My business event is over, thank the heavens. Over 200 guests and my speech was utterly winged, all my time for planning and practicing lost when the TV's and Laptops didn't synch, and then I had to spend all day fixing that – and fixing the issues with the power-point presentation and video itself (which was poorly written, despite my team saying they'd checked it), and then basically walked onto the stage with nothing and winged it. Still, got ovations, was told I was inspiring, and otherwise had a lot of compliments after – as well as some people leaving comments on our "how can we improve" forms saying the speaker (me) was dry, witty, and commanded the room.

Thank god for making shit up on the spot. The best part is that I was talking to construction and property professionals about stuff I didn't know, but what they did. I'm just a journalist and Editor, after all. They're the ones actually IN the industry I'm hosting an event for.

On the chapter, some reviewers noticed a small error in this story in which I have before said "seven" capture points and then "nine." It was just a typo and doesn't really matter in the long run, but I've gone back and changed them all to say nine now, which will hopefully fix the issue.


Beta: College Fool

Cover Art: Jack Wayne


Chapter 12

"And so it was that He sat with his Lords on the last day and sup with them. And in that moment did He reveal unto them the truth of all, that they might weep. Yet all knew His will must be done."

The Book of Jaune, Chapter 8, Verse XI


The cafeteria was a hub of wild activity and I sat at the centre of it all, atop a chair that was perched precariously on two dining tables that had been dragged together. It gave me a commanding view over the entire hall, though that worked both ways and everyone could see me as well. Some would occasionally stop to stare, and then nod – as if the mere sight of me had instilled some unknown confidence in them. They'd then rush back to the main lines, which had been tested for the last four hours – even as evening pulled in. The girls weren't giving up the cafeteria lightly.

"Another attack has been repelled, my lord," Cardin panted, one hand on his knee as he leaned his mace against the table. His armour was pitted and marked, not to mention covered in flour and soot. "They keep coming. They're relentless."

"They're hungry," Ren said, looking down at his scroll. "I've sent another reminder out that we have food and demand their surrender. I included an image of a bacon sandwich."

"You fiend," Cardin gasped. "I like it!"

Ren nodded. "I aim to please."

(I had also posted a picture of a stack of homemade pancakes to one individual, who shall go unnamed.)

"What about the defences?" I asked.

"Sun was eager to get back into action after he was freed and has put his own personal touch onto them," Ren said. "Needless to say, the girls don't appreciate it."

"The man is a genius," Cardin agreed. "I wasn't sure before, because he was a faunus and all, but now I can see how wrong I was. He came up with this idea called a rebellion bomb, which is basically some food strapped around a weight to help it fly. We throw it into the attacking forces and the girls are so hungry that they fall on it like Beowolves, fighting among one another for the food." Cardin laughed at the image, even if I winced, recalling all too well those hungry days. "Frankly, the man is a tactical mastermind, at least when it comes to defence, traps, and distractions. I never thought I'd say it but I'm glad to fight alongside a faunus such as he."

"How are the men themselves holding up, though? Most of them weren't eager to get involved in the war when I freed them from the library." My speech had worked well in that regard but there was no telling how long the excitement would last, especially when they were faced with combat against the girls.

"Take a look," Cardin said, turning towards the cafeteria's entrance. The double doors themselves consisted of one barricade but there was also several outside and combat sounded from it. Reaching over that, however, a voice could be heard.

"And so did He take up the sword, casting off the shackles of servitude and say `follow me, brothers, for I shall lead you to a world where you may stand as men`." Russel's sonorous chanting paused, but only for a second. "In His light do we serve, in His name do we stand, remember this and fight in His glory and His image. For He is the ruler of all mankind!"

There was a mighty roar from outside as a hundred or more voices rose in victorious anger – and soon after any such chants were drowned as our men redoubled their efforts.

Ruler of all mankind? I really needed to have a word with Russel at some point. I hardly felt like the ruler of my own destiny. I felt silly in my chair – sorry, my throne – and that wasn't just because I didn't deserve it but also because the legs teetered whenever I leaned back, and I was fairly sure my toppling off the table to break my neck wouldn't exactly be great for morale. I wasn't sure how my being sat here was good for morale, but what did I know? Apparently, the guys loved it.

"Is there any chance of the girls coming from another angle?"

"The chances are slim," Cardin reported. "The kitchens are off-limits and locked, and the girls barricaded the windows themselves, setting up benches and tables on our side so that snipers can watch out. Since the cafeteria building has open terrain on its sides, it would be suicide for anyone to try charge from that angle. I have men guarding them anyway, but I doubt the girls will be that foolish. As long as we guard the main entrance we'll be able to keep them out."

"And they'll be able to keep us trapped inside," Ren said. He drew out his scroll and sighed. "We've lost all the objective points outside the cafeteria. The girls struck our forces hard, probably more to catch them and take whatever food they had before they could meet us here."

"Were any of ours taken prisoner?"

"No. The girls don't have the food to feed them, so they were allowed to return to us. But even so we're far behind on objectives now."

That was a problem. I leaned one elbow on my knee, chin on one hand, and hummed. The girls had about the same numbers as we did now, but in terms of quality they had some stand-out combatants, and that made defending against them difficult. The girls couldn't actually mount an all-out attack because that would be all or nothing, and if it failed we could capture them all and win instantly. On the other hand, even if they sent half of their forces on an attack, it was enough to press us. Half wasn't enough to beat us, but it kept the men busy and prevented us escaping.

That left the other half, hungry as they were, to mill out and capture the objectives, and also to scour the school for supplies and food. It also gave them free reign over any air drops provided by Port, since they didn't need to defend any one location and could practically send an army to collect one.

In a very real way we really had switched our positions with the female forces. Our biggest strength, and the one thing that kept me free before, was that we'd been unpredictable; able to attack from any angle, relocate at a moment's notice, and otherwise stay mobile across Beacon. We couldn't do that now, and I could finally understand why it had been so hard for Weiss and Pyrrha to capture us.

"It looks like they're trying to last the war out," Cardin said. "There's only the rest of tonight and up until twelve noon tomorrow. That's just sixteen hours or so, and at least six of that'll be sleeping."

"The human body can go a long time without food," Ren added. "Water not so much, but any bathroom has drinking water from the taps. I'm fairly sure Miss Goodwitch would have something to say if we damaged the water systems in the school." The three of us each winced at that, all deciding it wasn't worth the risk – even if it was a callously brilliant plan.

"We've struck a big victory but if things continue like this we're going to lose the war," Cardin said. He looked to me, and it was obvious what he wanted.

"I'll see if I can think up a plan," I said. "Leave it with me."

"I knew I could count on you. With your permission I'll return to the defences, sir." He slammed a fist to his chest in salute and waited for me to nod before he strode away. Men were buoyed when he re-joined the lines, and his reinforcements – along with some more that stood from tables and joined in, allowed some tired fighters to break off and collect meals of their own. It was a rota system Yatsuhashi had devised, which allowed the fighters to get rest wherever they could, defending for two hours, then breaking off for one of rest – and then one of guarding the barricaded windows, which was essentially more rest but just with a little alertness required. Then it was back to the gates and repeated over and over until it was time for sleep.

We couldn't rest through the night, however. There was a chance the women would band together and plan a night raid, and some might have already been asleep now in preparation for it. We'd need to have people awake through the night. Ren had already made plans for that and fifty or so people were asleep in one corner of the cafeteria, catching what rest they could so we could rely on them later. Most were faunus, since it made sense to give them the night watch.

"You look stressed, Jaune."

"I feel stressed. I used to think I knew what that was whenever one of Oobleck's assignments came around, but this really puts it in perspective." Homework was easy, as was dealing with Weiss' rejections. Leading a force against a far superior one while you were trapped in a cafeteria and didn't know anything about strategy or leadership?

Not easy, it turned out.

"You're doing a good job, Jaune. Don't doubt that. You were made the leader of our team for a reason. I'm sure Ozpin saw what potential you held."

"Do you think so?"

"Why else would he have put you in command all the way back in initiation?"

Honestly, I didn't know. I'd always assumed it was something to do with the teachers having to make a team name out of a limited number of letters and just throwing me in charge because someone came up with the team name `Juniper`. Maybe that wasn't the case, though. Maybe Ozpin had seen something more in me.

(Sadly, I can confirm he did not, after asking the man himself. The headmaster assured me some traditions are set in stone, and the naming of teams is one such. The headmaster then informed me we had stupid names and should feel ashamed about ourselves.)

The others had certainly seen something – and now were waiting on me to make the next step in the grand plan we were already enacting. It was probably time to think up a grand plan, then. "Have we received any more prisoners lately?"

Ren looked up from his scroll, surprised. "None, I'm afraid. We have the ones we took initially, Weiss, Coco, and Velvet included, but none have actually taken the offer of surrender for food yet."

"Haven't we been able to capture any after an attack?"

"No. They always have a small reserve force that doesn't attack, preventing us from sallying out when they retreat lest we run into a trap."

"Hm. They're putting a lot of thought into this." I'd hoped the capture of Weiss would put an end to that, but it looked like she wasn't the only tactical one on their side. This might have been Pyrrha, but it could just as easily have been someone from the upper years.

"I think Cardin is right," Ren said. "They're trying to keep us pinned down in here."

"What's the situation on the objective points?"

"We hold one and the girls hold six. The West, North, and East Wings."

"We have the cafeteria, but that only makes seven. Doesn't that leave two unclaimed?" I asked.

"Yes. There are three points in the central sector of Beacon; the cafeteria, library, and the training rooms. It seems those are too close to our territory, however. Pyrrha has decided to leave them absent for now." Ren put his scroll away. "I suppose they feel the spots don't matter in the long run. Six will still beat three and we can't even get out of here."

And if we sent forces to capture those two spots, they'd light up blue on everyone's scrolls – and the poor guys I sent there would be slaughtered faster than they could blink. They'd be freed since the girls couldn't afford to capture them, but they'd probably be stripped of weapons, dust, and food. The fact they were unclaimed might well be the bait for a trap.

"We can't beat them in an even fight," I whispered, afraid someone else might overhear. "I don't know what Cardin expects me to do. I can't create a miracle."

Ren looked at me like he wasn't sure if that were the case. I was grateful that he didn't say it. He looked away instead. "I don't think we've ever been able to face them in a fair fight, Jaune. If that were the case, then we wouldn't need you."

"Because I even up the odds?" I asked, with perhaps a hint of sarcasm.

"No. Because you don't let it become an even fight. I'll leave you to your thoughts. I'd best get back to the gates and help the others."

His parting words remained lodged in my mind.

/-/

We didn't have a dedicated section for our prisoners since we didn't have any rooms other than the cafeteria. That worked to our advantage in a way since it meant we didn't need dedicated guards, someone always being within range of them to prevent any chance of their being rescued. On the downside it meant I had to put up with a pair of icy blue eyes staring directly into mine. Even in defeat Weiss wasn't one to bow down, and she made that clear from the moment I approached.

"What do you want, Arc? Come to gloat over your moment of triumph?"

"I-"

"Or maybe you've come to interrogate me for information. You'll find I'm not as easy to crack as Ruby. Do your worst." She stuck out her jaw stubbornly, though I noticed a few of the other girls weren't nearly so confident, and Velvet hid behind Coco.

Had I wanted to interrogate them I probably could have, but Weiss would never have been the first pick. Luckily for them – and probably for me considering in a day or so I wouldn't have the defence of an army to watch my back – I wasn't here to extract answers from any of them.

I was honestly trying to think up a plan to get us out of this mess. For the first time since the war began, I was actively trying to think of a proactive solution, as opposed to doing what I normally did – reacted whenever something went wrong. It was a new experience, if not an exciting one. My mind was blank, my inspiration as dead as an Ursa in a huntress convention.

"I don't need to know anything from you," I said. "We already know everything we need to."

"If that's the case then you must know this is hopeless."

"Fighting?"

"Resisting. The war is nearly over, and you've lost. I'd like to see you luck your way out of this one."

"Luck?" I laughed. "Snow Angel, I really don't think I've been very lucky these last few days. Not unless you mean bad luck."

"You captured us, and only because you lucked out and happened to be in the area while the main force went off to crush your silly camp in the North Wing. Don't tell me you think you managed to capture us through skill."

"Well, I captured Blake," I pointed out. "And Ruby before her. Now I just need Yang to complete the whole set." There were a few muffled sniggers from the other prisoners and Weiss' face burned. "You also never managed to catch me while this was all going on."

"T-That's luck," she insisted. "Now that you're all in one spot it's just a matter of time until you're defeated, either by Pyrrha or by the time limit. You're out of time. I know it, you know, it and so does every woman out there. It's only your fanatics who don't seem to realise it."

"Hey," I cautioned, feeling a little offended for my allies. "Not everyone follows Russel's teachings."

(Actually, it had by this point become something of a state religion…)

"You should just surrender. The sooner you do, the sooner this war can come to an end; with you bending knee to Pyrrha and accepting defeat. It's the only thing you can do!"

"I'll think about it," I said, leaving them alone. Weiss' voice echoed behind me but for once I ignored her attention. As much as I hated to admit it she was probably right. We were stuck in here and unable to strike out. Taking the cafeteria had been the right call – the only call – but it had been an impulsive one. Before, we'd relied on hit and run attacks and the defences of Jaunehalla, but even those had fallen to a full-scale attack.

If Pyrrha wanted to, she could mount another here, and probably crush us. The only reason she wasn't was because she didn't need to, because it would be a silly risk that would give us a chance, no matter how small, of eking out a victory. Pyrrha might not have been Team JNPR's team leader, but I often felt she should have been. She deserved it more than I did.

But surrendering to the girls? The only thing we could do, huh?

I took one more look around the cafeteria, not only to those sleeping or fighting but those sat at tables, talking excitedly between themselves, full of life in a way I hadn't seen for days. There were even some busy working on some kind of hobby, chipping away at a block of ice with knives for whatever reason. Maybe material for a trap Sun had in mind.

(A fifteen-foot tall ice statue of Jaune. Perhaps it was best for my friend's sanity that he not realise it.)

Either way, there was life among our ranks now – that same life which had been shown when we claimed Jaunehalla as our own. Before that the people who'd followed me had been desperate for hope and clinging to whatever was available. Now they had their respect back and looked determined to defend it to the last man.

But it would be to the last man. Weiss was right. We couldn't hope to hold the cafeteria. And those self-same people were relying on me to come up with a solution.

"Summon the Generals," I said to a student sat nearby. "Call Yatsuhashi, Ren, Cardin and Sun. Tell them it's time for a War Council."

Lacking a room of our own for such a momentous event, the five of us sat down around a smaller table in one corner of the cafeteria, and plates of food were brought from the kitchens by Russel, Sky, and Dove, who excused themselves for a well-earned rest once we'd been served. The Generals had been fighting and were slick with sweat, so I let them tuck in. I hoped it would make them more amicable to my plan. I knew some would disagree on principle alone.

"Ah, that hit the spot," Sun said, leaning back to rub his bare stomach. "Nothing like a good meal after a hard fight."

"I respectfully agree," Yatsuhashi said. "All those days without food have only allowed me to cherish it more now."

"Couldn't agree more, big man. So, boss, you said you wanted to talk to us all?"

"I did." I watched their faces, wincing a little at how happy they all were. I knew I was about to ruin it. "We've been under constant attack since we took the cafeteria. The food is good, but we're stuck here, and the girls know it. It wouldn't surprise me if they've got the whole place under siege. Even if we go out the windows, they'll see us on the open ground."

"We can break through their forces," Cardin boasted.

"Can we? Cardin, you know as well as I how strong Pyrrha is. She's beat your whole team – and yes, before you ask, she can beat me." With pitiful ease, in fact. The only times I could hold my own was when she felt sorry for me – which happened more often than it should but wasn't likely to here. "We've got the food and the central position, but they've got us surrounded, and the cafeteria is only one objective. It's not enough to win the war."

"But we can starve them out," Sun said. "We've got access to all the food. It worked for them."

"At the start of the war," I countered. "It worked because people had the prospect of going days without food. They just need to hold out until lunch-time tomorrow. That's not exactly a hassle for them. The cafeteria was only a bonus for them because they got it early and had it for the long term."

"So, you're suggesting we give up the cafeteria?"

"No." I held my breath as their faces darkened. I knew they wouldn't like it, and they were about to like my next suggestion even less. "I'm suggesting we give up a whole lot more…"

/-/

"This is a mistake!" Cardin hissed loudly. Several people looked his way, so he lowered his voice, even if his temper didn't follow. "You can't do this! Not after everything we've fought for."

"It's the only option, Cardin."

"It's not! We can fight!"

"We can't!" I hissed, and rounded on him for once, truly angry. "You might refuse to accept the truth, but I won't! We don't have the fighters and those we do have aren't strong enough. The girls will crush us the moment they launch an all-out attack and the only thing stopping them is the fact they don't need to!"

Sun and Yatsuhashi looked away. They knew the truth and didn't refute it, but the knowledge still stung. Cardin met my gaze for a long moment before he turned and stormed away, unwilling to speak any further. I sighed and let him go.

"Trouble?" Weiss asked, sat nearby with a smug grin on her face.

"None at all," I returned. She didn't believe me.

"It looks like your lapdog doesn't agree with you, and you're all looking a little worse for wear. Have you finally come to the conclusion that surrender is your only option?"

"We haven't," I said. "But we have decided to let you go free."

Weiss appeared startled. "What?"

"You're free to go," I repeated.

"Hoping to add more hungry mouths to the female army?"

"Not at all. You've already been fed as per the rules so all of you are at peak performance." I sighed and gestured behind me, and Weiss' eyes widened as several trolleys were brought forward, each laden with trays. "And I'd like you to deliver this to your side. There should be enough there to feed everyone for tonight."

"What? I don't… but…" Weiss struggled to find the right words before she settled on suspicion. "They're poisoned, aren't they? You've put something into them."

"Miss Goodwitch would expel me if I did that. Not to mention I'd never take the risk of trying it, even with something innocent. One bad reaction and I could actually kill someone." Whatever Weiss thought of me, and however bad her impression, she knew I wouldn't go that far and grudgingly nodded.

"Alright, Arc. I'll believe you on that one. Still, why? Why set us free and why give us all this food? What's in it for you?"

"It's a gift... and I want you to take Pyrrha a message for me."

Weiss raised an eyebrow. "Can't you just call her?"

"I can, but I can't take the food to her, and that's kind of the proof that we're being genuine here. I want to propose that we have a ceasefire for tonight, at least until eight tomorrow morning. Everyone's exhausted and the women have been fighting for ages now. We'll release all our prisoners and give you enough food for the whole night. In return, you don't attack us while we rest."

"Why would we agree to that?"

"Because it's win-win for you. We're trapped in here with no way out and we only have the one objective point." I showed her my scroll for truth. Her face lit up in a wide grin, as though she'd just realised something that amused her greatly.

"You're giving up!"

"I'm aiming for a peaceful resolution," I countered.

"One where we win the war?" Weiss asked.

"One where no one loses. We don't want to end this war as prisoners, Weiss. I'm sure Pyrrha and you don't want to throw bodies at our defences either, since those aren't going to fall anytime soon. We can't get out, but you can't get in. You don't have the numbers for it."

Weiss scowled. "Admittedly, that is true… three-to-one odds are normally advised to take any fortified position, and when it only has one entrance the issue becomes more complicated."

(And I imagine those issues she spoke of involved a certain faunus, not to mention the religious fervour Russel was able to whip the men into.)

"And it works both ways. You can't get in and we can't get out. Your people are starving, and we have food. What we don't have is rest and the assurance you won't attack us." I held out a hand. "Let's make a trade."

Weiss eyed my hand cautiously. "You realise I can't make that decision for everyone, right?"

"I know. That's why I want you to take the food to them as a gift – to show how serious we are. Yes, you could just eat it all and attack us – but even well-fed it would be the same meat-grinder battle. Everyone would come out sore and exhausted. Nothing would change."

"Say that we agree, or that Pyrrha does… what next? I'll admit it's not a bad deal, Arc. I would accept it, if only because you've as good as lost as it is. But what comes after? Are you suggesting we sit back and do nothing for the remainder of the war? Are you saying your forces will accept a female victory so long as you can be free when it happens?"

"I'd accept that. It's not like we can win anyway."

"Do you really have no shame?"

"I signed up to fight Grimm, Weiss. Not people."

That cut the wind out from her sails and the heiress sighed. More than that, she shot me a look which contained something other than disdain. "It isn't a bad proposal," she said. "I'm also impressed you're able to look beyond your testosterone and realise how hopeless your situation is. Fine, I'll agree to pass the message on. Do you have it in writing, or am I to recount this?"

"It's in writing," I said, holding out a letter to her. It was open, and when she held a hand over the flap inquisitively I nodded to say it was okay for her to look. A few other girls – no longer prisoners – looked over her shoulder.

"Everything reads okay, but it says the ceasefire only lasts until eight. That leaves four hours until the end of the war." Weiss' eyes met mine. "What happens then?"

I took a deep breath. This was my moment, my play, and the only way out of the war I could see – or the only way out that didn't end with us clapped in invisible chains and marched away as prisoners. It was the best I could do.

The only thing I could do.

"Then, I was hoping the two sides could meet."

"For what, a final battle?"

"No. For peace."


Excerpt:

On Days of War

Octavia Ember


News of the ceasefire spread like wildfire among the camp, and more so the smell of freshly cooked food. The sentries were alerted long before Weiss Schnee appeared, and at first none could understand how the captured prisoners might have returned laden with fresh food. Had they escaped? Had Brigadier-General Weiss Schnee somehow defeated the King of Men on her own?

No, she had been set free – and with a message.

HRH Pyrrha Nikos was quick to accept the ceasefire, and to call a temporary peace that led many to celebrate, for food had been scarce and what had been gifted to us was rich indeed. We feasted, but even then, our guards were not dropped, and sentries were placed to watch the cafeteria and alert us should any attack be mounted. None was, however. It seemed the men were serious, and rightly so.

"Is this for real?" Captain Yang asked, one elbow leaning on the table. She was half-eating a meal, and no one cautioned her for it. They were all hungry. "I mean – um – you don't think it's another trap or anything?"

"The ceasefire seems genuine," Pyrrha said, "and I don't think Jaune would lie about it."

"Our fearless leader is too honest for that," Nora agreed.

"Not entirely fearless," Weiss said. "After all, he clearly is afraid of what will happen if we attacked him full-force. Why else would he try something like this?"

"Do you believe it's legitimate, then?" Blake asked.

"I personally saw Winchester's reaction. He was practically frothing at the mouth. The others didn't look pleased, either. Trust me; they know their days are numbered. It was obvious from the start and it's obvious now."

"Jaune did take the cafeteria," Ruby warned. Zwei yipped from her arms, reacting to the name and wagging his stubby tail. Ruby hugged him close when everyone stared at the treacherous hound. "Stop glaring at Zwei. And we shouldn't underestimate Jaune. He's clever."

"He's lucky," Weiss growled.

"No, he is intelligent when he wants to be, or needs to be," Pyrrha said. "We've underestimated him from the start and we won't do so now. We'll honour this ceasefire as long as he does. Everyone could use a break anyway."

"And the other offer?" Yang asked. "The peace deal? We going to accept that?"

"We don't have to," Blake said. "We can defeat them."

"But what if both sides could win?" Ruby asked. "Wouldn't that be a cool way to end the war?"

"It would be a grand way to end this," Pyrrha agreed. "I'd personally prefer it if we could all win and not just one half of the population. I'd like to attend this meeting and see if we can't make a deal. Where is it to be held, Weiss?"

"Jaune suggested the cafeteria but I felt that would be uneven and potentially a trap. I said we should hold it on neutral ground, the library to be specific. I arranged it for ten," she added. "That will let us stall for longer. If we can keep the meeting going we'll win by default, even if a peace deal isn't struck."

"The library is far enough away from the cafeteria to be safe," Blake said, nodding to Weiss. "We could react immediately if the men tried to mount an attack. It's a good location. I can have my Ninjas watch it tonight to make sure they don't try to lay a trap." Pyrrha nodded, and the faunus strode out of the room, disappearing soon after with her small group.

Pyrrha Nikos rose. "We shall meet for peace," she said. "Ruby, can you send Jaune a message? Tell him I accept his offer, and that if Ozpin allows it, we'll end this war as allies in a joint victory."

Ruby nodded happily and rushed out of the room. Those that remained were less thrilled, though not entirely against the idea. Yang sighed and tapped her fingers on the table. "What happens if the headmaster doesn't give it the okay, Pyrrha? What do we do, then?"

"We apologise profusely," the Queen said. "And then we do what we must. Weiss, pass a message along to the troops. If the peace deal is successful we stand down."

"And if it's not?"

"Storm the cafeteria. Yang, Nora, and I will keep Jaune from interfering."

That night, the women feasted – and those prisoners released from the cafeteria were welcomed with open arms, for they bore food and came well-fed of their own, eager to get back to work and watch the cafeteria for any sign of attack. Such was the cheer that few thought to count or monitor those who returned, and if more were freed than we had been aware were captured, then that was surely a good thing.

Even if a few of them were a little broad in the shoulder and deep in voice.


Will there be peace at last? A final deal for peace and co-operation, with the potential for a double victory should it be accepted. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but perhaps it depends on who is wielding it.

We're actually quite close to the end of this fic – though I already have my next one planned. Since many have asked I will say that it isn't Professor Arc: Season 2, but that I am looking at that and making plans. Season 5 didn't give me as much in the way of… plot… as I'd hoped, but I might be able to just make stuff up based on the rather slow progression of Seasons four and five. Anyway, that's neither here nor there, just letting you know re the next fic. I'll also say it's not one of the ones off my author's page. Sorry to those looking for one of those in particular but I felt my next idea was stronger.

I'll mention it more another time.


Next Chapter: 24th February

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