune opened his eyes and saw his hand glowing. His Aura was flowing out and into Ruby. Looking down, he saw the white light change to red as it joined with the girl's own Aura. The screen on the wall began to beep as Ruby's Aura was rising quickly, while his Aura was going down slowly. Clover noticed this too and watched with surprise as Ruby's gauge reached full, as if she never had lost any . Of course, he wasn't going to stop there.

"Ready for a boost?" Jaune asked.

"You know it!" Ruby winked at him. "I'm going to hit Clover at least once."

Jaune held back his laughter at her eagerness. At the same time, he wanted her to smack that guy around. His confidence sort of annoyed him. During that moment of concentrating on Clover, his hand started to dim and the boy was forced to quickly focus one more. He wasn't used to using his Semblance, so he couldn't get distracted. That was the mistake he made earlier. White light grew brighter as he pushed more Aura into Ruby and the girl began to fidget.

Red lightning crackled on her body as it was flooded with power. The graph on the side of the training room never had to show people's Aura above their normal capacity. It was flickering and jerking around as the bar went above and then below the end of the gauge. Clover's eyes widened in surprise and interest as he watched. Ruby meanwhile felt like she was on a super sugar high. This time, she wasn't injured and could actually enjoy the warmth coursing through her body. The world around her seemed to be slowing down as she bent her knees.

"Prepare yourself, Clover!" Ruby called out.

Jaune removed his hand from the girl and she vanished in a blast of wind and rose petals.

Clover instantly swung his pole, but it ended up as nothing but a whiff when the air swirled around him. The red blur was spinning around the man like a tornado. Wind whipped at his clothes. His free arm was protecting his face while his right raised his fishing rod. Flicking his wrist, the man cast the line, while simultaneously swinging his arm around in a circle. The string and hook only had to touch Ruby to either latch on or entangle her.

Yet nothing was caught. The line went through the red tornado like there wasn't anything solid there. Yet, the blur around Clover didn't falter. Ruby was still running around him. She was somehow dodging his line as she moved. A sudden wack in the back sent him stumbling forward, though he didn't fall. Another blow hit him in the side but, as he swung his weapon, he again only air met his strike.

The wind died down and Ruby stood nearby, grinning.

"How's that for speed?"

"That's pretty impressive," Clover complimented. "You might even be faster than Harriet." Ruby beamed at him and puffed out her chest as Clover turned to Jaune.

Winter meanwhile, was frowning as her eyes traveled to the monitor. Penny had rushed out of the room to go talk to her friends, but something caught Winter's eye. Pressing a button, she began to print out a couple reports.

"You may enter." Ironwood said, hearing a knock on the door. "Winter, I trust everything went fine?"

"The tests on Ruby Rose and Jaune Arc are finished," Winter reported, her eyes falling on Qrow, lazily slung over a chair. "They completed the Leadership Tests, including the simulation, and since we had time, I escorted them to the training room and examined their Semblances. I have their reports here." She set the stack of papers on the desk.

"How did they do?" Qrow asked, picking up a piece of paper, looking at it, then putting it back down. "Give me a summary." Ironwood picked up the packets and began to skim through it.

"I'll start with your niece," Winter replied curtly, sitting down on the other chair across from Ironwood. It was obvious she didn't care for him much. "Miss Rose's test scores were below average, but she did manage to answer some of the questions better than most first years." She passed over a copy of Ruby's test. "Though… both of them gave almost identical answers to Question 7."

"Hmm?" Ironwood flipped through the pages to that section. "A hammock? Interesting. There's no correct answer here, but they seem to have some good reasons. At least they thought it through, which was the point."

While the General was reading some of the answers, Winter was glaring daggers at Qrow. Her anger was so evident, that it wouldn't have surprised either of them if lasers shot out to bring a hole in Qrow's head. The man was currently biting his lip as he tried to keep a straight face. He was too far in. If anyone asked, Qrow would swear on his grave that the hammock was one hundred percent legitimate survival gear.

"Mr. Arc scored slightly higher, and some of his answers were actually well thought out," Winter continued, finally tearing her eyes away from the drunk. "What impressed the graders the most was he wrote down on some of the questions what he would try to do, and then wrote down what he thought he would actually do in the situation. It's rare to see someone so young understand his limits like that."

"Yeah, but that's mostly due to a situation that occurred out in the field," Qrow sighed, leaning back and looking up at the sky. "Would have liked to avoid that, but what can you do when life slaps you in the face?"

"What about the simulation?" Ironwood set down the written test answers. "What did we learn?"

"Miss Rose tends to prefer a direct approach," Winter read from the report. "She was quite skillful in figuring out where to drop strike forces to clear Grimm for expansions and resources. Her biggest weakness is she tends to avoid seeing the big lost a lot of ground by overlooking things. The girl laser focuses on something and ignores what's going on around her."

"Yeah, I've been working on that," Qrow admitted. "Good to know my assessment was correct."

"Taking her age into account, her score wasn't too bad," Winter continued. "Compared to our first years, she's below average. Mr. Arc on the other hand… received an incomplete."

"An incomplete?" Ironwood raised an eyebrow. "Why? Did he decide to stop halfway through?"

"There was a technical issue."

"What kind of technical issue?"

"The simulation crashed."

"What?!" Ironwood pounded the table, making Winter and Qrow jump. "We spent millions of Lien to design that program to take into account even the smallest of details to get a full understanding of students' strengths and weaknesses! Was there a virus or some kind of electronic error?"

"It's…" Winter took a deep breath. "... complicated." The woman rubbed her nose. "Mr. Arc's results were actually very promising. He knew how to simultaneously defend the city while gathering resources. When I asked him if he had done something like this before, he mentioned it reminded him a lot of a tower defense game. I wasn't pleased with the comparison, but I couldn't deny the results."

"I told them to treat it as a game so they wouldn't stress over it," Qrow pointed out, sounding serious for once. "If we made a big deal about it, they would panic and mess up. Both of those brats are used to video games, so might as well use that so they relax and do their best."

"Hmm, that might actually be a good idea." Ironwood contemplated, crossing his fingers together as he leaned back in his chair. "We may have to try that for one class and see if there's any noticeable differences." His eyes narrowed as he recalled the issue at hand. "So what does this have to do with the technical issues?"

"He was doing above average for the first half of the simulation," Winter explained quickly. "But like most of the students, the number of Grimm spawning overwhelms even the best defenses. Mr. Arc was being pushed back and eventually lost Mantle. Atlas was coming under siege when he performed a strategy none of us could predict."

"Which was…?" Ironwood waved his hand for her to continue.

"He… dropped Atlas on Mantle."

Silence followed her statement as Ironwood and Qrow stared at her. Qrow had never actually tried out the simulation, but he knew about the purpose of it . Ironwood had overseen countless students over the years trying their hand at it. Not one of them had ever tried something so absurd. The goal was to protect Mantle and Atlas, not destroy it.

"The moment Atlas fell, he should have lost." Ironwood realized. "Why did that not happen?"

"Because he took advantage of the way everything was programmed," Winter pointed to a line on the printout. "The simulation ends when; all citizens have died. Jaune had a small base that had been abandoned away from Mantle and Atlas. Because there was no one there, no military or civilian, the Grimm didn't attack the base. At the last second, he started to transport the citizens there. When Mantle had been completely overrun with Grimm, Mr. Arc had Atlas fall from the sky, with no one in it. The simulation crashed because it couldn't calculate the number of Grimm killed by that decision while processing the graphics.."

It had been a long time since that woman saw the General looking like he had been slapped.

The silence lengthened until…

"So did he get the high score?"

Winter and Ironwood rounded on the second man in the room. One who could not keep his amusement contained. His lips were pressed together and his eyes sparkled. His body was shaking slightly as he tried his hardest not to laugh.

"This misses the point!" Ironwood found himself shouting before calming down quickly. "The purpose of this simulation is for individuals to defend the kingdom against Grimm."

"Seems like he did just that." Qrow shrugged his shoulders dramatically. "He kept the citizens alive and used cities to stop the Grimm invasion. People can rebuild. Once you're dead, it's over. You designed the parameters in that simulation, not him. If anything, shows how smart that guy is that he abused the rules."

Honestly, the man believed that Jaune was just focused on the high score and not actually the point of the game, but he wasn't going to say it out loud. Seeing Ironwood and Winter unable to argue that was quite a sight. He was going to cherish this memory forever. Winter was the first to find her voice and cough.

"That may be, but his score is still registered as an incomplete. We can't go back and score the Grimm manually."

"You tell him that then, not me." Qrow scoffed.

"Anything else of note, Winter?" Ironwood asked.

"There are also a few things about their Semblances," Winter flipped to the last section of her packet and Ironwood did the same. "Clover Ebi was free and volunteered to spar with them so I could give them notes. I can tell Qrow about that later, as I'm sure he is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the spar, Mr Arc was preparing to use his Semblance to empower Miss Rose by empowering her Aura. However, in the heat of battle, he was unable to. Afterwards, we gave him time to do so and he was eventually able to raise Miss Rose's Aura to far above her normal capacity."

She pointed to a graph on the paper.

"This is what's interesting about his Semblance."

"Wait… is this accurate?" Ironwood frowned. "These numbers indicate…"

"Are you two going to tell me or am I going to be forced to read a report while hung over?" Qrow stated loudly.

"Thanks to Penny's suggestion, we measured the output of Mr. Arc's Semblance," Winter explained. "His Aura reserves are vast, easily 3-4 times that of most students and still growing. Miss Rose has a much more standard Aura value for her age. We were able to measure them in AGU, Aura Generation Units. Mr. Arc is able… to give the person he's amplifying more AGU then he uses up. In the case with Miss Rose, he was using up 1 AGU to give her 2 AGU."

"Okay?" Qrow blinked as he thought about it. "Seems like he was right about being a white mage. Heh, extra output is from his secret mana bar."

"He would be a key asset to teams out in the field…" Ironwood checked out Ruby's charts to see the effect of amplifying Aura. "Was there any side effects to Miss Rose?"

"Eventually, once she calms down, the Aura levels dissipate until she's back to her normal full levels." Winter confirmed. "As far as we noted, there's no side effects."

"Hmm, this is quite interesting." Ironwood mused, leaning back in his chair thoughtfully. "Question. Do you think he can use his Semblance on himself?"

"On himself?" Winter blinked in surprise. The man's question caused her pause as she thought about it. The implications hit her like a truck. "It didn't occur to us… but if he could…"

"Infinite Aura Battery." Qrow beat her to the punch. "Are you shitting me? Why do brats get all the fucking luck! More goddamn work for me now. At least Ruby's Speed is simple enough. She can use that effectively. I only need to focus on Jaune's."

"Yeah, about that." The woman was going to enjoy this as she passed him the packet. "There was some indication that Miss Rose's Speed Semblance… might not actually be speed." Qrow stared at her.

"You're shitting me right."

"I wish I was." It was hard to keep the sing-song tone out of her voice. "But after Mr. Arc amplified her Aura, she performed identical to what she did against Tyrian. This time, she was in a controlled environment we could measure. Clover's weapon passed through her, like literally right through her. As if she was incorporeal."

"What?" Qrow had a hard time processing it. "Did she go so fast her molecules could pass through stuff? Damn… glad Yang doesn't have that. She'll be abusing that all the time."

"We don't know that for sure," Winter held up a hand to stop him. "For all we know, when an individual's Aura is pushed past their maximum amount, their Semblance grows too. Or maybe this is Miss Rose's true Semblance. What do you think, sir?" She addressed the question to Ironwood.

"This would require more testing to be sure," Ironwood muttered, rubbing his chin as he examined the report closely. Sighing, he set the papers down on his desk. "I decided." He slipped his fingers together as he looked at Qrow. "I'll accept Ruby Rose and Jaune Arc into Atlas Academy right now."

"Nice try there, Jimmy." Qrow snorted loudly. "Ozpin would have a word with you trying to pouch students with so much potential."

Feel free to leave a review, comment, suggestions, or ideas, I love reading them. If you have a question you wish to ask and would like a quick answer, feel free to message me directly. I try to respond to those within a day or two. Comments, I tend to respond to in the next chapter.

I finally got to get to something I wanted to do for a while. Looking at Jaune's Semblance and how it can affect others. We saw in the show that using it on Weiss in Mistrial, she was able to summon the Queen Lancer and seem to be stronger than she ever was normally. With Ren, he was able to shroud the entire train in Atlas with his Semblance to hide emotions. Then there was a point during their training in Atlas, Jaune was able to recover hsi Aura to full in a few seconds. There's a lot more than just healing people. Thanks to Tyrian, Jaune's going to have the chance to examine it in full.