Speedy updates for new things seems to be a running theme for me, but I'm just riding the wave before my half-term ends and i have to get back to the clusterfuck that is my school life

Thanks for the nice reviews, as well. I know i've still got a lot of room for improvement, but it's nice to know that people think my work is at the very least readable.

Blake Belladonna would never have admitted it, or even shown it in any outward manner, but she felt free. The burden of The White Fang, all the atrocities committed had weighed down on her wherever she went, which was rarely outside of one of the various safehouses and bases.

So when an explosion had resounded across the landing area, she had very nearly panicked. Explosions and bombs of any kind brought back too many bad memories, particularly of that last, fateful mission.

The book she was reading very nearly slipped from her grip, and only the slowly rolling vial of dust that stopped at her feet stopped her from entering into combat mode.

She sighed almost inaudibly. It had just been a dust accident, careless packaging most likely. Then the sound of yelling reached her ears, and she frowned at the snowflake symbol emblazoned on the vial.

A flash of white hair caught her eye over the crowd, and she stood up resolutely, moving silently towards the argument. When she did arrive, it became clear that the owner of the dust was a Schnee. That white hair was unmistakeable. A stupid packaging error indeed, she drily added, and apparently one that the girl was blaming someone else for, a younger looking girl in a red cloak.

"Hey, I said I was sorry, Princess!" Blake frowned as the Schnee readied another retort, and chose that moment to make herself known.

"It's Heiress, actually?" She corrected, cutting off the white-haired heiress before she could say anything in response, "Weiss Schnee, heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, one of the largest producers of energy propellant in the world". The Heiress' admission to Beacon had been widely publicized, and met with scorn and derision from her former fellows in the White Fang.

Oblivious to the derision dripping from her tone, she smirked triumphantly. "Finally, some recognition!" She declared in a tone that was far too arrogant for Blake's liking.

"The same company infamous for its controversial labour forces and questionable business partners". She finished, leaving the heiress fuming even more than before.

The white haired girl stormed off in a rage, and Blake's expression softened slightly as the red-cloaked girl attempted to weakly apologize for her actions. Nevertheless, she turned on her heel and left, ignoring the other girl's attempts to call her.

She sighed, pulled out her book, and continued to read.

Then she stopped, and went very, very still.

Faunus were more perceptive than regular humans, and as a by-product of their animalistic features, they had a natural fear of predators. Animals that would hunt them were met with fear, and a base instinct to run away. The effect applied to other Faunus as well, the more dangerous the animal they took features from, the stronger the effect on Faunus who took features from animals that would be hunted by them.

She'd never felt anything like this.

Pure terror gripped her, the kind only produced from being in the presence of an apex predator. This time, it wasn't just a nudge, doing little more than notifying her that the person or creature was dangerous. It froze her muscles, refusing to obey her commands to run, or even just get away from whatever it was.

Amber eyes danced across the crowd of students making their merry way towards the hall, but there was nothing. No indication as to what it might be. That was just plain wrong. The footsteps would be different, and even the smell could alert her to it's position, or what type of animal it was.

She smelt only blood.

Not three feet from the panicking Faunus, Alex Mercer smirked to himself, before turning and stalking away, indistinguishable from the crowd.

He watched the two huntsmen who'd come to visit him in his warehouse not two weeks ago with amusement.

Ozpin was the picture of detached calm, as usual, but he didn't miss the way his eyes subtly swept the crowd. Glynda was less subtle, and some of the sharper students noticed the way she watched them too intently.

Ozpin had likely alerted his entire teaching staff to his presence within the school, a risk, but a necessary one to keep an eye out for him. They were trying to beat him at his own game, one he'd played for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

When Alex Mercer plays, he plays to win.

He was disguised; taking a standard teen model from his repertoire of faces, with tightly cropped brown hair and blue eyes. A blue jacket and a pair of jeans completed the persona. They'd never notice the difference. He sat to attention, appearing to listen intently to every word they said, and he didn't move an inch when Ozpin's eyes passed him.

He frowned when Glynda announced that the students would be staying in a single room. That many people within a small space was dangerous for him, and had he needed to sleep, it might have posed a problem, forced him out into the open and left him vulnerable.

He didn't so it became an irrelevant waste of their time.

Once night fell, they wouldn't find him. The night was his home, stalking through it after the helpless wastes of biomass that were the human race. Had he not been bound by a promise, he would have long turned on humanity, razing their fragile cities and tearing their race to shreds.

Two things stopped him from doing that.

One was respect. The only creature to ever truly defeat him was a human. Captain Robert Cross had made him re-evaluate the power humanity possessed, and though he had ultimately won through deceit and intellect, rather than power, he couldn't begrudge him that victory.

He was a creature born off of lies and deception. His creation had been a lie, made by naïve and innocent researchers, believing they were developing a cure for cancer. His greatest weapon was deceit, taking the faces of those his enemies trusted and then stabbing them in the back, leaving them confused as they died.

Even though Cross had been consumed by the Supreme Hunter, the rise of Aura and dust had made him wonder, just how powerful would Cross have been with the power of Aura, and the energy of dust at his beck and call?

The second was his 'sister'. It was an ironic cruelty of fate that the monster wearing Alex Mercer's face, and believing itself to be Alex Mercer for far too long, had loved and cared for Dana Mercer more than the real man ever had.

When she'd woken up from her coma, they'd travelled the world. He'd been looking for a reason to believe in humanity, for some redeeming factor to counteract the atrocities he'd seen man commit.

It had only taken him fifty years to realise that the proof had been right next to him.

As Dana mercer lay dying peacefully of old age, she'd made him promise to continue to believe in humanity, that they would one day become something great.

He scowled as they filed out of the hall.

It hadn't stopped them, his humanity, from nuking each other into oblivion.

Glynda steadied her breathing as her and Ozpin mad e their way back to their respective offices. She hadn't seen a single sign of Blacklight anywhere. If it had actually showed up, then it was doing an incredible job of blending in.

"Headmaster, are you sure… That thing, is here?" She couldn't keep the slight shake out of her voice, despite a valiant effort.

"It's here", he confirmed sombrely, before stopping and turning to face her, "It's trying to play with us, make us guess where it is, who it is. Be on your guard".

Glynda tried to take his words to heart, to believe that she could weather the fear that they were being hunted, preyed on like animals.

It didn't stop her from sleeping with all the lights on in her room, however.

Alex crouched on one of the academy roofs, hunched over and almost unnoticeable in the pitch black. The darkness had long since become his favourite place to be.

The dark helped cover his movements, and should he will it he could move undetected by any force in the world. Even those rare creatures, like the one he now hunted, that could see Aura, and detect foes via it, were no problem, as the 'Aura' he possessed was consumed from deceased huntsmen and huntresses, and should he choose, be turned off at will.

In the light, he was nigh on immortal. Countless years and countless battles had tempered the fires of his youth, tearing through Manhattan without a care in the world. Back then; he had been hurt, almost killed on several occasions.

Time had taught him patience.

The willingness to wait for as long as was needed to achieve what he wanted, to assure victory before striking from the shadows with lethal precision. Of all the abilities he'd stolen from consumed foes, all the souls trapped screaming within him, it was amusing to him that the greatest asset he'd ever gained had been of his own creation, not adapted from another.

In the night, however, the world was his. Here he was god and king. The creatures of darkness themselves cowered where his footsteps fell.

One last hunt, and that title would be his in the daylight as well.

His eyes turned to the sprawling forest below the cliffs, enhanced retina giving him a perfect view of the world despite only the tiniest slivers of light being available. That was where the initiation would take place, if the Grimm stalking between the trees were any indication.

Even against the lowest of the low, monster even the humans could deal with easily, he relished the upcoming thrill of the hunt. They would try and flee as soon as they detected his presence, monsters cowering in the face of a greater monster.

They would never detect his presence, and would die confused, returning to the darkness that had created them.

He leapt to another building in a fluid movement, landing as softly as he was capable of to avoid smashing through the building. It had been so many years, but he truly missed the days when all he'd have to do was slaughter Blackwatch.

He never thought that he'd miss the tyrannical and shady military organization, and had they still operated, he'd have destroyed them just as he had last time. Yet when he was young, slicing through countless soldiers and tearing apart vehicles, there had been a threat. There was a risk in every fight, the risk that he could be slain, or captured.

Humanity had gotten stronger since then, but so had he. There was almost nothing that could even challenge him anymore, and the last creature that had even the potential to kill him would soon be dead, assimilated into him like all the rest.

His purpose was to adapt, to consume, to hunt. Yet he'd adapted to defend against any threat. He could survive in space, at the bottom of the ocean (it had only taken the virus one thousand years and hundreds of dead sea-creatures to overcome it's hatred of water), in the pits of the hottest volcanoes, in the driest deserts and atop the highest mountains.

So what was he to do? Once the witch was dead, there would be nothing left.

His eyes turned to the stars, glittering tantalisingly in the blackness, and suddenly, he knew.

The combined knowledge of thousands upon thousands of scientists would be more than enough to create a ship capable of traversing the stars. Even with the atmospheric limitations of dust, he could use old world power sources. Combining the two technologies, and suddenly the universe was open to him.

'Soon' he thought, his eyes flashing the colour of blood.

He almost felt sorry for the Grimm Witch, along with whoever was puppeting her, if they existed. She wasn't just a target anymore, she was an obstacle.

Blacklight does not like obstacles.

What Blacklight doesn't like generally ends up dead.

He stood in a line with the other students, waiting for Ozpin to finish his speech. He had discarded his 'teenager' disguise, instead returning to his original form, hoodie and all, only appearing younger. It didn't really make a difference to him, but he needed them to know he was there.

Ozpin would recognize his favoured human form, despite the age difference, and judging from the wary glances Glynda Goodwitch was giving his hooded form, she knew as well.

He'd chosen to reveal himself for two reasons. Firstly to make sure they realised he'd acknowledged their bargain, and that he expected them to deliver on their side. Especially now he'd considered the future, he didn't want to waste any more time than was necessary.

The second was teams. A team would be useless for him; they would slow him down, and form connections he didn't need once he vanished after graduation. People who considered him a friend would look for him, and faking a death was so much harder than not having anyone important to care if you vanished without a trace.

Once he'd narrowed down his identity, Ozpin wouldn't put him on a team with anyone. The man may have been one of the best tacticians on Remnant, but his methods were loathsomely predictable. He wouldn't risk his precious students for anything.

He got a few strange glances from other students as they noticed his lack of a weapon, had they been more stupid, they might have snickered and whispered behind his back.

They didn't because while they were only human they were fighters, and they could see, from the way he walked and held himself, that he was one of them. A fighter, and a damn good one at that.

He wasn't of course. He was the apex predator, and if he wanted them to believe he was a human, they'd never tell the difference.

Even so, some of the reactions from his 'fellows' amused him greatly. One in particular, a girl in a vibrant red cloak, looked so horrified Alex might have thought he'd killed her whole family right in front of her.

As the students began to launch into the forest, he ignored the weak questioning of the blonde boy who'd been throwing up after the bullhead ride. He scowled. If he was weak, the boy would die. It was his fault for attempting something he wasn't ready for.

His pad activated and Alex jumped with it, the extra momentum he provided himself to soar high above the other students. He didn't even glide, as gravity began to pull him to a stop at the top of his arc.

He didn't fall graceful, grace was beneath him. He was ZEUS, king of the gods, the sky was his domain, and gravity couldn't hurt him no matter how hard it tried. He saw the other students disappear into the trees, and then dropped, the ripping air tearing across his body as he plummeted into the tree line, careless for any stray branches in his path.

He slammed into the ground with the force of a runaway freight train, solid earth splintered under his weight, as did, to his pleasant surprise, a canine skull. He stood up slowly from his crouch, letting the dust settle as he wrenched his foot out of the Beowulf he'd hit.

The rest of the pack was around him, frozen almost comically not in surprise, but in fear. One even whimpered. He looked around them, and they remained stock still, not daring to move.

One broke the formation, turning on its heel and preparing to bound away as fast as it could possible move.

It got a single step before the tendril like whipfist skewered it, tearing through its chest with a yowl of pain. He flicked his arm upwards, the whipfist tearing through the top of it's body and leaving it in a brutalised mess on the floor, slowly dissolving back into the darkness it had come from.

Nothing moved for another second, only the tearing noise of the whipfist dragging through the earth back to its owner's arm.

Then they moved, running from a battle they had no hope of winning.

Blacklight chased them, and they screamed.

"The last pair has been formed, sir", Glynda Goodwitch informed her superior, taping at her scroll to pull up the surveillance footage of the event. "Nora Valkyrie and Lie Ren. Poor boy… can't possibly imagine those two getting on. Still he's probably better off than Miss Nikos…"

Ozpin made vaguely affirmative noise, staring at his own scroll with interest.

"As for our… guest, he still hasn't shown up on any cameras, my guess is he's purposely avoiding-"

Then a resounding scream, one that didn't sound quite human, echoed across the forest and Glynda's eyes widened in alarm. She quickly checked her scroll, flicking through the cameras that showed each of the students.

"Ozpin, all of the students are accounted for, do-" This time Ozpin himself cut her off.

"That wasn't a student" He broke in, eyes no longer fixed on the scroll, instead on the forest itself. "That was a Grimm".

"A Grimm? What on… Oh". Her voice trailed off as she realised just why the Grimm, creatures born of darkness incarnate, were screaming.

"I'm afraid so", Ozpin confirmed sombrely, "The Grimm will try to run, and he will hunt them down".

Another scream echoed across the forest, followed by a peal of dark, mocking laughter.

Glynda shuddered.

Alex had taken a bit longer than he'd wanted to eliminating the Grimm, but he'd been having a bit too much fun trying to see how many Grimm he could kill with another Grimm before its corpse dissolved.

The record was nine, but there was always room for improvement.

It hadn't taken long to find the temple. The largest number of human thermal signatures were converging on a single location, albeit converging was a loose term as they fell off Nevermores, got flung in by Deathstalkers, and rode in on Ursae, but he had just been killing Grimm with another Grimm, and begrudgingly acknowledged he had no right to question their eccentric behaviour.

The godlike speed of his viral body had only been enhanced with the many consumptions of powerful Grimm and other creatures. It had taken a hundred years to master the process of consuming a Grimm, stopping the biomass he absorbed from decaying within his body, but he'd done it. He always did.

He blitzed through the undergrowth, not even bothering to dodge the trees that got in his way, leaving them splintered wreckages on the floor in his wake. The whipfist dissolved back into Biomass, leaving his arm identical to a normal human's once more. He went even further, a stolen aura was applied to his body, making him indistinguishable from a human even for a Grimm.

He couldn't go making a bad impression on the first day of school, after all.

As he rapidly got closer, he noticed something unusual. One of the signatures was pinned by what looked like Nevermore feathers, being rapidly approached by a rather large Deathstalker.

He remembered Nevermore feathers fondly. They were one of the first abilities he'd stolen when he'd gained the ability to consume Grimm. Using his biomass to create razor sharp projectiles was an undeniably useful ability.

He snapped out of his musings as the Deathstalker raised its tail and panicked shouts from the other students reached him. He frowned. He was supposed to protect them, after all.

He moved even faster.

When he burst into the clearing housing the temple, he was moving far too fast for the creature to react.

With the newfound clarity provided by a lack of trees in his way, he re-evaluated his strategy. One of the students was reacting, preparing to use ice-dust to freeze the tail, thereby saving her comrade.

What she didn't notice was the Nevermore bracing itself to rain down another hail of feathers on the pinned girl, shattering her aura and most likely impaling her along with her cloak.

His original plan had been to stop the Deathstalker's tail with his own brute strength, the react accordingly to any follow up attacks. Since that angle was covered for him, he took the second option.

As he reached the pinned girl, who had barely even acknowledged his presence, the biomass in his flattened hand sharpened, forming a tiny blade without any cosmetic change. He slashed downwards as he collided with her, severing the scrap of her cloak pinned by the razor-sharp feather.

He scooped the now freed girl up, and let himself relax. He'd done all that in the space of about half a second, his godlike reaction time effectively making the world seem slower.

With his relaxation, his perception of time returned to normal, the stinger froze in a flash, and he looked like barely more than a black bullet as the feathers thudded into the ground where he'd been a millisecond before.

He slammed his feet into the ground, carving up fresh trenches of earth a good distance away from the circling Nevermore and the confused and frozen Deathstalker.

"You alive?" he grunted, setting the beet red girl down. That was too much physical interaction for him, and had he been younger then there was a good chance she'd end up accidentally consumed.

"I-Uh…" The girl was clearly not good with words; he stepped away from her and scowled.

"I'll take that as a yes" He let his eyes flit back to the two creatures, who remained stuck on the ice and relenting their attack for the moment. He ignored the repeated muttering of "normal knees", as the girl tried to recover from her near death experience.

The rest of their little group ran over to the girl, scolding her for her carelessness. He nodded a wordless thanks to the one who'd encased the creature in ice, as if it had helped him.

The white haired girl, a Schnee, from the aristocratic way she carried herself and the whit hair, eyed him with an appraising eye, before looking at the rest of their little group.

"Look, there's no sense in dilly-dallying, our objective is right in front of us". All eyes turned to the assorted chess pieces, before the red-cloaked girl nodded in agreement.

"She's right, our mission is to grab an artifact and return it to the Cliffs. There's no point in fighting these things".

The blonde boy nodded in desperate agreement, "Run and live, that's an idea I can get behind!"

Alex wasn't paying attention to any of their planning, and was instead looking at the circling nevermore, his head tracking it in a hypnotic pattern.

He didn't get 'enjoyment' from consuming things like a human would for eating food, but some creatures were more enjoyable to consume than others. They had a certain… texture to them that he enjoyed more than others.

Birds and almost any other avian creature were one of his favourites. He wondered if he could bring it down in such a way that his new comrades wouldn't see him consume it. It was a particularly large on as ell, and it'd be a shame to pass up on it.

"Um, hell? Creepy hoodie guy?" The red-cloaked girl's voice brought him out of his musings. His glare must have been sufficiently terrifying, as she shrunk back a bit, "Sorry, but you kind of spaced out there".

He grunted in acknowledgement, and the black haired girl, a Faunus, one in hiding, if the bow covering her ears was any indication. She was different from the others. Naïve by his standards, but jaded for her age.

"Who are you, anyway?" The others had turned their full attention onto him, and while he wasn't unnerved, it was an unusual feeling to have the attention of so many people for a reason that wasn't abject terror.

"Alex Mercer", He jerked his head towards the Nevermore and the encased Death Stalker, "Can we save the introductions for later? It's coming back". The annoyed impatience in his voice spurred them into action.

As they snagged relics, ironically chess pieces, corresponding to what would become their teams, Alex knew which one he wanted.

He went to the head of the dais, and snatched the Black King from its proud position. He held it up to the sunlight between two fingers, inspecting its craftsmanship with a careful eye.

He smiled.

It might make a nice memento.

Moving through the forest at a pace that wouldn't leave his 'friends' in the dust was a painful experience for him. They moved at an impressive pace for humans, but it was nothing compared to what he was capable of.

"Get down" Someone commanded, before the Nevermore swooped over them, coming to rest on a tall pillar and giving a caw that nearly blew some of the weaker humans over.

He would have laughed. He could do a better roar than that, without even altering his vocal chords.

The Deathstalker, having apparently freed itself from its prison, burst from the trees behind them, Roaring it's own anger and snapping it's pincers. Alex was having a very hard time stopping his laughter now. Sometimes the creatures could be incredibly stupid.

"Well, that's just great!" A blonde girl growled in annoyance. They were making to run again, and Alex wasn't sure he could take anymore of that painfully slow movement. So he did the next best thing. He lost his temper.

"I have had it with this fucking bug!" he snarled at the gigantic scorpion in question, which for its part, didn't realise quite how fucked it was. He burst from his cover, charging literally headfirst at the Grimm, ignoring the calls of alarm, and one indignant cry of "Language!" (Really? They were all about to die and they cared about his language?)

The Deathstalker might have prolonged its life by about five seconds, had it attacked the approaching human with its pincers. Instead, it attacked with the yellow, wickedly curved stinger.

Alex grinned under the hood.

He caught the stinger, stopping it dead, much to the surprise of the other students and the Deathstalker itself. Then he gripped it at its base, and swung.

The gigantic creature, easily weighing as much as a truck, was lifted into the air and slammed into the ground, like some sort of gigantic, demented flail. Alex roared, smashing into the ground around him again and again and again, everywhere it landed it cracked the stone and dented the earth.

He paused his assault to look at the gaping initiates.

"WELL? DO SOMETHING!" He roared at them, apparently spurring them into action as they broke into teams, one splitting off to help him, and another going after the bird.

He cursed lightly as he smacked the Deathstalker into the ground again. He'd wanted to eat that bird.

He flipped the howling creature one more time, leaving it thrashing around on its back, the softer underbelly exposed.

"Now!" The blonde boy called and they leapt into action. Alex leapt backwards, so as to not get hit by the thrashing creature. They took his place, the flashing steel of weaponry filling the air.

The red-haired girl drove a spear into it, causing a squeal of pain, but no permanent damage. It stayed there like a nail, and before it had even happened, Alex could have predicted what was to happen next.

"Nora! Nail it!" Alex visibly cringed at the thinly veiled pun, as the hammer-wielder slammed her hammer into the hilt of her teammates' weapon, driving it through the creature like a stake.

A burst of gunfire from the green-clad boy's guns silenced the creature's mad thrashing, and slowly, it began to dissolve. They exhaled, and their leader turned to find the hooded boy glaring daggers at him.

" 'Nail it?' Really?" He asked, disbelief lacing his tone

The blonde held his hands up in a weak defence,"Hey, everyone else was doing it!"

As if on cue, the Nevermore swooped past them, his fellow blonde latched firmly onto it's beak and punching shotgun shells down its throat.


Alex smacked his hand into his face with enough force to bring down an attack helicopter.

"Oh my god".

At least he didn't have long to wait for the battle to end. The red-cloaked girl decapitated the avian Grimm, rose petals drifting off her form. The others stared at the younger girl in admiration, and to the untrained eye, he was doing the same.

What he was actually doing was staring at the Nevermore behind her, silently lamenting how delicious it looked.

Alex perched silently in the rafters of the auditorium. He knew he'd have to go down to be officially accepted into the academy, but he wasn't going to give the huntsmen the satisfaction of thinking they had him at their beck and call.

One thing the seemingly pointless ceremony was useful for, however, was that he got to know the names of the other students.

"Jaune Arc, Lie Ren, Pyrrha Nikos, Nora Valkyrie. The four of you retrieved the white rook pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as team JNPR". He paused as the audience applauded. "led by… Jaune Arc!"

An interesting choice. The boy had tactical potential, but his physical capabilities were severely lacking. He had the potential to be a decent huntsman; he just had to put the work in.

The applause died down as they left the stage. Alex's eyes flitted to the only group of four that had not been announced yet.

"Blake Belladonna, Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Yang Xiao Long. The four of you retrieved the white knight pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as team RWBY".

Alex didn't even need to guess which of them would be the leader.

"Led by… Ruby Rose!" The girl looked a bit overwhelmed, but nevertheless happy.

The applause died down, and after two seconds the audience was silent once more, most likely expecting to be dismissed to sort out accommodations.

"Finally… Alex Mercer", Ozpin intoned gravely, and when he didn't appear, mutterings began to spread slowly across the hall. People looked around them, trying to find the elusive student.

Alex stepped off the rafter he was secured on, and landed on the stage with nary a whisper. The hall went dead silent once more. No doubt to them it looked like he had fallen from the sky.

He made his way forwards, until he was facing Ozpin. He watched him with calm green eyes, but the grip on his cane tightened ever so slightly, and he could feel the Hunters stationed in strategic locations around the hall tense at his appearance.

They were silent for a second, before Ozpin began speaking slowly.

"Your reputation precedes you, Mister Mercer". His head tilted slightly, "We were not sure you'd actually show up".

Ah, that was his game. Try to force him into the open in front of the students, and should he fail, which he no doubt knew he likely would, they would distrust him, and therefore stay away from him, keeping their chances of living a full life high.


"Why thank you, Headmaster", he grinned, "I do try".

Ozpin turned back to the screen; one eye still focused on the statue-like Mercer, or rather, the monster wearing Mercer's face.

"You have retrieved the black king piece. Usually, you would be attached onto another team, as a fifth member". He paused again, "However, in light of your… unusual skill set, we have decided to make an exception".

"You will act as a one man team, indefinitely until a suitable partner can be located". The onlookers, particularly the Faunus, could have sworn the intricate red crest on mercer's back pulsed, like a twisted mockery of a vein.

"I trust, that this will not be a problem?" No image appeared for Mercer on the screen, no indication that he even existed, aside from the proof standing in front of them.

"Of course not". Mercer's grin turned downright feral, "Will that be all?" He didn't wait for an answer before leaping casually over the assembled crowd, easily making it over to the heavy double doors at the end. The crest on his back, crimson against the black of his jacket, glowed in excitement.

Four years, then he would be free.

He would have thought the sky was the limit, but as he left the building far ahead of the assembled crowd, looking at the twinkling stars, it would have been a lie.

A world away, the Grimm Queen's crimson eyes snapped open, and she knew something was horribly, horrifically wrong.