A letter from a Vale Councilman to Ozpin

Dear Ozpin,
Following the disastrous events that occurred mere days ago, we have decided to accept your proposal and allow the Atlesian Military to be given temporary control of the Kingdom's defenses, as well as monitoring the air traffic and communications. I will not lie. What happened that day was a massive wake-up call for all parties. We cannot allow Vale to remain stagnant. That is why we have decided that perhaps a bit of restructuring is in order.
Which brings me to the point of this letter. We have some...concerns...behind your management of the Huntsman Academy. While it is admirable that students of your school intervened, and with spectacular results, we would like to remind you that this incident occurred under your watch.
After the Vytal Festival has finished its course, we will be discussing your position and future at Beacon Academy.

Sincerely,
Councilman Nervana


RWBY x Red vs Blue Crossover:

"Metastability"


Chapter VIII: Guess Who's Back?

The ride on the Bullhead was fairly pleasant, if one could ignore the fact that Nora had some serious ADHD going for her. She looked like she could barely sit still. She was bouncing in her seat, constantly asking whether or not they had arrived at their destination. Ren seemed as if he had dealt with this kind of thing before and was doing his best to placate her overly eager rush. Pyrrha kept herself busy by doing maintenance on her weapons, taking out parts and cleaning them before putting it back together. She did it so quickly and thoroughly that it was clear that she had been doing maintenance on her weapon for nearly all her life. In contrast to everyone else, Maine was apparently trying to catch some z's, head lolled and leaning up against the corner of his seat.

Qrow envied his ability to sleep through this crap. He really did. He wished he had brought duct tape to shut that sugar happy girl up. He was so glad he wasn't hung over, but damn if Nora Valkyrie wasn't trying her hardest to give him one.

"Please tell me we're almost there." he pleaded to the pilot. "I don't think I can handle much more of this."

The pilot chuckled. "Don't worry, Branwen. We'll be arriving at our destination soon. Ever been this far out in the Emerald Forest before?"

"Only a few times, but that was back when I was a student. This part's mostly just old ruins from way back during the Great War, yeah?"

"That's right. It was apparently an old fortress used by the nobles at that time, as well as their main stronghold when Mantle invaded. Place is mostly dilapidated, but priceless artifacts are said to be occasionally found among the ruins. Professor Oobleck has any student who's sent this far out on a bit of a side mission to retrieve and report any artifacts back to him for further study."

Qrow snorted. "Yeah, that sounds like Barty." he said to himself as he took a swig of his flask before fastening it to his belt. "Got any idea what kind of Grimm like to come around here? Aside from the occasional Beowolf?"

"Ursa and Creeps, mostly." the pilot shrugged. "Nothing the kids at Beacon haven't had to deal with before.

"That's good." The veteran Huntsman nodded. Best thing is to let the kids fight what they're used to fighting. If it were anything crazy like an Elder Grimm, then things would surely be complicated. If need be, he could step in. Not that he felt it would be necessary. From what he heard from Ozpin, one of these kids was the three-time Mistral Champion and never lost a match in her life, while partner was apparently a freaking supersoldier armed with advanced AI. One of which just so happened to sound like his almost-brother-in-law. He had no idea why Church had Taiyang's voice, but it was deeply disturbing to him.

Especially since Church was an asshole!

"Ugh, are we there yet?" Speak of the devil, and he shall appear. "I swear to god, if I have to listen to Nora's sugar rant for one more goddamn second, I'm seriously gonna start fucking around with this ship so she falls out of it."

"Touch my ship, little man, and you die." the pilot warned with great seriousness. "Nobody touches this baby but me, capiche?"

"Can't kill a ghost, asshole! I'm already dead!"

Qrow raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you supposed to be some kind of AI?"

"Pssh, please. Being a ghost is way more fun!" Church scoffed. "Besides, do I even look and act like an AI to you?"

Qrow shrugged. "Whatever floats your boat, pixie man." Church spluttered and started squawking indignantly, much to his pleasure. Glad to know he could still piss people off. And hey, he just pissed off an AI. This day was better already. "And cool your jets, hotshot. We'll be arriving at the LZ soon enough. For now, just try not to cause a plane crash. Actually, how come you ain't with the mute back there?"

"Because I'm bored? And because you're the only other person who's willing to make a decent conversation?" Church gestured to Team JNPR. "I tried talking to Carolina's less-angsty little sister, but she's busy fixing her stupid sword-gun thingy and Mulan over there is trying to keep Caboose 2.0 over there from busting a gasket."

"...okay, I have absolutely no clue what you're even talking about or who those are."

"Eh. It's a long story that I'm willing to tell only in five minute intervals. But we ain't got that kind of time." Church shrugged. "Just talk to me, man! Before I go crazy and do something drastic!"

"What the hell would I even talk to you about?"

"How about how in the holy hell you're related to Red for starters. I don't see any resemblance at all. Not to mention the fact that her dad treats her like she's five or something. I mean, really! How the hell does she still believe that babies are delivered by storks?! She's fifteen for fucks' sake!"

"Hey! That ain't my business! If anything, you can blame her dad. He's always been the most positive outta all of us. Still treats her like a kid and doesn't want her to grow up too soon and all that shit..." Qrow pulled out his flask and took a swig.

"Still doesn't answer my first question, bub." Church continued.

"...We're not related by blood if that's what you're askin'..." The Huntsmen finally said. "Yang and Ruby are half-sisters. Same dad, different moms. Yang's mother was my sister. Ruby's mom was my partner. All four of us used to be part of the same team, but shit happened and we split up. Last I checked, my sister's still a bandit terrorizing Mistral."

Church winced. "Owch. No wonder blondie's got some issues."

"Meh. She gets her stubbornness from her mother, that's for sure. As for the temper...I would say that was more Tai." Qrow shrugged. "Used to be a raging dragon back in the day. Mellowed out with family life. Still have no idea how he and my sister hooked up."

"I'll say. From what I'm hearing, this Tai guy doesn't sound too bad. And he married a bandit of all people?"

"Your guess is as good as mine."

"Okay, and what about Red's mom? Was she some kind of badass too?"

Qrow snickered. "Oooh yeah. She was a little on the small side, even around Ruby's height despite being the same age as us, but damn if she couldn't kick some ass. Hell, everyone at Beacon used to call her the White Reaper because she always wore a white cloak. And she was a hell of a mother. Baked some of the best cookies in the world.

"What happened to her?"

The smile faded almost instantly and his red eyes dimmed. For a moment, Qrow's face overlapped with the Director of Project Freelancer, looking older than he should be.

"...she made a promise she couldn't keep."

"...oh...I uh...oh...okay...that...never mind..." Church shook his head. He realized the implications of those words. He had no definite response to that.

"Just...don't talk about it..." Qrow took another swig from his flask.

Church knew better to press on. He had promptly been reminded of how the Director had lost his own wife, and how she made a promise she couldn't keep. Sighing, now depressed, he flickered back over to Maine. Qrow shook his head, bitter about Church bringing up a touchy subject. Not that he blamed the spud. He couldn't have known about that.

"Alright, we're here!" the pilot announced. "Welcome to the deepest parts of the Emerald Forest, Team JNPR!"

Maine snorted awake, startled by the sudden shout and looked ready to brawl at a moment's notice. Nora cheered. "Woohoo! Yes!" she exclaimed. "Party time! Ooh, I can't wait to break some Grimm legs! Hey, hey! Renny! Let's see if we can't skin some Ursa while we're at it!"

"Nora, we've been through this..." Ren sighed. "You can't skin Grimm. Even if we could, the fur would just evaporate."

"We can do it if we try hard enough!" She grinned.

"There's no trying, that's just the way things are!" Church refuted.

Qrow shook his head. "Alright, ya little shits. Grab your gear and come on." he said, making his way for the exit. "We got a Power Station to fix." He lowered his voice a bit and then said, "And maybe find out why Merlot's after Grimm..."


"It's been a while since we've been to the Emerald Forest." Pyrrha said with some nostalgia as she and Team JNPR walked along together for the first time in so long, Qrow walking ahead of them. "Not since Initiation, at least."

'How long ago was that?' Maine asked.

Pyrrha pursed her lips. "That would have been around the beginning of the school year, so... Four or five months ago?"

"Well, in this guy's case, it would've been years ago for him." Church replied.

'Yeah...it's been so long...'

Truth be told, the place did feel a little familiar to him. He half-expected a Deathstalker to show up out of nowhere and try to maim them. If they had, though, he would have surely introduced them to his Brute Shot MK-II.

"This place is pretty!" Theta said, riding atop Maine's shoulder. "I've never been to a place like this before!"

[Emerald Forest has been regularly used as Beacon Academy's proving grounds for the last several decades.] Delta revealed. [However, the area we are currently in is the depths of the forest. It was once home to the fortress that served as Vale's major stronghold during the Great War many years ago. It's since been reduced to ruins. On that note, I would like to inform Team JNPR that Professor Oobleck is offering extra credit, should you happen to discover artifacts of any kind.]

Ren raised an eyebrow. "What sorts of artifacts?"

[Silverware, pottery, armor, anything of potential value.]

"Basically, anything that looks as old as shit!" Church summarized.

"Extra credit?!" Nora gasped before her face split into a wide grin. "Listen up everyone! Let's plunder everything we find in the ruins! Our grades depend on it!"

"You can do that after we finish up our job here!" Qrow shouted from the front. "Hey, blondie. Got anything in that fancy choker of yours that knows if we got Grimm around?"

Maine raised an eyebrow, but then rolled his eyes and turned to Delta. [A motion tracker has been installed in the collar, but it's radius is subpar in comparison to the one installed in your old unit.] he revealed. [I detect no Grimm in the vicinity.]

'That's good. But how far is the range of the tracker?'

[Approximately 20 meters.] The green AI replied.

"Eh, good enough." Qrow shrugged his shoulders.

The group continued to advance until they reached the end of the road, so to speak. A clearing was laid out down below them, barely even a few feet down. There were remains of what looked to be a building from the old ages, a tower fallen to its side and half-consumed by the earth. Of course, what really had their attention was the small gathering of Grimm that were roaming the clearing. It was a congregation of Creeps, all wandering about mindlessly while others had taken to burrowing into the ground.

"Grimm." Ren narrowed his eyes. "Quite a few of them."

"Guess I'll be seeing what you guys can do early." Qrow smirked. "Alright, kiddies. Go have fun."

Nora cocked her head to the side. "Wait, your not gonna join in the fun?" She looked incredibly disappointed. She wanted to see a veteran Huntsman in action, after all.

Qrow waved his hand in dismissal. "I'm just here to babysit you brats. If something does happen, I'll just rush in and save your asses." Ideally, though, he didn't want to get involved. He didn't want them to screw up because of his Semblance, after all. "Try not to die." He took out his flask for the third time today and plopped down on top of a tree stump.

"Well, you heard Mister Branwen." Pyrrha said as she whipped out Milo and Akuo, the former switching to sword form. "Let's mop up the Grimm and continue on."

Maine rolled his neck, getting rid of the creaks in it before taking out his Brute Shot MK-II, the blade rotating and the muzzle extending into a shaft, turning it into a battle-ax. "Yay, murder time." Church said with mock enthusiasm. "Try not to shit yourself, Vomit Boy."

'Up yours, Alpha.' Maine shot back before he leaped down into the clearing, the rest of Team JNPR quickly following behind him.

The team was finally back in action.


Merlot had to admit, the timely appearance of this group of students was a boon in of itself. He had just been ready to sabotage the Power Station in the forest and have Ozpin send someone out to investigate when his spy drones alerted him to the presence of some worthy test subjects.

And by the Brother Gods, did he hit the jackpot.

A team of four Huntsmen in training and a veteran huntsman as a chaperone.

What better way to test out his prototypes?

Watching the children battle told him that he found some very suitable test subjects. Their combat ability and teamwork was just amazing to watch. His interest was especially focused on the apparent leader of the group - that blonde-haired boy with the battle-ax. He was cutting through Creeps and demolishing them with either his weapon or brute strength alone. His temperment suggested a military-esque upbringing, making him valuable for research data. His partner was someone he easily recognized. Pyrrha Nikos, the Invincible Girl herself. And she more than lived up to her title. No matter how many Grimm approached, none so much as reached her and were slaughtered before they had a chance. The boy in green was as calm as he was agile, providing support and eliminating any Grimm that approached them from behind in the hopes of a sneak attack. As for his partner, the girl with the hammer...well, he supposed he couldn't deny her enthusiasm. That being said, he had to admit, he pitied the poor Grimm for being on the receiving end of her hammer. One of them had even been sent flying and turned into a twinkling star in the sky.

As for the veteran Huntsman, well, every Vale citizen worth his salt knew who he was.

"This really must be my lucky day." Merlot cackled. "Qrow Branwen? Oz's own personal agent? This couldn't be better! Oh, what shall I have you face? The possibilities are endless."

He had so many experiments at his disposal. Each one augmented and developed for the sole purpose of reaching the limits of Grimm. He had accumulated quite the collection. Beowolves, Creeps, Boarbatusks, Ursas, Nevermores, Deathstalkers, Griffons, and King Taijutus.

And that doesn't even begin to cover the Elder Grimm he had in stock.

If only he had accumulated some subjects from Mt. Glenn...just the thought of having a Goliath as one of his test subjects was positively salivating. But, Merlot knew he couldn't be greedy. He had to make due.

"Still, that blonde-haired fellow is quite the specimen..." the scientist remarked as he watched him piledrive a Grimm straight into the ground to the point where half of it was buried in the earth. "His physical strength is outstanding. Augmentations, perhaps?"


"FORE!"

A poor, unsuspecting Creep was sent flying into the air, hurling through the sky like a rocket. A poor baby Nevermore was caught in its path and was killed on impact. The Grimm kept on going until it soon vanished from sight. "Aha! Hole in one!" Nora cheered, raising her hammer up high in celebration.

"Uh, Nora? That's your name, right?" Church sweatdropped. "You do realize that's now how golf works, right?"

The orange-haired girl paused, then slowly turned to the tiny blue ghost. "...it's not?"

"Nope."

"Oh." A pause. "How 'bout baseball?"

"Eh, I guess that works."

Qrow whistled. "Not bad. For a bunch of kids." he remarked as he hopped into the clearing. "Especially you, blondie. Never thought I'd see the day when I found a guy who could give Tai a run for his money."

"Jauney's ripped!" Nora giggled. "Still, no Beowolves though. Real shame. I would have liked to ride one. Like when I rode an Ursa that one time during Initiation!"

"Wait. You rode an Ursa?" Qrow asked, eyes wide. "During Initiation?" Nora nodded with a cheery grin. "...you, short cake, might be my favorite little shit besides my niece."

"Ooh! Ooh! Hear that, Renny?!"

Ren sighed. "I heard." he said, forcing a smile before he redirected his attention to the open path ahead of them. "So, do we press onward or search the area for artifacts? I'm all for extra credit, but we should focus on the mission."

"So do I." Qrow nodded in agreement. "We can sweep the area for your extra credit later. let's get this over and done with first."

"Right." Came the collective response.

The group then began to press forward. They progressed further into the depths of the Emerald Forest. As they did, Team JNPR noticed that the number of Grimm that inhabited the area was surprisingly low. So far, all they had come across were Creeps and Boartusks. There had been no signs of any Beowolves or Ursa yet, not even a pack belonging to the former. They also noticed that, for an area that was supposed to be the remains of a stronghold, it was surprisingly intact. Nora had been bouncing off the walls when a Creep snuck up on her and knocked her into a room, which was filled with artifacts.

Or if you were to ask Church, useless junk. Old books that looked ready to fall apart any second, rusty silverwear, broken pottery and the likes.

Meanwhile, as they moved on, Delta had been surprisingly quiet aside from his offering of feedback in a fight, as per Pyrrha's suggestion. Since the green AI was the most analytical-minded, and that there was no such thing as perfection, it was always a good idea to want to improve. However, he had been oddly silent.

"Delta?" Pyrrha called. "You've been oddly quiet. is something the matter?"

[Hm? Oh, forgive me. I was busy.] Delta flickered onto Maine's shoulder. [It appears we are being monitored.]

Team JNPR plus Qrow came to a halt. "Wait, what?!" Church cried. "D, the hell! You're supposed to tell us crap like this earlier in advance!"

[I was merely trying to discern their intentions, that is all.] Delta replied coolly. [And hacking into their network. They are surprisingly well-fortified, which is saying something considering the lackluster defensive protocols that protect the Cross-Continental Towers.]

"Better not let any of the Council hear you say that, Leprechaun." Qrow snorted. "So, who's peeping on us?"

[The same man who may or may not be responsible for tampering with the Power Station. Merlot.]

"Seriously?! D! That's the guy we're supposed to find, and now you're telling us he's been watching us this whole time?! Like what the fuck?!" Church screeched.

[I was simply making sure.]

Qrow shook his head. "Are you...? Urgh, nevermind. If your hacking into his network, know where we can find this asshole?"

[I'm afraid not. I'm accessing his network, but his location is being jammed. It seems there's a feedback loop being emitted from the Power Station. I detect a similar loop from the one in the Forever Fall forest.]

"So that's where we gotta go, then."

"Why? To investigate it?"

Ren frowned. "There should already be a group heading to Forever Fall to check out the station there, but they probably don't know about the jamming."

"And if we're gonna find Merlot, we'll need to unjam it." Qrow grimaced. "So much for an easy job. Alright, kiddies. Let's find the Power Station, fix it, then head to Forever Fall. Sooner we find Merlot, sooner you guys can go back to school and do whatever it is you do, and I get to get shitfaced at a bar."

"Yes sir!" The group replied, doing their best to ignore the last part of his statement.

"Now that's an idea I can get behind." Church agreed.

'You can't even get drunk.'

"Watch me, fucker! I don't care if I have to find a poor sap to possess. I deserve to get drunk after all the crap I've been through. Do you know how long its been since I've had a LICK of booze?!"

'No. I wasn't even aware you had a body to taste with.'

"Well, it's been years, pal. Years!"


Team JNPR eventually arrived at their destination. The Power Station sat there in plain view. It looked was a giant contraption the size of an average Beringel, and was surprisingly in good condition despite being in the middle of Grimm territory. It was reinforced with white plates, with wires circling inside its body, visible by the glass panels. However, there were also some odd pieces attached to it, such as antennas sticking out from the top. Attached to the front was a panel bearing an insignia, styled after the letter "M."

"That's the Merlot Industries logo." Ren recognized the emblem. "What did he do to the Power Station? What's with those antennas?"

Maine frowned. 'D.'

[Understood.] The fragment of logic flickered out of existence, only to reappear next to the station. His body proceeded to then enter it. When it did, the Power Station began to emit odd noises. [Unnecessary parts have been applied to the Power Stations' external and internal mechanics. It is linked with Merlot Industries private security network, and the command codes have been overwritten. While the Power Station is still transmitting to the CCT and delivering power to other substations, its functions cannot be accessed outside of regulated servers.]

Nora stared at the machine for a moment, frowned, then cocked her head to the side. "Um... In english, please?"

"It means that nobody, except Merlot, can access the damn thing and make sure it works like it's supposed to." Qrow frowned. "Can you get rid of the jamming thing?"

[I can, but it will take some time.] Delta replied. Suddenly, his voice, while composed, turned alarmed. [Warning! I detect Grimm approaching the area. Estimated number is 42. The Power Station is emitting a low frequency and is attracting nearby Grimm in the area.]

"Well, shut it off!" Qrow barked, his hand wrapping around the handle of his weapon. With a flick, the blade extended and enlargened, plates and pieces clicking into place and forming into a large broadsword.

[Understood. Estimated time is five minutes.]

"You heard the Leprechaun! Kill the Grimm and protect the station!"

'So much for an easy job.' Qrow thought with a grimace. 'Well, at least my semblance hasn't-'

The Grimm appeared shortly afterwards. At the forefront was a particularly large creature, an Ursa Major with giant green crystals popping out from its backside, some even sticking out from its front legs. What should have been red eyes were green ones, burning with fury. Behind it were Beowolves, Creeps and Boartusks, all looking ready to tear them apart. With a furious howl, the Mutated Grimm led the charge.

He sighed. "Spoke too soon..."

"Let's break their legs!" Nora cheered as she charged at the incoming mob with Magnihld raised. Her team mates followed her lead with Ren and Pyrrha providing covering fire while Jaune flanked Nora.

Qrow set off to handle the other side of the encroaching pack while trying to make sure his semblance did not effect the team in training. Last thing he needed was to explain to their parents why they got killed, after all.

He came in quick, sliding underneath the swing of a Beowolf and past the many legs of Grimm before bouncing up on his feet, now directly behind his batch. The first two Boartusks didn't stand a chance as they were unceremoniously cut down before they realized he was right behind them. While they were still in shock, Qrow struck again and dashed forward, angling his sword just right so it could go straight down the middle of a Beowolf's head. Twisting the handle, he brought the sword down through the neck and out the shoulder, swinging into a half-circle and slashing several Creeps and knocking them back.

A Beowolf rushed up, aiming to bite his shoulder. He side-stepped and let it collide with a Boartusk that tried to come at him like a pinwheel. It struck its furry comrade instead and knocked it the ground, where he killed with a swift slash through the neck. With a quick twirl, Qrow's weapon changed. The blades curved up and the plates shifted, rearranging into a diagonal line before curving downward. What was once a sword was now a scythe.

The walking bad luck charm smirked, and swung Harbinger.

As the wind blew, no less than seven surrounding Grimm became cleanly beheaded. He did not relent in his assault as he jumped and caressed an Ursa with his blade before jerking back his arm. Another head severed. He landed and spun on his heel and twirled his scythe as it sliced a Beowolf in half down the middle.

It was like watching a master musician at work. Every stroke, every movement, was not wasted. At this moment, the drunkard bumbling fool was gone, and in his place, a man worth of the name "Black Reaper."

However, in his humble opinion, the moniker was simply a bland title. He won't deny that his skill was exceptional due to the long, brutal hours he spent to refine it. Truthfully, his moves were mere shadows to a truly legendary and exceptional Hunter. A true huntress who inspired him. His weapon was even based on her own.

Even now, he still failed to believe he could stand as an equal to the Grimm Reaper.

Nevertheless, his skills were good enough in decimating the encroaching horde. He let Harbinger dance to its hearts content, weapon swaying around his body. One step, two steps. Qrow's movements were slow and methodical, each strike aimed with the intent to hamper or kill any Grimm that came too close. Some unwittingly threw themselves at him when they tried to retreat, bumping into each other or tripping right into the line of fire.

In short, Qrow was slaughtering them like it was child's play.

On the other side, Team JNPR was doing just as good, if lacking finesse.

Nora brutally smashed or crushed any Grimm that got within her range. The hyperactive girl moved too quickly for the horde to react properly, resulting in diminishing numbers. Ren performed well. While he lacked in sheer power, he made up for it through precision refined technique. Pyrrha's fighting style was elegant, cool and composed. Milo thrusted, stabbed and slashed at any Grimm that dared to come close. Those who attempted to sneak up from behind were mercilessly gunned down by Akuo. Step. Sidestep. Slash. Block. Thrust. Repeat. Even in a fight to the death against the Grimm, some things never changed.

Maine forgoed finesse and grace and focused on sheer brutality. He simply blew up approaching enemies with grenades while he bisected and crushed the rest with the Brute Shot MK II's melee mode.

It was like watching a juggernaut in action. And the fight came to ahead when the Mutated Ursa rushed up to him, snarling and foaming at the mouth. Maine glared at it, teeth gritted, and proceeded to charge at it before leaping into the air and bringing the weapon's edge down upon it. It was blocked by the Grimm suddenly turning to its side, letting the blade instead impact the green crystals. "The shit?!" Church exclaimed before Maine was forced back, evading a swipe from the Mutated Ursa. "Um, okay, Yogi is seriously pissed off. So, um, quick question, are Grimm supposed to have green crystals popping out from their bodies? Or is it some kind of really disgusting fungus or something?"

'Don't know.' Maine growled. 'Don't care.'

"Yep, that's what I figured." Church sighed and shook his head before watching Maine throw himself yet again into battle. "Man, I bet the guys back home haven't had to put up with this shit..."


"OH JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!"

"WILL YOU STOP SCREAMING AND JUST SHOOT IT?!"

"WE DON'T HAVE ANY BULLETS, YOU FUCK! YOU TRADED THEM WITH CABOOSE!"

"What in Sam Hill's going on over here?! You numbnuts have any idea what time it is?! And Grif! Why are you playing around with some oversized centipede?!"

"FUCK YOU, SARGE!" Grif yelled before he got choked by said creature. He tried to pry off the giant centipede that had wrapped itself around his neck, trying to kill him by biting through his armor to no avail.

"You're supposed to be scrounging up supplies, since a certain orange fatass decided to eat all of our food supply!" Sarge growled. "Now quit fooling around!"

"DO I LOOK LIKE I'M FOOLING AROUND?!" Grif sounded like he was very close to bursting a blood vessel, still trying to pry the overgrown centipede off of his body. Simmons was attempting to help by also trying to pry it off, but the insect's grip on his friend was tight.

Grumbling and mumbling to himself, Sarge shook his head and decided to do things the easy way by taking aim with his shotgun, then proceeded to pull the trigger.

*BANG!*

"SON OF A BITCH!" Grif shouted as the centipede's head exploded, green mushy bits of goo and innerds splattering across his helmet. The elongated body falling slack and sliding off his body. "Little warning next time, Sarge?!"

"Boys, why in the red hell didn't you use your guns?!" their commanding officer growled. "You have guns, use 'em! What is this, the Boston Tea Party?!"

"No offense sir, but what does the Tea Party have anything to do with this?" Simmons asked, confused. "And secondly, we couldn't! Grif traded all of our bullets in exchange for food with Caboose!"

"Hey, I was hungry!" Grif huffed. "And we didn't have anything to eat back at the base!"

"Because you ate all of our supplies, asshole!" Simmons argued. "And we do technically have food! It just hasn't grown enough, nor is it ripe!"

"Pfft! You call green shrubs food?!"

"Oh my god, why didn't I let the centipede just strangle you to death? Or better yet, give you some incurable and deadly disease?" Sometimes, Simmons really did just question his sanity. Really, why did he put up with this idiocy? He was supposed to be the smart one for goodness' sake. "Ugh, I bet the Blues don't have to put up with this shit."

Unknown to Simmons, though, the Blues had been watching the whole debacle. Well, two blues anyway. "Man, wildlife here ain't no joke." Tucker said, honestly amazed by the size of the centipede as he looked through the scope of his rifle. "Thank god for rationing. I hope we don't have to go out in the forest anytime soon!"

"We might have to." Wash grimaced. "True, we have been rationing, but sooner or later, we are going to run out. Simmons said he started using a bumper crop, but..."

"But...?"

The former Freelancer sighed. "He made it next to the slip space engine. Right where their makeshift base is too."

Tucker blinked. "...um, I know I'm not the smartest guy here, but aren't the engines radioactive?" Wash nodded. "Huh. Guess that explains why Grif's been losing hair." He then shook his head before he picked himself up off the ground. "You know, on the one hand, I'm glad I finally get to use a fucking sniper rifle since Blood Gulch...but at the same time, I'm also pissed that it doesn't fucking work! I mean, dude! I tried firing it, but it jammed!"

"Tucker, it works fine." Wash insisted. "It didn't jam up when I used it when I fixed it. 'course, it could just be user error." Tucker didn't need to have x-ray vision to see that, under his helmet, Wash was grinning when he said that last one. And to that, he gave his friend the middle finger. "Anyway, let's head back to base. I don't want to leave Caboose alone for too long."

"You know, we really should invest in a baby sitter." Tucker suggested.

At this, Wash raised an eyebrow. "And who would you hire? As far as we know, we're the only people in this forest, and the only other people here besides us are the Reds. Do you reaaally expect them to be able to take care of Caboose?"

"...well, look on the plus side. If he team kills them-"

"TUCKER."

"Fine!" The man threw his hands in the air in defeat. "Ugh, this blows! Why the heck did Carolina and Church hafta split? They could have said goodbye or something. Would have made Caboose a lot less whiny!"

"I know." Wash hung his head. "I don't know why they left or even say anything, but I'm sure they had their reasons."

"You means reasons like the ones she had when she dragged/threatened us to go all over the place just to find and kill the Director of Project Freelancer?"

"...well, when you put it like that..."

"Forget it, let's just go and make sure he doesn't blow any shit up. Unless he somehow blows himself up...then again he'd probably survive that too..."


Church shook his head. "Wait, what the hell am I saying? Chances are, those idiots are getting into all sorts of trouble!" Just as he said that, Maine shot right past him and struck the wall of the cave, leaving behind a human-shaped indenture. "Holy shit! You look fucked up!"

Maine growled, red eyes blazing, as he tore himself out from the wall and roared, charging straight at the Mutated Grimm, even though his weapon was discarded and lying near the Power Station. He decided to forgo tactics altogether and decided to things the old fashion way:

Break the damn oversized bear with his bare hands!

He ran at the charging Ursa. Just as he leaped to swipe at his head with its claws, he ducked and wrapped his arms around its midsection. He then threw hismelf backward and suplexed the mutated beast into the ground. He did not stop as he quickly grabbed it by the legs and spun around, dragging it through the air until he let go, throwing its body into another group of approaching Grimm and impaled them with its sharp spines.

He ran at the charging Ursa. Just as he leaped to swipe at his head with its claws, he ducked and wrapped his arms around its midsection. He then threw hismelf backward and suplexed the mutated beast into the ground. He did not stop as he quickly grabbed it by the legs and spun around, dragging it through the air until he let go, throwing its body into another group of approaching Grimm and impaled them with its sharp spines.

Thrashing around the dissolving corpses of its comrades until it was back on its feet, the Mutated Grimm snarled angrily before it found a fist lodged in its jaw. The sound of bones snapping could be heard. For a moment, its body rippled from the blow. Its head reeled back, jaw unhinged before another blow came down upon it. Then came a third one, which nearly broke its neck. Growing even angrier, the Ursa headbutted Maine right at his midsection and knocked him away.

He dug his feet into the earth to stop his momentum. He looked up and saw the Ursa charge at him again. This time, he charged right back at it. It raised its paw, intent on bringing it down and crushing him. Maine cocked back a fist.

The Freelancer struck first and smashed the paw to bits. The Ursa roared in pain from the loss of its arm. But Maine did not stop there. He threw another punch and destroyed its other arm. Then final and uppercut that blew its head apart. Half of its face was splintered off, revealing black mush and bone. With a grunt, Maine threw one last heavy punch into its gut, sending it flying and landing atop a Beowolf that was just about to sneak attack Pyrrha. It was crushed and skewered by the green crystals on its back and landed on the ground with a thud, killing the black wolf underneath it. Having just finished eliminating the last of the Grimm, Pyrrha stopped what she had been doing and turned around to find the Mutated Grimm behind her. She then looked back over to Maine, face caked with sweat as he rubbed his wrists.

"Aww, no explosions or anything?" Nora complained as she came up from behind her, holding her leader's weapon. "Ugh, laaame!"

Grunting, Maine walked over and picked up his Brute Shot. He shifted it to its grenadier mode and shot at the dissolving Grimm carcasses, engulfing it in a fiery explosion. 'There. Happy?'

"Eh, it'd be better if they were still alive, but points for trying!" Nora chirped. "By the way, what was with that Grimm? It looked so weird. Do they usually have green Dust growing out their backs? ...do we even have green Dust?"

"We do, but I don't think that was Dust." Qrow grunted, slipping his weapon back into its more manageable form and sliding it back into his belt. "Never seen a Grimm like that before today, either." 'Either Salem's been experimenting and making herself some new monster babies, or there's something seriously wrong happening around here...' he added mentally with a grimace. He then looked to the Power Station. "So, what's the verdict, green man? We good?"

[We are. I have disabled the jammer. We are now free to make contact.]

"Nice." Qrow smirked before he whipped out his Scroll. "Yo, Oz. You and Jimmy there?"

[Why must you insist on calling me by that infernal nickname?] Ironwood groaned.

Ozpin chuckled. [We're here, Qrow. We just saw the Power Station in Emerald Forest pop up. It seems it's now functioning normally. Were there any complications?]

"About that..."

Qrow then began to explain the situation - how Merlot had hijacked the Power Stations for his own personal uses, and how he had modified them to attract Grimm. He also told them about the Mutated Grimm they had come across.

"...and that's the gist. In short, Oz, this just got way bigger." Qrow grimaced. "And while we're at it, the guys checking out the Forever Fall forest. They report back in yet?" The silence on the other end was telling. "...shit."

[...I'm sorry. But we tried reaching out to them, but all we got was silence.]

[Given current circumstances, it would be safe to assume that they were compromised]

Qrow groaned, face-palming. "I figured as much." he said. So much for the mission being simple. "And? Any idea about these new Grimm we just ran into?"

[I doubt Salem would only just now create new creatures, but we can't rule out the possibility.] Ozpin said grimly. [Of course, the most likely possibility...is that Merlot has been genetically alteirng them. Something I thought to be impossible, given how quickly a Grimm dies after being captured.]

"Unless she doesn't want them to die..." The older Huntsman scowled. "Well, isn't that just great?"

[Qrow. I understand that it's been a trying day, but you must head to Forever Fall at once. See if you can find any survivors. If not...then at least recover the bodies.]

"Can do, Oz." Qrow ended the call and turned to Team JNPR, all of whom seemed to understand what he was calling about. "So, which news do you kids want first?"


"Incredible... What amazing physical strength!"

Merlot wondered if Christmas had come early. He had just observed the team of five fight off against his prototypes. While he admitted that the four of them had sufficient skill, one stood out above the rest.

The blonde team leader had exceptional strength, being able to fight his prototype Ursa barehanded! And not just that, but also kill it with his bare hands! It was remarkable! Had he not known any better, he would have confused the boy for that retired Huntsman years back. What was his name again? Taiwong or something? Regardless, the live field data these people provided him were incredible. Soon enough, he would be able to fulfill his obligation to his benefactor. He really did have to thank her again. Were it not for her, none of the specimens would even still be alive and waiting for his help. Granted, they were angry, but when weren't the creatures of Grimm angry?

"Still, this boy... How fascinating." Merlot rubbed his chin before he inputted a few commands on his console. What looked like a document appeared on screen. "Jaune Arc, hm? Interesting. Wasn't there a Commander Arc, way back during the Great War?" A wry laugh escaped his throat. "No matter. I've finally found a worthy test subject. Perhaps, with this...humanity can take its next step forward."

Everything he had done, everything that he will do, is all for the benefit of humanity, whether they like it or not. Oh, he knew his benefactor's plans. He willingly went along with them, despite knowing what was in store.

And if people were to survive the coming times, they needed to adapt.

"Even if we must become freaks of nature." Merlot smiled wickedly, staring at Jaune's photograph. "Just you wait, Mr. Arc. You and I are going to change the world."


A response from Headmaster Ozpin

Dear Councilman,

While I appreciate the forewarning, there are things that happen well beyond my control. While I am willing to take responsibility for the tragedy that occurred, I must disagree with your decision.
That being said... I had a feeling this has been a long time coming.
After all, the Head Councilman has been trying to establish a presence of Beacon Academy, have they not?

A/N: A bit on the short side, and personally, I felt this chapter could use a bit of work. Maybe expand on the fights or something. Eh, whatever. I'll figure something out.

There's not much to say here, other than giving the guys who thought this story was dead the bird and whatnot. Seriously, unless I explicitly state that this story is dead, DO NOT SAY IT IS DEAD. If there's one thing that gets me raging pissed, it's when people automatically assume that, just because I haven't updated my stories in a while, they're discontinued or dead! Excuse me, assholes, but I do have a life outside of fanfiction! Do you honestly think I spend every day of my life in front of a fucking computer?!

...sorry for the rant. Its hot, the AC isn't working, and I'm very annoyed with my significant other.

Hope you guys enjoyed the chapter. Friendly reminder that this story has a TV Tropes page, so be sure to check it out and add to it! I'll be including links to my stories that have pages on TV Tropes on my profile for your viewing pleasure. Also, I'd like to take the opportunity to shamelessly advertise my new story. It is my 100th story: "RWBY ~ Memories of V." Please give it a look and tell me what you guys think!

That's it for now. I'll catch you all on the next chapter!

See You~