Here we are with a new fic. This one will have replaced Not this time, Fate – but on an unusual schedule. Instead of being every week, it's going to rotate with another fic. These will each update every two weeks, which still means you'll get a chapter every Saturday, but it will be on a rotating schedule. Alternating weeks. If in doubt, check the date at the bottom.
The concept for this fic came about during the Writer Games, but actually came to me long before. Back when writing Professor Arc, a lot of people directed me towards Ciaphas Cain as someone of a similar nature. I'd never read it before, but decided to do so, and quite enjoyed it. Considering how many people said Jaune was like it, I decided that I would try and write an actual Ciaphas Cain inspired novel. It's not a direct copy, nor a crossover. Think of it more as me emulating the writing style of Sandy Mitchell, and especially some of the presentation.
I hope you enjoy.
Beta: College Fool
To whomever it might concern…
When we think back on that day there is a certain disconnection, a peculiar pit that opens deep in our stomachs. The memories remain muted, the sensations dulled or lost altogether. All that remains are the ties that were made, the vaguest feelings of what was sacrificed – but also what was gained. I was there, as was everyone else within Beacon, and yet each of us observed only the smallest part of the full story. A facsimile, if you will.
Few records remain of that time, and fewer are the people willing to speak of what occurred. Tales, as they oft do, become exaggerated and distorted – grander than life and greater than they have any right to be. It is my task, self-appointed as it may be, to sift through the misinformation and chronicle this grand event. An ambitious undertaking for sure, but one I've felt myself up to the challenge of completing. Alas, the task has been harder than I anticipated.
Or at least it was, until my close companion, teammate and confidante came forth. For it seems that in the dreary hours where sleep eluded us and danger closed in, he took to taking down his thoughts and memories in a journal. Messy, illegible at times, and with a narrowness of perspective that boggles my mind, the notes contained nevertheless painted the truest, most apt picture of those times as any I've ever heard.
They ought to. He was there, after all. Of all the people who fought in that dark time, his is perhaps the one which deserves to be told the most.
The tale of Jaune Arc. A simple man who would achieve great things. Not through aspiration, nor greed. But through the harsh demands of necessity.
But I am getting ahead of myself. What you see before you is my attempt to make sense and order of the chaos that is my friend's journal. Being a purely subjective work, Jaune's grasp on situations was firmly rooted in what he himself could see. As such, and where necessary, I have taken to enhancing the events with extracts from trusted sources. I have also added my own annotations in several places, either to expand on a situation Jaune saw fit to offer no detail to, or to offer a view of the wider picture. You will know these extracts as my own by the sight of my handwriting. I have also arranged it somewhat into something more befitting of a novelisation. I'm sure we can all deal without the regular accounts of Weiss Schnee's beauty and grace that litter the pages. And, on a personal note, if I see her and Jaune's name written within a love heart once more, I may snap.
Ahem, I digress...
What is contained here will no doubt shock many. There are certain expectations, certain legends which are associated to men. Ever must we remember that men are just that, as human and fallible as the rest of us – and prone to bouts of emotion. It is said however, that bravery is not in the act of feeling no fear, but in besting it.
I bring you now the tale of Jaune Arc. The tale of a simple man thrust into difficult times. I bring you…
The Beacon Civil War.
Chronicler and Companion
Chapter 1 - The War Begins
"War comes without warning. Without mercy. I hope you'll never have to face it, but if you do – a word of advice. All you need is a little confidence, that and- oh wait, I think your mother's calling me."
There's something you learn when you live in Beacon. Never let your guard down. It doesn't matter where you are. Classroom, auditorium – even the toilets. The moment you let your guard down, you open yourself up for an attack. The cafeteria was no different, and so it was Ren and I walked in with our heads held high and a certain wariness to our step. Whatever Gods there were out there must have smiled on us however, because for the first time in what felt like weeks, we weren't greeted by an impending food fight or whatever latest madness always seemed to engulf our teams. In fact, everything seemed unusually calm, with even Nora quietly chatting to Pyrrha.
That should have been our first warning, really.
Perhaps we were distracted that day, or hungry. Maybe we had just allowed the splendour of the day to claim us, for it was a rare moment when Ren and I could relax and spend some quality time together without something or someone making things complicated. As the only two men among six women, it was sometimes hard to experience that.
(Something I can personally attest to here. Jaune and I shared a special relationship, that of having no special relationship at all. In a team like ours, it was a rare – even joyous – thing to find someone who definitely didn't harbour any hidden feelings for you.)
Whatever the case, we sat down alongside our team when waved over, and opposite Team RWBY as usual. Our sister team in every regard, and one of the best first year teams in the school, we were all on close footing and spent most of the day together.
Our team were no slouches either, of course, but that wasn't something I could take any personal pride in. Ren and Nora were skilled, but it was Pyrrha who brought us out from ignominy, and carried me out as well. Our reputation preceded us – and was completely undeserved on my part.
"Morning, Jaune," Ruby said, the ever-adorable and excited girl somehow managing to wash away all traces of sleep from me. She had that effect, and not for the first time, I wished I could have a Ruby Rose alarm clock. It couldn't have been less painful than the Nora Valkyrie version, which sometimes woke you up with shouting, other times by jumping on top of you. I nodded back to her.
"Morning, Ruby. Morning, Blake, Yang," I put on my best lady-killer smile and tried not to screw it up. "Snow Angel."
I screwed it up.
To this day, I have no idea why I kept saying that. I knew she hated the name - I wasn't that oblivious. It was just that the word rolled off the tongue, often without any time for my brain to process the hated moniker and kill it. The beautiful Weiss Schnee growled something back, a mixture of bile and lemon juice that warned me I wasn't on the right track and was in fact liable to receive a rapier to the throat.
At least in that regard, normality reigned. I laughed awkwardly and waved it off, seeking refuge in Yang's face instead. She grinned but seemed more willing to watch the impending slaughter than intervene on my behalf. I didn't even bother looking to Blake. She'd have been nose deep in another book. In all the time I'd known her, she had never bothered to reply or speak to me. From anyone else, I might have taken that as a sign they hated me, but it was different with her. She never meant anything by it. It was just how she was.
"Good morning as well, Jaune~" Pyrrha interrupted. My partner always had a smile for me, and a greeting, too – which was a little odd since we'd woken up in the same room and already exchanged greetings. Come to think of it, we'd only been apart for fifteen minutes tops.
"Uh, morning," I said. "Again…"
Yang and Ruby sniggered. They often did that, and especially when Pyrrha would get embarrassed and look away. I'd asked Ruby once or twice, but she'd link her hands behind her back and smile. "I can't tell you," she'd always say.
Some friends, huh? None of them would ever tell me.
(Because we really shouldn't have to, Jaune...)
It didn't matter at that moment. With it being breakfast, and with classes ahead, there wasn't the time to try and penetrate the impenetrable mystery that was my partner. Instead, I picked up my knife and fork and dug into the fried eggs and toast arrayed on the plate before me. Greasy, unhealthy, and with several rashers of bacon on the side, it was the only way I liked to start the day. Pointedly, I did not like to start the day with an announcement from Ozpin over the PA systems arrayed about the school – which was precisely what I got, and what should have been yet another sign that the day was about to get so much worse.
"Greetings Beacon and transfer students," Ozpin began. "While I do hate to interrupt your busy mornings, there is a school-wide announcement that needs to be made, and I must ask you all to listen carefully. The Vytal Festival is approaching, an event which gives many of you the chance to test yourselves, to earn glory a chance to meet new people. This event, while competitive in nature, is of great political importance to Remnant. Not only does it promote peace and co-operation between our great nations, it also showcases the skillsets and training available within Beacon. Our future intake of students, the very future generations that protect Vale from the Grimm… the quality of what we receive very much rests in your hands. This is, as much as it may not have seemed it, a very deep responsibility."
It was all very flowery, and no doubt of great importance. I felt I could be forgiven for only paying half-attention, however. When it came to competing in the tournament, my inclusion was almost certainly going to be a non-factor. I'd run forward like a good little meat shield, while everyone else focused on winning – and then I'd bow out for the other rounds and let Pyrrha storm her way to what was probably victory number seven hundred and something. Some might have called that lazy, but I'd never really been one for competitions. Probably because I'd never been good enough to win anything, but it still counted.
"It is with the Vytal Festival in mind that your teachers and I have devised an exciting new training scenario for you all." Ozpin continued. "Attendance is mandatory, as this training might very well save your lives against the Grimm further down the line. What's more, all lessons will be cancelled for the duration of it. All homework is also postponed."
Now that was something I could get behind. I wasn't the only one in the cafeteria to cheer, and my voice was quickly overwhelmed by louder students, most noticeably Yang and Nora. There was a small part of me that wasn't quite so sure, however. It began as a tingling in my leg. One that made me tap my foot nervously against the ground as a sense of wrongness came over me. At the time, I thought nothing of it, but I'd soon come to regret the moment I missed that sign.
(A regret that I shared. Jaune's sense for danger would prove useful many times in his career, but I can't help but wish he'd discovered it fifteen minutes earlier.)
"As of right now all flights from Beacon have been suspended, and the only flights to Beacon will be to bring supplies into the school. The boundaries for this training exercise will also be the entire school itself up to the border of the Emerald Forest, the Cliffs or the Beacon Docks. Any attempts to travel beyond this area will result in you being brought back to the school and placed in detention until the exercise is complete. You will then also suffer extended punishment after the initiative is complete."
That got a few murmurs out of the people in the hall. So, there was to be no escaping this training of theirs. That was understandable. The bigger question in my mind, and the thing which made me nervous, was the suggestion that the training was going to be so bad we would want to run.
(And if only we'd known at the time, we might have given it a go anyway.)
"The student body will be divided into teams," the headmaster went on, "and we will be assuming a `War Games` scenario spanning the entire Academy. Rules and regulations have already been sent to your scrolls, but key facts are that Beacon has now been divided into zones with key capture points. Whichever team controls the most capture points at the end of seven days will be victorious. The winners will receive an automatic pass on Combat Class Coursework for this semester," excited conversation broke out, "But they will also receive a stipend of 2,500 lien per person, with which to decorate their dorms."
I shared a quick look with Ren at that, pink eyes meeting my own as he cocked his head. The pass on coursework already sounded great to me but two-and-a-half thousand lien per person? That was incredible! An extra ten thousand to decorate our room would mean a lot. It would be enough for a hot tub, not that we had the room. Even so, game systems, comfier beds – a couch? I wasn't the only one thinking such selfish thoughts, because I could hear Team RWBY discussing exactly what they should buy once they won.
If our team was assigned with theirs, then the whole thing would have been over in second. Even so, I couldn't help but cross my fingers under the table and share a grin with our secret weapon. Pyrrha smiled back, a confident and competitive gleam appearing in her eye. With her Semblance, not to mention her general skill and ability, I was beyond confident that we could win. Pyrrha could trounce whole teams, and did so on occasion. With Nora long for the ride, we were looking a shoe in for victory. I rubbed my hands together and imagining what I'd spend it on.
"Miss Goodwitch has asked me to remind you that force should be kept to levels expressed in her class, and nothing more. The infirmary will be open to teams of both sides, and Miss Tsune has assured me she will be happy to respond with force to any who try and bring the war games into her domain. There will be… repercussions for teams who flaunt or seek to break the rules. I would list what those are, but I believe it might be best left to your – and Miss Goodwitch's – imagination. Further details of objectives, rules and victory conditions have been sent to each of your scrolls. We wish you well and encourage everyone to fight towards the rewards offered. Even to those who lose, the valuable experience on offer might well save your lives in the future."
"We have thought long and hard about the teams, and believe the following to be a balanced and suitable solution. It should also make identifying allies and enemies easier, and offer unparalleled opportunities for transfer students to interact and form bonds with domestic students."
We all waited impatiently. Why the reasons had to be explained, I didn't know, but the sooner we found out which side we were on, the better. If our team was against Team RWBY, then it would be best to attack first. I swallowed and looked around the cafeteria, suddenly aware of just how tense everyone was. It's fine, I told myself. I have Pyrrha and Nora on my team. What can go wrong?
"The teams will be boys versus girls," Ozpin said.
"The War Games will begin immediately."
There was an odd moment of quiet, and looking back on it now, I could recognise it as that strange period of calm before the storm. In my head, I'd always thought that a symbolic thing, but the truth was just that it took our minds a few seconds to process the bombshell that Ozpin had just dropped on us, though the smarter students were quick to act. Namely, Sun Wukong threw himself out of the cafeteria window and fled for his life.
All hell broke loose a second later.
I was still shocked, but Ren moved with admirable haste and flipped the table we were dining at up on its side. He placed one foot against it and kicked it directly at the biggest threat in the room. Pyrrha had a moment to widen her eyes, before Yang stood up and punched the entire thing into sawdust.
That was fine. It gave us the time necessary for my brain to kick in, and for both Ren and I to do the only thing we could do.
"Don't look back!" Ren gasped, ducking low as a plate nearly took his head off. "Whatever you do, Jaune, don't look back!"
"Do you think they're chasing us?"
"Oh, Renny!" Nora howled. Her call was followed by several agonised, and more importantly masculine, screams behind us.
"I think it's safe to say yes to that one," he said. To this day, I have no idea how he managed to sound calm about that, especially since it sounded like a Goliath was hunting us down. I had to chalk it down to extreme mental discipline, or perhaps some otherworldly training regime. Well, either that or he'd just become inured to Nora's madness.
(Definitely the latter…)
Up ahead and all around us, the battle raged. Ozpin couldn't have chosen a worse time for this, what with it being the lunch hour, and we'd ended up with a brawl the likes of which I'd never seen before. Probably the only saving grace was the fact that most of the students were unarmed, but it was amazing what impromptu weapons a huntsman could find if they really tried. I watched a man be bludgeoned from behind with a chair, while another lashed out at his female teammate with a baguette in one hand and a spoon in the other. She caught the spoon in the teeth of a fork, and then twisted it to the side to disarm him. The two began to wrestle on the floor, rolling back and forth as each tried to drive the fork down and claim victory.
Simply put, it was madness!
And worse, it was a madness that was soon to get a lot worse for me. As Ren and I sprinted towards the exit, we saw several figures doing the same – and a nightmarish vision of purest evil appeared before it, blocking off any escape.
"Not today, boys," Coco Adel cried, handbag at her side. "Momma needs a walk-in wardrobe, and Ozpin is paying!"
"Wait," Ren whispered. "Isn't her handbag her-"
"Her weapon," I finished miserably, right as Coco activated the absurdly sized mini-gun. There was another moment of shock and horror as everyone realised what was about to happen. We had aura, sure, but that didn't mean it wouldn't sting like a bitch. Plus, there went the exit.
"If you're packing between your legs, then get down and surrender!"
"Y-You heard her..." Velvet said nervously, striding up to stand next to her partner. She wrung her hands together and lowered her head. "I think it would be best if you just surrendered. We don't want to hurt anyone..." Her words were as gentle and soft-spoken as ever, yet she held Yatsuhashi's sword and there was no sign of the giant man. I had to assume no news was bad news in that regard, and reminded myself that despite her kind nature, she was still a huntress - not to mention a year or more above us.
"Do we surrender?" I asked. It might have sounded cowardly, but these were just war games. They wouldn't kill us, and it would surely be better than actually trying to fight back against them. "We could just give up now."
Ren opened his mouth to reply, but a voice cut us off.
"And I'll have Renny and Jauney as prisoners," Nora giggled. "And I'll pet them, and love them, and dress them up in all kinds of frilly clothes."
"F-Frilly clothes…?" Pyrrha's voice was hoarse. "Can… Can we take pictures?"
"Well yeah, duh…"
Ren and I shared a quick look.
"Death?" I suggested.
"Or escape," Ren agreed. We dashed to the side at the moment Coco opened fire, and quickly ducked behind some overturned tables for cover. "We need to get out and into the corridors. We can lose them if we cut through some classrooms."
"That means getting out of here first," I said, jumping over a pair of people wrestling on the ground. "The front doors out. We could try and get out the staff areas, maybe the kitchens."
Ren shook his head and pointed to the area the servers and staff usually worked from. Usually, those were open and had people behind them, but there was now solid steel shutters pulled down in front of them. I hadn't noticed that earlier, but they probably pulled them down the moment Ozpin's message began. They'd have known about this in advance, after all.
How had we not noticed that?
"Well I'm out of ideas," I said, somewhat hysterically. In my defence, we did have Nora, Pyrrha, Yang and everyone else chasing us. Most teams were fairly even when it came to the split between boys and girls, as was ours, but Team RWBY had kind of thrown a spanner in the works, except that said spanner was the strongest spanner in Beacon. "Ren, we need to get out of here. You can't let Weiss capture me. She'll kill me!"
"I'm sure she wouldn't."
"I called her `Snow Angel`!"
Ren paused and opened his mouth, then cringed. "Okay, good point. Windows?"
I nodded. "Windows."
"We need a distraction." Ren poked his head out over the tables, but was quickly pushed back down as Coco's fire raked by. "I doubt we can move if she has us pinned, though I'd rather take my chances running through a hail of bullets than let Nora capture me."
I winced at the thought, and then winced again when bullets bounced off the back of the table. It was thick wood, and reinforced with metal, but it wouldn't last. "I'll see what I can do to get her fire off us."
Ren looked my way. "You have a plan?"
"In a manner of speaking." I pushed a little to the side and raised my voice. "We need to rush her all at once. She can't take us all out if we work together!"
"Are you mad?" someone cried.
There was no time for this. "Listen to me! I know this is dangerous, and I know she's terrifying, but it's just one person and she can't keep us pinned down if we work together. Remember teamwork, remember what a difference it can make!"
Several men nearby nodded in my direction. Hidden behind tables, chairs, or just huddled in the middle of the cafeteria. Wherever they were, their eyes gained just that little but of conviction. Well, that or desperation.
"It might hurt," I continued. "Some of us won't make it, and some of us will take blows – but we have aura, and she can only shoot in one direction! So charge, men! CHARGE!"
As one, the frightened and pinned men moved, hurtling themselves over furniture and rushing towards the doors. There was no bravery to it, just a desperate need to escape while they could – but that was fine. It would be enough. I grabbed Ren's arm and dragged him with me.
"We're not charging with them?"
"Hell no!" Those guys were going to be a nice distraction, but I didn't hold much hope of them making it through, and I wasn't going to get shot trying to help them. I realised a second later what that might have sounded like to Ren and tried to explain myself. "If we go with them, we'll just draw the others after us. If we want to give them the best chance possible to escape, we need to split the strongest of the girls in two."
It was complete nonsense, of course. My thoughts were purely selfish, but I doubt anyone could blame me for that. I'd have time to feel guilty about those guys later, but so long as I was alive and free to feel that guilt, I was sure I'd be able to get over it.
"I understand," Ren said.
He really didn't. He was an honourable and good guy like that - not like me.
"Let's just get to the windows and get out of here," I hissed.
Sure, it would hurt, but at least the overly tall windows were aligned across two sets of walls, which meant with Coco distracted by the brave horde of sacrificial lambs, we had a clear path. The two of us paused for a second until the gunfire sounded, and it was only once it had moved on that we did the same. We broke from cover, dashing across floor covered in soda, food and unconscious men.
"I see them," Ruby cried. "Over there!"
"Damn it, Ruby!" I howled. "I thought we were friends!"
"I'm sorry Jaune," she called back. Her voice sounded closer, a lot closer. I turned back in time to see her hurtling across the cafeteria at Semblance-induced speeds. She didn't have her scythe, which was equal parts luck and miracle, but that didn't mean much when all she had to do was delay us. Yang was close behind, and she was as armed as she ever was.
"Ruby at six O'clock," I hissed. "I can't shake her!"
"We can't outrun her," Ren panted.
"We have to get rid of her," I agreed, looking around for anything that might help me. The last time we'd had a fight in the cafeteria, I'd been next to useless, but that wasn't to say I hadn't paid attention. I was better prepared now, and also filled with enough fear that my mind was working at a thousand thoughts per second. Even while running, I scanned the tables for something that might help, and my eyes lit up as I spied a bowl of cookies. "Perfect," I hissed, snatching it as we ran by. "I'll use this to distract her."
"Do you think it will work?" Ren asked.
Whether I thought it would or not wasn't important, but we had to do something. With a quick shrug, I turned and tossed the cookies behind me, directly into Ruby's path. She batted them aside with her hands, and even managed to look vaguely offended.
"Jaune, I'm not an idiot," she said. "I may like cookies, but it's not like I'll chase after one if it's thrown at me."
Well, that was me out of ideas. Maybe it had been a long shot in the first place, but Ruby's love of treats was the only thing I knew. I tossed the bowl behind me and tried to run faster, only to be surprised by the sound of a high-pitched yelp as Ruby's foot stood on the bowl I'd so carelessly discarded. All her weight settled down on it, and then went in a completely different direction as the metal thing slid to the side. She cried out and skidded across the ground, her own momentum working against her.
There was a might crash as she hit a bunch of recovering guys like a bowling ball.
I cheered and flashed Ren a thumbs up. "Distraction successful!"
"Good job!" Ren praised.
I didn't have the heart to correct him.
I focused on the windows instead, out only real hope of escape. They were tall and solid things, but we had aura, and I had my armour. As a means to help him, and also selfishly to get out first, I sprinted ahead of Ren, determined to throw myself and smash the glass with my larger aura reserves while he took up the rear and got through without harm. With a mighty yell, I pushed off the ground and sailed through the air.
I didn't expect to freeze in mid-air.
To be fair, I don't think Ren expected me to either, for he crashed into my back and bounced back to the floor with a grunt.
My new-found powers of levitation hadn't come at a good time, and it took me a second to recognise the sensation and where it was from. During that time, my legs kicked uselessly, struggling for purchase. It wasn't me that had been lifted into the air, however.
It was my armour.
"Oh yes," Pyrrha echoed. Against my will, I found myself rotated in mid-air so that I faced my partner. The normally sweet and kind Pyrrha Nikos was smiling, but it didn't quite convey the same feeling of gentle affection it usually did. "You need to be careful, Jaune. You might hurt yourself if you jumped through the window. We can't have that. I can't have that…"
"Y-Yeah," I said, chuckling awkwardly. "Well maybe you could open the window and push me through it instead? That would be nice."
"I could do that, but I won't. I wouldn't normally do this, but it's part of the war games, so I have no choice. Don't worry, though. Ozpin said we could take prisoners, a-a-and you can m-maybe be m-my prisoner." Pyrrha's cheeks grew progressively darker as she spoke, and her hands were wringing together. "I-I'll look after you. I'll be able to keep you safe and sound." Her eyes widened. "I c-can even feed you. You'll n-need to be restrained, but… but…"
"Uh, Pyrrha… you okay?" I tried to wriggle out of her grip, but there was nothing actually holding me, just the armour that was strapped to me. "This is kind of uncomfortable. Can you let me down?"
"D-Don't worry Jaune," Pyrrha yelled, far louder than was really necessary. "I'll make sure you're nice and comfortable, and I'll visit you all the time. If you need someone to confide in, you can lean on me as much as you want."
Yeah, that sounded nice and everything, but Yang and Weiss were getting closer, and I kind of didn't want them to get their hands on me. I worked my hands over my armour, unlatching it as best I could. For crying out loud, why were the straps in such stupid places?
"What are you doing, Ren?" Pyrrha asked, eyes narrowed as she watched her teammate take hold of my legs. "I'm not so cruel that I wouldn't let you escape if you wanted. Nora is after you, and she… well, she's Nora."
"While that offer is very tempting, I'm afraid you have something I need."
"Ren…" I whispered. I couldn't believe my best friend's loyalty, that he would dare stand up to Pyrrha Nikos like this, and for no other reason than to save me from whatever terrible fate awaited me. At that very moment, I could not have respected him more. He was a true friend, a brother in arms.
(Reading this now, I can't help but feel a little ashamed that my thoughts at the time were simply that Jaune's leadership was the only thing keeping me out of Nora's clutches. I didn't fancy my chances going it alone out there.)
"I'm sorry Ren," Pyrrha said. "While we're teammates and I do respect you, right now there is one thing that divides us. I am a woman, and you are a man." Her eyes narrowed. "No matter how feminine you might appear."
Ren's brow twitched. "Was the last part entirely necessary?"
"I'm just getting in the mood." Pyrrha giggled. "Don't worry, we'll win this war games thing pretty quickly, so you two won't have to be prisoners for long."
While I had no doubt as to that, it didn't stop the fact it would only take ten seconds for Weiss and Yang to make my life a living hell. It would be painful, unending, and no doubt incredibly humiliating. Comparatively, if I could escape and get to the Emerald Forest, I could take my chances among the Grimm – who would be far kinder.
"Get ready," Ren whispered to me, voice low. He raised it to address Pyrrha. "I do apologise, Pyrrha. Unfortunately, the two of us have an appointment elsewhere. We'll see you later, maybe once this war is over."
Pyrrha's eyes widened, sensing something wrong. She pulled one arm back, and the armour on my chest tugged quickly in her direction. At the exact same time, I finally managed to undo the final clasp, the leather belts giving way. With the sudden force exerted on it, not to mention Ren pulling me the other way by my legs, the breastplate slipped over my shoulders and away. Suddenly a lot lighter than it had been before, it shot for her face. Pyrrha had only the time to yelp before it clotheslined her.
I, on the other hand, had plenty of time to experience the sweet embrace of gravity. I tried to get my feet underneath me, but realised at the last second that Ren still had hold of them. With a startled cry, I face planted the hard, tiled floor. "Ow…"
"Sorry," Ren said. He looked above me to the encroaching horde and his eyes widened. "They're coming!"
"Throw me!" I hissed.
"The window – throw me! There's no time to explain."
Ren looked down at me, to the window, and then down at my feet, which he still had hold of. It wasn't my best plan for sure, and Ren probably wasn't sure what the point of it was in the first place. Did I intend to use my body to break the glass so that he could follow me unharmed? Did I intend to shock our pursuers into pausing long enough for us to escape?
In truth, my plan was simply that I was laid flat on the ground and I didn't want to be. If that meant being launched out of the window, then so be it. I just wanted to be somewhere the girls weren't.
"THROW ME, DAMN IT!"
My world shifted as Ren kept hold of my feet and swung back. Centrifugal force lifted me off the ground, and I had a moment of weightlessness, followed abruptly by panic as I suddenly had a very good view of the window. When Ren let go, that view got even better – though not in a way I particularly liked.
My aura flared, protecting me from the damage as Ren launched me through the window like some kind of surface to air dust missile. My arch was impressive, covering several metres or more, before I fell back to the floor and impacted the soft grass outside. I spat out some of it, only to choke a moment later as my friend grabbed my collar and dragged me onto my feet.
"It worked," Ren said, hopping through the smashed window. "What now?"
I had no idea what he wanted my advice. I thought our relationship was clear; he was the calm and intelligent guy. Me? I was just the guy out of my depth who blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "Run!"
He looked startled. "Run…?"
"They're outside," Yang shouted.
"Damn it, let's hunt them down," Weiss growled. "I want Arc's head on a pike!"
"Running," Ren whispered, dragging me to my feet and then following my orders to the letter. I followed my companion, even as my heart pounded in my chest, and my breath came out in harsh pants. I looked back to the carnage that had overtaken the cafeteria. Shadows fought within, and windows were smashed as tables and chairs flew. People fled as well, but those that did were few and far between, and almost all male. Even as we passed away out of sight, and far out of hearing, the noise did not go away.
In fact, it was all around us.
Beacon was at war… a civil war, and there was not a place on campus that would be spared. We would live as fugitives and refugees, constantly afraid that we might round the corner and run into a pair of breasts.
The Beacon Civil War had begun… and we were not prepared.
And there we go, the first chapter. As you can probably tell, this story takes place in the first person past tense, and is definitely being `read` by someone `after the fact`. It's an unusual way to write it, but I think it will work better in the long run.
Next Chapter: 16th September
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