I'm done high school exams. Done high school graduation. Done high school prom. Now I have the whole summer to myself, no more English summer school for me! I don't know if I'll be updating more frequently, might find a job or go on vacation. Plus, I'm not sure how my updates will be like in September when I head off for university. I've heard a lot of ghost stories that university is the place where fanfic writers die from the workload.

So, if you guys haven't forgotten me, here's an extra long chapter for my 2-month absence, plus an omake!


"I'm an idiot..." Jaune mumbled in a defeated tone, a hand covering his face in shame. "I really am an idiot..." He repeated again, slowly opening the door to his apartment to ensure that the creaking from the rusted hinges didn't wake Weiss up. Thankfully, his luck decided to give him a break. A depressing sigh came out of his mouth as he headed straight for the couch. He fell face-forward and went through the memory of what just happened earlier.

"Jaune, is something wrong?" Ruby asked with concerned eyes directed to the blond. "I really think we should head inside. If something's bothering you, we can talk about it if you want. I can even wake up Yang if you need more support! Sure, she'll be really grumpy about it at first, but she'll do anything to help out a friend!" Zwei barked in agreement. "See? Even Zwei wants to help!"

'Oh Ruby, if you only knew... no "comprehended" what I'm going through right now...' his thoughts echoed.

"I-It's nothing Ruby...I just...left the refrigerator running back home." He responded, not bothering to realize how utterly stupid that sounded.

"B-But Jaune, aren't refrigerators supposed to be on-" the Red Prodigy was cut off as Jaune placed his index finger over her lips. She squeaked in response. Her silver eyes had seemingly widened in shock at what her friend was doing.

"Shhh," Jaune hissed with a blank expression on his face. His tone was a soft whisper, almost resembling a mother tending to her newborn child. "My refrigerator is running, Ruby. I need to go home and ensure that the milkman hasn't raided it. I'll see you at school." He released his finger and turned to the direction of his apartment. He didn't turn back to observe her reaction, however, the message screen in front of him was enough to convince him that Ruby wasn't going to pursue him and his sanity.

'Speech' level has gone up by 1!

At that moment Jaune knew that the rest of his day was going to suck.

He reached for a cushion and screamed directly into it. His muffled yells were the only thing he could hear in the quiet apartment. God, did he really say that crap to Ruby? And did she actually believe him?! For Oum's sake, his Speech skill was only level 5 during that time! Lying, Jaune could understand – but outright saying nonsense like that?! Heck, Jaune was certain that he would be able to convince the entire world that the sky was actually purple if his Speech level was just level 50!

But on to important matters – how long was he playing video games? He recalled fond memories of his 2-year old stubby arms wrapped around one of his father's choking hazard wired controllers. He could also recall other pleasant memories of his gaming experience. And yet, despite that, Jaune was beginning to question if he really had the right to call himself a gamer.

"Inventory" – how... just how could he possibly forget about something so crucial in RPGs!? He had a collection of video games in his closet for crying out loud! "I'm an idiot..." he moaned again through the cushion.

Jaune remained in his depressed state for another five minutes before he got up into a sitting position. "Well...might as well see what the inventory system looks like." He grumbled in surrender. "Inventory."

A large rectangular message box appeared in front of him. An exact replica of himself, its arms spread out in like a bird and its legs together like a saluting soldier, was covering half of the screen. It wore the exact same clothes as him and beside each piece of clothing was a button-like text box indicating their names: [T-shirt] [Shorts]. Beside "mannequin Jaune" was an array of blank spaces with square frames around them. Those must be the inventory spaces. There were 5 rows, each with a set of 10 boxes in each, adding up to a total of 50 available inventory spaces.

As much as Jaune wanted to jump out of the building for his stupidity, he was also intrigued with the mechanics behind the inventory screen in front of him. How exactly would he be able to use these spaces? He reached for the T.V remote on the coffee table and put it in his pocket. Despite his action, his inventory still remained empty.

"Maybe if I click on one of the spaces..." he extended his finger at first box. To his surprise, the moment his fingertip touched the space, the entire inventory screen "rippled". It was sort of like that effect where you threw a tiny pebble in a lake of still water. He retracted his hand away and watched in fascination before the screen returned to normal a few seconds after. He tapped the screen again and the same ripple effect occurred. "Hmm... what if I..." Jaune sent his arm through the transparent screen. Well, he thought it was transparent until he noticed that half his arm was missing.

"Alright Jaune, you're going to retract your arm now and when you do, it's still going to be there." He tried to reassure himself in a semi-terrified tone. There was no way he could explain to his roommate that a transparent screen that only he could see ate his arm. Not even Speech was going to get him out of that situation.

When he pulled it out, he quickly inspected his arm. He checked for any odd changes and flexed his fingers to make sure that they still worked. A sigh of relief was released when his arm passed his inspection. Thank the heavens that he could still play video games.

'I think I have an idea on how this thing works.' Jaune thought, bringing the remote out of his pocket. 'Let's just use a test subject to make sure.' He sent the remote through the screen. He released the device from his grip and pulled his arm out. A second later, the first box emitted a faint light before the image of the remote replaced the empty space. "I have my own personal spatial pocket." He confirmed his hypothesis. Jaune grinned like a madman when he realized the benefits of having this. He could practically store any useful object he wanted and not have to worry about it getting stolen!

"Wait," another idea came to him, "What if storing stuff isn't the only thing this system can do?" He reached forward to tap on the picture of the remote, but when his finger got close to the image, more options appeared beside the box.

[Observe]

[Sell]

He made a gesture towards the [Observe] button.

Television Remote

A tool used to change channels. It appears that the batteries need to be changed, but knowing how lazy society has become, you'll probably just buy a new one won't you?

Durability: Good

Damage: N/A

Jaune wanted to try out the [Sell] option as well, but he didn't know if the Game would immediately sell it for who-knows how much lien or would just prompt a confirmation for him beforehand. He picked the safer option; there was no way he was going to the store to buy another remote.

The blond reached into the screen once more and felt the shape of the remote grasped around his fingers. He pulled it out and set it back on the coffee table. Looking back at the screen, he noticed that the box had become empty again.

A sparkle caught the corner of his eye from across the room. Leaning against the wall beside the door was the silhouette of his baseball bat. He was so caught up in the morning that he completely forgot about it. Actually, now that he thought about it, the last time he actually looked at it was when he fought against the Beowulf. After that, he didn't even bother to give it a glance until now. Jaune got up from the couch and retrieved his weapon. His fingers felt the chilling sensation of cold steel as he inspected it. Even if the room was poorly lit, he could still make out the various dents around his weapon.

"Observe."

Metal Baseball Bat

Grimm Kills: 1

A tool that has only one purpose: Hitting stuff. If you've been using it as a shovel, then you should go see a therapist or something.

Durability: Poor [Repair?]

Damage: 5

Ok that was new. The sudden drop in durability was expected but Grimm Kills seemed really redundant in his opinion. When he played video games, Jaune didn't care much for statistics. If anything, it was more like a "Times you've nearly died" accumulation.

The weapon's damage dropped from a solid 10 to 5. Judging from observations, Jaune concluded that damage and durability were directly proportional to each other. So if he wanted the damage to increase, durability had to be increased. He selected the [Repair?] button with his finger.

It will cost 100 lien to fully repair. But since this is your first time, you can have a freebie.

[Accept] [Decline]

Freebie? Actually, let's move on from that and focus on the real issue at hand: 100 lien to repair?! "Why? J-Just why would you cheat me?" He mumbled in frustration. "I can buy the same one for 20 at the market...stupid game."

Then again, gamer's logic did dictate: "If something's free, you should take it and let it rot in your inventory space." Shrugging in mild acceptance, Jaune tapped on the [Accept] button. The screen closed itself and a faint blue glow emitted from the weapon in hand. A brief moment passed and azure eyes gazed upon a fully repaired bat. He inspected it, looking at the bat at every angle. Not a single dent was present. Heck, it looked as if it was just made from the factory and ready to be shipped off. He observed the bat.

Metal Baseball Bat

Grimm Kills: 1

A tool that has only one purpose: Hitting stuff. If you've been using it as a shovel, then you should go see a therapist or something.

Durability: Excellent

Damage: 15

Jaune opened up his Inventory and stored the bat in his pocket dimension. As expected, the empty box was replaced with an image of the object.

His eyes moved toward the miniature version of himself on the screen. It was kinda like looking at mirror...except the reflection was way smaller and it stood like a statue with its arms outstretched. When he tapped on the box labeled [T-shirt], the same thing occurred when he inspected the TV remote.

[Observe]

[Un-equip]

[Sell]

"I wonder what would happen if I tapped on the smaller version of me?" He wondered out loud.

His curiosity morphed into apparent disappointment when the only option given to him was [Un–equip All]. Seriously, why would that even be an option? You have nothing to gain from losing all your clothes! "Pft, Yang would probably disagree if she knew about this button..." he half-joked-half-realized. "Really, when would I ever use th- ACHOO!" he suddenly sneezed.

That was when he heard it.

The quiet sound of blankets being thrown away, the gentle steps of bare feet on wood, that faint growl containing the smallest ounce of bloodlust. "Crap... I woke her up."

The door to Weiss' room was slammed open as said roommate stomped out. She sluggishly looked around the apartment, searching for whatever disturbed her blissful slumber. Jaune gulped as their eyes met. Despite being half awake, Weiss' eyes pertained a disastrous blizzard behind that light tone of blue. Yup, nothing greater in the morning than a pissed-off roommate.

"Jaune, do you have any idea what time it is- " her tired eyes suddenly widened; now fully awake and definitely in shock of some sort. Not only that, but her entire face gradually became redder as each second passed. "W-Wha-What are you wearing?!" She shrieked, quickly bringing a hand to cover her eyes.

"What are you talking about-" he looked down and realized Weiss' dilemma. "...oh."

The real question was: What wasn't he wearing?

His T-shirt and shorts that he was wearing a moment ago suddenly poofed out of existence, leaving behind only a pair of underwear to cover his dignity. Oh god, he must have accidentally tapped on that damn button when he sneezed.

He instinctively brought his hands down to cover his testicular region. "W-Weiss, I-I can explain!"

"Like hell you can!"

Explain? How the in the name of Monty is he going to explain to his roommate that a built-in gaming system stole his clothes?

Should he put his faith in his lying skills? If the speech skill could convince Ruby that the local milkman was a fridge burglar, then surely it could save him from Weiss, right?

"S-See, here's the thing...uh...you're...ah- dreaming! Y-Yeah! You're actually still asleep and this is all just a dream! A-And I'm actually a manifestation of your conscience! Jaune is such a nice guy y'know? He pays the rent, buys the groceries with his money, and makes meals for you every day. You should really be more grateful to him." Okay so maybe the last bit was selfish, but the smallest break from Weiss would be the greatest gift ever.

Yup, any moment now, a screen stating that his Speech level increased would pop up.

...Any second now.

ANY SECOND NOW.

It wasn't until five seconds of silence later that Jaune knew, he fuc-

"Do you honestly think I'll fall for that crap?! Who do you take me for – Ruby?!" She yelled back at him, her eyes closed and cheeks as red as Ruby's scarf.

"Oh...uh-" Jaune slowly began to back away. Before Jaune could explain any further, he felt a sharp pain erupt from his forehead as a frying pan was flung at his face. "OW! Where- how did you even- WHY did you even- "

"PUT SOME CLOTHES ON, YOU PERVERT!"

"OW! OKAY, I GET IT, CALM DOWN! NO, DON'T THROW THAT-"

Indeed, it was just an average morning at the Arc and Schnee residence.


Jaune let out a long yawn as he woke up from his nap. He sat up slowly, wiping his neck and hair, both peppered with grains of sand. Let it be known that the only benefit of living on the outskirts of this town was that one was closest to the shoreline. If Jaune ever wanted to be alone, as in "complete-isolation-alone", then Patch's shoreline would always welcome him with open arms. It was a fifteen-minute walk from the apartment, and through a maze of natural forestry, but it was at all times worth the trip. With the cool breeze that the sea provided and the gentle sound of the movement of its waves, Jaune treated this place as a secret paradise.

He sighed as he dusted himself off.

After the incident with Weiss, the entire day at Signal had become extremely awkward and more tiresome than usual. Perhaps it was the fact that his roommate refused to neither meet his gaze nor utter a word when he tried to break the ice through a meaningful conversation. Maybe it was those death glares that Cardin and his crew were giving him during lunch. Or it could be the fact that he ended up waiting for a good two hours at the garden to talk to Velvet just like he promised. He would have been there the entire night if he didn't stumble upon a note beneath the bench where Velvet was treating his injuries.

He took it out of his pocket and read it again.

"Dear Jaune

...Sorry, if you're reading this and you're not Jaune Arc, can you please put it back where you found it. Thank you! If you are Jaune, then keep reading! :)

Hey Jaune, I know you promised that you'd be here at the garden today, but something really urgent at work came up so I'm going to have to reschedule. Sorry! XD

Your friend, Velvet."

The rest of the page was filled with...what did Ruby call them again...chibis? It was filled with smaller versions of Velvet in various positions. (Jaune was positive that the picture of Velvet nibbling on a giant strawberry would make Ruby squeal).

"I'll put you in here for safe keeping," he said, putting the note into his inventory. He then proceeded to pull the baseball bat of the transparent screen. "Relaxation time is out of the way, now for the second reason as to why I'm here. Status."

Name: Jaune Arc [Conditions: Normal]

Title: N/A

Class: The Gamer

Lien: 125

Level: 3

Exp: 50/ 75

HP: 65/65

MP: 10/10

ATK: 25

AGI: 9

CON: 9

INT: 11

WIS: 8

LUK: 1

Points: 0

During his way here, he made sure to invest his points into his Attack stat. Increasing it from 19 to 25. Though, the only issue with increasing his Attack was that he really didn't feel getting any stronger at all. And that worried him deep down. He nearly died after that encounter with that Beowulf. And that was just one of those things. On Easy difficulty, mind you. That's just stupid! What kind of RPG makes the first battle nearly unwinnable?!

He scoffed at the notion. But that was why he was here – to get stronger and become better prepared if he ever bumped into another floating orb of death. And what better way for a glass cannon to get stronger than to increase his damage stat?

It was around 4 o'clock, meaning that Jaune had three hours before he had to head back to the apartment and prepare dinner. One hour would be spent training, while the remaining time would be him taking a dreaded air-ship to Vale and go grocery shopping.

'If I recall, to raise my ATK up, all I have to do is repeatedly hit something' he thought, approaching a nearby massive stone planted in the sand. Planting his feet firmly into the floor, he raised his bat into the air. The bones in his arms subtly vibrated when the metal struck the rock.

He lowered the bat and inspected the damage. He frowned slightly when he noticed that the stone didn't even have a scratch on it. "25 Attack and I still can't even do much. Well, I'm not even sure how damage calculations work, but if the bat does 15 damage and I have 25 ATK, then I guess I'm dealing 40 damage per swing."

He struck the stone five more times.

'6 hits.'

Repeatedly attacking with your weapon has increased your ATK by 1!

He swung five more times but no message appeared. He gave the rock seven more hits with his bat.

'12 hits.'

Repeatedly attacking with your weapon has increased your ATK by 1!

He gave his forehead a quick wipe with his free arm, his sleeve becoming damp with sweat.

Glass cannons were individuals who focused solely on pure power. That much was common knowledge in the gaming community. But what separated the common scrub and pro was how one maximized their effectiveness and took into account the "best" strategy in achieving such a feat. In his case, simply dumping his skill points into ATK wasn't enough. Jaune needed to delve into this Game's mechanics and try to find the algorithm that determined how ATK could be raised. If he could figure that out, then creating an exploit to the system would be as easy as one hitting mobs on a video game.

'If I hit this rock 18 times, would my Attack increase?' he was beginning to see a pattern. Oddly enough, when he reached hit #17 a message box appeared.

Repeatedly attacking with your weapon has increased your ATK by 1!

'No, that can't be it. Maybe I lost count – yeah, that's probably it.' He mentally reassured. Alright, 24 attacks and he'll have 29 ATK.

Unfortunately, poor Jaune had to strike a total of 31 times before his tireless efforts were rewarded.

Repeatedly attacking with your weapon has increased your ATK by 1!

After that, Jaune collapsed in exhaustion. His chest raised and collapsed in quick succession. The echoes of his racing heartbeat drummed in his ears while at the same time he could pick the distorted rhythm of his panting. And with each short breath he took in, his eye would wince slightly from the panging in his chest. His arms felt like wet noodles. Yes, like wet noodles with a strong sense of soreness accompanying them. There was a faint taste of salt at the tip of his tongue; Jaune's face was definitely drenched in sweat.

'I don't understand. I thought I had a pattern going on here. So why did I have to attack more than I planned? And assuming that I did count correctly and in fact did hit the rock 17 times...is the Game self-aware? Is it trying to indirectly tell me that it doesn't want to be exploited? Or is it just random? Like did it involve some randomly generated variable number that determines how many hits I need to increase my stat? You know what? Fine, I'll play by the rules you stupid ga-'

His train of thought was cut off when two new messages popped up in front of him.

Trying to understand how stats worked has increased your INT by 1!

Realizing that exploiting is wrong has increased your WIS by 1! Gosh, you must really be a piece of trash on your other video games, aren't you?

"I can say the same thing for your coding..." he grumbled as his eye twitched in annoyance.

Jaune closed his eyes and counted the passing seconds until his breathing was normal again. Getting up wasn't as bad as he thought. Granted, it still felt like someone had glued cinder blocks to his back but it was definitely better than when he got up in the alleyway after fighting the Beowulf.

The bat itself looked a lot better than expected. Multiple scratches were present, but no signs of dents. "Observe."

Metal Baseball Bat

Grimm Kills: 1

A tool that has only one purpose: Hitting stuff. If you've been using it as a shovel, then you should go see a therapist or something.

Durability: Good

Damage: 10

Perhaps using the Repair option gave the weapon a nice protective coating or something. If so, Jaune wouldn't mind having that around his body for protection. You know, kind of like an aura that acted as your shield.

The alarm from his scroll rang, indicating that his one hour was up.

He put the bat back into the inventory. His gaze moved to two specific item boxes: a black hoodie and a pair of jeans. He had made a quick trip to his closet before he arrived at this place.

While he didn't care if he went to Vale in a T-shirt and shorts, both of which were stained with sweat and sand, Jaune wanted to experience what it would be like to "equip" clothing rather than actually spend some time and manually put them on.

He selected the black hoodie first:

[Observe]

[Equip]

[Sell]

When he selected [Equip], the item box containing the hoodie flashed for a brief second, and the image of the hoodie was replaced with his T-shirt. He quickly looked down and noticed that his clothing changed. He equipped the jeans and the same effect occurred. There was no white flash, no fancy glow emitting from his clothes, it was just instantaneous.

"Off I go."

As Jaune began to make his way to the airship station, his mind was already planning ahead. Yes, he was going to need to spend a little extra on ingredients if it meant getting on Weiss' good side again.


The worst thing that Jaune hated whenever he had to go buy groceries was that they were a pain to carry from the city, in the air-ship, and to his apartment. During his last trip, he managed to carry six bags all by himself! And given the current situation about his noodle arms, the fact that he had a subspace devoted just to him was an absolute godsend.

Though he had to admit, walking into the washroom, a place with no cameras, while holding two bags full of food was a bit awkward and well...weird.

The city of Vale was as busy as always. With three-story shops and businesses, all similar yet unique in design, all lined up on each side of the streets filled with its citizens. His footsteps would become mute from the surrounding conversations of those around him. Horns from passing vehicles would be heard in the distance, no doubt from the workforce who just finished their occupations for the day. The sun was beginning to set, which gave an orange tint in the colours around him.

Stopping at a busy intersection, Jaune pulled out his scroll to check the time.

6: 26

He was about to put it back into his pocket when a white light blinded him. His heart stopped when all he could hear was ringing through his eardrums. 'No, no, no, no! Out of any possible time, it had to be now?!' He didn't understand. There weren't any floating orbs around him, and even if there was, Jaune wasn't going to pick a fight in his current condition!

The blinding white began to fade and Jaune's vision began to function properly again. He whirled his head around, looking for any sign of monstrous shadow beasts. His breathing stopped for a moment at what he was seeing. Or rather, what he wasn't seeing.

People. Humans, faunus, literally everyone around him just vanished. It just wasn't those around him, people inside their cars had disappeared too. He turned his head to the left and looked through the display window of a clothing store. Nobody was in there either. Everything had become eerily quiet – not a single voice could be heard.

'I-I'll call for help. Y-Yeah, that's what I'll do...' Jaune quickly brought out his scroll. His eyes widened when he noticed that his scroll suddenly wasn't picking up any reception. "Dammit!" he cursed in a whisper.

A loud roar was heard in the distance.

In response, he quickly pulled out the baseball bat out of his inventory. "Calm down, calm down dammit!" he hissed. He was well aware that the warm feeling was doing its best to put him at ease. But with the way his hands were shaking, Jaune wasn't sure if it was fear or that his arms were still sore from the training earlier.

Running wasn't as option. That damn barrier made sure that he was locked in here with whatever was sent to kill him. Maybe if he played dead-

A thunderous boom was heard, which was then followed by a series of roars. It was a lot closer than the previous howl. "If video games taught me anything, it's that experience is earned in the general direction of where the enemies are..." he declared with a grim expression.

The grip on his weapon grew tighter the closer he got to the screaming and booming. Then, when he turned the corner of a building, he saw it. Standing on its two legs on the sidewalk was something much worse than a Beowulf. It was at least two Cardins tall. With white bone-like spikes extending out of its back and arms, followed by a skull mask with red markings, Jaune could definitely add this to his personal nightmare fuel.

Ursa

Lv 10

If a level 5 Beowulf could nearly kill him, what could a level 10 bear-like demon do to him? And you know what really made him consider his existence in this world? It was the fact that there wasn't one, or two, but a whole PACK of them lingering that street!

"What the fu- "

The loud boom was heard again and before Jaune knew it, the Ursa that he first saw had its head blown off. Its body collapsed with a thud, and Jaune felt the vibrations from here. He soon noticed the behavior of the other Ursa ahead of him. The beasts were completely ignoring him. Instead, the Ursa pack was rushing towards the street, just ahead of where the previous Ursa died.

Cautiously, Jaune crouch-ran in their direction, making sure to use the parked cars as cover. He couldn't quite grasp the feeling he had in his gut. Fear, curiosity, stupidity – maybe a little bit of each.

With each advancing step, the cacophony of noises became more apparent and frequent.

He peered over the hood of a car and his jaw collapsed at the sight before him. Standing in the middle of the road was a girl surrounded by these monsters. In Jaune's opinion, she looked like a badass. It wasn't the fact she was young, probably around his age. Nor was it the fact that she dressed so casually in the face of impending death. An example would be people dressing in formal wear for formal meetings. Wearing nothing more than a sleeveless lime hoodie and white skinny jeans really screamed appropriate for these kinds of things. (Though, Jaune couldn't exactly talk either). And it definitely wasn't those jade revolvers she had in her petite hands.

No, what made her such a badass was that look she had in those crimson eyes. Truthfully, Jaune wasn't the best at reading expressions, but the meaning was clear here. There was no fear, no excitement, and no self-doubt. It was just pure boredom. It gave off that monotone message of "Hey, seems like I've been surrounded by monsters for the umpteenth time again. Looks like I have to waste my time and kill them. Again."

Well...THAT and that her level was the highest he's ever seen so far.

'Grand Pickpocket'

Emerald Sustrai

Lv 32

The Ursa in front of her let out a war cry filled with blood lust. Said Ursa was shot in the head a second after. As if that was the signal, all the Ursa charged at her. Emerald simply let out a quick yawn, using the back of her hand to cover her mouth. An Ursa pounced at her from the left, but a side glance was all she needed before she raised her gun to shoot it in the head. She then fired two rounds in the same direction to pick off two more Ursa. At the same moment, she lifted her other revolver and killed another one perpendicular from her.

She lazily sidestepped a decapitating swipe from the side and retaliated with a head-shot. And then she ducked a swing from another and did the same thing. Jaune's eyes held amazement and wonder.

Every shot was perfectly timed and executed, with each bullet always finding its mark on the head. Her arms seemed to have a mind of their own. One moment she's firing with her right revolver in one direction, then all of a sudden her left arm would twist her body in another direction, and she would proceed to shoot with her left revolver.

It all happened so fast. One moment she was surrounded by massive beasts, then he blinks just once, and all there's left is her standing among a graveyard of corpses and black smoke. She twirled her firearms around her index fingers before returning them to the holsters behind her back.

Jaune really didn't know what to do at this point. Should he just run away or go up and congratulate her for her performance? Wait, should he even trust her? For all he knew, Emerald might put a bullet in him as well. But she killed those Ursa, so that meant they were on the same side, right?

Wait a second. If she killed all of them, then why hasn't the message "All enemies eliminated! Gateway cleared!" shown up yet? Unless...

"Behind you!" he cried out. Just beneath her feet, black steam began to secrete out of the hard concrete. The steam grew darker and began to take form. The process was just like his encounter with the Beowulf, except the materialization process was much, much faster. Now, standing behind the green-haired girl was a massive Ursa. The difference between this one and the others was that it had bone-like armor covering its body with larger spikes from its back. It let out a deafening roar.

Ursa Major

Lv 15

Emerald's eyes, filled with a mild surprise, immediately darted towards him. They held eye contact for only a second, and then she gave him a smirk from the corner of her lips. She pulled a revolver out and with a slight flick of her wrist, it mechanism-shifted into a sickle. In an instantaneous motion, she spun around, cleaving the Ursa Major in two. Jaune was left flabbergasted at the spectacle.

She spun the sickle, which shifted it back into a firearm, and put it back into her holster. "Well come on, don't be shy. I promise I won't shoot you." She said directly to him. Jaune pointed a finger at himself, indirectly asking if she was referring to him. "Yes, you, guy with blond hair, I don't see anyone else around here that fits that description." She gave him a warm smile.

He awkwardly made his way towards her. When they stood face to face, she inspected him from head to toe. "Wait, don't tell me you were going to fight with that?" she pointed at the baseball bat.

"Well...uh..." He scratched the back of his head in embarrassment. "You see I- "

Jaune couldn't say his next words when he felt the cold sensation of metal under his chin. The sound of his bat hitting the floor was the only thing heard before silence enveloped them. It happened in an instant; he couldn't react – no SEE the revolver being pulled from her holster and her advancing toward him. His blood ran cold as his brain processed the information.

"You must be really good at stealth if I couldn't detect you." She spoke, all friendliness gone in her tone, "makes me wonder how you planned on assassinating me with that."

"W-Wha- I thought you said you wouldn't shoot!" the barrel of the gun was pushed further in.

"Interrupting a girl while she's talking is very rude. Besides, I promised I wouldn't shoot you over there. I never said anything about threatening you over here." Well, he had to admit, she did have a point there. "So, I've got a question for you..." he noticed out of the corner of his eye that she was holding an object in her other hand. His heart skipped a beat when he realized that it was his wallet.

'I can see why you have the title of "Grand Pickpocket"' he mentally noted.

She opened it up and looked at his student card. "Jaune Arc...it's a really simple question. There are no wrong answers, but there are a lot of answers that I don't like. Don't worry, I'll probably just knock you out and steal your lien if you do give me some crappy answer. Think of it like me paying you back for what you did earlier. But if you lie – and believe me, I know if you're lying – well..." the sound of her gun clicking rang through his ears like fingernails on a chalkboard. He gulped in response.

"I'll only say this once: which guild are you from?"

"...uh...What?"

"Do you think it's the best idea to play dumb right now?"

"I-I'm serious, I have no idea what a guild is or what you're talking about." That was the truth. Jaune really had no idea what was going on right now. "One minute I'm waiting at a busy intersection then all of a sudden I end up here with you."

"So you're a freelancer with no guild? That's pretty rare these days. Who set up the kill contract and how much are they paying you? I swear to god if it's Roman-"

"I don't even know what that is either! And I don't even want to kill you! Actually, let me rephrase that – I can't even kill you!" A level 3 with a baseball bat against a level 32 with two guns? There was no way in hell he could win that match up.

She locked eyes with him for what seemed like forever. She chuckled quietly and pulled the revolver away from his neck. "I don't believe it, you're actually telling the truth." She looked at him in disbelief. "I sort of feel bad for holding a gun to your throat now."

"Sort of?" he raised a brow at her while massaging the area under his chin.

She raised her hands in defense, "You have to agree with me here, the life of a hunter doesn't exactly have "honesty" in the job description."

"Hunter?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Stick out your hand for me Jaune, either one works."

"Uh, sure?" he complied. Emerald transformed her gun into a sickle and made a quick swing at his finger. "Woah, woah, woah, what was that for?!" he demanded as blood trickled out of the finger.

"Calm down, the cut is as deep as a paper cut. You're not going to die." She rolled her eyes. "No wonder I couldn't detect you, your aura isn't even activated yet! Hah, and here I thought you were some stealthy ninja sent to kill me." she giggled.

"Aura? Can we start from the beginning? You know –" he waved his arms around – "what exactly is all this?"

"How about I ask you a question instead – hey don't back away from me! I swear on my thief's honor that I won't threaten you again, promise!" Jaune's shoulders relaxed ever so slightly. "When was the first time you stepped into the Void – this place we're standing in right now?"

"Since yesterday?" Unpleasant memories of a black wolf filled his thoughts.

Emerald looked at him with a blank expression. She then broke into a laughing fit a moment later. "Oh my god, that's hilarious! T-This has to be some kind of joke right? L-Like I've heard of late-bloomers, but for someone your age to awaken your semblance this late? Pft- hahahaha!"

"What's so funny?"

"S-Sorry, sorry, it's just that most people who awaken their semblances this late usually don't make it past day 1." She answered, wiping a tear from her eye. "The thought of you beating Grimm with that bat seemed really amusing."

"Just so you know, I almost died." He deadpanned.

"Meh, that's pretty common for anyone just starting out." She shrugged nonchalantly, not showing any concern what so ever.

"B-But what about everything else? What about all that stuff you were talking about before?"

"Ah right, the "System". Well, I guess I have to make it up to you somehow...well, that, and I get to procrastinate from my guild responsibilities." Emerald said, firing a round down the street. A soft thud was heard in the far distance. "First rule in the Void, unless you kill every single thing that wants to kill you, you're never getting out of here. And believe me; it's extremely annoying to find that one straggler that doesn't follow the pack."

He looked up at the sky and noticed the same thing that happened last time: the colours flickered from blue to red before restoring to its proper state.

All enemies eliminated! Gateway cleared!

He felt Emerald hold onto his arm. "C'mon we don't want to be standing in the middle of the road when we get back to our dimension." They moved to the sidewalk and Emerald positioned them to lean against a wall. "You also must be confused on how you suddenly ended up in a ghost town. Well, look forward and you'll see where they all went."

All of a sudden, silhouettes of people began to fade in around him. They were like ghosts that were frozen in time. They began to become more solid, clearer, until eventually the duo were presented with a city full of life-sized statues. And then, as if someone clicked on the universal 'Play' function of a remote, time began to move forward again. The city sounds that he became so used to returned, and Vale's citizens all proceeded to continue on with their daily lives as if nothing ever happened.

And the strangest part? Not a single person gave them a glance, which was strange since two teenagers appearing out of thin air would have given Jaune a heart attack.

"Judging from your face, you must really be freaked out right now. Hey, why don't you check the time?' Emerald grinned. His face must have gotten better for Emerald's amusement since she let out a snicker when he looked at his scroll.

6: 26

"Now I really want to know what the hell's going on." He pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a long exhale.

Emerald brought a relaxed arm over the blond's shoulder. "Well don't worry about it! By the end of today, I guarantee that you'll get the basics down! Now cmon, there's this new noodle shop that opened up last week and I'm starving! I'll tell you everything you'll need to know, and hey, I'll even pay for dinner too!" She smiled at him while waving a lien card in front of his face.

Blink. Blink.

"Why do I have the feeling that the lien you're holding is from my wallet?" he sighed.

Emerald merely winked at Jaune's observation, her smile growing even wider. "Emerald Sustrai, grand pickpocket, at your service."


Omake

Jaune let out a moan of despair as he let his head fall onto the surface of the cafeteria lunch table. Ever since that incident in the morning, the entire day so far at school had been awkward as hell. Weiss wouldn't talk to him, let alone look at him. An insult would have been acceptable as well! But nope, apparently ignoring his existence was a far greater punishment for accidental stripping.

The lunch period was no different.

Weiss had decided to sit somewhere else from their usual spot. She really wanted to avoid Jaune at all cost. Of course, eating alone was a horrible experience so Ruby decided to sit with her and attempt to mend the Arc-Schnee relationship.

"Jeez Jaune, what did you do this time?" Yang asked as she took a bite from her apple.

"Why do you assume it's my fault that Weiss is ignoring me?" he raised his head and looked at her.

"Well is it?"

"...Kinda."

"Have you apologized to her yet?"

Jaune groaned in response. "Yang, a simple 'I'm sorry' won't cut it. The memory will haunt her forever." There really was no way he could fix this, can he? They would be stuck in awkward silence for the entire year until they graduated, and things would only snowball out of control from there.

"What? Did she see you with only your underwear on or something?" she joked, wiggling her eyebrows for the extra effect.

Jaune just stared at her in a startled silence. "...uh."

Her lilac eyes widened as she brought a hand to her mouth. Yang was getting a kick out of this, wasn't she? Jaune could tell with that suppressed laughter and her fist banging on the table. "Hah. Hah. Yes, for once one of your jokes turned out to be true. Hah. Hah." Jaune slowly applauded.

"It's just...wow, Jaune. Who knew you'd take it to the next step after you stood up against Cardin." She jeered. This time, Jaune fell back into his depressed state and put his head back on the table.

"If you're done laughing at me, can I go talk to Mature-Yang for a moment? I really need her advice." He muffled. He felt a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"Don't worry Jaune, momma Yang's got you in good hands. And I'm serious too. We may not look like it, but Ruby and I can have some nasty fights from time to time. Fixing the silent treatment is a walk in the park for me at this point!" She grinned.

"Y-You can help me?" He looked up with hope in his eyes.

She turned her head left. Then she turned her head right. Yang then leaned forward and gestured Jaune to do the same. In a gentle whisper, she spoke, "This is a Xiao-Long trademark technique. I don't usually tell non-family members this, but I trust you as a friend. So do not tell anyone else, alright?"

Jaune nodded furiously in acceptance.

"Alright, I'll only say this once so you better remember this word for word."

Jaune nodded furiously in acceptance.

"First, you have to wait when Weiss is showering. Don't question me, it's a girl thing."

"...Wait until Weiss is using the showers, got it."

"Then, prepare your long speech on how sorry you feel and how you want things to go back to normal."

"...Say I'm sorry, got it."

"Once you have your speech planned out – this is the most crucial part by the way – you wait until the sound of the water stops running."

"...Wait until Weiss uses all the hot water, got it."

"Then...you kick down the door and pour your heart into that speech!" Yang slammed her hands on the table in triumph.

"...Open the door and say..." Jaune finally processed what the blonde just said. He stared at her in the face and realized that she was dead serious. In his kindest voice, he mustered "...Yang, I can't do that. Weiss will hate me more if I do that."

"Why not? It works all the time – oh." She realized it too. "...Right, I forgot you're a guy. My bad."

"So how about plan B?" She suggested.

"I'm scared to ask, but what's plan B?"

"How would you feel about spending the remaining school year in a romantic-comedy lifestyle with Weiss as your love interest?" She said, dead serious like before.

Jaune looked at Yang and then looked at Weiss and Ruby sitting at another table. A long sigh escaped his lips as his hand covered his face. "You know what? I think I'll just cook something extra special for my apology."


Not sure if anyone's reading this at this point, but if you are, then do you have a creative name for Emerald's weapons? I tried to use the wiki, but all I got was "?".