I don't know why but I started getting less reviews for my chapters. It's kind of a let down since the reviews are one of the things that I look forward to when posting chapters because they help me understand the story's weaknesses as well as my own flaws in writing so I can get better. I guess my opinions kinda alienated some of the readers.
Also, to answer your question, Weary: not really. It's actually based on the drawings made by Kuon, which depict an AU where Corrupt Huntsmen starts infecting others and it all started with a drawing of Corrupt Cardin taking Nora and Pyrrha while killing Jaune and Ren and it escalates from there. The drawings are some of the most Grimdark stuff that I have ever seen for RWBY fanart, especially since one of them involves Corrupted Ruby with nails in her eyes which are on her hands ala Event Horizon style, though I would give the artist credit for making it look so dark yet somehow good.
Also, to a guest reviewer who asked about Blake: To be honest, I don't really have anything against Blake, I don't hate her but I don't really like her either, the same is true for the rest of Team RWBY. As for why many write her like that, I think it's because we don't really see her interacting with Jaune much and don't really know what she thinks of him in the earlier Volumes, but most believe her opinion of him isn't good or that she is neutral of him, which is kinda in character for her.
Something strange happened a few days after posting the last chapter. I looked up Deconstruction on TV Tropes and to my surprise, found Yang, Jaune, Pyrrha, Qrow and Ozpin having their own entries. While I understand Qrow since he is a drunk and Ozpin since he is, well, Ozpin, as well as Yang since after Volume 3 she changed drastically, I didn't really understand Jaune and Pyrrha. Jaune being a 'Butt Monkey' and lampshading it in Vol 1 doesn't really seem like a deconstruction. Then again, given how things go for him and how he seemed to act around Volumes 1-3 as well as later Volumes, I guess it's not a stretch to say that he is a 'Deconstructed Character Archetype'. Don't know what to say about Pyrrha though.
Anyway, all of that aside, this chapter will be both an intermission and a reaction to one of my favorite fanfics. I don't think I can do them separately, plus I think it would be a good idea.
Chapter 13: Intermission-A Second Chance
This chapter is beta read by: BlackJackHero.
When Ruby Rose heard Ozpin say that he would accept her into Beacon Academy, with her sister to boot she believed it to be too good to be true.
When she met Blake and Weiss, she thought her days would be both awesome and weird given what kind of team she had.
When her team along with Sun and Neptune helped take down Roman and the stolen Paladin she believed it to be the most awesome adventure she ever had.
All in all, she believed that with her team she would have the craziest and best adventures she could ever think of.
But she never thought that when she met Jaune Arc, her first and best (boy) friend, that she would have any crazy stories with him. She liked her friend, he always helped her and she did admire how he had a drive to improve. Although she was confused on certain things, she always considered him a good friend.
She never thought she would get caught in an accident that got her team and NPR into a different dimension with a powerful being because of him though.
'I suppose I shouldn't blame him though. He just wanted answers, we all panicked and now we are all here.' Ruby thought to herself as she walked along the halls of Watcher's fortress. The dimly lit halls and being alone allowed her to drift in her thoughts. With the others deciding to train, especially Yang and Nora, she decided to take a stroll around the place.
"No annoying puns from Yang, no snarky and whiny comments from Weiss and no emo talk from Blake. I should take more strolls like these, especially when girls get me in trouble or become annoying." Ruby muttered as she walked aimlessly, using the break to rethink everything she saw.
It felt so surreal. To know that some things that they believed to be impossible are pretty much an everyday thing for other worlds, the things they saw made her reconsider some of her decisions, such as their battle with Torchwick, the supposed deaths and injuries they inflicted, not to mention the constant 'what ifs' that floated in her head after hearing Watcher's words.
'You may think it won't matter if you decide to disobey an order, but when people do that, half the time the results are disastrous.'
Come to think of it: did she and her team get in trouble when they did that? She remembered Glynda being frustrated, angry even, after they returned from that particular adventure and seemed to be particularly vicious on some lessons regarding combat and strategy. At one point, after a lesson, she put her in detention due to Yang getting into trouble and as her team leader, she had to be responsible for her actions.
That particular detention she ended up getting a scolding from Glynda who berated her for an hour on being 'unable to keep her team in check', 'disobeying orders', 'creating problems', then she had to do some things around the class and even after it ended, she ended up receiving extra homework that she had to spend an overnight to finish.
She never thought much of it, after all, Jaune frequently got detentions due to Nora and she had seen Coco get in detention once or twice, so she thought that Miss Goodwitch simply had a bad day. Now as she thought over her actions, she reconsidered what happened. Did Miss Goodwitch really put her in detention because of Yang or was it her punishment for blindly rushing in without help to take down a dangerous criminal along with a terrorist organization with only two people as backup? Not to mention the many ways it could have gone horribly wrong? They did nearly lose Yang in that fight after all.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn't notice how she entered a room until she bumped her face into something heavy and made from stone.
"Ow, gotta watch where I'm going." She said to herself as she rubbed her forehead and looked up at what she ran into. Surprise in her eyes as she saw that it is a statue, but not any just a simple statue, but one of Summer Rose. The white paint on the cloak and the unmistakable symbol on the belt were a dead giveaway. Several things confused her though, the first was the weapon, a halberd with a gun barrel at the tip and a handle near the middle, the second was the outfit, looking nothing like her mother's huntress outfit, lastly was the writing on the bottom.
"The swords of our Fathers, the swords of our children." Ruby read, before looking up at the statue. Confusion on her face as she moved away from it and saw many different statues behind it.
"Looking a little lost?" A voice startled her as she looked behind her and saw Watcher standing with his arms crossed.
"Oh, it's you." Ruby sighed in relief as she looked at the statues, "Yeah, I guess I'm lost. What is this place? And what's with a statue of mom?"
Watcher moved towards it and pointed at the writing.
"One of the many alternate universes, unlike others that you saw, these ones are about your Remnant, or rather how it would have been different yet the same. You can see the differences right away but these are only the surface of the iceberg."
Ruby had a look of surprise as she looked over the statue again.
"This world is called 'REMNANTS' if you are curious, pretty interesting how different yet the same it is." He moved away from it before gesturing to her to follow. Ruby did so and saw that many statues were ones of her, her team, Grimm and sometimes JNPR.
"Why are these statues here?" She wondered as Watcher chuckled.
"These ones depict universes in which Remnant is the same as the Prime World's. They began to exist after a…unfortunate event changed everything in the Prime World. We put the statues here for they serve as creative works. In other words, they are inspirations." They passed a statue of Ruby holding a much bigger Crescent Rose.
"Inspirations for what?" Ruby asked.
"For alternate stories, for different events, for creative decisions and for," he sighed as he said the last word, "Fix it stories." She raised an eyebrow at the last words before Watcher cleared his throat.
"Anyway," He snapped his fingers and they appeared in another section of the fortress, this time in a gallery as Watcher turned to her, "You have questions right?" Her eyes widened before she facepalmed.
"Right, you are all powerful, you can read minds." He nodded as she sighed.
"Well, I do have a lot of questions since we came here but I'll ask the most important one: what exactly are you?"
Watcher stood still as Ruby looked at him with a raised eyebrow and crossed arms.
"You'll have to elaborate lest you get a cryptic answer." He told her as Ruby sighed.
"I mean, who are you? You are the most confusing person I have ever met. One minute you are telling us things will be better, next you tell us things can't be better. One minute you are being a happy go lucky deity who enjoys messing with us and the next you are a super serious guy who warns us cryptically as if things will go bad the moment we come back. Perhaps the most confusing thing here is that somehow, you feel familiar, as if I met you before and I don't understand that." Ruby breathed a sigh of relief as she said what she wanted to say and waited for his answer.
Watcher simply stared at her, his glowing eyes seemingly looking at her soul before he brought his hand to his masked chin.
"Who am I? I'm a man taken from his world to watch over Remnant's multiverse after the previous one retired. I live here for who knows how long, doing Watcher knows what until they find a replacement for me. My mind is messed up, my personality is suppressed, my memories constantly remind me who I am so that I don't become a shell. I speak cryptically because if I say everything at once, your mind might break and you might pull your world into a worse chaos than the one that might happen." He explained while walking around her as Ruby had a raised eyebrow at his words.
"As for the last part," He stopped and chuckled, "If you think you met me before, that means you did meet me before, in fact you know me and Reaper quite well. You just need to figure out who we are." He leaned back on a wall while Ruby frowned at his words, hating the cryptic words.
'Why can't people just say things outright rather than be cryptic? It would save so much time.' She thought to herself.
"I'm pretty sure you have other questions, so ask before we have another viewing." Ruby shook her head before looking back at him.
"Well, ever since I got here, I couldn't help but feel that something's wrong with me." He blinked in surprise.
"Why would you think that?" She looked nervous and looked around, almost like something stalked her.
"Well, after the first three worlds, I began to hear a voice in my head." His eyes narrowed at her words, "It keeps telling me things. Things that I don't like and don't understand and when I tell it to stop it keeps getting louder, not by much but I can feel it."
Watcher walked up to her and looked directly in her eyes. Ruby awkwardly looked up, as his eyes seemed to shine.
"What did it say to you when you first heard it?" Ruby looked down on the ground.
Ruby stared in horror as the shark took Port's remains to the sea, seeing Jaune being the only one left. She heard Watcher's words regarding Aura, how they had it easy since they unlocked it, how they would never again understand the struggles of a normal human when they hunt, seemingly harmless, to Huntsmen, predators.
'What's wrong? Did your bubble burst after seeing that?' A voice said in her head as Ruby jumped slightly.
"Wha? Who?" She whispered looking around.
'Don't bother. Only you can hear me.' The voice replied as Ruby calmed down.
'What are you?' She asked.
'Did that open your eyes you child? Do you finally see the truth?' It asked again as Ruby frowned.
'What are you talking about?' She asked before cheering as she saw Jaune blow up the shark. She didn't hear the voice anymore and simply assumed it to be her imagination.
"You should have told me." Watcher said as Ruby looked away.
"I didn't think it would be a big deal." He sighed and leaned back to give Ruby some privacy.
"Did it say anything else during the other viewings?"
"Yeah, during the one with 'Rose'…"
'What's wrong Red? Can't handle the truth?' The voice taunted her as Ruby brought her knees to her chest and kept herself hidden within her hood.
'Shut up.' Ruby thought back as her eyes seemed to shine.
'Why? Because it's the truth? Face it, everything that she said is true, you don't have any empathy and you want to know why?'
'Shut up!' Ruby screamed back in her mind as her team sat around her with Yang trying to hug her.
'Yeah, do it. Hide again you damn sociopath. That's the only thing you can do, hide behind the façade of happiness when things go wrong, hide behind your sister because you can't socialize, hide behind your skills because you are worthless everywhere else!'
'Shut it!' She hugged her knees harder as her eyes kept shining, not enough to be seen but enough for Watcher to notice.
'Or what? What will you do? Suppress me with your perpetual happiness? Mute me out because you can't handle the truth? Push everything aside again because that's the only way you know how to deal with all of this?'
'Stop. No more.' Ruby pleaded as Ruby on screen woke up and denied what happened.
'This isn't over Red, not by a long shot.'
"Hmm, it seems the effects that world had must have amplified the voice? Any other times that it tried that again?" She looked down before looking up.
"Once when we watched that world with Servants…"
'Why so surprised? You knew it would reach that point one way or another.' The voice said as Ruby clenched while watching the Jaune of that world be thrown away for some stranger by his team and friends. Worst of all was that she was among them and it hurt, it really hurt how she betrayed him for simple cookies.
'What are you talking about?' She asked the voice as she saw Jaune go to the Emerald Forest to prove his worth.
'Your dismissal of him. Watcher said it best didn't he? Humans throw away anyone they considered a friend for someone better and never look back on that friend again. Just like how you throw away a weapon when an upgrade presents itself.'
"I wouldn't-I would never do that.' She replied back, sick of the accusations.
'Really? Just like how you left everyone on Signal when an opportunity came to get to Beacon? All those people who liked you, you used them as stepping stones just like how your slutty sister likes to change boyfriends. I wonder if you'll do the same to Penny?'
'I did NOT and I will NOT!' She shouted back as R appeared and sat down next to them, watching and tearing at the two teams.
'What does she know? He is my friend, I would never leave him.' Her anger at the voice was forgotten for a moment in favor of anger at R.
'That's not what this world is showing Red~ Face it you really don't care for him, he is just a stepping stone for you once you formed RWBY and met NPR. Best Friend, how laughable! He could be replaced or act out of character and yet you would never see the difference because to you he is just a weak boy trying to be a hero.'
'He is not! He is one of the best people I know! So what if he is weaker than us? That doesn't mean anything!' She argued back only to hear laughing coming from it.
'Oh you poor naïve child. You truly have no idea do you?'
'What are you talking about?' She asked as R seemingly broke Pyrrha with her words before telling her team to stop acting. She leapt in their defense, saying that he was their friend as well before R told her the truth as she looked at her team with wide eyes.
'You see it now don't you? They don't care about him as much as you do, they would never even consider were it not for you because to them who the person is doesn't matter. So long as they can fight then they are worth something, so long as they can put up a fight, any other point is null.'
'You're wrong.' Ruby replied as the voice laughed.
'Am I? Look at them Red! Do you honestly tell me that you see three great girls here?! Because all I see are a trio of condescending bitches who only care about external strength, who will gladly abandon someone if someone new comes along. How long will it be until they do the same to you? How long will it be until they find someone better to replace and forget you?'
'That won't happen!' She shouted at the voice.
'Naïve little Rose, it's amusing how you keep denying it all. But the walls are cracking and when they break, I will be there.'
'What are you talking about? What walls?' The voice did not respond, only giggling ominously.
"O…kay. That's something," Ruby looked away as Watcher held back a chuckle, "It seems that your doubts just got out of control. It happens when in a place like this. I suggest you try to reflect on everything that happened and try to get it under control."
"Will it work?" She asked, as she looked up.
"Probably. If I'm right then that voice appeared because you began to doubt your abilities and yourself as well. The following viewings must have either empowered it or allowed it to prey on your weaknesses. Then there is the question if others have the same problem as you."
Ruby had a worried look as Watcher narrowed his eyes while looking somewhere else.
"Would that really happen?"
"In a place like this and within the multiverse itself? Chances are 50/50 but I'll look into it. Any more questions?" Ruby bit her lip, looking down before she looked up at him.
"Just one. If Jaune is the survivor as you say then why is he so untrained?" To her, it didn't make sense how someone like him who had a warrior family line seemed so underwhelming, especially with the worlds they watched. Watcher's eyes widened slightly before he rubbed the back of his hood.
"Honestly, it's partially because of Jaune himself but mostly due to his father and his lineage." Out of all the answers, that one she didn't expect. His father and his lineage? Not to mention Jaune himself? What the heck did any of that mean?
"What does his lineage have to do with this?" He looked away.
"Because of…You know what, I think it's better that I don't tell you right now. Just like with your mother's line, you gotta find out on your own." He began to walk away, "I will teleport you to the watching room when we begin."
"No, wait!" Too late, he disappeared leaving her alone, confused more than ever.
Whilst Ruby wandered around the fortress, half of her team spent their time in the training room, using the same difficulty as before but also using their weapons with upgrades. The results were different…but not by much.
"Damn it!" Yang cursed as her opponent began delivering a barrage of kicks and punches, her gauntlets absorbed most of the impact and saved her a bit more aura but it still pushed her back as she began to fire. The double barrels of her gauntlets proved to be efficient as the added firepower not only pushed the droid back but also added more recoil, which only served to fuel her Semblance.
"Gah!" She gasped as her opponent closed in, delivering a vicious roundhouse kick followed by a sucker punch, putting her down and throwing her back. She stood up and fired behind her, overshooting as the drone timed a kick and sent her up before punching her away.
Unfortunately, the upgrades came with problems as well, the added recoil also pushed her forward faster and further than expected and the shells ran out faster as well. Plus, fighting with gauntlets covering her entire forearm just wasn't the same as fighting with their old form.
Still, she wasn't about to give up because of that and kept on going as her partner ran out of aura from fighting her own opponent. The chains proved to be more difficult than the ribbon and she breathed a sigh of relief as the droid stopped and went back to its place.
"Woohoo!" Looking over the excited voice, Blake saw Nora still fighting her drone. The hammer maiden utilized both the blunt end and the axe upgrade, blocking the axes with her own and attacking with it and using the grenade launcher to catch it off guard and slam the hammer down on it.
"Well, she's certainly having fun." She muttered as she rolled her shoulder. The chains were certainly heavier to swing around, not to mention attaching it to the weapon also made it trickier to fight. Still, she appreciated the upgrade as her companions kept fighting until Nora's aura ran out, leaving only Pyrrha and Yang on the field.
"Had enough?" She asked Nora as they both stood on the sidelines to catch their breaths with bottles of water next to them.
"Yep," The Valkyrie replied as she chugged her water, "I tell ya, I never thought it would be fun to fight with a hammer-axe-grenade launcher. Wish I went to Ruby sooner to discuss the upgrade."
Nora wiped the sweat on her face with the towel nearby, the two watched their best combatants fight the droids, trying their best to damage them but only doing minimum as opposed to the beating they took from them. Every time Yang got the advantage with her gauntlets the droid switched to kicks and any time she tried the same, it switched back to hand to hand. She tried to utilize only kicks but the drone kept outclassing her.
Pyrrha fared better but not by much as the droid she fought didn't respond to her Semblance, every time she knocked the shield off it either head butted her, punched her or kicked her before delivering a quick strike or two with the sword. Every time she knocked the sword off, it used the heater shield to bash on her own and even used it to hit her in the face and torso or even simply throw it down to catch her off guard. Even if she knocked off both of them, she didn't give up and simply used hand to hand combat or used dirty tactics to get the better of her. Using her weapon's gun mode while in the fight proved to be a bad idea as it didn't let her get a good shot or when she did shoot, it blocked all the bullets while getting closer.
Unfortunately, she had little success doing the same as when she tried to use the same tactics it did, it countered every single one and she ended up losing more Aura, especially when she used her Semblance to make her weapons levitate. It also ended up backfiring as it threw her weapons at her and used her own Semblance against her by pulling her towards it. Sweat trailed down her face as her Aura began to get dangerously low. As much as she fought however…
"Ah!" With a charge, it threw off her shield and delivered blurry strikes, headbutted her, appeared behind her and shot her with a pistol, shattering the remains of her Aura before pointing the sword at her neck. She looked at its blank face as it stood like that for several more seconds before pulling back and going to its place.
"Huh, never thought I would see the day this happens." Blake said as Nora nodded next to her watching the redhead retrieve her weapons and leave the field.
"Yeah, well. That drone sure does know how to fight and counter me. Not sure how it can resist my Semblance, I should ask the Watcher how it does that." Nora offered her a bottle as she nodded in thanks and downed the water.
"That's not what I meant." Blake replied as Pyrrha stopped drinking and looked at the faunus.
"What did you mean then?" Her eyebrow raised as Blake contemplated whether to say it or not before sighing.
"You fought like crazy." Pyrrha blinked, "You fought the drone like your life depended on it, treated it like a fight to the death rather than a spar. Frankly, I wasn't sure if we should be afraid of you using all the metal here to gain an advantage. Anything you want to tell us?"
Pyrrha looked at the faunus, wondering if she should say anything but a concerned look from Nora made her sigh.
"I guess the last viewings got to me, especially the one where I learned that I died to Cinder if the implications are true. Combine that with the revelation that our friend is out there surviving with his Aura severely weakened, his skills not helping him and it made me wonder, am I really as strong as I think myself to be?" She leaned on the fence, watching Yang keep fighting.
"Looking back on Watcher's words, I can't help but wonder: are my victories the results of my Semblance and not true skill? Would I even fare well without my Aura and Semblance or would I get killed within the first minute? Did I let myself become lenient after getting to Beacon? Did I improve at all or did I have minimal progress? Questions like those made me start fighting harder as I realized that I barely improved during Beacon." She asked as Nora and Blake stood next to her.
"But one doubt screams louder than the rest after watching that Servant world…" She looked at the drone she fought and couldn't help but see her partner instead.
"You don't want him to succeed Pyrrha, you just want to keep him weak so that he will keep relying only on you, convincing him your methods are the best so that he will not consider anybody else to help him. All in the hopes that he will eventually fall in love with you."
"Was I really a good teacher to Jaune?" Nora had a shocked look at her words while Blake looked surprised.
"What are you talking about Pyr? Of course you are! Fearless Leader is as strong as he is because of you! You helped him become the huntsman he is today, helped him become better!" The ginger said as she put a hand on Pyrrha's shoulder.
"Or I damned him to mediocrity because I was stuck in the clouds, because I was too soft and never paid attention to what other things he needed to learn. If we never came here would he really be a good Huntsman? Or would I cripple him all because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to confess or that I would lose him if he trained with others like Yang and Ruby or maybe even Blake and Weiss." The champion replied, shifting her gaze to the still fighting blonde girl, who seemed to be getting more and more ferocious with her opponent. Nora and Blake exchanged glances, not sure of what to make of her words.
"But he became better once he accepted your help. Why are you so doubtful of yourself when you know you are the reason he is stronger?" Blake inquired, confused by her words.
"Because I worry that I will also hold him back. I worry that he would be convinced that my methods are the best and not consider anybody else's help if I die, leave or if his Semblance completely contradicts my fighting style. For a whole year, I taught him only the basics even when he asked that we up the training. I told him that he wasn't ready for that, but now I wonder if I said that just to keep him with me and only with me. There are many others in Beacon who know how to fight with a sword, including you Blake but I was selfish and didn't want to lose our precious time together even if it would help him." She replied as she turned around and crossed her arms across her chest, feeling heat rising against her back but ignoring it, including the wide-eyed look from Blake.
"We know what his Semblance is now and I have no doubt that he will be stronger than ever, maybe stronger than me in the future, yet I can't help but doubt everything that I did. I guess my main question is: Do I really-"
"Yang, Enough!" Blake's shout interrupted her as she ran past the champion towards the field. Turning around she saw a horrible sight.
Yang still fought the drone, but now her eyes glowed red with Aura, her hair burning with her Semblance but the fires began turning intense yellow at times even blue for a split second. Her punches were now blurring strikes that the drone struggled to block or parry, the sheep power of her strikes enough to cause shockwaves felt throughout the arena. Her very steps began to burn the floor as her weapons began to crack from the sheer force of her strikes.
"Yang stop it!" Blake shouted as she tried to get close but flinched and stepped back, as the intense heat didn't let her get any closer. Her partner kept fighting the drone, its difficulty setting making it hard for it to fight back as she managed to hit it hard enough to send it flying back. She ran after it and punched it hard enough that it formed a crater with the drone inside it. She didn't stop and kept punching it, causing shockwaves as the drone's metal body started forming small dents. The weapons began cracking more while strands of Yang's hair began to burn.
"I SAID ENOUGH!" Blake shouted as she lunged at her, and grabbed her by her neck, trying to stop her and calm her down. Yang stopped fighting the drone and grabbed Blake arms, headbutted her before throwing her down on the ground hard enough to crack the floor. Blake groaned in pain as her aura shattered and looked up to see Yang about to cave her skull in.
Only to stop when Nora, enhanced with lightning from drinking Re-energizer and using the hammer along with the grenade launcher, made a strike so hard, it brought Yang down with a thunderous 'BOOM'. To her shock, it didn't knock her out as Yang lifted up the hammer and was about to punch Nora.
Only stopped when Pyrrha used her Semblance on her weapons, dragging her back down, surprising her before Nora brought her hand up.
"SNAP OUT OF IT!" She punched Yang hard, as the intense heat began to disappear while Yang's hair returned to normal and her eyes slowly became lilac again.
"Wha-? What happened?" The blonde brawler looked down to see her weapons glowing black as well as Pyrrha's hands.
"Uh, why am I held down like this? I don't mind getting frisky but I'm not into BDSM." Pyrrha had a slight blush at her words as Blake stood up with a groan.
"You went berserk." She told her partner who looked at her with confusion.
"Berserk?" Blake gestured to the drone, which stood up with the dents visible and went to its place. She also pointed at the cracks on the ground, several scorches on the floor and her own damaged weapons.
"You just went into overdrive and began to pummel the drone with no restraint. It's like your Semblance super charged itself and you went mad. You nearly killed me when I tried to stop you." Yang's eyes widened as she surveyed the damage.
"Holy shit, I did that?" They nodded as Pyrrha deactivated her Semblance allowing Yang to stand up, "I didn't hurt anyone right?"
"Fortunately, no. Though, you were a beast. You tanked a blow from Nora that I'm pretty sure would have shattered the armor of the DeathStalker we fought during the initiation. Any reason why that happened?" Pyrrha asked her as Yang looked up in thought.
"I'm…not sure." Her reply earned her a raised eyebrow from her partner, "I was just fighting it, intent to break it and then I entered a trance of sorts and woke up to Nora punching me in the face." They exchanged glances at her words.
"Are you sure that's all? Cause it seems like you're not telling the full truth." Her partner asked as Yang slowly nodded.
"Yep, pretty sure that's all." Blake narrowed her eyes at her with Nora and Pyrrha having looks of confusion on their faces. After several seconds, Blake looked away, not fully convinced but decided not to press the issue any further.
"Say, where are Ren and Weiss?" Yang asked, not seeing the two around.
"Oh, Renny went to the library to look for Aura techniques, and said something about needing to know them for his upgrades." Nora replied, cocking a thumb to the gym's exit.
"I think Weiss went to the library as well." Yang turned to Blake.
"Wasn't she training with us?"
"She left after her opponent defeated her." The blonde nodded as she ran her hand through her hair before feeling something.
"What happened to my hair?!" She pulled her locks over her shoulder and saw several burned strands at the end.
"I think that's the consequence of your Semblance going berserk. It's probably for the best though, imagine if your skin started burning rather than your hair." Yang shivered before taking a towel from one of the racks.
"Well, I'm off to shower myself, can't come back to the theater reeking of sweat. Pretty sure you should take one as well." The girls looked at each other as Blake took her towel and went after Yang. The two redheads shrugged and went to shower as well.
Weiss suppressed a yawn as she read a book she found about Dust, wearing special glasses that allowed her to read at a faster rate.
"Dust can be used as a conduit for Aura, allowing it to become more powerful and-I already know this. Why isn't there anything more interesting?" She asked aloud as she skipped pages of information already known.
"Combination? Already know. Reaction? Not interesting. Side effects? Seen it already. Combustion and decay? Gods, isn't there anything that is new about Dust?" She closed the book and went to look for a new one.
"You would think with so many worlds out there like ours that there would be way more information on Dust or at least any alternative." Ever since Watcher told them of the fossil fuels and other kinds of material that could replace and surpass Dust, she had been trying to learn more. Thankfully, the library had all the knowledge she needed.
"Dust enhancements?" She pulled the book out of the shelf and opened the first page, "What kind of enhance-"
Her eyes widened as she looked at the picture of a woman, jaw dropping as she saw what the "enhancements" were.
"Oh." She slowly closed the book and put it back on the shelf before looking for more.
"Any luck on your side?" Ren asked, reading a book on Aura techniques, wearing the same pair of glasses.
"No, what I did find is overcomplicated or not even useful. There is one about Dust being infused to the skeleton to gain Dust's abilities written by someone named LUNA and while it's interesting, the results are horrific so I decided not to read it anymore." She took another book, read the contents before putting it back in.
"What about you? Find anything useful?" The silent teen nodded as he showed her a large book in his hand.
"Yeah, I found some interesting things here. From what I understand, the writer is a master of Aura and has a better understanding of it than anybody else. There are a lot of interesting concepts here, some of which I didn't think possible." Weiss turned towards him, now interested.
"There is an entry here about using Aura as a surgical scalpel. By focusing enough Aura to a single point, a person could create an Aura blade so sharp it can cut through many materials, though metal requires more focus and strength than wood or stone. Theoretically, it could also pierce another person's Aura without depleting it and kill opponents in several strikes if used correctly and in a fight against Grimm either decapitate them or blow up their heads with only their fingers." Weiss paused as she considered what she heard.
"That's kinda scary to be honest." Killing someone even when their Aura was up? She could think of many who would use it for selfish reasons.
"That's what I thought. But it says here that it's mostly used to perform a surgery when lacking any equipment. I assume that Huntsmen with medical knowledge are the ones who utilize it on the battlefield."
"There are several pages on Aura forged weapons. In situations where weapons are absent, a person could-with enough control and experience of course-forge weapons made out of Aura, knives, daggers, swords, any close ranged weapon really. I don't even know which technique I should start practicing here, there's so much and all of them are interesting." He listed pages, impressed with the amount of information the book held.
"Perhaps, you should try one at a time. We don't know what the consequences are if you fail at one so be careful." She said as she looked at another book before putting it back, "Are there only combat techniques?"
Ren listed the pages looking at anything not combat related.
"There is one about using it to enhance your voice, one about using it for agriculture, several about healing and curing, one about using it to climb surfaces including ceilings as well as one about…" he trailed off as Weiss raised an eyebrow as she saw the embarrassed look on his face.
"About what?" He looked away as he read the entry.
"…Enhancing performance in the bedroom." He quietly muttered but Weiss heard him nonetheless as a fierce blush appeared on her face.
"W-Why would someone come up with something like that?" She asked, embarrassed as Ren coughed while keeping it in mind for…future activities with Nora.
"Nevermind that. Are you looking for any other books? Because I saw several that might interest you." Weiss used a ladder to get to the higher shelves and began to browse the books there.
"What were they about?"
"Believe it or not some were about the Schnee family." Her eyes widened slightly as she looked at the teen, "Though there were also some on SDC, business as well as one named and I quote "Suck it Jacques Gele'' written by someone called Bleiss Schnee." Weiss blinked twice upon hearing the name.
"Bleiss?" He nodded as she had an incredulous look on her face, "Who names their child Bleiss?" He raised an eyebrow.
"You do realize it sounds awfully a lot like Weiss right? Almost like it's you but different." Weiss thought of a version of herself like that. Unkempt hair, crude attitude, bad manners and an annoying voice. She grimaced as she pictured herself like that.
"I can already imagine what she is like and I don't want that picture in my head. Any other books in there?" Ren looked away for a second before sighing.
"There is one called "Family doomed" written by Whitley Schnee." Weiss's head snapped towards him as her eyes widened, "I read the first five pages, it detailed his life and the life of his family before and after he became the CEO, it might help you in the future." She looked at him, shocked before she quickly climbed down and went to look for the book.
"Section F under "Business" category." She nodded in thanks as he heard her hastily walk towards her destination. Ren, now left on his own with the book, found a table with chairs, sat on one and continued to read. As he read the last page noticed writing on the cover along with a hidden note. Raising an eyebrow, he looked at the writing.
'Do not attempt! Do not read!'
He took out the folded notes and unfolded them, showing another Aura technique, the name of the first surprising him.
"Semblance overdrive?" A picture of a person's Aura flaring was at the top, "Huntsmen and Huntresses with Absorption Semblances whether they be kinetic or different kinds of energy can potentially enter a state of overdrive. This state could be achieved by absorbing enough energy to push the Semblance to its very limit. Releasing this energy however might have several results, first, the user's body explodes or implodes from too much energy, second, the energy can heal major wounds and grant the user power beyond what they ever achieved or third, the resulting gathered energy may cause the Semblance to evolve under extreme pressure. Results are not clear."
Right under the entry were the words written in blood:
"WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE!"
The second note had a different entry.
"Aura overdose," He raised an eyebrow at the name, the note didn't have a picture to give a vague idea on how it worked.
"Aura overdose refers to a case when a person's Aura goes beyond 100% and the reserve becomes not only larger but more potent than normal. However, a person's Aura reserves evidently can't go higher no matter how much they train, even in rare cases it does, the results are minimal at best and insignificant at worst. Theoretically though, people who can create Aura or Empower Aura could push theirs beyond their limits and achieve a state of Empowerment. In this state, their senses are enhanced, their strength, speed and durability are off the charts and their healing is enforced to the extreme. This state has not been achieved though, however the attempts are promising."
As he turned the note, he saw a warning written in large bloody words.
"DESTROY THE NOTE! DO NOT LET THEM KNOW!"
The vague words left him confused as he pocketed the notes before going back to the book.
"Let's see what else is here."
"So you say that they were tortured beyond any hope?" Watcher asked as he sat on a chair while Reaper lay on a therapy couch, hood down, revealing her face but facing away from him. He held a notebook and pen in hand, writing down everything she told.
"Yeah, it's horrible you know? I've seen some seriously messed up shit during my job but I'm still shaken…and honestly disturbed by something like that."
"That's good, it means you still have some of your humanity left in you. Given how you reacted after you came back, I would say it's better news than last time." He replied as the world killer shifted in her position.
"Is it really? I almost let Mother out in that world and who knows what she would have done." She said as Watcher sighed.
"Honestly, it's a little better and you are yourself again. For a time of course, who knows how long it will be until R takes over, her edginess is sometimes a bit too much." He wrote the last thing down before closing the notebook as Reaper shifted on her couch.
"How long do you think they will last here?" He raised an eyebrow.
"You mean the teens?" She nodded, "I don't think they would snap so easily, the last viewings simply had bad effects on their minds, they are…flawed but strong, I'm sure they can take it." He told her as he stood up.
"You do know that they won't last very long even if you protect their minds, right?" She said, sitting up as he stopped, "They already started going against each other, Ruby is starting to hear voices and Pyrrha is starting to become kinda obsessive with her partner. The others will soon break as well even if you are near them."
He sighed as he looked at her.
"Have some faith in me Reaper. I know what I am doing, the main goal was to get their Jaune out in the multiverse, the other problems will be dealt with soon."
"Are you ever gonna tell them the truth then? About why you really wanted Jaune here?" He said nothing, simply looking away.
"They will learn in due time, no need to rush things. Better that they hear good news rather than bad right off the bat." He moved to the door before he looked back, "We might return to 'Deck of Heroes' at one point though, do you want to watch with us?"
She looked at him with a conflicted gaze and tried to answer only for her body to twitch, her hands clenched as her eyes turned bluish silver.
"I'm back!" R's voice sounded out as she looked up at him, "No way in hell am I missing that viewing! Can't wait to mess with them again."
Watcher sighed as he saw R take over before he left her room and towards the viewing theater. As he opened the door he took a deep breath.
"Break is over! Time to return here!" His voice sounded out throughout the fortress as he looked at the notification in his gauntlets. A frown appeared in his masked face as he looked at the info for several minutes before snapping his fingers. In a flash of light, they all appeared before him, with Blake, Yang, Nora and Pyrrha having towels and drying their hair while Ren and Weiss held books and Ruby holding a giant chain scythe, or rather barely holding it up as its size and weight was too much for her.
"Where did you get that?" Yang asked as Ruby dropped the scythe but still held the end.
"Um, in the weapons room, next to a large pistol, there was a statue of a giant man with wings next to it." She replied as Watcher chuckled.
"I wouldn't touch that weapon if I were you Ruby. That thing's cursed and filled with all kinds of disease." Ruby dropped it after that with a grossed out look on her face.
"EW! Gross!" She rubbed her hands on the closest chair trying to get the filth off. Watcher lifted the scythe up before teleporting it back to its place.
"Don't touch the weapons in the weapons room okay? You don't know what you might do to yourself." A sanitizer appeared next to her as she used it to remove anything she might have gotten.
"Is it time for another viewing?" Pyrrha asked, removing the towel after drying her hair but letting it fall instead of tying it to a ponytail.
"Yes, but before that I have several news to you. First is concerning your stay here." They raised their eyebrows, "I'm afraid that I can't keep you here for long as the effects of the other worlds and this room may cause you irreversible harm."
"So we are going home after this then?" Weiss asked as Watcher shook his head.
"That's the second news: due to how you seven arrived here, I can't send you back home." Their eyes widened in horror, "at least, not yet that is." That eased some of their worries.
"Any particular reason why you can't send us home?" Ren asked as Watcher sighed.
"See when the Displacer brought you here, it malfunctioned, and since I can't interact with anything in the multiverse due to the rules put in place by Grand Watcher, I can't send you back home as it would mean breaking the rules. Second, is that when the Displacer exploded, it also left behind residual energies that will start to destabilize that world. In other words, if I sent you back, you would suffer horribly." Their eyes widened again.
"Destabilize? What do you mean destabilize? Is Remnant going to explode or something?!" Weiss asked, panicking.
"Nothing like that." He said with a hand wave, "I meant that your world's presence in the multiverse is now kinda shaky and if the Displacer tries to locate it before it stabilizes again, it might send you to one of the other Remnants in the multiverse, which is generally a bad idea." He showed them a map with their world blinking constantly and sometimes disappearing off the map.
"So what now? We are gonna wait here, in this potentially horrible place until our world goes back to normal?" Blake asked as Watcher nodded.
"Afraid so, there is also the issue that you are all covered in the residual energy as well so you might mess up the Displacer if you use it. Best that you stay here and let it slowly dissolve off your bodies and then use the Displacer. Until that happens, you will have to stay here, fortunately this room is the only place where your mental state is in danger, the other parts of the fortress are safe to explore."
The seven all had varying reactions, frustration and anxiety in case of Yang, fear for their world like Ruby, Pyrrha, Blake and Weiss and resigned acceptance like Nora, and Ren.
"I know that this is terrible news to all of you, but look on the bright side, at least you have all the food, time and info in the world to prepare yourselves for the Vytal Tournament and for the future." His words did little to comfort them as he searched for a world to view.
"Just our luck, trapped here because of Jaune." Blake quietly muttered as Weiss raised an eyebrow.
"Blake, I understand your frustration," She looked at Pyrrha's narrowed eyes and Ruby's slightly slumped form, "But do remember that we all wanted to know what the device did, plus, it was Nora's fault for activating it and Pyrrha's also to blame for stabbing it."
"I didn't think this would happen!" Pyrrha said, red faced and embarrassed as Nora looked away. The champion looked away as well, as the others raised their eyebrows while Watcher chuckled, she noticed something glow in the distance of the room, raising an eyebrow at the glow.
"Now, now. No need to point fingers at each other. It's not your best priority right now." Watcher said as he found a suitable world to watch, "Ah, this should be a good on-"
"Uh, Watcher?" Pyrrha asked as the host turned to her, "Is that supposed to happen?" She pointed to a floating, glowing card, which slowly floated closer to the screen.
"What the?" Watcher looked surprised as he waved his index finger to summon the card to him. The card suddenly stopped in its place before it moved towards the screen again. Frowning, Watcher thrust his arm forward before pulling it back quickly as the card flew to him before stopping halfway. It moved towards the screen again as Watcher teleported in front of it and grabbed it.
"What's up with you?" He wondered as he saw the card glow more before it flew from his hand and zipped to the screen, entering it in a flash as the screen flowed for a brief second before stopping.
"What just happened?" Ruby asked as Watcher hummed in thought.
"Curious. The card took on a life of its own almost as if possessed or it wanted to show something." He went to the screen and held out his hand. Several moments passed before he sighed.
"And it seems like I was correct." He turned to the seven, "It seems that one of the cards wanted to show you all something but since it wasn't authorized for a viewing and since the screen isn't showing anything, it's now stuck in the screen for a time being."
"So we can't watch anything right now?" Pyrrha asked as Nora pouted slightly, while others had mixed reactions.
"Not exactly, you can watch something else, it's just that we will need to see if the screen will show it or if I can remove it without damaging anything. For now," He went to the shelf and found an interesting card, "oh, this should be interesting." He took out white card with the symbol of a snowflake and a staff, the words BJH on the corner.
"Take a seat, it will start now." The card floated to the screen and entered it as the lights dimmed while the seven sat on their seats.
"I wonder what it will be this time." Weiss said.
"Let's hope nothing too bad." Ren replied as he hoped nothing bad would happen.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
"Oh no." Yang muttered as Blake facepalmed.
"Not again." Blake continued knowing just what to expect after a line like that.
Before today, the teen would've rejected that phrase with all his heart. But now? Jaune believed in it with all he had. The teen had suffered a great deal in the last weeks, but today made him question everything. Did he still want to be a huntsman? Could he be?
"To think…all this started because of that night on the rooftop with Pyrrha."
"Night on the rooftop…Is that when he told you about his transcripts?" Ren asked as Pyrrha nodded.
"Yes, although I'm not sure why he is like this, it didn't go that bad for him during that time." She replied as Yang frowned
"I have a feeling we're REALLY not gonna like what happens next then." Yang told others, most agreeing with her.
(Flashback- Night on rooftop)
"I'm a fraud Pyrrha! I didn't GO to any huntsman preparatory school, I got myself forged transcripts, just so I could even get a foot in the door." Jaune watched as the spartan eyed him, mouth slightly agape, and eyes shaking. He continued, "I'm the son of an accomplished huntsman. My dad refused to train me at all, so I made do. I practiced with a wooden sword on my own in the forest for years, and never got any better because I had no teacher. And every time my dad caught me trying to train, he'd take the sword away, and ground me for weeks at a time."
"…" Seeing that his partner stood quiet, bangs shadowing her eyes as they stood under the moonlight with the lampposts below them, Jaune couldn't hold it in anymore, as years of being overlooked by his family came flooding out.
Weiss took a deep breath as her situation with her own father came up to her mind. The many arguments, dismissals as well as the test he put her through made her resent him all the more.
"I don't get it." Yang said, clenching a fist.
"Don't get what?" Ruby asked her as her sister turned to her.
"His dad's actions. I don't see ANY reason for why he doesn't train him. It doesn't make sense on his part." Ren raised an eyebrow.
"Why are you so sure? Many people aren't trained and they are all fine."
"Because of the circumstances Ren! His father is a HUNTSMAN, an accomplished one at that and if what Jaune said is true, then the town or village they live in is under his protection! The 'many people' you speak of are either within the kingdom's walls or have Huntsmen and Huntresses protecting them, they have the excuse to not be trained but Jaune DOESN'T! His father has NO reason to refuse training his son!" Yang ranted as her eyes began to turn red, as her team subtly backed away from her when they saw her hair slowly start to light up.
"Okay, I get that, but why do you care so much?" Blake asked as her partner looked at her like she was an idiot.
"For Gods' sake Blake, we live in a DEATH WORLD! Grimm from every side are waiting to kill and eat us at the slightest hint of negative emotion, bandits roam the woods and who knows what resides in other areas! If you are trained and know about Aura the smartest thing to do is to give that knowledge to your kids or at least give them self-defense with SOMETHING! NOTHING of what Jaune said makes sense! IT JUST DOESN'T!" She roared as her Aura lit up and she panted from speaking so loudly and out of anger.
The others stayed quiet as they listened to her rant before refocusing on the screen.
"So, one night, I decided I was going to get out of his shadow. I took all the money I saved that night and took some from our family's account along with Crocea Mors and left. I made it on a bullhead and got myself all the way to Vale. Found a cheap hotel, where I worked for free in exchange for a room, and applied to Beacon academy. I used the money I had to buy some forged transcripts from someone and eventually made it all the way to and through initiation."
"All things considered, it's crazy how he managed to survive through all of that. Although it does make me wonder…" Weiss trailed off as her partner looked at her.
"What would have happened if he didn't survive?" Pyrrha shuddered at the thought while Ren and Nora had frowns on their faces. Ruby's face paled slightly at her partner's words while Blake and Yang grimaced at the gruesome thought.
"I know what you are all thinking," Watcher said as they turned to him, "And the answer is yes. There are worlds where he didn't survive the initiation, though not how you think."
"How-How exactly did he die in each of these worlds?" Pyrrha asked, slight unease in her voice.
"Grimm. He always survives the landing strategy, although not without injuries, but he died to Grimm, though not without a fight and most of you came too late to help him. There are two unique cases though, in one of those worlds, his ghost follows Blake around as she finds his corpse in that world and in the other, his ghost haunts the Academy and everyone can see him."
"O-Oh," Pyrrha said as her team bowed their heads in silence.
He paused and looked up at his scarlet haired teammate. By now, there was a stream of tears falling from her emerald eyes as she looked to the ground with an unreadable expression. And then all of a sudden, her eyes found him again. She wiped her tears, and slowly strode forward, unsure of what to say.
She stopped once she was right in front of him, before he tilted his eyes to meet hers, and was met with a hard slap to his cheek. He fell to the ground from the force his partner hit him with, eyes stinging from the pain emanating from his cheek.
"I can't believe I, no, any of us ever trusted you Jaune." The young man froze as the words left her mouth. He didn't expect this from Pyrrha, the one who would agree to any half-witted idea he devised without hesitation while wearing a smile.
"I can't blame her for what she did. She needed to say what should be said." Weiss said, expecting a rebuttal but instead heard nothing.
"One's actions can be understandable when put into perspective, for that you hold no blame." Watcher told her as he looked at Pyrrha and dared her to say anything. The redhead frowned but kept her mouth shut.
"Pyrrha, I-" He tried to speak but was cut off.
"NO! You listen, Jaune." He was petrified at the presence she seemed to suddenly exude, nodding as he sat on the ground looking up to his partner.
"Wow, Pyrrha. First time I've seen you be this mad, especially at Jaune." Yang said, "You should show more of this side, cause it's sometimes kinda boring to see you be friendly all the time."
"Um, thanks, I think." Pyrrha replied.
"Do you even understand how much danger you put us all in by doing this?" He paused to think about it, before hesitantly nodding his head. He watched as her eyes narrowed and mouth shifted to sneer at him with disgust as her tone reflected more and more of her anger.
"You do. You came to an academy where risking life and limb is a frequent occurrence, with absolutely no plan but 'Get better once I'm accepted.' You knew that you wouldn't be able to handle the level of work expected of us right out of the gate, and planned to piggyback off us, your team, until you were competent enough. And to top it all off, once you became our leader, you waited this long to tell one of us who our leader, our friend was?"
"I know I said that I don't dislike Arc but can we agree that his plan was dumb and that Pyrrha is right?" Weiss asked as half of her team raised their hands.
"Aye." Yang said.
"Agree." Blake as all three turned to Ruby who had a conflicted look.
"Ruby, don't tell me you want to defend his actions when you know what could have happened." Blake told her as Ruby looked reluctant.
"He just wanted to help." She weakly defended him.
"Yeah and only got himself into trouble because of his own pride. Ruby, you can only defend someone for so long and we know that you want to say so stop beating around the bush and just do it." Weiss told her as Ruby looked at her team before sighing and raising a hand.
"I agree." She quietly said as they turned to NPR, with Ren already raising a hand and Nora reluctantly doing so, only Pyrrha didn't raise a hand.
"Ren?" Pyrrha asked in surprise as he turned to her.
"He is like a brother to me but I'm not going to constantly excuse and defend his actions and neither should you." Pyrrha narrowed her eyes at them, refocusing on the screen as Watcher looked at all of them.
'Curious, their thoughts seem to be filtered differently. Almost as if…'
Jaune could do nothing but listen to her list his deeds, and shamefully lowered his eyes to the ground as he said nothing, confirming her accusations.
Pyrrha just stood silent for a moment, before turning on her heels and leaving him alone on that rooftop. Jaune realized that Pyrrha came from a different walk of life than him, she saw what he did as lacking integrity, untruthful, and illegal. And while she was right, Jaune was never proud of what he did, and he really did put in his all to everything he's done so far so that he could become a better leader, a dependable leader.
"Is this how it happened?" Blake asked Pyrrha who shook her head.
"No, he said that he needed to do it on his own and asked to leave him alone." Pyrrha sighed as he rubbed her eyes, "I should have been more assertive with him, maybe then the whole problem with Cardin wouldn't have started."
"It would have happened anyway." Watcher told her, "Cardin still overheard what Jaune said in many worlds and in the worst cases blackmails YOU instead of him. You don't really want to know what he did in those cases."
Pyrrha shivered as many cards lit up until Watcher glared in their direction and they stopped glowing.
"Hey Jauney-boy, interesting conversation I happened to hear just now."
Jaune's blood ran cold as he turned to the edge of the rooftop where another teen was now climbing up from. Cardin Winchester, a bully who had taken it upon himself to make Jaune's life hell, had just overheard his worst secret, and wore a devilish grin that promised suffering.
"And we all know how that happened." Yang said, brushing her hair.
Pyrrha had confronted him the morning after that night while their team was asleep, telling him that he could either tell Nora and Ren of his crime, or that she would tell them herself. Jaune tried to prove to her that he could be better and made the mistake of telling them everything all at once, with no plan to fall back on. Nora walked over to Jaune, having thought he was joking, but upon getting close and feeling how tense he was, she realized he was serious. She instantly no longer saw Jaune as team JNPR's "Fearless Leader," and as just Jaune, a selfish guy just like any other, before walking past him, and out of the room wearing a somber smile on her face, her mental image of a selfless Jaune shattered.
Ren just stared at Jaune, disappointed in his leader. He said nothing, just shook his head disapprovingly and went to join Nora. Jaune bit his lip in frustration, before hearing Pyrrha comforting the rest of his team from behind him, shutting the door and leaving him to reflect, alone.
Most of team RWBY gave the pair looks of pity and understanding. Ren said nothing, deciding to stay quiet while Nora looked away with the same somber smile as her other version.
Pyrrha rubbed her face, tired of this while Ruby looked away from the looks her team gave her.
The worst of his suffering was fresh on his mind however, as yesterday still haunted him.
(Flashback-Forever Fall Field Trip)
Jaune had been bullied by Cardin before, but the dynamic was different now. Cardin was able to make him submit without any effort whatsoever. Cardin or his team needed something, he would be the one to get it, team CRDL needed their homework done, he finished it, they needed to bully someone to let off some steam, he was their man.
"I don't like what he did, but this seems a bit much for him." Yang said, breaking the silence.
"If you ask me, he needed a lesson after a blunder like that so it's not underserved in the slightest." Blake said as Pyrrha frowned.
"So why shouldn't you be thrown in prison then for your past?" Blake gave her an unimpressed look.
"Because unlike him, I didn't put people in danger because I refused help. Because unlike him, I can at least save someone from Grimm, because unlike him I didn't have my head in the clouds, thinking I can be a hero." Pyrrha glared at her while Blake remained unimpressed. For several seconds they kept staring, until they both looked back at the screen.
Today had him slightly perplexed though, as the task made no sense.
Team CRDL was lounging about as Jaune was tasked with drawing six jars of tree sap, one for each person present, so what was the sixth jar for? Jaune finished his assignment before carrying all the jars and setting them down by Cardin.
"Hey Cardin, i-it's all done man" Cardin cracked an eye open with a cocky smirk on his lips.
"Jauney-boy! Perfect, now we have everything we need. Come on, follow me." He 'suggested' as he and the other members of his team all stood up and started walking to a different part of the forest, nearer to where the other teams were.
"Okay, I swear if anything bad happens to any of us, I'm blaming both of them." Yang said, giving Pyrrha a look that dared her to defend her partner. The champion said nothing as Ren and Nora looked at each other in concern at her behavior.
Suddenly, Cardin stopped his advance, and stood on top of a high hill, beckoning for Jaune and his team to join him. Jaune stood next to Cardin, flanked by the member of the bully's team, before looking down. Below him, he saw the other members of team JNPR as well as team RWBY collecting sap. Jaune instantly had a very bad feeling creeping down his spine.
"Hey, uh, C-Cardin? What are we doing here…" Jaune began before a jar full of sap was thrust into his hands. He looked down confused before Cardin explained.
"Well you see Jauney-boy, your partner down there? She really pisses me off. So, here's what you're gonna do. You're going to take that jar of sap and throw it at her."
"The sap inside," He took the box Dove had been carrying, shaking it to elicit a buzz from inside. 'Rapier Wasps,' Jaune discovered with fear. Cardin continued "Will draw these little guys to attack her once she's covered in it." Jaune looked positively mortified at Cardin's plan.
Both teams had incredulous looks on their faces.
"Is he serious?! That's going way too far!" Weiss shouted as Pyrrha clenched her fists.
"It's one thing to bully Vomit Boy," Yang looked to the side to see her sister pouting at the nickname, "It's another thing entirely to target someone else with a really bad plan."
'This isn't just bullying anymore; someone could really get hurt!' Jaune thought to himself. He stood there holding the jar, knowing that if he didn't throw it, he would be in trouble with the team surrounding him, but if he did throw it, he could kiss any chance of making up with his team, and staying at the school goodbye.
"Forget about transcripts, I will beat him up black and blue if he throws it." Yang said.
"Yang! That's too far!" Ruby told her as her sister glared at her, much to her shock.
"Ruby. Sit down and let adults talk." Yang sternly said as Ruby slowly sat down on her seat.
"Never thought I would see this." Nora whispered to Ren who nodded at her words.
"Damned if I do, damned if I don't." Jaune said at a volume that no one could hear, before turning to face Cardin while gripping the jar tightly.
"I won't do it Cardin." He held his head high despite the fear he felt and stared defiantly at the bully.
"Well at least he has some spine." Blake said, almost impressed. Almost.
"Not for long if CRDL doesn't beat him up." Weiss said, with almost a snark.
"…Come again Jauney-boy? Because it almost sounded like you told me no, and you really aren't in a position to do that are you?" The threat wasn't concealed at all, it was a promise of pain if compliance wasn't given. Jaune stood his ground, gripping the jar tighter and tighter before feeling the pressure of the last two weeks overwhelm him and move him to do something no one expected.
He threw the jar at Cardin. It shattered upon impact with the teen's armor plate, covering his chest in a scarlet colored syrup.
"Bold," Weiss said while clapping slowly, "Foolish but bold."
"Uh guys, I don't think you understand what Jaune just did." Ren said, realizing the problem.
"What do you mean? What could be so impressive about throwing a jar at Cardin?" Blake asked as Ren gestured to the screen.
"They are in the forest where Grimm are bound to live, specifically Ursas, who like the sap. And knowing Jaune, he is bound to attract them with how negative he has been."
The world seemed quiet as Jaune realized what he had done, before he heard a chuckle.
"You really shouldn't have done that." Cardin's team burst into movement, moving to restrain Jaune before he could come to terms with what was occurring. Once he was secured by CRDL, they dragged him deeper into the forest following behind a seething Cardin, before reaching the clearing they were resting in earlier, and proceeding to beat the blonde boy into submission.
Pyrrha glared at the screen while clenching and unclenching her fists. Ren and Nora frowned while Ruby had a small glare on her face.
WBY said nothing, their thoughts mixed on the matter
"Let's see how much of a man you really are-" A roar cut Cardin off. The ginger-haired menace and his team froze and turned around to see an Ursa, attracted likely by the negative emotions emitting by the group, as well as the forest sap that now coated Cardin's chest plate, if it glaring solely at him was any indication. It let out a deep growl before rising to stand on its hind legs, standing at an intimidating 16-feet height.
Cardin took his weapon into his hand, and looked to his team for support, but was angered when he saw them abandoning him with Jaune, leaving them to their fate.
"Now we know why they failed against you Pyrrha." Ren said, "If they are willing to run away at the sight of trouble then they have no chance against you."
"Makes you wonder how they even became a team in that case, though given how Cardin is I wouldn't be surprised if he just intimidated them into following him." Weiss mused, having several thoughts in her head about the team.
Cardin was knocked from his thoughts of retribution when the Ursa sent him flying with a swipe from its mighty paw, his weapon fell away sailing from his hands giving him no defense against the bear Grimm. The bully watched as the Ursa ignored Jaune in favor of him and lumbered forward towards him until he was mere inches away from him. From the corner of his eyes, Cardin noticed Pyrrha arriving at the edge of the tree line with Ruby and Weiss in tow, just as the soulless abomination raised its paw to end his life. He shut his eyes as the paw came down, prepared for the end, when he heard the telltale sound of something impacting metal.
Cardin opened his eyes, shocked to see his victim for the last weeks standing in front of him defensively with his shield raised, not giving an inch in the battle of strength between him and the Ursa.
Pyrrha had a small smile at the sight with Ren nodding and Nora cheering now.
"It's just like back then." Weiss told her teammates.
Jaune grit his teeth and looked back at Cardin as the Grimm began to slowly push down more against the boy, tipping the scales in their contest of power.
"Cardin! Move! I can't roll away with you behind me!" The blonde teen commanded. The bully, still too overwhelmed to argue, just nodded and scrambled away from behind Jaune, rushing for his mace. Jaune, seeing that he was clear, took a deep breath in preparation, before angling his shield and rolling away from the attack.
"Cardin! I'll distract it, hit it from behind!" Jaune instructed the bully as he began to run around the bear grimm.
Cardin, having recovered from his shock, wore an angry face of indignation as he glared at the blonde.
"Who put you in charge, Jauney-boy?!" He shouted back with an edge.
"Hey, he is trying to save you, the least you could do is listen to his plan, jackass." Yang said with a snark as the others frowned at Cardin's actions.
"I guess his pride didn't like that."
Jaune blocked another swipe from the grimm, before jumping back to dodge the follow-up attack sent his way and leveled a searing glare towards the ginger with his teeth bared in annoyance.
"Do you have any better ideas asshole!" Jaune watched as the boy recoiled from the aggression he was showing, before staying silent and just looking down to his mace.
"That's what I thought. Now, get your head out of your ass and let's kill this damn thing!" Cardin looked somewhat conflicted, before letting a deep exhale escape him, and walking towards the boy until he stood side by side next to him. Though reluctant to cooperate, he wore a cocky smirk as he raised his mace onto his shoulder and spoke.
"Fine, but this is the only time you and I are ever teaming up." Jaune just nodded his head at the teen and responded in kind, "I wouldn't have it any other way, partner." Cardin shifted into a battle stance next to the blonde and spoke. "Then I'll follow your lead."
"Cardin listening to Jaune? Yeah, now I've seen everything." Yang chuckled.
"Didn't Cardin act friendly towards Jaune during the dance?" Ruby asked as half looked surprised.
"Really? I guess Cardin isn't as bad as I thought." Blake said.
The girls couldn't believe what they were seeing. Weiss and Ruby were shocked at the display of, although hesitant, camaraderie between the two boys, but Pyrrha, while shocked at the development, was also angry that Jaune was willing to work with the ginger after all that had developed the past weeks at Beacon. A smaller, more rational part of her felt proud that her partner would still protect someone that tormented him and told her that she had no right to feel angry at him, since she had all but abandoned him. Conflict raged within the red head's being as she watched the boys operate, though clumsily, rather well for two had been at odds since the beginning of their time at the academy.
Pyrrha sighed, though still had a small smile.
"Would you believe me if I said that I felt conflicted as well?" her team had looks of surprise.
"You did?" Ren asked to which she nodded, "then why did you side with him."
"I actually wanted to report him to save him, believing that it would be better that way for him. But a small voice in my head told me to give him a chance and I did. I wonder what would have happened if I didn't listen to it."
The two members of team RWBY both prepared themselves to enter the fray and help their friend, before a hand shot in front of both of them, forcing them to halt as they sent looks questioning the partner of the blonde currently battling for his life in the clearing.
"…Let's wait. I think the two of them have this handled." The two girls paused before reluctantly agreeing to just observe.
The battle didn't last long. Jaune would take a blow with a shield so that Cardin could land one on the grimm from behind. This cycle continued before Jaune noticed the Ursa starting to waver. When it went to take a step forward, one of its legs gave out as it found itself on all fours, trying to regain balance. Jaune sent Cardin a look, and the ginger just nodded before returning to Jaune's side and following behind the boy in his charge against their bone masked foe.
Jaune was the first to strike. He quickly made a deep slash in the Ursa's neck, eliciting a roar of hate and pain, but before the grimm could make a move to retaliate, Jaune drove the bottom of his kite shield into the gash he made before quickly jumping back. Cardin then jumped high into the air, the dust crystal in his mace beginning to glow as he brought in down with all the force he could muster onto the top of Jaune's shield, propelling the shield downward and beheading the Ursa.
Yang and Blake looked to the other two in their team, noticing the surprised looks.
"I guess by your looks that this wasn't how it happened right?" Yang asked as Weiss nodded.
"Well, no. Jaune was the one who killed the Ursa, by himself." Yang whistled at that before Weiss looked at Pyrrha, "though not without subtle help at the last moment."
Yang looked at Pyrrha, remembering her Semblance before gesturing to her shield.
"She used her Semblance on his shield, right?" Weiss nodded as Yang sighed.
The girls watched in minor shock as the two spoke no words but displayed teamwork on par with team RWBY with their combined attack. The girls watched as both boys stored their weapons away and walked toward each other until they stood a few feet apart.
"…I'm sorry…for everything" The ginger's words surprised the girls who stood at the edge of the clearing.
"Apology accepted. For what it's worth, sorry about your team ditching you." The instant apology from the blonde knight of team JNPR did shock the girls, but what spoke out to one of them, Ruby, was the tone of empathy and the somber frown the blonde wore.
"Listen, Jaune-" Cardin began to say before getting cut off by the blonde.
"No Cardin, you listen. I don't know what your problem is but pull your head out of your ass." At this everyone watched as the normally pushover-ish night adopted a firm attitude before continuing to speak. "You want to be a huntsman. That means you protect people, human or faunus. It means you don't prey on the weak or people who look different, you protect them." Jaune watched as his words made it through to Cardin, something everyone thought impossible as the ginger lowered his eyes to the ground in shame, but Jaune didn't relent. "You're a team leader Cardin. Don't be an asshole. You're supposed to be an example for your team, and for other teams, of what a hunter signifies."
"Isn't he being hypocritical? He did half the things that he accused Cardin of doing just a few weeks prior!" Weiss said, not believing what she heard.
"Hey, come on Weiss. He learned his lesson." Ruby said as Weiss narrowed her eyes.
"It's one thing to learn it, it's one thing to lecture someone else on it when he did half the things he himself condemned Cardin for! I don't know why you're so stricken with him Ruby but I'm not ignoring his hypocrisy." The red haired girl sent her an angry look as Watcher chuckled.
"It takes a hypocrite to know another hypocrite." He said as Weiss turned to him.
"What is that supposed to mean?" He kept chuckling.
"Say Ruby, do you know why Weiss chose you as a partner even when she didn't want to at the start?" The cloaked girl had a confused look as she turned to her teammate, suspicion in her eyes.
"No." She slowly said as he kept chuckling.
"It's because she saw Jaune pinned by Pyrrha's spear on one of the trees, then chose you instead and left him there to the mercy of the Grimm." Ruby had a shocked look as she stared at her partner who looked away from her.
"And since Jaune didn't have his Aura unlocked at the time…" He trailed off, letting the implication sink in. Yang and Blake had looks of surprise as they saw Ruby glare at Weiss who had the decency to look away. Pyrrha did as well, though subtly as she was glad to have her chosen partner that day.
"Ruby listen I-"
"Do you know why I'm the leader of our team and not you, Weiss?" Ruby coldly asked, making Weiss shiver.
"Because you are a strategist?"
"Because I would never leave anyone to die in a Grimm infested forest just because I didn't like them and neither would Jaune. And yet you wonder why we were made leaders and not you." Her reply left the heiress feeling guilty.
"But, I didn't know." She muttered as her partner gave her a cold look.
"Is that really an excuse Weiss? Is that really an excuse to leave someone like that unable to defend themselves even if they annoyed you?" Ruby asked as Weiss looked away from her.
He leveled one last glare at Cardin, and the boy became slightly uncomfortable at the presence the blonde seemed to exude. "And don't ever mess with my team, my friends, again."
He turned away ready to leave the clearing, but suddenly Cardin called out to him.
"Jaune!" The blonde turned his head to look back tiredly to the ginger, waiting for him to say what he needed to. "The truth about your transcripts…they're safe with me." Jaune shot him a look slightly disbelieving before he continued. "Russ, Sky, and Dove only knew I had dirt on you, I didn't tell them what it was. I won't tell anyone about your transcripts, you have my word."
Jaune just stared at the boy for what to everyone watching felt like an eternity before nodding to him and limping off, never noticing the girls in the tree line as he left.
"Pyrrha, what was Cardin talking about with Jaune's transcripts?"
"Oh. Oh no…" Ren muttered as his teammates shared a knowing look.
"Well, Jauney Boy is not gonna last long if Pyrrha does what I think she is gonna do."
When Jaune woke up today, he was greeted with his team all sitting on their beds with their heads lowered in thought. When they noticed that he was awake, Jaune was informed that Pyrrha had told them of his bout with the Ursa, which shocked him because he never noticed she was there, but more so that she didn't help him. His blood ran cold however, when she told him that she had told Ruby and Weiss about his secret.
"I think it was best for him that you didn't help him, Pyrrha." Blake told her as the champion looked at her.
"Because while it will give him confidence, it will also humble him as well to accept help." Pyrrha thought about it further and nodded slowly.
His mouth was dry, and he was sure his eyes were starting to water. Ruby was sweet, innocent and trusting, and he knew he had nothing to worry about from her, but if Weiss knew? He quickly got dressed, saying nothing to his team as he did so nor once he left their shared dorm. He skipped his early morning classes as to not catch sight of team RWBY and to escape the animosity his team held toward him.
Yang groaned as she slumped in her seat.
"What's wrong?" Her partner asked.
"I'm not sure if I should blame Jaune or not. On one hand he did something incredibly stupid and should be punished, on the other hand, he was clearly desperate and did show improvement in his time here. I have some respect for him in that regard as he does have a drive but this situation is making me conflicted." She told her as she summoned a drink to calm her nerves.
He was successful at staying off anyone's radar he felt, until he heard something that made his blood run cold.
"Would Jaune Arc please make his way to the Headmaster's office. Would Jaune Arc please…" The message began to repeat, but Jaune couldn't hear it over the blood rushing through his body and his thoughts screaming at him.
"From the frying pan into the blast zone. Sheesh, can things get any worse for him?" Blake wondered as Watcher chuckled.
"Watch and you will see."
He slowly began to make his way to where his presence was summoned, body on autopilot and eyes dull, missing their shine as he trekked across the campus. All too soon, he found himself in front of the door to the headmaster's office. His heart was beating so hard he was surprised it didn't burst out of his chest and he was sweating as if he had just returned from running a marathon in the summer. He slowly reached his hand out to the handle, and as the cold steel met his hand, he slowly pulled the door open.
When he entered the room, closing the door behind him. He looked around at the occupants, eyes catching sight of Glynda Goodwitch, the deputy headmistress of Beacon, headmaster Ozpin, and a man with black hair holding a flask he didn't recognize.
Yang nearly choked on her drink as Ruby looked up with an excited gasp.
"Uncle Qrow!" She squealed at the sight of her beloved uncle as Yang coughed out the rest of the drink.
"What's he doing in Beacon though? I don't recall him showing up during our first semester?"
"He is your uncle?" Ren asked as Ruby nodded.
"The best uncle there is! He trained me in using a scythe! I made Crescent Rose because of him!" Ruby held up her weapon and hugged it.
"I can see his weapon but it looks nothing like a scythe." Blake said as Ruby pouted.
"It has two modes, sword and scythe. Oh, I wish you could meet him. He is awesome!" Yang chuckled though there was a hint of nervousness in it.
"Yeah, awesome." She decided not to tell that their uncle was awesome when he rarely showed up. She went out with him on several occasions for bonding and they did not have a good time. Mostly because they ended up getting unlucky every time they went somewhere.
"Mr. Arc, right on time. Would you like to take a seat?" Ozpin began with pleasantries as he sipped from his mug of hot chocolate.
"Thank you, sir." Jaune said with a voice devoid of any emotions as he took his seat.
"Do you have any idea why you're here Mr. Arc?" Professor Goodwitch began.
"Either get beaten up by you or simply get expelled. I would rather choose the latter than the former really." Yang said.
"Yang, don't be ridiculous. Miss Goodwitch wouldn't beat up a student for no reason, even if it was for cheating." Weiss told her.
"Hey, I'm just being realistic. We all know Miss Goodwitch doesn't have the best opinion of him, so his situation is much worse here." Pyrrha frowned at her words while hoping nothing bad would happen to Jaune. Well, aside from serious punishment that is.
Jaune leveled his eyes directly to Ozpin who had his hands folded on his desk as he sat across from the teen before speaking.
"Yes." He answered evenly.
"Then you know what is going to happen." It was no question. It was preparing him for the words that would end his time of training to be a huntsman before it ever had a chance to bear any fruit.
"I still say that his dad is stupid." Yang said.
"Of course. But can I ask a question?" He said as he looked directly at both the deputy headmistress and headmaster. Glynda shot Ozpin a look before Ozpin answered.
"Yes Mr. Arc. What is your question?"
"Who?" Glynda decided to reinsert herself into the conversation hearing the blonde's inquiry.
"I don't see why you need-" She began before Ozpin interrupted her.
"Glynda." She immediately backed down, hearing the tone that left no room for argument from her superior. Ozpin shifted in his seat before answering the teen's question, with a question.
"Jaune, let me ask you this. Who do you think came forward with the information about your transcripts?"
"Who else would it be? We all know who did it." Nora said as Pyrrha narrowed eyes.
"Cardin." She whispered as Ruby had a look of anger as well.
"I'm not so sure here." Blake told her teammates.
Jaune paused thinking about those who knew his secrets, before he decided on who must have been the culprit.
"Cardin." Jaune's face held no contempt as his gaze fell to his lap, wearing a look blaming himself for believing the boy's claim. 'I should have known that not even his word was good for anything. I can't believe he-"
"I'm afraid it wasn't him who brought this issue to light."
NPr were left with looks of surprise as they heard that.
"Wha? But then who if not him?" Ren wondered as Pyrrha turned towards Weiss and Blake with a narrowed glare as the two glared back.
"Don't be so hasty to blame us Pyrrha. It might as well be you and not us who did that." Blake replied coldly, tired of the girl's accusations.
The blonde teen's eyes shot up to the headmaster's in disbelief, before a look of hurt crossed into his eyes as they began to water.
"Was it…" He began but couldn't finish, already knowing the answer.
"Yes. The other members of team JNPR as well as team RWBY came forward with this information." Ozpin said, confirming the boy's fears.
"Oh would you look at that, the rest of team JNPR. I wonder who that would be." Weiss looked at the team as Pyrrha looked down while Ren sighed and Nora had a sad look on her face.
"Not so fun when you are on the receiving end isn't it?" Blake asked with a snark, feeling a tiny sense of catharsis at seeing the champion get a dose of her own medicine.
"Before you say anything Ruby let me remind you that he said 'team RWBY' which means you told the headmaster as well." Weiss told her partner, not wishing to hear anymore annoying excuses. Her partner was about to say anything but quietly looked back at the screen.
"I've haven't been this disappointed in a very long time Jaune." Ozpin's words somehow managed to make him feel worse than before, despite having no connection with the man personally. "But I am so very, very, disappointed in both your team and Ms. Rose's."
At this Jaune wore a look of confusion as he faced the famous headmaster. Disappointed in the others? Why?
He wasn't the only one surprised.
"What? Disappointed? Why? We did what was right! He was unprepared and would have died!" Weiss cried out as Watcher sighed.
"Yes you did." He said, "At the same time though, did you really? After all, people can prove themselves through actions and he certainly did. Anyone can be trained to wave a weapon around, whether they have talent or not. It's all about giving one a chance, sometimes two to prove their place."
Ozpin just smirked and continued. "Mr. Arc, I have been doing this for a long time, do you really think I didn't know about your transcripts being forged?" As he said this, Glynda shot a look of disbelief at the headmaster, that soon shifted to anger.
"Ozpin! You knew about his records being fake? He could have died in the emerald forest!" she began as her rage found its way to the white-haired man.
"To be fair, I didn't know his aura wasn't unlocked. If I had, I would have unlocked it myself." The man said as he shrugged. "Besides, he's passed initiation, has he not?"
"And there is point number one. Does it really matter if he lied when he managed to pass the initiation?" Watcher asked them as Blake frowned.
"But he had Pyrrha with him. Does it really count if he had help from someone else? Because it just seems unfair for someone else to be denied a place when they deserve it more than he does." He nodded.
"That is true, but here is the thing. No one ever said that those denied should give up because they weren't accepted. After all, some of the legendary Huntsmen and Huntresses of their time never went into any academies and yet they became stronger than their peers. What do you think people were doing before Huntsman Academies were created?" He said bringing up pictures of people fighting Grimm before the Great War and Academy days as half of them looked slightly embarrassed.
"Okay, that's fair, but even if they did, what would be the chances that they would get better than if they were in an academy?" Blake asked as Watcher tilted his head to the side.
"I don't see why they wouldn't be able to. The Grim Reaper is the best example of someone who never went to any of the academies, yet was skilled enough that she inspired the likes of Qrow Branwen and Ruby here. The leaders of the White Fang are all strong in their own right and they trained themselves. If you never went to Beacon and trained with Sienna and Adam, then you would have learned more in a few years than the entirety of four years at Beacon, Blake. If Yang and Ruby kept training with Tai and Qrow in the wilds instead of going to Beacon, they would have been stronger than they are now, though Ruby would probably be less social. If Ren and Nora simply kept training in the wilds, they would still get the experience they would need."
Blake considered his words as did the others and most of them couldn't help but agree with his words.
"As for having Pyrrha's help, honestly I've seen many worlds where that isn't true. You believe that to be true because you had the bad luck of encountering two ancient Grimm at once, but what if you didn't and instead your road went smooth with only fodder Grimm as enemies? In many cases, Jaune did survive, though not without injuries. Just because you don't have fighting skills, doesn't mean you can't use what you learned in camps to survive alone in a forest."
"Why are you defending him so much?" Weiss asked as Watcher raised an eyebrow.
"I'm not. I look at both sides of the issue and try to understand and come up with explanations or conclusions for it due to my nature as a True Neutral. Honestly, Jaune might be a survivor in many futures, but that doesn't mean he is stronger than any of you, half the time it's actually the opposite. And if it was any of you in his place, I would do the same thing as I am doing right now." His words surprised them as they let them sink in.
The man with the flask let out a loud laugh from the pillar he leaned on, reminding the fellow occupants of the room of his presence before taking a large draw from the flask.
"Qrow! This isn't a laughing matter!" Goodwitch shouted at the man now known to the boy as Qrow, who in rebuttal just shrugged and took another swig of his drink.
"Yep, that's Uncle Qrow all right." Yang said with a small chuckle.
"Is he always like that?" Weiss asked as Ruby shook her head.
"Not all the time. This is when he is a fun uncle, sometimes though he is a serious uncle and that's kinda scary to be honest. But oftentimes he spends drinking from his flask and being a funny drunk." She told her while receiving a pointed look from her sister.
"And I hope you haven't followed his example enough to do the same, because if I find any hint of you drinking alcohol-"
"Yang, come on! I would never do that and you know it!" Ruby pouted at her sister who giggled at her reaction.
"Just messing with ya, Rubes." She brought her sister over for a noogie as her sister tried to get away.
She growled at him, before Ozpin spoke again, regaining everyone's attention.
"Regardless of the nature of your transcripts, I allowed you to attend Beacon because I felt that all the training you were denied, you could be given, since you have something that can't be taught." He paused, "You Mr. Arc, are a natural born leader. Your ability to assess a situation and determine who is best suited to handle it as well as organize others into a cohesive unit combined with your tactical prowess is not something that I wanted to let slip away."
Ozpin stood up from his seat and walked to the window behind him to gaze over Beacon Academy as he gave everyone a moment to think on what he'd said.
"That's point number two. Even if you were to report his transcripts, ultimately it's up to Ozpin and Glynda to decide whether to let him remain in Beacon or expel him. And as I said before in one of our previous viewings, Ozpin is not who seems to be."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Yang asked him as he chuckled.
"That I will tell you in due time, but what you should know is that this isn't the first time something like this has happened. He already had experience with people like Jaune, people who have done worse and have been worse than Jaune. Many times his decisions ended up not going well for him and other times they ended up being beneficial. Ozpin can see what others don't and since he let Jaune train instead of kicking him out, that means he sees something in him and decided to gamble on what would happen. What exactly he sees is unknown but since Jaune is still around and improving at an impressive pace, that means his gamble paid off, somewhat." NPR shared a glance, wondering if that was the reason why he made Jaune the leader and not any of them or let them in despite their questionable past.
"But Glynda isn't the same as Ozpin though." Weiss pointed out as he nodded.
"True, and in many worlds, Glynda does expel him and sometimes blacklisted him from other academies. Suffice it to say, most of the time, her decision kinda backfires on her and everyone else or she is left thinking 'what could have been' situations when he gets stronger in other Academies and comes back to surprise everyone in the Vytal Tournament." He showed them a picture of Jaune standing next to Sun, Neptune and their team wearing a Haven academy uniform, a picture of him having a tan, wearing desert clothing and standing in front of Shade Academy with seven other people and another one having him stand next to General Ironwood saluting the camera along with other Atlas Academy students.
The seven were glad for their friend as well as somewhat saddened that he couldn't stand alongside them. But their expression turned to shock as the next picture showed him standing next to Roman and Neo with one of his hands covered in blood and sitting on a pile of stolen money while another showed him leading a gang and standing amidst knocked out Huntsmen. It soon turned to horror when they saw him standing next to Cinder in the ruins of Beacon amidst the myriad of corpses.
"Although, that doesn't always happen and Jaune ends up living a simple life as a restaurant owner or some other businessman." He took back all the pictures and showed them a different picture of Jaune standing in front of a restaurant called 'Coeur Al'Aran', being a bouncer at Junior's club, creating a massage parlor or serving in the Atlas army as a simple soldier.
"The possibilities and consequences are unpredictable and one should always be careful of what they do. That action might be a catalyst for a downward spiral."
Qrow put his flask away before stepping away from the pillar he leaned against to stretch before speaking.
"I know you don't know me kid, but look, don't beat yourself up over this. So what you didn't get in legit? You worked your ass off to get through initiation. I just can't believe firecracker and her friends would turn on you over this…"
"Firecracker?" Jaune let slip.
"Oh, that's right, I forgot you don't know me. Name's Qrow Branwen. I'm Yang and Ruby's Uncle." Jaune's eyes widened in surprise.
"Wait. So you're the one who taught Ruby how to use a scythe?"
Qrow grinned widely, "So, the pipsqueak talked about her uncle? Yep, that's me, the best scythe user on Remnant."
"True but also not." Watcher said, making Ruby look at him in shock, "He is the best scythe user yes, but that's mostly due to the fact that there aren't really many scythe users around aside from you Ruby and maybe a few other people. I've seen many versions of him across the multiverse and believe when I say that he and by extension you can be even better. Imagine that Ruby."
The silver-eyed girl had an excited look on her face as she practically vibrated in one spot until her sister put a hand on her head to make her stop.
He walked over and shook Jaune's hand, before dropping down in the seat next to him, and continuing with a reminiscing look adorning his face.
"But listen, kid. Everyone does something bad. Yea, you didn't get here like everyone else, but you still got here, and you had good intentions. On one hand, what you did could've put your team in danger because of your lack of training. On the other hand, at least you lied about having training so that you could finally get some." He looked up to the ceiling and continued. "Everyone has dreams. How far you're willing to go to achieve them shows character. And I think you have a lot of it." The man said before getting up and moving to leave the room.
As he stepped towards the door that would bring him to the elevator, he looked back over his shoulder, and gave the blonde team some parting words.
"Good luck blondie." And with that he left the occupants in silence.
"Wow, that's…surprisingly profound coming from Uncle Qrow." Yang said.
"Yeah, usually he is not like that." Ruby added, also surprised.
"That's due to his own past." Watcher said, as the half-sisters looked up, "Believe it or not, Qrow and his sister did the same fake transcripts thing due to their own reasons and he understands Jaune because of that. His outlook contrasts that of his sister's, who would have told people like him to give up instead. It's one of the reasons why they don't see eye to eye anymore." Yang narrowed her eyes at him.
"Is that one of the reasons why she left me and dad?" he looked at her for several seconds with glowing eyes.
"One of the reasons. The rest you will learn in due time. Probably in one of the viewings." He replied as he leaned back, 'Given how long it might take for your friend to come back from the experiment, you will have learned enough by the time he returns.' He thought to himself.
As Glynda looked furious at Qrow for seemingly condoning the actions of the team, she was shaken from her thoughts by Ozpin.
"Glynda. Leave me and Mr. Arc so that we may discuss his future."
She looked as if she wanted to argue, before just letting out a sigh, glaring at Jaune and Ozpin and walking out of the room herself.
Both remaining occupants of the room were silent before Jaune took the initiative to start the conversation anew.
"So. What happens now?" He spoke with resignation.
"Well Jaune, the way I see it, you have three options. But regardless of what you choose, you will no longer be a student of Beacon after today." Seeing Jaune give a silent nod, he continued.
"He can no longer stay then." Ruby said with a sad sigh as did Pyrrha, Ren and Nora.
"Honestly, I think that's best for him." Blake told her as her leader looked up, "Think about it Ruby, if we know about his transcripts, chances are everyone else will know if he remains. We reported him when we heard that and we know him. What do you think the other freshmen, heck what do you think upperclassmen and senior students might do if they learn that one student got in by cheating?" Ruby thought about her words before she paled slightly as Blake nodded.
"That's right, at best they will openly resent him or bully him, at worst they will beat him up beyond any recognition at any chance they get and who knows what else they might do to him." Ruby shook slightly.
"B-But they wouldn't. He had good intentions!" She said, panicking slightly as Yang shook her head.
"Do you really think they will care about that Ruby? All that would matter is that their pride got hurt and they will want revenge, no matter what his intentions are and given how we reacted, he wouldn't have anyone to defend him or for him to rely on. Sure he helped Cardin but that's a hard maybe." Shocked, Ruby stayed silent.
"It could actually be worse," Ren added in as Ruby looked over to him, "Jaune is also made a team leader and partner to one of the best fighters of our generation whom everyone would pay any price to be with as well as staying in Beacon when he should be expelled. This situation will make their resentment that much worse and they might start making unpleasant rumors about him and Pyrrha. Rumors that would eventually reach not only Pyrrha's fans and civilians but people like the council and other Academies, making everything far worse for him, to the point where he might snap and receive major psychological damage and if the rumors reach his family…" He trailed off, as his team stared horrified at the implications and possibilities, as did team RWBY with Ruby's face turning completely white
"Good observation." Watcher said next to them, "No matter how you look at it, Jaune remaining in Beacon after that kind of revelation will have terrible consequences for him which is why Ozpin can't let him remain. He knows just what will occur if he does let him stay."
He let them process the information as Ruby managed to calm down while Ren calmed Nora down and put a reassuring hand on Pyrrha's shoulder.
"We won't let that happen." He whispered to her and she nodded in gratitude.
"Option one: we expel you and you try to make a life here in Vale as a citizen. No shame in that." He studied the blonde, gauging his reaction to the suggestion, and after seeing a cringe briefly appear, he continued.
"I can't blame him. I mean why would you want to be normal when you already saw and felt the thrill of being a Huntsman?" Yang said.
"Not only that, his father is from a line of heroes, by being a civilian, he will just prove his father right." Blake added as Ruby and Pyrrha frowned.
"Finally, the peer pressure from his family line would still be with him and he might be unsatisfied with the life of a normal citizen and always wonder about 'what ifs'." Weiss finished as the rest agreed with her words.
"The second option: we expel you and you can try to find work on the wrong side of the law, but that would only serve to make things much more…complicated." Jaune's face shifted to one of disgust at the mere possibility of him joining the criminal underworld, and Ozpin nodded in approval of the boy, before voicing the last option.
Blake shuddered slightly as she thought about the picture of Jaune being a partner to someone like Roman before her eyes widened in terror.
"I just realized something horrifying." She said as her partner turned to her.
"Realized what?" She frowned as she voiced her thoughts.
"Well, Jaune's Semblance can amplify his Aura and Semblance right? And he is also supposed to be a tactician right?" They nodded, "Imagine someone like Roman and Neo or Cinder or Gods help White Fang having him on their side." Their eyes widened in horror as well, team RWBY having a worse time as they knew just how dangerous Roman and his accomplice could be. If they ever had someone who could amplify them and make them stronger…They shuddered at the thought.
"Forget Roman, imagine how dangerous some of the gangs would be, especially Junior's. He would be able to control all of Vale." Yang said, adding to the horror.
"Forget about all of them, imagine how terrifying a criminal Jaune himself would become with that kind of power and potential." Ren added as some of the terror left them.
"Yeah, no. I don't think Jaune would ever willingly be a criminal." Yang told him.
"Imagine if he didn't have morals though, he was willing to get fake transcripts just to get to Beacon, how much worse could he become?" they turned towards Watcher who sighed.
"With Roman and Neo? Become the unstoppable criminal trio. With Junior? Become the most powerful gang in Vale. With White Fang? Make it a major threat not even Atlas would ignore. With Cinder? Destroy the entirety of Vale." Each possibility made them pale and shudder in horror.
"By himself though? Probably become just as dangerous as Roman but that's about it. He is more likely to be a vigilante though." That eased their worries somewhat.
"And option three. You withdraw from Beacon after we're finished talking, and I'll pull some strings to have you sent to one of the other three huntsman academies."
"Can he really do that?" Weiss asked as Watcher scoffed.
"He already pulled the strings so that Ruby would attend two years earlier, did so again when you as a team took a mission you were not ready for, covered up some shady stuff when team STRQ were students and already did a lot of things that required pulling some strings. While not easy, he is already used to doing stuff like this." Ruby looked surprised that he did and she and Yang had suspicious looks when he mentioned team STRQ.
Jaune shot up straight from his seat before speaking.
"You're not joking…I can still have a chance to become a huntsman? Please tell me you aren't making a cruel joke. Please…" Jaune was cut off by the older man's chuckle.
"Do I seem like the kind of man to joke in a situation like this young man?" Jaune shook his head without a moment of thought, before looking at the headmaster with a fire in his eyes.
"Sir, I'd like to formally withdraw from your academy." Jaune said, and the headmaster smiled in approval of the young man's choice.
"Wow, didn't hesitate in the slightest. I guess he didn't want to remain any longer. Not that I blame him." Nora said with a sad sigh.
"He would have done so regardless of that, Nora. He wanted to be a hero, why not take the chance when presented? Even then, it's his only chance right now." Ren said, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"I know Ren, it just hurts to see us discard him like that…or see him want to get away from us without hesitation."
"Accepted. I'll fill out the paperwork as I explain what is going to happen, and you choose which academy you want to go to, and since I have a sneaking suspicion you don't know much of the other academies," Ozpin wore a small smirk with an amused glint in his eyes as Jaune sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. "I'll tell you about the others, and which one I'd recommend."
Jaune nodded, and Ozpin sat down at his desk. Pulling out some forms and signing them, having Jaune sign over all the specified spots before beginning his lecture.
"The other academies are Haven, Shade, and Atlas. Haven is in Mistral," upon saying that, he saw Jaune cringe, and recalled that a small part of the young man's family is located on the same continent as Haven, which would make an unexpected, and unwanted, visit much more probable. Beacon though, being the same continent as the majority of his family, would have allowed for the teen's whereabouts to stay hidden from the world until the Vytal Festival. "But knowing your circumstances, I'd imagine you don't have much interest in attending their academy."
"Imagine how awkward that would be. The Academy you're in is in the same continent your family lives in. It's like having dad live in the Academy and awkward for you." Weiss raised an eyebrow.
"You sound like you know what that feels like." Yang nodded and gestured to Ruby.
"Dad and uncle Qrow are teachers at Signal. It was actually surprisingly awkward as many believed we were only the best because of them. It's why I was cautious when having friends at Signal."
"It's also why I didn't really want to socialize with most of the students there. Most of the time, you don't know who to trust, and hearing what people thought of you wasn't really pleasant." Ruby told her partner who gave her a look of slight pity, "Of course, it also resulted in me being unable to make friends at all, so it wasn't my best idea."
Jaune nodded furiously at this, and Ozpin continued onto the others.
"Shade is in Vacuo, which is on the same continent as us, but is drastically different in how they- sign there as well- operated. Vacuo is known for its beaches and deserts, and Shade academy has a…different teaching style than what would be considered conventional." At this Jaune tilted his head in confusion, finished signing everywhere required, and looked to Ozpin for clarity, causing the man to massage his temples in exasperation at just thinking of Shade's teaching philosophy.
"They believe that students don't need to be cared for, at all. Bullying is ignored openly even if a teacher is nearby, and fights can break out on the academy grounds anywhere two students have a disagreement. They will teach you to be a huntsman, but you will learn to fight and defend yourself on your own. And being that they've already begun their classes, you'd almost assuredly be the 'odd man out' and would likely have more than a few fellow students looking to make a display of you."
More than half the students cringed slightly at the description, while Yang and Nora whistled.
"So it's basically a school full of Cardin's and Nora's then?" Weiss asked as Nora looked over at her.
"Hey!" She pouted.
"Sorry but with the way Headmaster Ozpin described Shade Academy, there is no way that it isn't so. I wonder what kind of person a Headmaster of Shade is to let that happen." She put a hand on her chin, trying to imagine the school.
"Well, it is located in a Kingdom where the strongest survive so I'm not surprised it's like that. It's amazing that the Academy is even standing in one place if it really is like that." Blake told her as she took a bite out of a sandwich.
"Man, imagine all the fights we would get Nora, that would certainly be fun." Yang told the hammer maiden who gripped her weapon's handle while having a jolly smile on her face. Everyone else though slightly shivered at the thought.
Jaune stood silently as he deliberated over the shade academy opportunity. He would almost assuredly become stronger from the experience, but he could also find himself with a team full of lone-wolf types with no teamwork skills. Ozpin had begun writing a letter of some sort when Jaune finally spoke again.
"And what about Atlas?"
Ozpin adjusted his glasses and looked up to the teen from his writing briefly before continuing to write while answering him.
"Well Jaune, Atlas was going to be my suggestion for you anyway. The Atlas huntsman academy resides in Atlas, obviously, which resides above Mantle in the continent of Solitas."
Uh, Weiss?" Ruby turned to her partner, "What does he mean by above Mantle?" Weiss looked around, seeing the confused looks the others had before sighing.
"Well, you know how people say Mantle is overshadowed by Atlas in history lessons and in some conversations?" They nodded, "Here's the thing: They mean it literally. Atlas floats above Mantle and quite literally overshadows it."
The other students had varying looks of surprise, with Blake being the least surprised, Ruby and Yang being the most.
"How?" Yang asked as Weiss took out Gravity Dust.
"Gravity Dust. At least that's the story, I'm not really sure how they did it but it worked."
"Above…Mantle?" Jaune looked to Ozpin confused, to which the older man just smirked and continued.
"Oh, believe me Jaune, I'd ruin the surprise, but if things go as I suspect they will, it'd be grander for you to see it for yourself, I assure you." Ozpin shook himself off his musings and returned to writing the letter. "But back to the matter at hand, it would be the best for you from an objective standpoint. Do you know what the four academies each do best?" Jaune shook his head.
"Haven and Vacuo specialize in taking hunters who have adequate skills already and enhancing them further, either as a team in Haven's case, or individually in Shade's case. Beacon and Atlas are better at 'rebuilding a huntsman' brick by brick and developing a more solid foundation for their students to grow from. Beacon is the better choice for a young huntsman who needs to see things from a different perspective and learn to take things on from a different angle. Atlas is better however for someone who, like yourself, needs to be trained in all aspects of being a huntsman."
"I wonder what he or how we would have been like if we went to the other three Academies. Would we be different compared to now?" Blake wondered, making the others ask the same question as well.
"It depends," Watcher said, "Sometimes the changes are personality wise in places like Atlas and Shade, sometimes he remains the same Jaune that you know, skill wise though, the progress is different each time, same for all of you. Shade gives more individual experience at the cost of making you a lone wolf, Atlas makes some of you more of a soldier who sticks to the rules than a Huntsman and Haven makes him the same as he is now but more confident. Mostly from being in Sun's team or being his friend."
"Huh, it's interesting how one can change depending on the Academy. I can already imagine us going to Atlas and becoming like Weiss." Yang said as the heiress scowled.
"Hey!" She protested as her teammates laughed at her reaction .
At this Jaune's face shifted into a sheepish grin, before Ozpin continued.
"There, you'll develop a combat style that is your own, or adopt one that suits you. You'll be given a partner by the headmaster after your evaluation and form a team with another partner pair. The four of you will share a dorm similar to how you did here at Beacon, and unlike here at Beacon, any huntsman training missions you go on, you will be paid for in preparation for the life of being a real huntsman." At this Jaune perked up, a chance to earn experience and get paid for it was a dream come true for the blonde.
"Along with that any supplies you might need from clothing to ammunition will also be funded by Atlas because of their affluent nature."
Yang whistled in appreciation after hearing that.
"Man, Atlas is prepared for everything. Wish we could have that in Beacon." Yang said, slightly jealous of Jaune now.
"I don't think Beacon's budget would allow them to do that, Yang." Weiss said, realizing the costs would be more than Beacon would handle.
"Yeah, but it would be nice, you know?" She told her and turned to the others, "I think most of us would agree on that, right?" She received nods in return.
Ozpin put the finishing touches on his parchment, before folding it and sealing it in an envelope, sealing it with a sticker. He shifted his gaze to Jaune before speaking again.
"Since you weren't born in Atlas, nor are you currently a citizen in Atlas, you will strictly be enrolled in the huntsman academy of Atlas only."
At the clarification, he silently asked a question with his eyes to the white-haired man.
"Ah. I forgot to clarify. Atlas' kingdom, academy, and armed forces all share one campus. Atlas doesn't get a lot of foreign students, and since most of their students are local, they typically join huntsman academy and take some military or law enforcement hybrid classes. You, being a foreigner, will only be eligible to take the huntsman classes, and won't be able to join their military or armed forces unless you lawfully become a citizen." Ozpin explained to the teen. Jaune listened with rapt attention and made mental notes of all he heard.
Ozpin took a deep breath, before dropping the biggest bombshell about his plan on the young man.
"And lastly, you will have to make, design, or purchase your own weapon so that you can participate in their combat classes." Once he said this, teen seemed confused, and didn't hesitate to voice it.
"His own weapon? Why, though? He has Crocea Mors and that thing is extremely reliable for such an old weapon from what we've seen." Yang said.
"I'm not so sure myself, unless of course he means upgrading the sword with long range options otherwise he is implying that…" Weiss stopped as her eyes widened with realization.
"Weiss? Hey, Weiss? What is he implying?" Ruby asked her partner who shook her head.
"I think it would be better if you keep watching Ruby." Weiss told her, knowing what might have happened.
"Why would I need to do that? I have my family's sword." Ozpin leveled a sympathetic stare at him before he spoke softly. "No Jaune…you have the Arc family heirloom."
Ren's eyes widened as he heard what he said.
"Oh, no." He muttered as Pyrrha gained a horrified look.
"Please no." Nora looked between them, confused at their reaction.
"Am I missing something?" They showed no reaction and she looked back at the screen, confused.
"But…that's what I just said?" Jaune questioned
"Jaune, think about what I'm saying. What happened up to this point, and everything in between. You don't have your family's sword; you have the Arc family's sword." Once this was said, the blonde looked down trying to read between the lines to discover what his former headmaster was saying, before his breathing stopped. He went pale, and broke out in a cold sweat, his breathing erratic. And all because of what he just realized.
He wasn't an Arc anymore. He had been disowned.
Ruby spat out her drink, coughing as some got into her lungs as she looked at the screen with horror.
Yang's eyes widened before they narrowed as her lilac eyes slowly turned red.
Weiss released a sad sigh, expecting something like that.
Blake's eyebrows shot up, surprise on her face, not expecting such a thing.
And Nora, well…
"WHAAAAAT?!" She shouted so loudly, it caused Blake to wince as she stood up, "Disowned?! But WHY?!"
Her loud voice brought everyone out of their state.
"It can't be helped, Nora." Weiss told her as the hammer maiden turned to her, "What Jaune did was dishonorable and disgraceful to their name. After that kind of act, it would be the most sensible action they would have to take."
"How is that sensible?!" Yang asked her with red eyes, "His dad is the reason why he had to do it. He didn't want to train his son and Jaune had to do what he did to become a Huntsman. It makes no sense to disown your son for something that is largely YOUR own fault! Why would he even deny his son training in the first place?!" The blonde brawler shouted as Weiss crossed her arms.
"The other choices are either to put him in a horrible prison or kill him, you want him to go through that?" Yang opened her mouth but nothing came out and she huffed while looking away.
"I do understand your anger though. Jaune may have done something like that but a harsh punishment would have sufficed as well, but if his father was willing to do that without hesitation that shows how he thinks of his own flesh and blood." Her mind wandered to her father as she clenched her hand around one of the handles.
"It makes you wonder, what would our Jaune's father do if he learned of this?" Blake asked as she turned to Watcher who turned to them.
"In case of transcripts, beat up his son for risking his life trying to live up to the family line and then congratulate him for making good progress before grounding him for a long time. If he learned of what other Jaune's dad did, he would be livid for he valued family above all else." Yang raised an eyebrow.
"If he does, why didn't he train Jaune then?" Watcher stayed silent before slowly turning to the screen.
"Partially because of Jaune himself but mostly because of what would happen if he did train Jaune." Pyrrha raised an eyebrow at that.
"What would happen if he trained Jaune?" Watcher sighed
"Let's just say, the Arc family hides a dark secret in its warrior lineage." He brought up an image of a female figure holding a bloodied sword of Crocea Mors kneeling in front of four graves with tears in her eyes, the double crescent symbols on each grave visible.
His words left all of the students confused with most of them worried as well.
Ozpin spoke again. "Once this was brought to Glynda, she did some digging and found the contact information for your parents and contacted them before she brought all this to me. They told me of their decision and that I was to inform you and send them Crocea Mors."
He tried to hide his pain, but his eyes were freely letting tears leak out, and his lips couldn't keep his quiet sob contained as he stood straight, refusing to break down in front of the man telling him he could achieve his dream. He just nodded his head and bit his lip, forcing any tears in his eyes not to fall, as he reached down to his hip gripping Crocea Mors as if it was a lifeline. He closed his eyes, and brought his arm forwards, slowly and ever so reluctantly thrusting his family's-no…the Arc family's sword, towards the older man. As Ozpin's hands received the sword and sheath, he waited for Jaune to let go, knowing the pain the young man felt.
Ruby sighed sadly.
"I told him he should be proud of having a classic and traditional weapon. Now he lost the only thing that saved him."
"It can't be helped, Ruby. He had to do it." Weiss told her partner.
"I know. Still doesn't feel right to let go of something that is an extension of you."
After a few painful moments of the blonde recalling the times the sword saved him, he let his fingers unwrap from the sheath, and slowly allowed his hand to fall to his side. Ozpin put the heirloom behind his desk and placed a business envelope on the desk, before asking Jaune of his decision.
"So Jaune, which of the other three academies do you wish to attend?"
Jaune stood quietly for a moment, thinking of which academy would best suit his needs, but thinking about everything Ozpin had said he realized his best choice was just as the headmaster said.
"Sir. I choose…" He took a breath to calm his nerves and steel himself, "Atlas."
"We salute you soldier." Yang jokingly saluted to the screen before snickering as did Nora.
"Really?" Weiss asked with a raised eyebrow and deadpan voice as Yang ignored her.
The white-haired man nodded to him, glad he could accept advice in a crunch, and addressed the envelope to one "James Ironwood" before handing it to the boy. Jaune took the packet tenderly, staring at his second chance, his opportunity to truly earn his place in the world as a huntsman-to-be, before Ozpin interrupted from his thoughts.
"That concludes our business then young man. A bullhead will be awaiting you at the docks in two hours, it will take you to Atlas, you should arrive there around 7pm. You'll be escorted to the visiting student dorms, and tomorrow you'll have your evaluations done, and be assigned a partner and team within the week if I had to make an estimation."
Ruby thought about anyone she knew from Atlas and came up with only one person who he could meet.
"Say, isn't Penny from Atlas?" Yang asked the others.
"You think she will be his partner?" Blake asked as Yang shrugged.
"Who knows? Just a guess."
Jaune looked slightly off put by how soon he'd be on his way to his new academy. Before he just nodded to the headmaster and shook his hand.
"I'd head to your dorm room to grab your personal belongings if I were you and say any goodbyes you might have before heading straight to the bullhead docks." Jaune wiped his face and took a deep breath to regain his calm demeanor as he made his way to the door that would take him to the elevator. As he opened the door and began to make his way out, the white-haired huntsman halted him one last time.
"Jaune." The blonde teen turned to face him.
"Since you're leaving Beacon on your own terms due to personal reasons, theoretically, if you wished to return to Beacon academy for your second and subsequent years of Huntsmen training, you'd just need your transcripts from Atlas". The man said with a smirk. The blonde teen's eyes widened slightly, before he returned the smug look to the professor.
"I'll keep that in mind, sir. And thank you. For everything."
"You are most certainly welcome young man. Good luck."
"You said that Headmaster Ozpin is now what he seems." Watcher nodded as Weiss looked slightly uncomfortable, "Do you mean that he was once the same? Or that he knew more than others did? Because from your words you imply that he is older than he should be."
He kept staring at her with unblinking eyes, making her feel uneasy as did others before he let out a soft chuckle.
"Yes." He said, confusing her.
"Wait, yes what? What was I correct about? That he knew more or that he was older?"
"Yes." He replied again, slightly frustrating Weiss.
And with that Jaune made his way out of the room and towards the elevator, his destination being the dorm he shared with his former friends.
"Do you think we did the right thing guys?" Came the inquiry of one Ruby Rose.
"Absolutely. That dolt always struck me as not deserving to be here, and this only proved it." The Schnee heiress spat out with disgust.
"Hell yea Rubes! He could've gotten his team or ours hurt because he isn't trained to do this." The blonde brawler of team RWBY voiced her thoughts, no regret present in her voice.
"…" Blake sat silent reading her book on the floor of team JNPR. She was conflicted on the matter. She had skeletons in her closet, ones that she was 100 percent certain would make Jaune's secret look like a molehill in comparison to her mountain. She just locked eyes with Ruby before nodding in confirmation.
"Oh, so two of us didn't really agree here? I get Ruby but Blake?" Ren turned to the faunus who sighed at her other version's behavior.
"I never revealed my heritage or past. I guess the fear of what would happen if I did anything caused me to hesitate here. Still, I'm glad that my other self didn't try to be a hypocrite, if only because what will happen in the future might get her in trouble."
"It's good to see that Ruby is still his friend, even after the reveal." Pyrrha said, giving the scythe user an appreciative nod.
Nora and Ren both sat in silence as their friends all voiced their opinions of Jaune and couldn't help but agree. He knew that he would be putting his future team in danger with his stunt, yet he still had the gall to attend and not tell anyone until he was threatened to.
"He makes me sick. He put us all in danger, he made me protect him all during initiation." Everyone was minorly surprised by the red-head's reaction, but remembered her upbringing of being modest, honest, wanting to protect people and being loyal. In her eyes, he was none of those, and she refused to let his dishonesty get someone killed.
"It's strange to look at how things would have gone if you don't have a crush, isn't it?" Watcher asked Pyrrha who looked up confused.
"What do you mean?" He chuckled and appeared in front of her.
"Think Pyrrha, in your case, your crush on Jaune stopped you from reporting him, it's your crush on him that made you want him as your partner and it's your crush on him that made you forgive him so easily. But ask yourself this: Would any of that happen if you didn't have a crush on him? Would you have done the same as your other self? And most importantly, do you believe in him because you truly see potential in him or are you only saying that because of your crush on him? How would things go if certain emotions were not there to influence you?" he pointed with both hands to his temples and looked her dead in the eye.
"Think Pyrrha." His words surprised her and she looked down in thought, processing everything he said as another doubt appeared in her head.
All the members of team RWBY and JNPR sat in the latter team's dorm, most of their conversations consisted of their formal friend, from ridicule to thoughts of what punishments he would or should undergo. Little did they know, he had recently been given a chance to prove himself to the world and show all his naysayers that he could be a hero.
Outside of JNPR, now just NPR's door, stood the blonde teen who was the topic of their conversations. He listened against the door as they insulted him behind his back, though knowing they wouldn't hesitate to do so in his presence. He refused to let them see his pain, instead he fabricated a look of bored indifference and took a deep breath as he entered the room.
All conversation ceased as he entered the room, before the temperature dropped slightly and the tension rose to tangible heights. He was met with glares, sneers, looks of disappointment, indifference, and one possibly of regret? He just raised a hand, and everyone watched to see what he would do next, before yawning and making his way to his bed. Despite the blasé attitude, if one was to look close enough, they might notice a glint of mirth at indulging in his scarcely shown petty side.
"Eh, good thinking. At least he doesn't try to gloat or try to make things awkward."
He pulled out his knapsack from beneath his bed and began to repack his personal items. The process took all of ten minutes and no one spoke a word as he did so. When he finally finished with the repacking of his items, he pulled out his scroll and gently set it down on the desk. Watching as he did, Weiss decided to be the first to break the silence that had befallen everyone.
"So Arc," This reopened the still very fresh wound left behind by his recent disownment, but he ignored it in favor of keeping up his façade. "How does it feel to know that all of us have turned our backs on you, and that you haven't anyone to blame but yourself?" the former subject of the blonde boy's affection spat at him.
Weiss flinched slightly at Ruby's frown and Pyrrha's disapproving look while others either sighed tiredly or stayed silent.
Jaune just lazily turned his head over before ignoring her, to her ire, and yawning once again as he began to inspect his former bed.
"Hey Vomit-boy! My teammate asked you a question, and I expect her to get an answer." The blonde brawler of team RWBY said as she gave the boy a look that promised pain.
"Yang, no offense, but you kinda sounded petulant and entitled right now." Blake told her partner who waved her off.
"None taken. I'm kinda surprised my other is acting like that though, it's not like he hurt Ruby or anything like that, well physically at least."
"You're still in the right though. He could have gotten any of us or any innocent hurt." Weiss argued as Yang sighed softly and turned to the rest.
"Anyone here got hurt by anything that Jaune did?" No one said anything with Blake muttering "As if he could anyway" under her breath.
"Anyone seen any civilians get hurt because of him?"
Again, no one said anything as Yang turned to Weiss.
"I doubt that he would get anyone hurt with what his Semblance can do now. Even then, do you really think that with them," She pointed at NPR, "That anyone would get hurt?"
Weiss looked at them for several moments before sighing.
"I suppose you have a point."
The teen in question just looked at her, before chuckling and still refusing them an answer.
This set the blonde girl off, but before she could make a move towards the teen, he found himself held at the collar by his former partner. His eyes found hers, and both said nothing. After a minute of anxious silence, the blonde boy slapped the red-head's hand away from him and made his way to the door with his knapsack slung over his shoulder. He made his way to the door without hesitation, opening it and exiting with a ghost of a smirk on his face as he turned around before closing the door.
As he stood outside the door, he could hear the angry remarks his former friends made after his departure and looked to the ground. He watched as small clear orbs fell from his eyes as he thought of how he now had no one. He stood there in silence for a moment before he lifted his head up and made his way to the bullhead docks, wiping his tears away as he did so.
"You know, in a way, I think this Jaune kinda had it easy compared to that Jaune with Servants." Blake told her friends who all had surprised looks.
"Why? How could he have had it better? We betrayed him both times." Ruby said as Blake gestured to them.
"Because he didn't have the same bond as that one with Servants and we only reported him because we knew him for a short time as opposed to knowing him for nearly a year like that Jaune. In that world, we replaced him with someone else until he was left with no one and he was blacklisted from any Academy after being expelled, after that he encountered a magic vampire who told him to fight extremely powerful people. This Jaune, though, still has a chance at attending an Academy and becoming a hero."
"But he was disowned, lost his weapon and even if he went to Atlas, what are the chances he would qualify?" Ren asked as Blake looked at him.
"Because even if he fails, he can still get another chance, compared to having none at all."
He was just around the corner from the bullhead docks, but he still had a half hour of time to pass before the bullhead would arrive to carry him to his new life. He was broken from his thoughts as someone came around the corner where his destination was. He looked up, seeing four individuals he thought he wouldn't see again for quite a bit of time.
In front of him stood team CFVY, looking as if they had just returned from a training trip, most likely in the emerald forest, if the dirt and scratches on their combat outfits were any indication. As a fifth body came around the corner, Jaune's eyes widened as he saw the state the student was in. Cardin Winchester had come around the corner behind team CFVY looking as if he had taken a stroll through a meat grinder. Scratches, bruises, burn marks, and a plethora of other telltale signs of a rather rough time littered the ginger-haired teen.
"Say, did Velvet tell Coco anything about being bullied?" Yang asked her sister who shook her head.
"I'm not really sure, maybe she did and convinced Coco not to attack him or maybe she just saw no reason to do so. I asked Coco about it but she just shrugged it off and said, 'Velvet can take care of herself, I should know, I've seen what she is like when angry'." Ruby replied as Yang nodded.
"Makes sense, they are upperclassmen. I doubt that someone like Cardin would be worth any trouble to them." Pyrrha said, understanding why Velvet never retaliated.
Team CFVY all had rather satisfied smiles on their faces as they conversed about something Jaune couldn't hear. He tried to make himself scarce, but before he could find a way to conceal himself, Velvet's eyes found him, and she waved to him with a rare wide smile and pep in her step, but it left as she saw immediately that something was wrong. He tried to quickly put his emotional mask back on, but before he could, the girl and her team surrounded him and immediately began to question him.
"Jaune, what's wrong?" The rabbit faunus asked him gently. The blonde covered his face with his arms trying to hide his tear marks, but his arm was firmly pulled down by the sunglasses wearing leader of team CFVY, Coco.
"Kid. What happened?" He tried to mask how he was feeling but failed as a tear made his way to the corner of his eyes as he began to crack under the attention and care he was getting. He felt a hand on his back and looked to Fox, the silent martial artist teammate of Velvet, and another hand on his shoulder which belonged to the impassive, but caring giant of team CFVY, Yatsuhashi.
"Woah, woah, woah. When did Jauney boy get close to CFVY? Has anyone seen him talk to them before or after being bullied?" Yang asked the others who shook their heads except Ruby who raised her hand.
"Well, we do kinda meet up with Coco at times to talk about our teams or different stuff. I think Coco said something about Velvet noticing Cardin not bullying her or Jaune but that's about it." She said while Pyrrha raised an eyebrow.
"That's it? No secret meetings or anything like that?" She asked as Ruby shook her head.
"No, only several leader meetings but that's it."
"Alternate universe. Don't think about it too hard." Watcher reminded them as he looked at the shelves to see if any card lit up. So far none of them did.
"I-uhm, I'm leaving Beacon…" At this, all members of the second-year team were alarmed. They began an interrogation of their underclassmen, trying to find answers to his sudden change of student status.
"Jaune, why would you give up on your dream? I've never met someone as pure-hearted as you that was determined to achieve their dreams. So why?" Spoke Yatsuhashi, and the rest of his team couldn't help but nod in agreement with the giant's words.
Jaune stood silent for a moment surrounded by his older friends and could only hope they wouldn't forsake him after he told them of his secret. As he spoke, Cardin had finally caught up to the second-year students in time to freeze as he heard what his former victim said.
"I don't have a choice…I wasn't going to be allowed to stay here after today."
"Jaune, what are you talking abo-" began Coco, only to be interrupted by the blonde.
"I'm a fraud." As the words left his mouth, team CFVY stood confused.
"You're a fraud?" Coco asked.
"I didn't go to any huntsman prep school. I never received any type of huntsman training. I forged my transcripts and came here with no skills and no support." Team CFVY stood in silence, and at this the boy continued. "Ozpin and Ms. Goodwitch found out and I was called to talk with them, and they told me that I couldn't remain a student at Beacon." This time, Velvet was the one to ask the boy a question.
"But Jaune, how did they find out?" When she asked this, the boy's head snapped to her direction with an incredulous look painted on his face.
"W-what…" He stammered out.
"Velvet. Someone probably ratted him out." Coco spoke to the rabbit-eared girl.
Velvet's eyes steeled. "Jaune. Who told them?" She repeated
"You mean…you guys don't resent me?" He managed to croak out.
"You said that the upperclassmen might resent him right?" Ruby asked Blake who nodded.
"I said, MIGHT resent him. We don't really know what will happen so that was my best guess, but given how everyone acts, I wouldn't be surprised if that happened."
The brown-haired fashionista walked forward once he asked this before delivering a light chop to the top of his head. He looked at her as she silently took him into a hug. He stood there until Coco backed away from him and spoke.
"Jaune, you helped my partner out. I heard about how you stood up for her in the cafeteria, making yourself a certain ginger's target." As she said this, everyone's eyes found their way to said ginger who was now looking down to the ground in shame at his actions. After a moment of putting the former bully in the spotlight, her eyes went back to Jaune's own cerulean orbs.
"None of us share a lunch with her, so we couldn't come help her, but you did it without hesitation, and put yourself on the chopping block. That is something that I will be eternally grateful for. Who cares if you forged your transcripts? You still made it through initiation and are willing to protect people you barely even know. That's enough for me." Once she said that, the other members of team CFVY all nodded their heads in agreement with their leader's words.
"Okay, okay, we get it. He got through initiation, he proved himself. Can they please stop saying that already?" Yang asked with a tired sigh as Watcher chuckled.
"Just a few more minutes Yang and we can move on from this world."
"I hope so."
"Now. Who all knew about your transcripts?" The gunner asked him.
He took a moment to compose himself, before speaking. "Cardin," As soon as the name left his mouth, all heads turned to the boy to glare at him with murderous intent pouring from their eyes. The blonde spoke again, "my team, and team RWBY."
Once Coco heard of all the possible culprits, began to walk towards Cardin with her fury etched on her face, but before she could take more than a few steps, the voice of the blonde team she wanted to help shocked her.
"Cardin didn't do it." As he said this, the ginger in question let out a sigh of relief, and the members of team CFVY, as well as Cardin, blood ran cold. Suddenly they began to understand how much pain the boy was in.
"I-it was the rest of my team and…RWBY that told them." He managed to mutter out, just loud enough that all present heard him.
He let himself lean against the wall of the building they were next to and slide down to the grass, burying his face in his hands as he retold the last few weeks he had suffered. He told them of him confessing his secret to his former partner, of the events that transpired in the Forever Fall Forest, of how he'd no longer be allowed to finish his first year at Beacon, and of how he had been disowned. He also had let them know that he was being given a second chance in Atlas, and how he might even have an opportunity to come back to Beacon. He let himself cry and be surrounded by people who genuinely cared about him and didn't abandon him after learning of his secret.
After he finished his retelling, team CFVY looked murderous, all four members leaking both aura and killing intent. All of them seemed to have something brewing in their minds, but Jaune quickly stopped their trains of thought.
"Guys. Whatever you're thinking, don't. I'm not gonna stoop to their level, and I won't let you either."
"At least he doesn't hold a grudge so that's a plus." Ruby said as Weiss scoffed.
"Ruby, even if he were to hold a grudge, we outclass him. Even after a decade, he would still be weaker than us and no amount of training can make up for that. I'm right in this, aren't I?" She addressed the last part to Watcher who turned to them.
"Yes and no. Intense training can do a lot of wonders. Although that depends."
At this Velvet looked as if she was going to protest but was silenced at the mischievous grin the forlorn blonde wore.
"Besides, I have a plan." The smile he wore was infectious, for as soon as he said those five words, the elite second-year students began to copy his smile.
"What's your plan?" The question came from the guilt-ridden ginger in the back, but Jaune answered nonetheless.
"Get stronger. Strong enough to be able to fight at Coco's team's level." He said with a confidence that no one expected.
"Again, how? You have no experience and no idea on how to use Aura and you have no weapon with you. How do you even plan to get to their levels?" Blake asked the screen.
"Blake, have some faith in him." The faunus shot her leader a look that managed to get her to recoil.
"Faith? It's one thing to have some blind faith in someone, it's another thing entirely when that someone claims he will get as strong as people who trained for a decade. We are the ones who are looking at it rationally, you are only doing so based on a hunch Ruby and so are you Pyrrha. This whole situation is stupid and it's starting to get on my nerves." She replied as Watcher raised an eyebrow.
"No Blake, a stupid situation is if all of you decided to team up and kill him when someone framed him for hurting Ruby and he comes back so edgy he makes any blade in Remnant seem dull by comparison and inexplicably becomes super overpowered." She blinked twice as she heard the situation.
"What you just described sounds like something that only the emotionally immature 15 year old would come up with, no way those kinds of worlds exist." She said as Watcher's head twitched to the right.
"Well, I've seen those worlds, trust me you would need bleach to clean out what you saw."
Fox shot Jaune a look that needed no explanation, asking the boy what came after getting stronger, something that all present wanted to know.
"Show them who they turned their backs on and prove to everyone that I will make my dream a reality. The only thing I haven't figured out is where I would show off my strength…" The blonde trailed off as he began to try and think of a suitable place.
Cardin took the open silence to try and make a helpful suggestion.
"Hey Jauney-Boy, do you know about the Vytal Festival?
"The Vytal Festival. Hmm...You said that he comes back stronger right? How much are we talking about?" Pyrrha asked as Watcher put a hand on his chin.
"It varies. Sometimes very strong, other times not so much. Although there are times where he won the title, and in one of them he was still in Beacon and defeated you." His answer surprised though a tiny smile appeared on her face, as well as Nora's.
"Don't get your hopes up for yours though. You would need three weeks of intense no break training to achieve that." A frown appeared on Pyrrha's face before it was replaced with determination.
Jaune looked up to the clock that sat atop an ornate post nearby and saw that he had a mere five minutes to get to the docks to catch his bullhead. He stood back up and picked up his knapsack again before slinging it over his shoulder. He promised to keep in touch, and team CFVY promised to keep an eye on team NPR and RWBY. As the older students left, Jaune was left alone with Cardin.
"So…why do you look like you just got done being a human crash test dummy?" Jaune inquired of the ginger, to which Cardin cringed before answering.
"I went to their dorm to formally apologize to Velvet for being…me. And while she forgave me, her team thought I needed to earn it, and so I went with them to the far end of the emerald forest to help them 'train.'" Jaune winced at the thought of being used as a punching bag by Velvet's team and felt a small pang of sympathy for the boy.
"Hey Jaune?" Jaune took note of the tentative tone the ginger teen was using.
"Yea? What's up Cardin."
"Listen, I'm really sorry about what happened with your team and your family…or former family." The boy paused, taking a deep breath before putting his hand toward the blonde "I know we aren't friends, and that I don't deserve it. But I misjudged you, and I want to repay you for everything."
"But why? What brought this on all of a sudden?" The former Arc asked.
"Look…yesterday showed me some things. My team aren't my friends, and I don't have any friends here at Beacon when I really think about it. All the people that hang around me are only doing so because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't." He paused. "I'm…still not exactly sure where I stand on the faunus yet, but Velvet is actually pretty alright, so maybe I'll try to be a little more…accepting."
"I always wondered why CRDL seemed a bit underwhelming. If his team follows him out of fear then that explains why they lost and why they left him with that Ursa." Weiss said to herself.
"Believe it or not there are worlds where CRDL doesn't exist or its members are in different teams. Ironically they work better than CRDL does."
Jaune was quite surprised by the boy, never having expected this much of a change. "Wow Cardin, you're actually really trying to change huh?" The ginger in question just nodded in confirmation as he continued, "Listen man, you don't have to force yourself to change overnight, but the fact that you're willing to admit that you were wrong, and adjust how you do things, speaks volumes." Jaune took a step forward before gently putting a hand towards his former bully.
Cardin stared at it for a moment before looking up to meet Jaune's eyes as the blonde spoke.
"Friends?" The ginger didn't hesitate this time, meeting the boy in a firm handshake with a small smile.
"Friends." Cardin responded.
Around the corner of the building the older students walked down, a brown-haired, rabbit-eared faunus smiled and snapped a picture of the two from her hiding spot, before slipping away to catch up with her team.
"I feel like Velvet is gonna get along with Cardin for some reason." Weiss said to which her team laughed or giggled.
"Heh, now that would be funny. A bully and old victim being more than friends. I have a hard time believing that. Yang replied as she opened a can of soda.
The trip to Atlas via bullhead could be considered both blessing and curse for the young man.
Jaune suffered from motion sickness and had to resist the urge to empty his stomach contents several times in the first hour of the trip. But, thankfully, around the third hour into their flight, the boy began to be able to ignore the pulsating nausea he felt, or at the very least, push it away from the forefront of his mind. It gave him time to think of the five students who he was certain were his allies and friends. It also gave him time to plan out what he needed to do once he was a student in Atlas, which was what he was doing now on a small notepad he had pulled from his knapsack.
*step one-Get a weapon.
"Figure out the size and weight, what kind of weapon would fit best, the ranged option as well as the transforming mechanism." Ruby said as she took out a notebook and began to write up the requirements, "Oh and the metal required to be used. Fail one of them and the weapon is no good."
"She sure knows a lot about weapons." Blake whispered to Yang who smiled with pride.
"Well, she had to learn a lot in order to make sure Crescent Rose is as good as it is now."
*step two-Make a workout regimen.
"Given his build and Semblance, it would be a good idea for him to focus on being a tank or at least a tough close range fighter. Though it depends on what weapon he uses." Yang said aloud, coming with a good regimen.
"He needs to get into shape first and then come up with weapon training." Pyrrha added, her memory going to the droid she fought and wrote down a way to make it fit her partner.
*step three-Figure out how to deal with lack of range (Maybe make this part of step one?)
"Either put a gun on a new weapon or make the gun separate. The latter might be a bit of a problem though." Ren considered.
"He could have both really. He uses a gun and when it's knocked away, he switches to the one on his weapon." Blake suggested as Weiss turned to her.
"Why not just have him train to use those Aura beams that you can pull off?" Blake shook her head.
"That requires a lot of training and a certain degree of Aura mastery. It's not so easy to do the first time, I failed many times prior to getting a hang of it."
*step four-Discover my semblance.
"Say that makes me wonder, would his Semblance be different since he is an alternate Jaune or would it be the same because if yes, then Atlas is going to get a major benefit from it." Yang said as Weiss hummed in thought.
"Atlas Academy wouldn't even think about letting him go to other Academies after learning that then. That kind of power could help many of their soldiers and Huntsmen." She added, making the others frown.
"His Semblance is different here, so things will be different." Watcher told them.
The boy looked at his list, biting his lip in thought, before pocketing it with a sigh of frustration. He knew that he wanted to become stronger but had no solid plan on how to get as strong as the ones who betrayed him, loathe as he was to admit it.
"Hey kid, this is your first-time seeing Atlas?" The pilot called out from the control pit.
"Huh? O-oh, yeah it is." The boy called back as he was shaken from his thoughts.
The pilot chuckled, "Then you might wanna come see this. The first view of Atlas is always the best."
The blonde teen tilted his head in confusion, before standing and steadily making his way to the cockpit of the aircraft. Once he reached the pilot's chair, he looked out the window, and stood silently in awe as the city slowly came into view.
Down on the surface of Remnant was a city full of both stationary and moving glowing lights surrounded by a calm sea. The smoke from what the boy assumed were factories drafted upwards creating a veil like cover to the mountains behind the city, and a giant cloud hung mysteriously low above.
Yang and Nora whistled at the sight though Blake and Ren frowned remembering Weiss's words.
"So that's Mantle huh? Looks slightly better than Vale, I gotta say." Blake said as Weiss nodded.
"Indeed, Mantle isn't as impressive as Atlas but it does have its own benefits and beauty. Though there are problems in it that remain largely ignored." She told her teammates.
"If that's what Mantle looks like, I wonder what Atlas looks like, especially since it floats above."
Jaune recovered from his surprise at the city full of life below him and pointed at the city below. "That's Atlas?"
The pilot just chuckled again before taking the bullhead to a higher altitude. "Heh. Nope. That's Mantle. THAT," The pilot gestured toward the giant cloud, and flew just high enough that the boy could see into the 'cloud.' Once again his look of bewilderment returned as he saw a city through the cloud, and when a particularly strong turbulence racketed the airship, reminding the boy of his motion sickness, it billowed most of the smoke directly in their path, showing an entire city suspended above Mantle. As Jaune took in the sharp architecture, noticeable from miles away in the sky, the aurora that danced across the night sky only served to further his fascination with what would be his new home.
"Is Atlas." The pilot said with a smug grin as he finished the sentence he had left in suspense, relishing in the speechlessness of the young man behind him.
"Yeah, wow!" Yang and Ruby said, in awe of the floating city
"That's so awesome!" Nora exclaimed before grabbing Ren by his shoulders, "Ren have you ever seen something so awesome before?!"
The young man felt his partner and girlfriend shake him and smiled before stopping her.
"Yes Nora, it's amazing."
"And this is your home Weiss?" Blake asked, impressed by the architecture, "I can see why your people are so proud of it if this is how they live."
"Thank you, though I'm not really as proud of it as I was before coming here." The heiress said before her face turned serious, "Though I do want to come back after Vytal to take care of some things."
Jaune now understood why the ice-cold heiress now spoke so highly of her home country. He took in the elegance of Atlas, sitting down in the co-pilot seat as the pilot answered the radio chatter, responding about landing at the Academy.
As the bullhead finally touched down, the boy was grateful to finally be at the end of his 7-hour sky voyage. He grabbed his knapsack, and thanked the pilot, receiving a farewell and good luck from the transport specialist, before exiting the craft. Once he was off the loading ramp of the bullhead, the craft took off into the night sky, and the blonde teen looked out over the city of Atlas from the Academy's landing pad.
"Ah, I see you're right on time." A voice from behind him said, bringing him back from his sightseeing. He turned to see a tall man with short black hair, in what he could only assume was a military coat of a high-ranking official, if the fancy cut of the clothes he wore and air of command that rolled off him in waves was any indication.
"U-uhm…yeah-I mean yes sir-" the boy began to trip over his words as he tried to ascertain what would be the correct way to address the man. The man in question chuckled at the state of distress the boy found himself in trying to be polite, before speaking.
"At ease. I'm General James Ironwood, headmaster of the Atlas huntsman and military academy."
"General Ironwood. You know there are so many ways to make fun of that name but I'm pretty sure none of you would want to hear them." Yang said as they turned to her with deadpan gazes.
"It's obvious as to what you mean and no we don't want to hear any jokes in that regard Yang." Ren told her as Yang shrugged.
"Eh, fair enough."
"I'm Jaune. Jaune A-" A flash of painful recollection flashed in the boy's eyes, something that didn't go unnoticed by the general. The boy quickly regained his composure and shook his head before speaking again.
"Just Jaune." The headmaster looked him over before addressing him again, the smile leaving his face as he began to question the teen.
"Ozpin told me about your…circumstances. You have my condolences for what you suffered before you came here. But Atlas is different from what you experienced at Beacon." He turned and began to walk away, motioning for the boy to follow close as he began.
"Here, you will be given a chance to become stronger, smarter, and ultimately, someone who can save lives. Since Ozpin spoke so highly of you, as did a certain drunk old bird, I will personally have high expectations of you. Do you think that you can meet them?" The general asked as he glanced over his shoulder behind him, and he wasn't disappointed when he saw the determined look that was now on display for all of Remnant to see as he stared back at the older man.
"Give me this chance, help me figure out how to become stronger, how to save lives. And I won't just meet them, I'll shatter them." Jaune responded with certainty.
"I still doubt that, but we will see how things go." Weiss said, crossing her arms.
"Oh, you have no idea." Watcher said with an amused chuckle, knowing just what will happen, 'Oh, the things that you will see.'
The general made a sound of thought, before turning his head back to look forward as they walked.
"Here, since you aren't eligible to participate in military classes, you will be given a team tomorrow after your assessment that also are only enrolled in the huntsman half of the academy." The man thought to himself silently, already knowing the team that the blonde would help form.
They walked in silence for a while longer, before the older man stopped in front of a door, pulling out a keycard from the inside pocket of his coat and using it to unlock the door to the room they stood outside of. He pushed the door open before motioning for Jaune to enter.
The blonde teen walked in and observed his temporary abode. It was clean and had more than enough space for a single student to reside here in comfort. He set his knapsack down next to the desk, and heard the door start to close behind him. He turned to look at the general, and Ironwood spoke to him from the hallway as he prepared to leave.
"Tomorrow morning at 0700 hours, someone will arrive here to take you to do your assessments, and once those are completed, fill out the paperwork to make your enrollment here official. I wouldn't stay up too late tonight, you'll need your energy for tomorrow. If you find yourself hungry, take the elevator down to the first floor, and take a right once you get off, you'll walk straight down until you can hear the other students." And with that, he closed the door behind him, leaving the young teen with his thoughts.
Jaune let out a yawn, before beginning to lay out the clothes he had with him to see what he would wear to the cafeteria. He had a few other sets of clothes as well as a second pair of boots that he had bought when he was back at beacon.
He settled upon a darker pair of blue jeans as well as a black button-down that he'd leave upon exposing the plain white undershirt he wore beneath it. As he finished changing into his new clothes, he looked back to the Pumpkin Pete's hoodie he always wore, as well as the boots that had 'left' and 'right' written on the soles.
Nora and Ruby giggled at the sight of the hoodie and the words on the shoes while Weiss, Blake and Pyrrha face palmed.
The memories that threatened to plague him were shook away and he placed them into the trash can on the side of the desk. As he made his way to move, he stopped as he reached the door handle, before making his way back to the knapsack and taking out a bright, baby blue onesie, and tucking it under his arm as he made his way out to the hallway.
As he made his way to the elevator, he saw a larger trash can, and with haste deposited the embarrassing pajama into it, never to be seen again, and made his way to the cafeteria.
"I wouldn't be proud of something like that as well, so good call Jaune." Yang said as she finished her soda and threw it away.
Lunch was a rather interesting affair. The cafeteria had plenty of students present, and once he entered, a few sets of eyes had focused on him, but after a few moments, returned to what they were doing previously. He had made his way to the line, and after a five-minute wait, had found himself sitting by himself in the corner of the cafeteria near the door that led to the hallway.
He had told the cafeteria staff he didn't know what he wanted to eat from today's selection, or what the selection was, and so they chose for him and handed the blonde his food with a knowing smile. He ate in silence, savoring the food he had chosen for him, and sent a wide smile to the woman who had given him his food, who nodded to him. He saw that everyone else was leaving their plates at a designated area, so once he finished, he mimicked their actions before heading back to his room.
Once there, he took a shower before changing into a pair of shorts and kept his shirt on to wear to bed. He turned off the lights before he climbed into bed, marveling at how soft his mattress was, and reached onto the nightstand to grab the television remote. He turned on his T.V. and lowered the volume so that it would serve as background noise and looked up to the ceiling as his eyes began to slowly shut as he thought to himself before falling asleep.
'Once tomorrow comes…Everything changes.'
The lights came back on as the card emerged, showing the picture of Jaune sitting on a rooftop of Atlas Academy holding a guitar with someone else leaning on him and looking up at the sky.
"Penny?" Ruby asked, surprised before the card flew to Watcher who looked at it for several seconds before putting it in his pocket.
"We will come back to it after some time." He turned to the seven who all stood up and stretched slightly, "So what do you think about that one?"
They turned to each other, mixed in their own feelings.
"It was…saddening but also eye opening." Pyrrha said after a while, lost in the question Watcher asked her.
"I think it was interesting for the most part though I would like to not to see a situation like that again." Weiss requested and he nodded.
"I wouldn't worry, the likelihood of me showing that kind of world again is slim. The only ones remotely close will be the one with servants and the continuation of this one. After that, we will look at other worlds." His words put them at ease.
"I just remembered something," Blake suddenly said as she looked at the host, "You said our world is destabilizing, does that mean others might appear in the fortress since we left the residual energy?" Watcher looked surprised before chuckling.
"No, the residual energy is too weak to bring anyone here or anywhere else for that matter. If you're worried about anybody else like Ozpin or Glynda coming here then don't, it's unlikely they will ever appear here."
"They will notice our disappearance though." She pointed out and he shrugged.
"What can they do about it then? It's not like anything they will try, even work." He assured her as he twirled the cads in his hands.
Meanwhile at Beacon.
Headmaster Ozpin sighed in his tower as he continued to do his paperwork, looking at the stack of papers on his desk.
"Just a bit more and I can relax." He said to himself as he sipped his mug of hot cocoa, 'it could be worse, at least I'm not grading papers as well like the others.'
His thoughts were cut off as he heard knocking at his door.
"Come in." He looked up to see Glynda enter his office with another stack of papers and felt a headache start to form as she put it on his desk.
"Tell me this is the last stack for today, Glynda." He said only for Glynda to scoff.
"Not really, there is still more. It's actually bigger but I'm doing half of it along with grading the papers." The man sighed as he took the first paper and began to work on it.
"Are the students ready for the Vytal Festival?" He asked Glynda who nodded as she looked over at the papers.
"They are preparing and the teams are mostly ready. Given how many we have this year, I'm not sure which ones will win." She said as she then looked at him, "Are you sure it's a good idea to do the festival when they are out there?"
Ozpin put his pen down and cleaned his glasses before looking at her.
"I understand your concern Glynda but with James providing protection with his army we will have little to worry about. Though I do have my worries, I believe that everything will go well." He assured her as he took a sip from his mug. Glynda nodded before looking at the window.
"And Amber? Do you think your Aura transfer plan will work?" Ozpin had a serious look on his face as he leaned forward and intertwined his fingers.
"To be honest, I'm uncertain. The machine may work or it may not. The consequences of doing so aren't lost on me but we will be doing Amber a favor by…putting her down from her pain." His face turned into a grimace at the last part.
"I can guess that you already have a candidate for her powers then?" Ozpin nodded as he pulled out several notes.
"Currently there are five of them, all of them suitable in one way or the other. The Tournament will help us decide who will be the new Fall Maiden." He looked up and noticed her looking uneasy at the prospect of the plan.
"Do you have anything you want to say, Glynda?" She looked uncertain before she took off her glasses and cleaned them.
"I know that we need to do this but I still feel uncomfortable about putting this kind of burden on any of the candidates. Such young girls, trusted with such a responsibility, the pressure might be too much for them." She said as she leaned on the desk and Ozpin sighed.
"I admit, I feel uneasy as well about doing this, especially on two of the possible candidates. But I have faith in them and believe that they will think of the stakes at hand." He signed another paper as Glynda took the notes and looked over each one, her face unreadable as she read their skills and reasons for choice.
"I don't like how you chose the three here but I will accept your decision. Still, I would like to talk about a different matter." He finished signing several papers and looked up at her.
"What is it?" Glynda put the notes down before taking out a stack of papers out of his desk.
"It concerns one of the students." He raised an eyebrow, taking the papers and putting them on his desk to read.
Suddenly, the lights in the room began to flicker, turning on and off, catching their attention.
"Must be the wiring." He said, until the lights began to intensify, lighting the room up more, forcing the two to cover their eyes.
"I don't think it's the wiring Ozpin." Glynda said before some of the lights exploded as blue and white lightning danced on the walls.
"This is…strange." Ozpin commented before the earth began to shake slightly. The objects on the desk began to tremble as some of the papers fell while Ozpin stopped his mug from falling and Glynda stumbled slightly. It lasted for several seconds before stopping, leaving the two on guard.
"This can't be normal." Glynda said as thunder rumbled outside and pale blue lightning flashed several times in the sky. What made it strange was the lack of clouds, the sky was crystal clear with no sign of rain clouds.
"What's going on?" The teacher asked before her scroll rang and she took it out to see Port calling her, "Hello?" She answered as Port's face flashed on the static screen.
"Glynda, we have a problem." He said, with no hint of his usual braggart tone.
"I know Port, Ozpin and I felt the earthquake and I can see the lightning now." She said looking out the window.
"No, I'm afraid we have a worse proble-"
He said, before the call was cut off as Glynda's Scroll went out.
"What? How did it-I charged it ten minutes ago." Glynda said as she tried to turn her Scroll on with no success.
"No time for that. We need to go now." Ozpin said as he went to the elevator with Glynda following him.
As they descended the tower and left the elevator, they saw many of the students being confused or alarmed as they checked their scrolls or putting what fell during the earthquake back to its place.
"Headmaster Ozpin!" Ozpin turned to Team CFVY as Velvet spoke up, "Can you tell us what's going on? We can't access our scrolls and most of the school lights went out."
Ozpin turned to see the rest of the students asking questions over the other before he put up a hand as they all quieted down.
"Students, please calm down. I'm just as confused as you are. We have no idea what happened but rest assured we will do our best to fix the problem." He said as half the students calmed down while the rest looked concerned and uncertain.
"Now students, we ask that you keep calm and continue what you were doing. Before that, does anyone know where Professor Port went?" Glynda asked as Cardin raised his hand.
"I saw him going to the dorms, something about an inspection."
"Thank you Mr. Winchester." Ozpin said as they both left for the dorms. As they left outside, they saw other students standing outside and looking up at the sky as blue and white lightning kept flashing with thunder rumbling so loudly that many covered their ears.
"A storm is brewing but the skies are clear." Glynda noted before a stray lightning hit the ground and began to move around as students moved out of the way until it stopped, leaving a trail mark in its path.
"This is not a usual storm, not in any way." Ozpin said as he looked up, wondering if it was her doing. He wouldn't put it past her to do something like this and wondered if they should expect anything else after that.
"Ozpin." Glynda said, shock in her voice, stopping in one place puzzling the old wizard. He looked where she was looking and his eyes widened in shock, as did the eyes of the many students around them.
The entire building of the dorms seemed to be affected by something as lights visibly flickered on and off as clouds began to gather above the building.
"Sir!" Ozpin looked to the side to see one of the freshmen approaching him, "We don't know what's happening. Many of us left the building when the wires began to haywire about 30 minutes ago." He told his headmaster as lightning struck the building. Electricity danced around the structure as many jumped back in surprise.
"Is there anyone left in the building?" Glynda asked the freshman who nodded as he shielded his face from the slowly rising wind.
"I think there are several left in the building. Some parts of the interior collapsed when we began to evacuate."
"Have you seen Professor Port?" Glynda asked him once more as lightning struck the road continuously, tearing it up. It struck again, this time hitting one of the trees, causing it to burn.
"Professor Port went inside the dorms to get the remaining students out. He hasn't come out yet!" The student replied over the loud rumble of the thunder as lightning struck one of the pillars in the main avenue causing it and the structures next to it to collapse.
"Damn it." Ozpin cursed as Glynda went to fix the damage while he turned to the freshman, "Find Dr. Oobleck and Professor Harold. Tell them to gather all the students inside the Academy and make sure that no one stays outside. Go, now!" The student nodded as he went to find Oobleck while Ozpin looked at the dorm building and walked to the entrance.
"Sir, what are you doing?" One of the female students asked as he turned to her.
"I'm going after Port! He might need my help, all of you get inside the Academy and stay there until all the teachers come back!" The students all left to head to the Academy as Ozpin turned around and ran inside the building. As he opened the door, he saw the lights inside going haywire with walls scorched by electricity with some parts starting to catch fire.
Cursing, the old wizard kept walking into the building while putting out some of the fires.
"Peter! Peter!" Ozpin called out as he walked the long hallways, seeing some of the doors broken and some of the walls scorched and at times cracked. Seeing no one he went to the stairs and began to go upstairs, the lights making it hard to see where he went as they constantly flickered but he trusted his instincts.
"Peter, where are you?!" He called out again, as he arrived at the second floor, he saw an injured student rushing to the stairs and he grabbed him to stop him.
"Have you seen Professor Port?!" He asked as the student pointed upwards while thunder rumbled again.
"He is in the third sir! I think he is looking for the others!" Ozpin nodded as he let him go.
"Go straight to the Academy! Don't go anywhere else!" The student nodded as he ran down the stairs while Ozpin went up the stairs.
"Peter!" Ozpin called out as he arrived at the third floor and saw broken doors with some of the ceiling broken with the parts lying on the floor.
"Peter!" Suddenly, lightning struck the room to his right, utterly destroying it as the walls broke down while the carpet caught on fire.
"Damn it!" He picked up the flower pot next to him and dumped the dirt on the fire to stop it before going to search for Port. Going further down the hall he saw a silhouette moving in the distance.
"Peter?! Is that you?!" The silhouette turned to reveal Peter Port with his suit partially burnt and dirt on his face.
"Ozpin, what are you doing here?!" The portly man asked his superior as the lights intensified before some of the lightbulbs exploded causing the two men to cover their faces.
"I came here to get you out! We need to evacuate the building, it's not safe here!" The old man told one of his staff members as Port shook his head.
"I can't! I haven't gotten everyone out! Two teams might still be in here!"
"Which teams?!" Ozpin asked as lightning crashed the window of the dorm to their right, causing them to duck.
"Teams JNPR and RWBY! I can't find them anywhere! Their dorms are empty with their weapons missing!" Ozpin nearly had a heart attack as he heard that his two best first year teams were missing.
"They must have left before the storm started then! We will look at the camera feeds later! For now, we need to evacuate!" Port grumbled but nodded as the two men ran to get out of the building, the lights above exploding. Electricity danced the walls, nearly shocking the two men as they ran down to the first floor.
Port shot the door down with his weapon as they looked up and stared in shock as the storm seemed to have amplified as multiple lightning bolts began to randomly hit the Academy Grounds, causing damage as Glynda ran up to them while covering her face from the wind.
"It's getting worse! I can't fix anything if the lightning keeps hitting like this! I don't think it's safe for anyone to stay out here with this weather!" Ozpin heard thunder and shoved her away as lightning struck where she stood. Rock and dirt flying around as the three covered their faces.
"Go into the Academy! Keep the students safe! Make sure everyone is inside and that no one gets out!" Ozpin told his staff members as Glynda looked at him.
"What about you sir?!" She asked over the winds as Ozpin pointed to the CCT tower.
"I'll go to the CCT tower and make sure that everything is working! We can't let anything happen to it!" Port nodded as he gestured Glynda to follow before Ozpin grabbed her hand causing her to look at him.
"Make sure that Amber's pod is working, we can't let her die!" She nodded and ran after Port while Ozpin began to run towards the CCT tower. Once he arrived to it, he opened the doors and slightly paled as he saw the terminals going haywire.
"Damn it!" He ran to the elevator, pressing the top level and waited as the elevator delivered him to his destination. After several moments, the doors opened and he ran to the main terminal and saw that it was going haywire just like everything else. As the screen flickered, he saw a black queen chess piece appear for a second as his eyes widened.
"Of course this would be her doing. How could I have let this happen?" He muttered to himself, trying to reboot the system as the storm raged outside.
Outside Beacon though, people in Vale looked up as they saw the storm raging where Beacon was supposed to be. Several Beacon students hanging out in the city looked up in concern, wondering if the Academy was okay. The lightning flashed over the city as clouds slowly began to gather.
TO BE CONTINUED...
A/N: Okay, this one was kind of hard to write to, mostly because sometimes I got demotivated when I had a good idea how to write a reaction and when I had motivation, I had to rewrite several things to make sure they were good. Still, I managed to do it and here it is.
A Second Chance is one of the few betrayal fanfics that is actually good, especially ones that are RWBY fanfics. Its author manages to make it interesting without using the old betrayal fanfic clichés (mostly, I feel like some of them are still there). Mainly, Jaune isn't ridiculously edgy, doesn't have a harem, doesn't join the dark side and most of all, doesn't become a cringy, OP badass. Yeah, I despise most betrayal fanfics with the exception of very few because they always rely on twisted fanon and are needlessly edgy with "protagonists" becoming Mary Sues, look at Naruto and Harry Potter fanfics if you need proof.
Anyway, I like the fanfic because it manages to be a good read despite being a betrayal fic and if you are tired of the old tropes and want to read a good one, give this one a chance. You might not like the premise though and that's fine. Disagreeing is part of the fun.
A lot of references to other works, can you spot them?
You know when I look back on the earlier volumes of RWBY, I find myself asking one, scratch that, many questions:
One: Is Glynda a walking example of 'Crippling Overspecialization'? Because from the looks of it, she only ever uses her Semblance but doesn't show any skills at hand to hand combat. Would that make her one or is she a different case?
Two: Who thought it would be a good idea to introduce Maidens to the plot? No, seriously. Which one of the three writers did that? Because the Maidens pretty much threw a wrench into the entirety of power scaling in RWBY as if it wasn't shaky enough. Think about it, up until their introduction, RWBY was a mostly believable kinda sci-fi world and many of the things could have been explained by science or kind of explained. Aura and Semblance? Years of human evolution as a defense against Grimm. Faunus? A subspecies that evolved differently yet the same as humans. Dust? A unique element not really understood but utilized in many ways. Grimm? Perhaps a result of a meteor or asteroid that impacted the planet. Cinder's fire ability? Several Semblances put into one person. But the introduction of Maidens introduces Magic and practically throws a wrench in, well, everything plot wise. Wait, it was Monty's last minute addition? Oh…I guess I know how it all went downhill then, if the creator does that because it was cool, I have a really good idea why current RWBY is the way it is now.
Like imagine, if MHA's author introduced magic to the setting and revealed that Quirks are a result of magic. While some might be okay with this reveal, many others would call bullshit on it, especially since most powers work how they would work IRL. It would just be out of nowhere, weird and wouldn't make any sense. Or imagine how Kishimoto turned Naruto into ability spamming anime instead of ninjas with tactics and strategy. That's how it feels like when I go back tp rewatch the Magic reveal in RWBY.
I have other questions but I don't really want to fill the A/N with them. Not sure when the next update will be so you will have to wait, until then…
Thank you for reading this and until next time. See you soon.