Author's Note: For the record, here are some of the characters I've introduced from Life is Strange into the world of RWBY, complete with team names and pronunciations.
Team MCKW (pronounced "Macaw"): Max, Chloe, Kate, and Warren
Team VYLT ( pronounced "Violet"): Victoria, Yasmine, Logan, and Taylor
Team DJLN (pronounced "Darjeeling"): Dana, Juliet, Luke, and Nathan
I was trying to find a way to bring in other LiS characters like Alyssa, Daniel, and Stella, but I couldn't figure out how to work their names into a suitable team acronym. Of course, there are plenty of other characters you can expect to see in upcoming chapters.
Two: A Wake-Up Call
"Professor Ozpin? I have the files you requested."
"Thank you, Glynda. Is something the matter?"
"I know it's not my place to second-guess your judgment—"
"On the contrary. I think no one else but you is qualified for that precise job."
"It's only… why these students in particular? Two low-score fighters from a coastal village to the southwest, an overachiever from Haven, and a very shy transfer student from Menagerie. Do you really think that they're worth so much of our efforts? When we have so many other promising teams to consider?"
"Ah, but that's the point. I've often found that today's least likely candidates for success can prove to be the most valuable assets in the future."
By the time the first beam of sunlight snuck through the curtains over her bed, Kate had already risen, showered and put on her school uniform. After a rough night with Max trying to talk Chloe down from her Rachel Amber vision, everyone was bound to feel a little groggy the next morning. But for Kate, that only meant she woke up a few minutes before dawn and not the usual half-hour.
Like she did every morning, Kate contributed to her team by tidying up the room. This meant putting Max and Warren's books in order and then tackling the pile of clothes and armor that Chloe left beside her bed. Chloe would never acknowledge the messes she left or Kate's cleaning habits, but as teammates, there existed a mutual, unspoken trust that came with such rituals. Max had explained it perfectly: if Chloe was sure to leave a mess for Kate to clean up, she was just as sure to watch her friend's back in the heat of battle.
Her ears twitched when she caught wind of Max snoring from the other side of the room. Kate smiled at her team leader and made her way over to the tiny cabinet reserved for food and drinks. Within seconds, she had whipped up a fresh steaming mug of tea and set it down on the nightstand beside Max's bed.
Kate had barely turned around when she heard a sudden slurp, followed by an equally loud series of gulps. Looking back over her shoulder, she saw that Max had grabbed the mug and drained half of it in a single go. Max still lay in bed with her eyes shut, but now she was smiling.
"Thanks, Kate," she mumbled through her lips.
Kate giggled and went to prepare a cup for herself. "Anytime."
"How long 'til class?"
"Another two hours, at least."
She didn't get another response except a prolonged yawn and Max turning over in bed. Kate took a sip of her tea and sat back, waiting for her team to rouse themselves into action.
Sadly, this was the best part of her day.
It wasn't always this way, she thought as she drank her tea.
Watching Warren stretch his arms and rouse himself out of bed, she ran the secret over and over again in her head. Twisting it forward and backward like a precious gem in the palm of her hand.
She didn't know how to tell them what she'd seen. Or if they'd even believe her.
Her mother had warned her before she'd left for Beacon: Humans don't understand our kind. Kate had refused to believe that she couldn't make friends, and thanks to students like Max and Warren, she'd been vindicated. But in these little dark moments to herself, when she could stop and think, Kate let her guard down, and her mother's disapproving voice came back to haunt her, dredging up old worries and fears from the pit of her stomach.
My friends care, Kate thought, challenging the voice in the back of her head. They'd fight for me.
Maybe on the battlefield, but never in the classroom, the voice retorted.
I won't let you ruin this for me! Kate refocused her attention on the notebook she dropped into her lap, giving herself a chance to read over her schedule for the day.
They had Weapons Theory at eight, followed by two hours of Battle Practice, Morning Break, and then hanging around the library until their History of Remnant course in the afternoon. All in all, a full day's work for Team MCKW, provided they didn't run into any more wild Grimm or strange visions of missing students along the way.
Speaking of which—
"Blargh… it's way too damn early for this nonsense," a voice muttered out from underneath the covers of Chloe's bed. Kate caught a glimpse of her teammate huddled underneath the quilt. "Yo, Kate. Tell me I can skip class today? Promise I'll owe you."
"Not on your life," Max called out over her shoulder. Like Chloe, she was curled up underneath her sheets, with her back to Kate as she faced the wall. "Goodwitch is gonna mark us down if you cut class again, especially after that business in the forest."
"Yeah, but…" The quilt on Chloe's bed snarled itself open, revealing a tousled blue mane atop a scrunched-up face. "Who in their right mind teaches a class at eight in the morning?"
"You can sleep for another hour and a half, Girl Wonder."
Kate was half-tempted to comfort Chloe as she sank defeated underneath the sheets once more. But that same guilt held her back. Whispered terrible things about the human race and their lack of mercy when it came to the concerns of the Faunus.
She's not like that! Kate fired back. She pressed her knees against her chest and rested her head on top of them.
With her three teammates all slowly—bitterly—trying to steal a little more sleep, Kate sat back on her bed and tried to console herself. After all, they didn't have to start class right away.
Which gave her plenty of time to brood over something she wouldn't dare talk about.
From her seat in the third row, Max scribbled away in her notebook, keeping one eye on her notes and her other on Chloe, who sulked in the seat next to hers. On any other day, Max would've given her a nudge to pay attention, but after the previous day's events, she'd decided against it. Chloe hadn't mentioned it all morning, and Max knew better than to push an issue until her partner brought it up. As she inevitably would, even if it ended up being at the worst possible moment.
Meanwhile, Max tried to focus on her teacher's words. And when she missed a line, she wasn't above a discreet jump back through time—only by a minute or so—to catch up on her notes.
"Now, I know that you're all very excited about what I've brought to class today—and trust me, I am, too. This material is going to revolutionize weapons crafting for Huntsmen and Huntresses in the same way that foldable frames did a few generations ago…"
At the base of the classroom's amphitheater design stood Professor Mark Jefferson, one of the foremost Huntsmen from Atlas. Every Huntress knew him by sight, from his glossy black hair and goatee to his gray overcoat and black tie to the thin black spectacles through which he perpetually squinted. Unlike the other professors at Beacon, he had the distinction of wearing gold epaulets on his shoulders. Rumor had it that he'd earned them after some major kill in the field, perhaps the last Grimm he'd killed before he'd retired as a Huntsman and became a teacher at the very academy where he'd studied.
Max didn't give much heed to the storm of rumors that swirled through the halls of Beacon. She had far more interest in the actual lessons that Professor Jefferson had to offer, and how they'd help her become a true Huntress.
As he put his hand down on the silver suitcase on his desk, Jefferson winked at the students gathered in the front row. Max fought a momentary flash of jealousy when she saw Victoria Chase—the leader of Team VYLT and a constant thorn in her side—blush and avert her gaze.
She didn't hate Victoria—not entirely, at least. The girl was a respectable fighter and commander in the field, but she was image-obsessed and always currying favor with older students and teachers like Jefferson. And her status in the Atlesian Royals clique didn't endear her any further to Max's small-town sensibilities.
"Ladies and gentleman," Jefferson announced, "I present you a real-life sample of the latest marvel to come from the Kingdom of Atlas." He lifted his hand, presenting a small object into the air. "Say hello to smart metal!"
Having slipped on a glove from the suitcase, Jefferson held up a palm-sized orb of liquid metal. At a twitch of his fingers, a blue electrical current rippled across the surface of his gloved hand. The metal flowed around his palm, extending itself and hardening into new dimensions. Within a second, the material had slipped itself across the entire glove, turning ordinary black cloth into a flexible metal gauntlet. Even from the third row, Max could see that the metal had a fine mirror polish, reflecting the faces of every student watching the transformation.
Jefferson, meanwhile, walked around to the front of his desk, waving his new gauntlet through the air in a casual motion as he spoke. "Thanks to the efforts of the Schnee Dust Company and their Research Division, we're looking at a potential successor to the foldable frames that we Huntsmen and our forefathers have grown accustomed to in our weapons. Imagine how fast we can deploy our weapons in the field, using only a simple flask of smart metal and a pair of electroshock gloves."
He came to a stop near the center of the room, keeping his gauntlet lifted as he scanned the faces of his audience. "As Hunters, what's our first priority?"
"Protecting the human race!" someone behind Max called out.
"Good. And can anyone tell me what our key advantage is?"
"Dust!" Warren offered, already on the edge of his seat.
"True. What else?"
"Aura!" This response came from Taylor, Victoria's blonde lackey, also seated up front.
"True." Jefferson pushed up the brim of his glasses with a single metal-coated finger. "But there's something just as important to consider. Anyone else know what that is?"
An awkward silence ensued.
After letting it stretch on for a few more seconds, Jefferson smiled. He lowered his gauntlet and snapped his fingers. The metal surrounding his glove retreated in an instant, collapsing back onto itself and reassuming its original spherical shape. Max watched with surprise as her teacher casually tossed the metal orb into the air, caught it, and slipped it into his pocket without a care.
"Human beings and Faunus both possess Aura, as well as the ability to use Dust," he told the class, "but what separates us from the creatures of Grimm is our determination. Quite simply, we are smarter and more creative in our desire to survive and prosper in this world. A Grimm can only rely on its natural instincts to kill or be killed, but we are so much more than that, both as individuals and as a species."
When Jefferson winked, Max could almost imagine his gaze lingering on her. "Never forget it, and never doubt it."
Class ended half an hour later, following another lecture on weapons efficiency rates and a short video on historic duels from the Vytal Festival. When the buzzer went off at the end of the hour, Warren caught Max's eye and nudged his head toward Jefferson, who had retreated to his desk with the smart metal sample still in hand. Max smiled and nodded back. In unison, they began to move down the steps toward the professor's desk.
Unfortunately, Chloe's hand fell on Max's shoulder. Looking back, Max read a guarded expression on her friend's face, only a hair more amicable than the sour mood she'd been putting on all morning.
"I know what you're gonna say," Chloe began, and as Max opened her mouth, she got a finger pressed against her lips. "And I'm sure you've already rewound time in this conversation, so let's skip the argument, okay? I'm going to see Ozpin about what happened yesterday."
Max blinked. In a fit of surprise, she flexed her right hand, looking for traces of her Semblance being used without her knowledge. When she reassured herself that she hadn't accidentally rewound time, she met Chloe's gaze again.
"I'm not looking to argue with you, but I wonder if now is the best time to see the headmaster," Max replied.
"Well, there ain't gonna be a better time." Chloe slid away from Max and began her furious pace toward the rear exit. "You coming or not?"
Max bit down on her lip. When she glanced at Warren and Kate, all she got back was a pair of shrugs and confused looks. Tilting her head to the left, Max saw that Jefferson was already talking to a quartet of students. Namely, to the bright and eager faces of Victoria Chase, Yasmine Boulos, Logan Robertson, and Taylor Christensen. The respective members of Team VYLT, already jockeying for Jefferson's attention with questions about smart metal.
It would've been easy for Max to lift her hand and use her Semblance to rewind a few minutes back so that she could avoid the confrontation with Chloe and beat Victoria's team to Jefferson. And Max had done just that in other classes, much to Victoria's ire.
But for some reason, today didn't seem worth it. The anger written on Chloe's face kept her from making that easy decision.
"Fine," she told Chloe. Max looked her in the eye and crossed her arms. "But we tell Ozpin together, okay? And we accept whatever he tells us, no matter how much it hurts."
Chloe nodded, a touch more sober than before. "You got it, boss."
"And don't you forget it."
They made their way to the back of the class and out into the hallway, where other students were already walking about to their next class. Max knew they had some time to spare before they had to show up for Battle Practice in the sparring arena—and thanks to her Semblance, they'd always manage to be on time, regardless of what or who they ran into along the way. So she kept her pace light and casual, always one step behind Chloe's bitter stomp down the corridor as they headed for the school's clock tower.
Turning a corner, Max caught a glimpse of another group of students coming toward them. Four more students, all wearing designer clothing in shades of blue, orange, violet, and green. Except for Luke Parker, the short kid with dark hair near the back, the group's members were all rather good-looking and had the airs of a privileged background, especially with the quality of the girls' jewelry and make-up.
Dana Ward, the leader of the group, drew everyone's notice with her perky demeanor and eye-catching beauty. Beside her was Juliet Watson, her more somber but devoted second-in-command, reading something from her personal Scroll. Bringing up the rear was Luke, a quiet and nervous fighter whose outfit had twin bandoliers of Dust cartridges crisscrossing his chest. And then there was Nathan Prescott, a well-known bully whose face was fixed in a permanent scowl.
At least, it was whenever Max saw him. And why would today be any different?
"Geez, like I need this right now," Chloe muttered under her breath. She squared her shoulders and picked up her unflinching walk down the hall. As she drew close, she offered a curt nod and slid her way past the team without a second glance.
Max and Warren did their best to offer a friendlier greeting as they passed Team DJLN. They had almost made a clean break, except for the quiet gasp that Max heard behind her.
When she turned around, her heart sank.
Kate stood paralyzed in the middle of the hallway. Her long ears twitched like birds about to leave a tree branch in a panic. She clutched her notebook to her chest, staring and sweating at Team DLJN.
Specifically, at Nathan Prescott.
"Got something to say, Hopalong?" he offered with a sneer. "I thought it was only deer who froze up in the headlights." He got an awkward chuckle and fist bump from his teammate Luke, then laughed himself.
Kate mumbled something like "I'm sorry," but it was too low for Max to hear clearly. She could only watch as Kate turned away, covering up a sob with one hand over her mouth as she ran back the way they'd came.
"Dude, what the hell?" Warren stepped over to Nathan. "You think that was funny—?"
"Uh, yeah, I do!" Nathan threw back his head, still laughing. "Oh, man! Did you even see the look on her face? Priceless!"
Max intercepted Warren's fist before he could bring it toward Nathan's face. She didn't need to rewind time to do it, relying on years of finely-honed instinct instead. When she stared Warren down, her teammate turned a downcast gaze toward the floor.
"Not now," said Max, low enough for only him and Chloe to hear. "Kate comes first, all right?"
"Understood." She could hear the hurt undertone in Warren's voice as if his expression didn't spell it out enough.
Meanwhile, Chloe took a step back from both teams. "Whatever. I'm going to Ozpin's."
"How nice of you to rat us out!" Juliet scoffed. Nathan's reply to that was a derisive snort, followed by a sneer pointed straight at Max.
It was at that point that Max decided she needed to force a change. And fast.
She rewound time by half a minute—not long enough to stop Kate from running away, but before Warren tried to pick a fight and Chloe tried to bail. In the hazy red glow of the altered timeline, Max saw Nathan's head bob up and down in laughter, but in reverse. In that brief space outside of time, she contemplated punching him halfway through his little giggle, just to give him a taste of his own medicine.
Not now, she reminded herself. Kate was on her own and they as a team needed to talk.
When Max dropped her hand and let her Aura fade, she saw Warren's face tighten with rage once more. In her peripheral vision, Chloe responded with Nathan's laughter and Kate's departure with an irritated eye roll. She was already starting to back away when Max reached out and grabbed her by the forearm.
"Kate comes first," Max whispered, refusing to break eye contact with Chloe. "She's scared and upset and we need to know why. And once we do, then we'll see Ozpin. Okay?"
Chloe blinked. For a moment, her tough-girl exterior dropped, leaving only a confused expression in its wake. She glanced toward Team DJLN, then back at Max.
"You got it, Max," she finally answered.
Max didn't even bother with the perplexed silence from Nathan and the others when she left with her teammates. They kept a good pace as they ran after Kate. And the whole time, Max could feel a pair of eyes locked on some point right between her shoulder plates. A predatory glance that she knew she'd meet again.
Far too soon.