9 Months to Live
Chapter 29: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Disclaimer: Nothing to see here Officer. Oh, that's not cocaine next to that black human shaped trash bag, it's… drywall. From construction. Of the… plot. Yes…. Oh this is red paint. From the construction. I don't own the RWBY or any of it's characters, Mr Officer, if I did, I wouldn't be hypothetically hiding the evidence, which there is none. Because I am not a criminal.
AN: Before you ask, I'm not dead, pandemic be damned. Did I cause this? My lawyer tells me silence is probably the best course of action. As for my long absence, I'm not gonna mince my words. My interest in RWBY had been burned out. It might come back eventually, but I've moved on to other things. Life moves fast, and it's always changing. Honestly, this whole fic has been my first real success at writing, and it's all thanks to you readers. My biggest advice for anyone who's stuck around this long, is this: If you have a concept you want to try writing with, do it. Fanfiction, original ideas, doesn't matter. Just do it. Writing is something that you never improve at if you don't open yourself up to that first attempt. Now with the feelings stuff out of the way, I can do what I do best. Mindless destruction of windows and shitposting.
With a mighty groan, the mountain base collapsed in on itself. Jaune and Ruby could only just watch as they saw the stronghold be blown to pieces and collapse in on itself.
All across the snowy battlefield, Atlas grade military drones flickered for a moment, before shutting down, ragdolling like a puppet whose strings had just been cut. In the skys, Sun let out a sigh of relief as the airship finally got a chance to float without being bombarded with high grade dust rounds.
Torchwick beamed as he saw the smoke and debris settle "God, there is no kill like overkill" He grinned to himself, pulling out a cigar, facing towards Neo as his partner in crime lit his stogie.
"You blew up a fucking mountain!" Emerald yelled out. "Some of the people still could have been in there!"
"Eh, Red and Boxtop gave a warning." Roman said as he let out a puff of smoke. "Besides, do you honestly have any gripes if I killed Ironwood?"
"None at all" Mercury responded, not skipping a beat.
Ruby shifted uncomfortable in Jaune's arms. Not that she wasn't ungrateful for the rescue, but she didn't like being in the company of these 3. Jaune, that was fine. "Shouldn't we get going? Aren't grimm approaching."
Jaune blinked "Oh yeah… Let me set you down so I can get my scroll and tell Sun where we are to pick us up in his airship"
"When did Sun get an airship?"
"I believe he stole it from a pirate."
Roman snorted. "If the pirate let monkey boy steal his own ship, he must have been a terrible pirate."
Jaune was gonna say something to defend his friend, but he looked at Roman, seeing the criminal standing almost defiant in the snow. Despite him being an unbearable asshole, a wanted criminal, and a former terrorist, he did come through and held his end of the deal, and Jaune could almost feel a sense of respect. Almost.
Deciding to extend an olive branch, the hunter offered his hand towards Roman.. "Do you guys want a ride back to civilization too?" He asked, against his better judgement.
Ruby seemed to catch on "Yeah, maybe we could have Ozpin pull some strings, and maybe you could start helping more people! I know that deep, deep, deep, down, you're a nice person"
Both Mercury and Emerald looked highly cynical at Ruby's statement, but Roman shook his head, taking a long draw from his cigar as he faced the ruins. "Nah, something tells me you're gonna have enough questions to answer without a devilishly handsome rogue and his witty partner with you. Besides, I don't do valet, so my aircraft wasn't in the base. It's just a short walk for us, I'm sure the kids won't mind"
"I'M 27" Emerald and Mercury yelled at the man, who just ignored them.
"Well, goodbye Torchwick." Jaune said.
"Thanks for helping save me, you 4...I think?" Ruby asked, clearly confused "Either way, your kindness is appreciated, and we won't forget it!"
The Arc clan gathered up the ground forces as fast as they could on their mounts, doing recon.
There, a figure emerged from the rubble, holding another. There, in the arms of James Ironwood, laid the fallen form of Ozpin.
Everyone was quick to aim their weapons at the man.
"You have betrayed the council and committed crimes against Remnant, Ironwood, what say you in your defence!" Glynda said, barely holding back her fury.
James looked up to her with a broken, sad look. "I surrender." He said quietly, setting Ozpin's body down. "I didn't mean… he saved me...he… he will come back, right Glynda?"
"I'm sure he will, on his own accord." She said slowly, her steely gaze fixed on the former general.. "Ozpin has always worked in mysterious ways, so surely this will be no different."
"Thank you. Do with me what you will, but I have one request." Ironwood bowed his head down in what seemed to be almost shame. "When he comes back, I want… I want to apologize. My conduct was unacceptable."
"Your conduct...was unacceptable?" Glynda looked at the former general like he was on fire. "You kidnapped a young woman for the express purpose of making her
unborn children into child soldiers. Unacceptable," She glared, flinging restraints into the man with a whip of her riding crop "does not even begin to scrape the surface of your actions, James."
Ironwood flinched at each accusation. "I know what I have done. I will stand by whatever punishment you decide for me. But know that what I did, I did because I thought it was for the good of Remnant."
"Crazy Monday, am I right?" Nora said, breaking the ice.
"Our former headmaster was just murdered by the ex general of Atlas, but he's going to reincarnate, while we all fought off armies of grimm and soldiers,while saving our friend who got pregnant from a drunk party." Ren deadpanned. "Crazy is an understatement."
Jaune couldn't look his father in the eye, knowing what he had to say as his heart hammered in his chest. "Dad… about Croceas Mor… during a fight with one of Ironwood's guys, it… well…" he held out the sword handle, showcasing what was left of the ancestral blade.
John Arc looked at his son. "Did you succeed in your goal, save your girl, and protect your family?"
"Well, yes, but the sword-"
"Is a sword meant to protect the Arc family. A sword can be replaced, repaired, forged anew. You, my son, are irreplaceable, and so is that girl of yours." John beamed with pride. "Honestly, I'm kind of surprised you made the blade last as long as it did. It was old anyway, and was really more of a wall decoration."
Jaune looked at his father, tears slowly sliding down his face. "I went through 4 years of Beacon and you didn't think to tell me that once?" He said, hugging his father.
"You had it handled. Besides, have to give you some handicap or else you'd pass this old timer long before his time."
Everything, more or less, was right.
Ruby was having a similar moment with her father and Uncle, hugging both of them to the best of her abilities and questioning her Uncle's broken leg, whom Qrow only pointed at the chained Ironwood. "Dickhead-"
"Language!" Ruby chastised him, earning an eye roll from the drunk
"Yeah, whatever, Jimmy, broke my leg and my sword. So that's gonna be a pain, but maybe I can get some pretty little thing to play nurse for me, so snowy lining I guess."
Yang looked confused "Isn't the expression silver lining?"
"Your Uncle is delusional from the pain, girls. I'm just glad we have Ruby back, safe and sound with my two future grandchildren NOT BEING TURNED INTO CHILD SOLDIERS!" Tai yelled out the last part for Ironwood to hear, who only lowered his head down in shame.
"This is Vicki Vale with breaking news. Formal General of the Atlas MIliarty, James Ironwood, has been found guilty of government conspiracy and for the murder of the Beacon Headmaster Ozpin. What drove the man to do such heinous acts, we may never know. We have the actions of a small group of graduates from Beacon to thank for stopping this madman, giving us hope for this next generation of protectors. Professor Goodwitch, now Headmaster of Beacon has yet to release a public statement on what is to be done with the Atlas criminal, nor any other matters on this rebellion. However, with such a well handled stop by this new generation of Huntsmen and Huntresses, I'd say the future's looking brighter than ever! Up next, Ice Cream and high fashion, two products never thought to go together until Lampstick Explodes onto the scene-"
Jaune shut off the news network as he and Ruby relaxed on the couch. As crazy as the summer had been, things were beginning to return to a semblance of normal for the gang.
After the fall of the fort, nearly all of Ironwood's soldiers had gone through court, with noticeable missing ones being the cyborg ninjas and Ironwood's lead scientist. However, after several testimonies from several high ranking Huntsmen, one who might have shown up halfway to hammered, it was decided that the majority of the forces would be tasked with civil duties of protecting local towns from Grimm, or serving serious jail time and community service.
Yang decided to take action, and kept an eagle eye over Ruby, along with Jaune, not wanting to take any more risks with her baby sister. With one last salute to her father, she moved out and got a place near the two that was relatively cheap.
However, it was despite the fact of Ruby righting her
Blake dove head first into her father's footsteps, hoping that she could bridge the gap between faunus in Menagerie, making a point to stress human relations within the once isolated island.
Nora and Ren were doing well, and while they did offer a place to Pyrrha, she politely reclined, wanting to avoid intruding in on them. As for the champion herself, Pyrrha had recently went on a tour with a group of veteran huntsmen in the Vacuo area under the recommendation of Cardin of all people, who had said it helped open his eyes to the nature of being a huntsmen. Jaune and Ruby received a letter from her wishing the best for the two, along with a picture of her behind some giant sand shark grimm with several grizzled huntsmen, but she looked happy.
Things, for once, were beginning to look on the up for them and their friends.
Weiss looked at her father, who was facing out the balcony, leaning against the railing looking at the sunset.
"Hello Weiss." His tired voice called out. Weiss took note of his appearance, a far cry from his usual cold formal, looking very different. The snow white coat was gone along with his tie, and his rolled up sleeves and unbuttoned collar, would have gave him a more
Relaxed look had it not been for his composure. Weiss knew the man to be a shrew, vain businessman, but this… something was different, and his face alone conveyed It all. Rather than the usual cold detachment and calculated expression he wore in for as long as she could remember, the face of constant judgement, the man seemed surprisingly at peace, a tired calm etched in wrinkles and creases she never noticed till now. It was surreal to see someone to her that was always so statuesque in demeanor be anything else then cold and judging. It took Weiss a moment before she remembered all he did to her and her family, and any shred of sympathy dried up, or so she hoped. Weiss refused to let this get the better of her.
"Father." She said coldly, knowing that it was the best way to deal with him.
"Weiss, did I ever tell you how I grew up?" Jacque asked quietly, still looking off the balcony.
"No father." She deadpanned. "But I imagine with a silver spoon in your hand, and a trust fund in the other."
Her father snorted at that. "I wish" he said. "I grew up an orphan on the streets of Atlas, not a dime to my name. Every day I would look up to see the Schnee company, a shining beacon of wealth and opportunity. I wanted to join under your grandfather's employment so much, but I was too frail, too sickly to be of any use on the field. No real aura, and I still cannot hold a blade right to save my life. So I made myself useful with the only tool I had, my mind.
You wanna know why I have Faunus mainly working in the mines? I don't hate them, I honestly don't. At least, not the normal ones. Those White Fang fanatics probably shaved years off my life in terms of stress. See, mining dust is a very risky process, and the slightest error, one wrong chip away at a Dust crystal may lead to it causing an explosion within the mineshaft, killing and injuring any workers down there. So Faunus, as it turns out, have natural night vision, which would allow them to be able to be more careful than any human working down there. It is one of the most dangerous blue collar jobs there is, but by using Faunus I managed to lessen that risk.
Maybe if I offered more benefits. Maybe if I didn't try to force more faunus into mining jobs.
But I did it-" Jacque paused for a moment, then recollected himself. "No, I didn't. I made excuses. Don't do that when you're in charge, Weiss. It's a slippery slope, that is so, so damn hard to realize you're on until you reach the bottom."
"So what? Your own failures made it okay for us to ruin our entire family?" Weiss snapped.
"No" Jacque said simply. "No, it does not. Weiss, one reason I'm so hard on you, so hard on Winter, is I don't want to lose you two. I had Winter go serve Ironwood because I knew he was at the time someone who would make sure she was safe. I had you fight the knight to prove you were capable of defending yourself on your own. I worked hard to build myself a haven to come home to, to see my family, but as it turns out, all I did was build a gilded cage for the people in my life. Your vision was far more selfless than mine Weiss, and I could not be anymore proud of you and ashamed of myself. I hope you're able to be the leader of the Schnee Dust Company I never was, and surpass your grandfather."
He paused for a moment, the ice clicking together as he slowly rotates the glass before taking a drink from it, swallowing the whiskey as if it were water. "I would ask for forgiveness, but I think we're past that point. I know when to take my leave. I… Farwell Weiss Schönheir Schnee. May your future be bright and your heart be strong."
With that, Jacque downed the rest of his glass, then headed off the balcony, leaving Weiss by herself, alone with her thoughts.
You stupid, asinine fool of a man…
Winter slightly swore as she sat in her bathroom. It would be just her luck, right when the world needed to see Atlas with a strong, pure military leader, one uncorrupted and devoted to serving the public, and her fool of a husband that no one but a select few knew about was insisting she play nurse to the injury her former boss gave him...
"Well, he's gonna be in for a shock." Winter mumbled to herself as she fiddled with the positive pregnancy test. "Christ, the worst fucking luck when it comes to timing these… I should have castrated the dusty old bird when I had the chance."
Blake was stressed.
As soon as she arrived back home, she flung herself into her work. She had spent so long wasting around, but now it was time to counteract Adam, not at his level,but on her own way. Throw words, conviction, and actual progression. But it was proving to be a tad more than she hoped.
Gaining a seat at Menagerie was easy, as the title of Huntstress carried weight and power, the power to protect the pack. But it was getting the others to change and turn a new leaf was what was slowly driving her insane. Her first idea was to start encouraging human faunus trade on the island, but that alone was proving difficult without rumors of a skilled faunus causing discourse in Mistral, and the supposed person fit Adam's description to a tee. She needed to match his conviction head on with her own if she was going to be free of him. Adam was a drug to the faunus, offering an escape from their problems that just brought long lasting consequences, and was an addiction she herself barely pulled herself away from. She needed every minute of the day in order to-
The cat faunus swore as she heard Sun approach her. Didn't he get how busy she was? What she was doing? How important this was?
"So, I was thinking now that we got this whole team leader kidnapping fiasco solved, I was thinking me, you, date?"
Blake groaned internally. Of course that's what he came to bother her about. "No Sun. Not right now."
"You sure? I mean, me and the boys actually managed to get that ship we commandeered under our name, so we now legally own it! So, how about a nice dinner in the sky?"
Blake pressed the bridge of her nose, her aggition rising. "No, Sun."
"Well, maybe later this week then? I'm free, so whenever you-"
"No Sun! No means no! Not now, not later, probably not ever!" She snapped.
"No buts about it! I have more important things in my life to deal with than some monkey boy who's just around for hopes of dating me! The White Fang needs me, the Faunus need me! If I don't do this, then who will?! Certainly not you, and everyone else would rather flock to Adam or stand by and let them speak for us. Grow up Sun! Some of us are trying to do something greater than waste their time trying to get laid!"
The monkey faunus visibly seemed to shrink back. "I just thought…"
"Well you thought wrong!" Blake snapped. "Not all of us can ignore the fact that a full out war between faunus and humans is around the corner as some mad disillusioned killer manipulates our people for a need for retribution!"
Sun looked at her as she finally finished her rant. "Okay. I'll leave you be then. Bye, Belladonna. I wish you luck." He said as he left the room.
Omake: Beacon's Social Distancing
As it turns out, having a bunch of students cram before finals during flu season was a bad idea.
Now, how was Ozpin supposed to know that having the students closely packed together, pushing them to the brink of exhaustion, and then test them on Vale's grand (boring) history the next morning would have led to a school wide pandemic?
He blamed Glynda. He would have just launched them into the forest. They would have been fine in the forest. Kill a bear, hide in it for warmth, learn survival skills, all valid life skills. But Glynda had put a stop to that.
"No Ozpin, you can't launch students into the forest, I'm still getting phone calls from the parents of the last time you left a group of students in the forest for an entire month"
It started so minute…
Jaune Arc had a light cough, which somehow due to his own neglect, developed into a full blown case of the flu. Then his partner Pyrrha got sick, then Nora Valkyrie, then Ren, and then team RWBY, which spread around the rest of their year before getting to the rest of the school, including some of the teachers. Oobleck had been the first to go, going overnight from his hyperactive self to a hot congested mess, and Port, the coward, claimed he had a hunting trip to take and pulled out his vacation days.
Ozpin, seeing the tide, declared a temporary shutdown.
So, here he was, Headmaster of Beacon, revered huntsmen, bunkered down in his office hiding from his sick deputy assistant.
Ozpin sighed as he opened up his scroll.
"Ozpin's log… day 3… running low on coffee… I don't know how much longer I can make it"
Ruby looked at Jaune as the teams sat around the couch, TV on. "You know, there's easier ways to get extensions to study for the finals."
Nora laughed "Are there, naive child? Are there?"
"We could have just actually studied on time instead of realizing a week before we had our finals. The teachers did mention it. Several times."
"Oobleck speaks to fast and Port's where I catch up on my sleep." Yang said.