Stories scattered through time.
Mankind has grown quite fond of recounting the exploits of heroes and villains, forgetting so easily that we are remnants, byproducts, of a forgotten past.
What they do not recall is how easily chance can sway the fate of worlds.
At the flip of a coin, good can become evil...
Right can become wrong...
Light can turn to dark...
And the mightiest of heroes... can become the greatest of villains...
"-thorities are still interviewing witnesses, but luckily there appear to have been no civilian casualties. For those of you just joining us, we here at Channel 15 Central Remnant News Network are broadcasting to you live from the Schnee Dust Company's Vale regional headquarters, where CEO Weiss Schnee was the target of a major White Fang attack while in the midst of giving a press conference addressing the recent rash of Dust robberies that have been plaguing Vale for the past few months."
"Thankfully, the business prodigy was fully capable of defending herself, and with help from General Yang Xiao Long and the Dust Devils that were on site, the offensive was repulsed without permanent injury. The attack, led by Faunus rights extremist Blake Belladonna, marks another step in a series of serious escalations in the methods employed by the White Fang. Never before have they attempted such a public attack on so prominent a figure, and combined with the recent theft of an entire train of Dust despite considerable escort by the Atlas-"
A dainty but well-callused finger tapped a command on a Scroll, muting the TV as the anchor started to drift away from the events at the press conference and began moving into speculative territory. While the wild theories of the 'analysts' the station utilized were always amusing, the observer was more interested in the voices she could hear filtering in from the penthouse's front hall.
She didn't have to wait long before the door to the lounge was banged open and the owners of the voices barged in, deep in heated conversation. Well, conversation was one way of defining it. All-out argument was another, far more accurate descriptor.
"-heard of the concept of personal space, or is it subsumed by those animal instincts of yours!?" Weiss Schnee demanded, frustration evident in her voice. "There's a fine line between making the ruse look airtight and making my security - and by extension myself and Yang - look incompetent! For goodness sake, you almost took my head off! And another thing! I was under the impression that you were going to steal a car, maybe two, of Dust. Not the entire train!"
"I fail to see the problem, your highness." Blake Belladonna drawled in her nigh-trademark - if slightly tinged by exasperation - deadpan. "You do remember what we're planning to do to the Dust market, right? This all benefits you in the end anyways. And besides, I have my own problems to worry about. My men were growing restless and wanted to make a statement, so we did. I fail to see the problem."
"The problem!" Weiss hissed furiously. "Is in the logistics! Leaving aside how much it costs to replace three locomotives and and fifty cars of rolling stock, I'll still need to shuffle around massive amounts of Dust to make sure my inventory stays at the proper levels! And that's not even getting into what I'll need to do to keep my shareholders from getting skittish! And another thing, remember the last time we let your White Fang goons hold onto a major cargo?"
"That was not even remotely our fault." Blake snapped. "And besides, there wasn't any damage in the end."
"Apart from us nearly wrecking all our operations in Mistral in an effort to keep the entire debacle covered up!" Weiss shrieked. "I'll have you know that I have half a mind to-!"
"Oh calm down, Ice Queen," The cocky and casual voice of Yang Xiao Long interrupted.
"You too, Kitty Cat."
"I will spay you."
"Let's not fight with each other, alright? We're aaaall friends here. Instead, why don't you both take solace in the fact that me and my men looked like total badasses in the face of apparent impending doom?"
"How is that supposed to make us feel better?" Weiss demanded.
"For once, I agree with her highness." Blake stated flatly. "I'm going to be feeling those 'love-taps' you promised me for a week."
"Weeell..." The grin was evident in Yang's voice as she drew the word out. "I dunno, but it sure is making me feel better!"
Silence reigned for a moment. Then...
"I'll go for her neck."
"I call her face."
The watcher sighed, turning around to the sight of Blake piggybacking Yang while strangling her with Gambol Shroud's ribbon, even as the blonde clenched Myrtenaster between her palms, keeping the rapier's point approximately an inch from the bridge of her nose, despite Weiss's furious efforts to drive it into her skull.
The watcher giggled at the rather comical sight, before clapping her hands to get their attention.
"Alright, guys, I think that's enough. Yang's starting to look a little too purple to be healthy."
Both Blake and Weiss promptly blushed in embarrassment as they withdrew their weapons, leaving Yang coughing and massaging her throat.
"T-thanks, sis." Yang wheezed once her voice came back. "Always knew you were on my side!"
"Oh, don't thank me just yet," Ruby Rose replied sweetly, an impish grin on her face. "I still haven't determined the laundry schedule for the week, and it looks like you just volunteered."
Yang paled. "T-the whole week?"
Ruby simply kept the grin on her face."Yup. Non-machine-washables and all. And that isn't an invitation for you two to pile up the load, by the way."
"Aw, you mean I can't wear my nice dresses this week?" Weiss mock-pouted.
"You're lucky. If we were at the Vacuo safe house, you'd be spending half the week trying to get the grass-stains out." Blake drawled with a grin.
Ruby giggled again at Yang's aggrieved expression before sobering up in an instant. "Alright, reports people. I got the bare-bones version from the news, but I need details."
As though a switch had flipped, the other three women became deathly serious. Yang and Blake promptly joined Ruby by sitting on different parts of the couch, whereas Weiss strolled past them all, drawing a Scroll out of her sleeve and expertly swiping the screen. In response, the large plasma-screen TV's display shifted to show a line graph, upon which most all lines were steadily rising.
"As the latest statistics from my financial team show, the plan went off without a hitch on my end. Despite the losses being drastically higher than we had anticipated," Weiss shot a glare at Blake, who simply rolled her eyes. "The Schnee Dust Company is now in a position to pre-empt all of its competitors by taking advantage of the price spike. In fact, the spike has been high enough to convince the board to fund the expansion of a majority of our Dust mines, as well as authorize the opening of mines on any new veins that might be found."
"About that," Blake cut in, standing and walking up to Weiss's side, taking out her Scroll and using it to bring up a map of Vale, upon which a point to the far south of the city was marked. "Recently, my more scent-enabled comrades have been smelling a lot of Dust around this area. I had some diggers look around. It's a vein, and a big one. It's the main reason why I enlarged the scope of the operation. It should be able to help launder most of the Dust."
Weiss stared slack-jawed at the screen for a second before hastily wiping the drool from her mouth and glaring at the Faunus. "Why didn't you mention that sooner!?"
"It might have had something to do with a certain prissy CEO coming at me like an enraged Boarbatusk before I could get so much as a word in edgewise," Blake deadpanned before flatly gesturing for Weiss to take a seat.
The Schnee matriarch had the decency to blush slightly before grumbling as she sat down, arms crossed petulantly.
"Anyways..." Blake rolled her eyes. "Our take of the theft almost doubled our Dust inventory. We'll be good on that front for another few months. And with two more successful high-profile attacks under our belt, I expect recruitment to start ticking up. Oh, and Weiss? I'd like to thank you for lending us Emerald. We probably wouldn't have been able to pull off taking the entire train without her. I'm... actually still not sure how we did, for that matter."
Weiss' chuckled, her expression softening. "Frankly, I'm not sure anyone knows how Miss Sustrai does those sorts of things, apart from her and and perhaps Ms. Fall."
"Well, whatevs!" Yang exclaimed, cockily propping her feet up on the - "Mahogany!" Weiss hissed furiously - coffee table before her, stretching her arms up above her contentedly. "My turn! Everything's going great for me! Atlas is looking even more like a chump than it usually does! Check it out!" She tapped her thumb on her scroll triumphantly, bringing up an array of messages on the screen. "I've got contracts rolling in from all over! White Rose Shipping! Checkmate Enterprises! Ladybug Pharmaceuticals! Vacuo! Vale! Hell, Atlas itself is hiring us!"
"And Mistral?" Blake deadpanned.
"We're working on it, okay?" Yang rolled her eyes. "You try establishing a foothold on another continent, see how easy it is. Be thankful that I've managed to get as many people working up the ranks as I have. But still, yeah, we've got a few minor postings. Not as many as I'd like, but it's better than nothing."
"We'll need to do something about that, wouldn't want them to become the odd man out and notice the state of affairs before it's too late..." Ruby mused.
"Eh, I'll handle it." Yang waved her hand airily before grinning at her sibling. "Anyways, what about you, sis?"
"The heist went off without a hitch. I'll need to warn Torchwick and his men that there are going to be a lot of Hunters frequenting commercial Dust shops, given that the Vale central armory is currently empty," Ruby stated with some pride as she sat up. "I've got to hand it to Torchwick, they were in and out with no one the wiser. Shame I have to use him on petty burglaries." She clapped her hands and nodded as she stood up, beaming contentedly. "Anyways, good job everyone! We're actually ahead of schedule, which is something I didn't dare hope would happen. Blake, it's time for the White Fang and the Scarlet Thorns to start joint operations. We'll need to take it slow, can't let everyone else know how close relations really are, but..."
"I'll have Adam spread the word for the other branches to prepare to make contact with your people." Blake assured her friend. "I'll also make sure to keep any of the more... argumentative elements from making too much noise. Also, do you want us to continue developing Mountain Glenn? I know you were considering abandoning it due to time constraints, but now..."
Ruby pondered the question before shrugging. "Eh, why not, we've got time to burn. Let's splurge a bit! With any luck we'll be able to make back what we spend on it. Now then, Weiss, Yang, time to get aggressive. And I mean more aggressive than we've been up until now."
Weiss nodded sharply, her smile one that truly lived up to her name. "I'll start outlining the corporate takeovers as soon as possible and have Ms. Fall draw up as many details as she can."
Yang's smirk took on a savage overtone as she cracked her knuckles decisively. "I'll be doing my own 'takeovers', though they'll be less 'corporate' and more 'brutal'. I think that the competition's been getting a bit too rowdy for my taste anyways. Time to finally show the world what the Dust Devils can really do!"
"Don't go, too overboard, sis," Ruby cautioned. "We'll want some of them alive. But... still..." She allowed herself to grin eagerly. "I get where you're coming from. Finally... after all this time…"
"I do believe this calls for a… celebration," Weiss said, standing up and making her way to one of the cabinets that lined the lounge. Reaching in, she pulled out a bottle of wine and four glasses. "My father may have been a frigid, callous bastard, but I can't deny he had excellent taste in wine."
"Oh! We should do it on the balcony!" Ruby exclaimed with childish glee.
"Isn't that a bit cliché?" Blake asked, amusement present in her flat voice despite the fact that she followed the shorter individual out under the night sky.
"Ah who gives a damn?" Yang scoffed. "You call it cliche, I call it traditional! Plus..." She smirked as she looked out out onto the lights of the city. "This place has a kickass view."
"Can't argue with that," Blake shrugged, stepping out onto the balcony. Ruby and Weiss followed, wine glasses in hand. Yang and Blake each took one, and for a moment all four simply stared out into the city of Vale.
"Isn't there one more part to this?" Blake asked.
"Yup. A toast!" Yang cried out. "To us!"
"To the Strategos!" Blake concurred.
"To the Commission!" Weiss added.
"To victory." Ruby concluded quietly.
And with that, the four downed their drinks and watched the shattered fragments of their moon hang high above Remnant, outlined by the array of stars around them. They did not go back in for another hour.