So this story takes place shortly after RWBY Episode 13, and is essentially my personal take on how the season will finish. Jaune and Pyrrha feature heavily throughout the story, but Ruby and Weiss, and a little something involving Yang and Blake will be included as well. Hope you like it. Please criticize. Please review. It helps. :)
Beacon Academy, the Kingdom of Vale.
"Combat is a unavoidable concept to a Hunstman or Huntress." Glynda looked up from the scroll at the gathered students either sitting or standing in the vast auditorium, lifting a slender hand to adjust her glasses a little and to move a curled bang out of her vision. She ignored the idiotic leers a few of the less... cultured students directed her way, having gotten used to those looks over the years by way of copious bodily injury directed at those involved. "This you already know well."
Looking up from her scroll, she scanned the groups at the fore, standing before the uniform clamshell edge of the stage she stood on. The girls eagerly awaited her every word, even catching Ruby's attention, to her own surprise. "And with the tournaments fast approaching, you will need to keep at your best to show the other academies why the best and brightest come to Beacon."
Next to them Lie Ren stood, rigid and patient as Nora bounced and hopped around nearby, poking his cheeks or blowing her cheeks out as she rocked back on forth on her feet. Pyrrha kept her gaze at all times, quietly watching her while next to the strong and resourceful girl Jaune tried his best to pay the same level of attention, finding it hard to do so with Cardin Winchester so close nearby.
"As such, these sessions will run even during the Vytal festival, where you'll get the opportunity to test yourself against students from the other Kingdoms. I also suggest you brush up on your dancing if you also want to attend the Ball."
To Glynda's curiosity, Jaune averted his eyes whenever Pyrrha glanced at him.
Filing away the observation for later she cleared her throat, the noise carrying loudly in the room. "As supervisor of these events it is my purpose to evaluate your individual skills and mindsets, to guide you on improving yourself so that you will survive in the field, and improve the odds of your team's survival with your own."
"Ms Xiao Long, and Ms Nikos will be the first pair for today's lesson." She nodded at the bubbly and tall blonde restlessly shifting her footing standing next to Blake, and then at Pyrrha as she resolutely nodded in response. "Girls. If you will."
Glynda swept her hand as she walked off to the side, stepping over a slightly raised line of the stage that slowly flickered to life, being impregnated with a soft blue light as the twin viewscreens hanging over the stage flickered to life.
Pyrrha worked on timing her breathing as she stepped onto the stage, resisting the urge to look back and see how Jaune was doing as she walked past Professor Goodwitch, smiling at the tall blonde woman as she passed by. She gave a stoic nod in response.
Above the two statistics bars and gauges flared to life, and a picture of them came on.
Coming to a stop on the periphery of the floor contained inside the glowing blue ring, she rolled her shoulders and took Miló. The floodlights bathing the stage glinted off the bright red metal of the sharply angled blade, the edges of which were colored a vivid golden hue, easily catching most of the light.
Her fingers moved on the red and gold handle as she worked on removing her shield from the magnetic harness sewn to the back of her cuirass. A calming sensation flowed through her with the familiar heaviness of Milo and Akouo protecting her, like they did her parents.
Across from her Yang held a devilish grin as she fully extended her arms outwards, cracking a kink in her neck as golden plates slid to cover her forearms from the elbow in segments, the backmost of which ending in pointed tips poking out past her elbows. The heavy-looking gauntlets finished in twin brass barrels resting on the top of her wrists, festooned with a ring of buckshot shells just behind her wrists feeding into the receivers.
"Ready when you are, Pyrrha!" Yang called out, brushing a series of stray locks from her eyes despite the unwieldy weapon covering her hand.
She followed custom, bowing to the wild beauty while wearing a slight smirk that wasn't custom. "After you, Yang-"
Yang slammed the points of the golden gauntlets together with a ringing metallic peal and pulled her arms back, settling into a runner's stance. "Let's do this!"
Flames shot out of her gauntlets with explosive force, a shell from each one the only thing she left behind as Yang launched into the air with a right hook directed at Pyrrha's shoulder.
She immediately leaned in the opposite direction, darting underneath Yang just before she touched the ground and thrusting the bronze face of her shield upwards. Yang chuckled and placed her palms on the shield to steady herself for a moment before springing over Pyrrha's head, flinging a hand out to grab the end of her fierce red ponytail.
Pyrrha grunted as her finger brushed a sensitive point on Miló, and the sword instantly responded by thinning and growing longer, where the handle telescoped into the floor inbetween Yang's legs with a clang. Dipping to the side, Pyrrha managed to sweep out Yang's legs from underneath her, only to get a glancing blow from one of her gauntlets in the side, sending her world spinning.
Yang fired into the ground and launched upwards again to get some space between her and Pyrrha's jabbing thrusts, carefully tracking broad spearhead as it snapped forwards then back.
She suddenly grinned, putting Pyrrha off-balance as her hand shot out and got a firm grip on the pole just underneath the spearhead. Pyrrha yelped as the bucking and shifting pole nearly got wrenched out of her hands while Yang swung herself on it, around and around as Pyrrha fought to keep her in her sights.
A thought went through Pyrrha as she tipped backwards, falling back on the floor to the murmurs of the gathered students and to Nora's loud cheering. She kept the spear upright as it fell with her. Yang lost her grip, tumbling to a stop a short distance away.
Pyrrha leapt back up, ignoring the sweat gathering on her skin as she swung Milo around her body before sweeping it over her head in a downwards slash at Yang as she began to recover from the fall. Yang's eyes widened and her arms covered her head, the head of Pyrrha's spear being stopped cold by her gauntlets.
Metal grinded against metal as the two girls fought to gain the advantage, when the buzzer sounded and the ring of light around them flashed red for a few seconds.
Breathing heavily, Pyrrha stumbled back from Yang and sheathed Milo and Akouo, immediately extending a arm to help the other girl to her feet. Also breathing heavily, Yang had a little smirk on her as the two of them stood side by side, while Professor Goodwitch stopped in front of them, looking down at her scroll. "Neither of your aura's dipped into the red." Glynda nodded. "Impressive."
Yang's shoulders heaved up and down as she nodded eagerly at the woman's faint praise, lightly punching Pyrrha in the shoulder with a wink in her direction. "Nothing to it, Professor."
"I would suggest to your team leaders that they place both of you in the role of dealing and taking the most punishment from opponents. You both have remarkable endurance and stamina." the Professor gestured at the edge of the stage and the two girls walked past her.
"I think I won that." Yang whispered in Pyrrha's ear."
"I believe we are equally matched, Yang." Pyrrha whispered back, smiling at her as they approached Ruby, Weiss and Blake.
Yang immediately moved to stand next to the dark-haired girl, folding her arms with a pleased expression on her while Ruby whispered a series of excited cheers. Weiss rolled her eyes, giving a faint smile to Pyrrha just before she moved off to rejoin Jaune and the others.
She expected to see some kind of reaction from him, but instead he kept a neutral expression, concentrating intently in the direction of the stage. Pyrrha raised a eyebrow and looked over her shoulder, concern surfacing immediately at the sight of Jaune's portrait on one screen and Cardin Winchester's on the other.
"Mr Winchester. Mr Arc. You're up."
Pyrrha watched in horror as the tall youth shouldered his way past the other students with his broad shoulders, a slightly bored look on him mixed with a level of excitement as he moved onto the stage, sauntering into the fight circle with the baroque-styled iron head of his absolutely massive mace resting easy on his shoulder. Jaune kept his eyes on the floor as he moved past Pyrrha, not even looking at her or responding to Ruby's puzzled expression.
Once he got onto the circle he drew his sword and removed his collapsible shield from his hip, the contraption expanding into a small kite shield with a crescent moon emblazoned on the front. He held up his sword, keeping the tip straight as he pointed it right at Cardin.
Cardin chuckled lazily as he rolled his shoulder, 'accidentally' bumping the mace off his shoulder and slamming the heavy iron head into the floor with a deep ding, resounding across the vast auditorium.
The students began to whisper as Jaune flinched slightly, gritting his teeth and reaffirming his grip on his sword. Pyrrha kept silent, bowing her head at the memory of the night before, his refusal of her help.
Despite trying to keep herself from watching the short yet brutal mismatch, her green eyes flicked up, tracking Jaune as he desperately and narrowly avoided Cardin's meteoric swings and sweeps, jabbing and slashing futilely with his own in a few agonizingly sloppy attempts to slow him.
Pyrrha's eyes widened at one point in the fight, while Ruby cried out in alarm when Cardin chuckled as Jaune slipped up and dodged the wrong way or moved too late, slamming the thick flanged iron right into the blonde boy's chestplate, cracking it in several places and knocking all the wind out of him as he dropped like a fly onto the floor, curled in the fetal position with his eyes screwed shut.
Cardin swung his mace downwards at Jaune's exposed body, and Pyrrha's hand automatically shifted to grab Milo from her back, ignoring the curious murmuring and gasps of alarm from the students behind her as it lengthened out to a javelin. Pyrrha loosed, and the crimson spear's point hit home inside the twisted iron cage of the head of Cardin's mace, having been thrown with enough force to force it out of the larger boy's grip and drop with a booming clang behind him.
She narrowed her eyes in response to the absolutely furious glare on Cardin, her hands tightening into fists when Ren's hand pulled her back. "Pyrrha. Stop!"
Glynda shot a look at her as she stormed out onto the field, tapping the scroll furiously as the ring pulsed red and the alarm blared to signal the end of the fight. "Enough, Mr Winchester! Your opponent is defeated! You have won!"
"Not until I beat her into the-"
"Finish that sentence and you will be dismissed entirely from Beacon." Glynda glanced at Jaune as he picked himself up, a hand on his side and a few bruises and scratches all over his face. "Mr Arc. Retire from the field."
"I said move. You're lucky for Ms Nikos's assistance."
Pyrrha's voice deserted her as she watched Jaune nod and silently turn from Professor Goodwitch while her attention went back to Cardin. When Jaune came close she took a step towards him, but Jaune shook his head.
Jaune grumbled as Nora leaned forwards across the table and waved her hand in front of him for some strange reason only known to her. And possibly Lie Ren. He stabbed the thick sausage on his plate several times in succession, getting a look from Weiss as she deftly and carefully sliced her own food into neat slices, scraping her silverware clean each time. "What happened to eating properly, Jaune?"
He shrugged as he stared down at his plate, continuing to stab the prongs into the sausage until the thick and glossy skin was riddled with small pinpricks.
Weiss scowled at his behavior, pushing her own plate away and folding her arms. On the other side of her Yang slowly inched her hand onto the table towards the exposed food, while Blake quietly chuckled behind the cover of her book.
Loosing a sigh and throwing a look at Yang not to steal her food, she turned to the crestfallen boy, wincing a little at the level of bruising on his jaw and cheeks. "Look Jaune, I've met countless guys like him. They won't back off unless you do something decisive. He's your run of the mill blockhead. Easy to deal with."
"Uh huh." Weiss rolled her eyes, turning her attention back to her plate only to narrow them at the lack of venison she so savored, glaring up at Yang and flailing her arms while the tall girl easily kept the meat slice out of her reach with her long arms, patting Jaune's shoulder as she stopped at the other side of the table, squatting down. She winked at Weiss and stuck her thumb out at her. "Yeah. Weiss is right. Guys like that never learn unless you kick their ass!"
"Guys... like that?" Jaune glanced at Yang as her cheeks colored.
Yang cleared her throat, gulping down the last of the meat and playing with her hair as she muttered something and looked away, going back to her seat.
Jaune leveled a curious look at her before looking back to his food, while Ruby slammed her fist down on the table, ignoring Weiss's shocked yelp. "Listen, whatever you have to do, it has to be soon. Otherwise he'll never leave you alone!"
Blake looked up from her book, interrupted. She leaned backwards on the seat to look past the backs of Yang and Weiss at Jaune. "Or you could just avoid him. Or break him."
Yang's eyebrow raised as she glanced at Blake, who started to blink furiously and hurriedly go back to her book. "Wow." Yang said.
"Thank you, Blake... thank you, everyone." Jaune muttered, bowing his head and loosing a sigh.
Nora saw this and stood up to her full height, only standing a head above Lie Ren as he calmly ate his food. "He's a big guy, so it's not just his legs you need to break! Ribs too! Oh, and some fingers!"
"That's enough, Nora." Lie Ren pulled her back down.
"Okay, that's a little bit overboard, Nora-" Jaune went to chuckle as a large shadow fell over his plate. He stiffened, turning around in his seat to stare up at Cardin's barrel chest.
Before Jaune could react, Cardin clapped his shoulder before moving to the other side of the table, returning the glares everyone directed at him while stopping over Pyrrha as she held a resolute gaze on her. His smile widened as he folded his arms, nodding at the girl's exposed arms and bare shoulders. "Those arms of yours have got some nice moves, Nikos."
"What do you want, Cardin?"
"Just a chat..." The big guy smirked lazily at Pyrrha, and she blinked twice and looked away, not liking the looks he gave her.
Something in Jaune growled. He dropped his fork and pushed away from the table. Cardin barely noticed that he had stopped behind his shoulder. "Step away from her."
"Oh. You're here."
Cardin winked at Pyrrha, putting a unwanted sensation down her spine as she watched the brute turn around and loom over Jaune. She watched as he gritted his teeth, refusing to take a step back. "You and me, Cardin! We're settling this!"
Jaune glanced at Pyrrha, steeling himself as he waited for Cardin to mull it over, heart beating a furious pace.
"Alright. Another beatdown!" Jaune fought a gulp back down as yet again Cardin's finger, almost as thick as two of his own poked him in the chest, making him stumble back a bit. "Where do you want me, scrawny?"
"Uh-" His eyes flicked over to Pyrrha's as she shook her head and all of a sudden he managed to clear his throat and give a confident nod. He faced up to Cardin, ignoring Pyrrha. "The Southern Terrace."
Cardin grinned and took another step forward, making Jaune lose his footing, Cardin noticed with a smirk. "I'll be there. We'll see if you do your family proud, Arc."
Paralysed internally, Jaune's thoughts immediately dragged him down as Cardin walked away, rejoining his team as they waited nearby.
Once the jeering pack had returned to their table, his thoughts slowly came back. And he realised just what he had agreed to.
Blake looked up from her book with a tight smile, her fingertip resting lightly on the corner of the current page. "It was nice knowing you."
Pyrrha had stayed quiet during all of this. She frowned, rubbing her elbows as she failed to stop her concern from showing on her features. "Be careful, Jaune." she muttered to herself.
Jaune finally let himself gulp.
"There. He should have committed to that riposte. Instead he tried a roll."
"Prudent planning, countering a mace-user is never advised. They will simply outweigh you."
"Right." Glynda narrowed her eyes as she moved towards the stained glass window behind Ozpin's highbacked chair, watching as the sun slowly settled below the stretch of sparkling golden water separating the Academy from Vale proper.
Behind her Ozpin stroked his chin as he watched Jaune and Cardin's fight continue, even as the blond-haired boy's movements lagged at every turn while Cardin held a easy smirk as his confidence only grew with each thunderous swing. Ozpin's eyebrow crinkled at the sight of the simple longsword the boy struggled to keep a grip on as he rolled around in desperation "He's quick on his feet." Ozpin observed.
Glynda loosed a frustrated grunt. "Yes. But quick feet aren't the only factor in a battle."
"What about the encounter with the Nevermore both teams had in the Emerald Forest? Jaune showed a cool head and collected thought against overwhelming odds."
"Which was strangely absent against the Death Stinger that followed him and Ms Nikos to the others, endangering their lives."
Ozpin nodded and held his hand out to her. "True. But that doesn't diminish his potential. Or are you basing your opinion on his performance in the classroom against a individual such as Cardin Winchester?"
"That's not it, Oz. Look-" Glynda unfolded her arms and turned away from the window, tossing the scroll onto the corner of Ozpin's cluttered desk, disturbing the Mistrallan Owl sitting on its perch. Ozpin tilted his head and looked up at her with a arched eyebrow. Glynda narrowed her eyes. "A boy like that just doesn't fit his transcript. Both Professor Port and Professor Oobleck have reported that he doesn't even grasp several fundamental concepts of being a huntsman."
Ozpin smirked. "Oh? I've been told he as a substantial aura. In fact almost as strong as the heroes that-"
"That delivered us from Grim." Glynda sighed. "I know."
"So what's the issue?"
Glynda rolled her eyes at her old friend's glibness and grimaced. "I just don't want the boy to put himself in harm's way chasing after a life he is unsuited for."
"Your concern is noted, Professor Goodwitch." Ozpin laced his hands together, giving a firm nod. "I'll keep a eye on him, for the moment."