This damn website! Work, damn it. Stop giving me errors and refusing to let me update stuff!
Well, here we go. I didn't expect to be at this stage this week, but sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles. As some may have noticed from the summary above - if the site isn't as borked as it has been for last week or so and doesn't upload it - then the story is set to complete. It is finished. As such, this is the final chapter of the Beacon Civil War. I hope you enjoy. But realistically speaking, we all know most of you won't receive alerts, and that those who do won't be able to view it because the site will have the usual gamut of server errors. Yay!
Beta: College Fool
Cover Art: Jack Wayne
On Days of War; Final Chapter
The final day of the war dawned with an incredible sense of anticipation. The scrolls showed that we stood victorious at six objective points to one, with two remaining neutral and one being the location of the proposed peace treaty. As the hours ticked by, the lack of movement on either side drove the girls into a fever pitch. Men could be seen through the barricaded windows of the cafeteria, staring out as though they expected an attack at any moments. Dark shadows manned the over-turned lockers and benches that made the walls separating the cafeteria from our own camp.
Neither side dared move.
Blake, Commander of the Ninjas of Love, had returned with the first light, bringing news that the library had remained secure, with not a single man attempting to infiltrate or lay a trap. Her own forces had remained the full night to ensure it. For all intents and purposes it looked as though the men were content to work towards peace.
But few were those who let their guards down entirely.
This was Jaune Arc, King of the North, they dealt with. Time and time again he had shown what befell those who underestimated him. None were prepared to do the same again.
When the scroll flickered at ten minutes to ten, her Highness rose.
I, her most faithful scribe, arose with her. I knew that history would be made this day, and that I would be most fortunate to witness it. It was to be the conclusion of the Beacon Civil War, and the victory of the female forces, one way or another.
Or by conquest.
"We do what we must, not what we want. That is the duty ascribed to us, and I, for one, intend to fulfil it. Who stands with me?"
"We're not alone."
Of all the words I'd wanted Ren to say while we were stuck along in the middle of enemy territory those three hadn't been at the top of the list. In fact I'd say they ranked somewhere down at the bottom alongside `Miss Goodwitch is behind you` and `Look out, Nora has a megaphone`. That wasn't to say I didn't expect those eventualities to happen, because frankly what Nora wanted she got, but I still didn't like Ren making statements straight out of a horror film when we were in a situation like this.
The two of us stood in the middle of the library, or rather we were on the second-floor balcony, which overhung the main study area and contained some of the driest and least-read reference material there was, like Doctor Oobleck's thesis of Grimm evolution and Professor Port's bedtime stories for children, rated M for mature and containing copies bloodshed and gore.
Simply put, it was an oft missed area and the only place I felt safe – relatively safe, anyway – in the contested and neutral zone. The control panel in the centre was what dictated which team earned it, and that was a simple set-up of a box with two flags attached to it via rope. One was pink, the other blue, and whichever flag flew determined who controlled the point.
Currently neither was up, and I wasn't about to risk setting things off by fixing it in our favour. Bad enough that it was just the two of us doing this meeting, but there was no one else I could trust with it. They were all too aggressive and, well, confident in me. I needed someone who didn't see me as a divine figure or some incredible commander. I needed someone I could trust to watch my back, but not put me on a pedestal.
Ren was ever that figure thankfully. He was far too chill to get worked up and much too smart to fall for the same nonsense the others had. He was calm too, and I took some relief in that, idly wishing it could pass over to me. My hand strayed to Crocea Mors, but the gesture didn't comfort me. She wouldn't be much use against who I was about to face.
"What time is it?" I asked.
"Ten minutes to ten," Ren reported. "Knowing Pyrrha she'll be here soon. She doesn't like to be late, even to sparring. You look tense. I brought some soda if you'd like some."
"Thank you." Yet again I whispered a silent prayer as thanks for Ren's constant companionship, accepting the drink and cracking it open. The sound helped to distract me, as did the sharp and fruity taste. I finished it in less than a minute and slammed it down on a nearby table. "I just wish they'd hurry the hell up," I growled. "It's all the waiting that's killing me."
I wished I could take those words back a second later, for the mighty doors of the library groaned open. Shapes appeared in the gloom from outside, at least six, maybe even more beyond. She took the lead, as I'd known she would, resplendent in her bronze armour and we her crimson hair flying behind her. Pyrrha looked every inch the leader I knew she could be, the leader I knew she should be, specifically of Team JNPR.
There was a curious moment where my first instinct was to duck and hide, before I reminded myself that not only had they seen me already, but I'd invited them to meet here. It was just that when I'd said it I imagined it would be Pyrrha, Ren and I – or maybe Pyrrha bringing one other. I hadn't specified any such number to Weiss however, and it looked like Pyrrha had brought an entire entourage. I felt rather naked with just Ren at my back.
(Though realistically speaking, even had Pyrrha come alone, our fate if a fight occurred would be the same.)
"Welcome," I called, taking long and slow steps across the balcony toward the main staircase. The girls paused to watch me, one hand on the banister, my gait slow and steady – born more from reluctance and fear than pomp.
If there was any sense of me being superior because I was higher up and had to come down to meet them, it was without substance. I held onto the banister because they'd have seen my hand shaking if I didn't. I was upstairs because I'd wanted more room to flee like a coward if things turned ugly.
"Jaune," Pyrrha greeted, and there was warmth in her voice that somehow did and didn't surprise me. She'd always been like that, kind and humble, even to her enemies. "It's good to see you again. It feels like the team has been apart too long."
"I have it on faith that will end soon, Pyrrha." I checked my scroll. "Two hours, in fact."
She smiled curiously. "I'll look forward to it. I see you brought Ren with you."
Ren nodded a greeting to her. "Pyrrha."
"And I see you've brought a lot of people with you," I said, looking over the assembly. I wasn't sure how my knees weren't knocking together, but I wrote it off as fear. Too much fear. Chances were my body had frightened itself into total paralysis.
"You didn't specify a number," she said. "I thought you would have Cardin, Sun, and the others here."
"They were needed to defend the cafeteria."
If my admitting that I didn't trust them not to attack while I was distracted upset her, she hid it well. Pyrrha turned to the woman beside her, a girl with hair a slightly darker shade of red than her own. She wore a blue waistcoat over a tan skirt, with a steel pauldron on each shoulder. In her hands she carried a book with a tan cover, and she was writing into it.
"This is Octavia Ember," Pyrrha introduced. "She's a member of Team NDGO, a team from Vacuo here for the tournament."
(Delightful girl and font of much information. We compared notes often.)
"A pleasure," the girl said, barely taking her eyes off the book but to nod at me. She then went back to scribbling.
"The others you know," Pyrrha continued, waving her hand toward Yang, Weiss and Blake.
"No Nora?" I had to ask, even if her absence did relieve me a little.
"I thought it would be best if she didn't come. She might have made things… complicated."
There was no disagreeing with that, even if I didn't feel all that much safer with three quarters of Team RWBY stacked against us. Of those, only Yang looked pleased to see me, winking in my direction while the other two glared. It seemed Blake hadn't forgiven me for capturing her and I knew full well Weiss could hold a grudge until the end of days.
Could Pyrrha have possibly chosen a worse set of people to bring with her? Literally any other women in Beacon would have been kinder. Hell, bring Ruby at least. I'd have appreciated one friendly face in the crowd.
"How are we going to do this?" Pyrrha asked. "You're the one who proposed this, so I assume you have a plan."
"Of course," I lied. The plan was peace. That was it. If it were a three step plan then step one was arrange peace treaty, step three was profit and step two was this wonderfully vague and mysterious concept called `make peace`. Naturally, admitting all of that would make me look like a buffoon and I'd learned to avoid that. I gestured to the long table before us instead. "Why don't we all take a seat? There's no telling how long this might take."
"Less than two hours, I hope," Yang drawled.
"If it does, they'll lose," Weiss said, none-too-quietly. "We currently have the majority in capture points."
Pyrrha continued to smile at me and ignored them. She drew out a seat and sat down on it, leaving me to do the same across the table. Ren came to stand behind and a little to the left of me, and Blake did the same with Pyrrha. Only Octavia sat, and even then it was so that she could rest her book down and continue writing in it.
Everyone else took up stations nearby, with Weiss and Yang guarding the entrance. This was starting to feel less and less like the friendly meeting I'd hoped for and more and more like something straight out of a bad war film. Pyrrha's smile didn't fade but my confidence did. She seemed to be waiting for me to say something.
"So, you're the leader of the girls, huh? Can't say I'm all that surprised."
It wasn't the best conversation opener, I'll admit. On a scale of one to bloody obvious I'd probably ranked a nine point five, but it was the only thing my brain came up with.
Luckily for me, Pyrrha laughed. "I am," she said, brushing some red hair back from before her face. "It wasn't so much by choice as my being elected to the position though. No one else wanted to lead, and while I'm not overly experienced, I do know the theory. I imagine my fame helped a little," she added with a shrug. "It was weird at first but I got used to it. You, though," she said, suddenly all smiles again. "You've really grown into yourself, Jaune!"
She had no idea how insulting that was – mostly because all I'd `grown into` was a fraud and a liar. Still, it wasn't like Pyrrha meant it that way and I couldn't hold a grudge. She meant it as a compliment, as she always did whenever I sucked at training. She was great like that.
"Yeah, you could say that," I demurred. "Don't believe all the hype though. It's exaggerated."
"I'm not so sure it is. You evaded us for days, not to mention you struck the first victory, captured the cafeteria – and even fought off Blake in hand-to-hand combat."
I'd done what now? I looked over Pyrrha's head to the faunus in question, who fixed me with the fiercest glare I'd ever seen. The message was simple; mention the dog and die. Of course, that left only the marginally more humiliating idea of actually being overpowered by me, but it looked like she was willing to put up with that.
"Yeah… sure. Why not?"
"And you brought the men of Beacon into a single force," Pyrrha continued, missing my and Blake's little interplay. "I suppose that's the kind of leadership Ozpin saw in you when he made you team leader. I always knew you could do it, Jaune. I'm proud of you."
"Aw, thanks Pyrrha."
"That's why I know I have to go all out," she said. "That's why I'm not going to underestimate you. I'll crush you with all of my strength. It's the only way I can show how much I respect what you've accomplished."
"Ah…" I winced. "Uh… thanks… I guess…?"
There was my ill-deserved reputation again, and it finally looked like the bubble of absolute nonsense I'd build was about to explode, probably all over my head. If Pyrrha went all out she wouldn't beat me. She'd erase me from existence.
But, of course, that was only assuming there couldn't be some level of peace between us. I'd had no idea how to go about arranging it a second ago but Pyrrha made one mistake, one tiny mistake. She'd made herself into a threat.
And if there was one thing I'd come to realise I was a true master of, it was getting the hell out of any dangerous situation before it went off. Now that she'd basically put it down to `achieve peace or fight her`, I was more motivated than ever.
(it is often said that a Beowolf cornered is at its most dangerous. Seeing Jaune in numerous states of being cornered, I can more than confirm this.)
"The war has gone on too long," I said, leaning forward. "I know there's only two hours left, probably only an hour and a bit now, but it's been five days and we've all suffered. Men starved and were hunted like Grimm through the halls, but now the girls are the ones without food. You'd have all gone hungry last night if it wasn't for me providing that food for you all."
"And we thank you for that. That's why we're here today giving this a chance."
As opposed to being in the cafeteria smashing us through tables, she didn't say. I'd banked on that. Hungry people were desperate people and we were the ones keeping the girls away from all the food they knew lay within. Weiss might have seen it as a bribe and Pyrrha as kindness, but yet again the truth was that I'd seen it as a chance to avoid a fight. Besides, it wasn't like the gesture actually cost us anything.
"I'm just trying to make it clear why we want to do this," I said. "This whole war was sprung on us without any warning and we've just played along. I know it's not serious and we're not actually trying to hurt one another, but wouldn't it be a better ending if we made peace?"
"Wouldn't that be against the rules?" Pyrrha asked.
"I haven't seen anything in them to suggest it." I had to hide a grin when her confidence wavered. I didn't have her yet, but I was on the right track. "Think about it, Ozpin started this war as an excuse to give us training for the Vytal Festival, but the festival itself is about co-operation and teamwork. It's literally a celebration of the kingdoms putting aside their differences and working together instead of making war."
"Isn't that the same thing we're doing here?" I asked, pressing my point. I even had Octavia at this point, the girl looking up with a curious expression. "What if that's the lesson this is trying to teach us, that we should be like the people back then and come to an agreement. Ozpin said we're enemies, but what does that even mean? He never said why, and our gender isn't a good reason for us to fight against one another."
Pyrrha's smile wavered. "I… well, you do have a point…"
"Team against team, friend against friend," I orated, taking a lead from Russel's book. "We've let mere words turn us against one another – and isn't that the exact kind of thing the Vytal Festival is trying to prevent? Isn't that the exact kind of thing the teachers here would want us to learn?"
I could tell immediately that my words were working. Yang was nodding from the door, arms crossed but posture somehow less stiff than before. Even Weiss gave me a grudging nod, while Octavia had stopped writing entirely and stared at me with a profound wide-eyed gaze.
Pyrrha, though. Her smile was like a thousand suns rising.
"Incredible," she breathed. "Jaune, that's such a wonderful notion. Tell me, then. What is it you're suggesting?"
"Complete peace," I said, leaping at the chance. Sometimes the best way to convince someone of something was to just keep saying it, and to keep shouting it if you had to. Never give them a chance to doubt you. "Instead of being in a situation where there are winners and losers, we should work together. Everyone should win. Everyone should get the prize. We won't be two different armies, but one working together – and we'll raise the twin flags of our alliance on every capture point!" I slammed a hand down for emphasis. "Men and women, side by side, against the true enemy – the Grimm!"
The reverberations from my fist hitting the table echoed through the library. I hoped my quiet gasp and the wince I let off didn't. Damn table was harder than it looked.
"That is… while that is a very admirable suggestion, I'm not sure whether it would be allowed," Pyrrha finally said. "I'm not saying I'm against it. I don't think anyone else would be, either. It's just that we've already worked really hard to get where we are now. I have a responsibility to everyone that follows me."
"Well, we can just try it," I suggested. "You already own the majority of the capture points and my men are trapped in the cafeteria. We can declare we're one force and if it doesn't work, then you win. If it does, we both win."
"If there was a way to ask the headmaster…"
"He probably wouldn't tell us even if there was," I laughed, waving one hand to dismiss the idea. "Come on, Pyrrha. This is supposed to be a learning experience for us. I doubt the headmaster is going to undermine that by just explaining-"
The PA systems around the school screeched as they were turned on. Everyone's heads shot towards it, even as my mouth fell open.
"Ahem, is this on? Ah, perfect." Ozpin paused to cough. "Well, that was quite the inspirational display and a speech equally so, Mr Arc. You've certainly moved Doctor Oobleck." He paused again but I had the distinct feeling the microphone was being moved. What sounded like sobbing could be heard and a distant voice.
"So beautiful," it said. "Peace and understanding… the next generation… mistakes of the last. So happy!"
"There, there, Bart," Port could be heard saying.
"I must admit that your speech also moved myself," Ozpin said, speaking once more. "You have indeed grasped the intent of the Vytal Festival and what it stands for, co-operation in the face of personal greed, intent, and even warfare. It is a moment for enemies to stand together as allies."
"Then is he right?" Pyrrha called up toward the ceiling. "Is that what this whole civil war is about, to teach us a lesson on overcoming differences and working together?"
It took a good minute or so for Ozpin to respond.
My hopes took a nose dive.
"It will be in the future. That's such a good idea I think I'll take it and run with it. Sadly, as much as it embarrasses us to admit it, we didn't plan for anything like this, so no, such an eventuality isn't a possible ending to this war."
Of all the things I'd expected to happen to ruin my plans, Ozpin breaking the rules of the war to ruin my proposal hadn't been one of them. I'd been banking on his silence as a way to convince Pyrrha into something that obviously wouldn't be allowed, but which would let us avoid any combat.
"That's not to say the lesson isn't a valuable one. Very well done, Mr Arc."
"But you could change the rules!" I shouted. "You could make it so we can end in a peace agreement!"
"I could, but I believe that would be somewhat unfair to those who have fought so far. Rest assured, in future I'll make sure it's an option. It isn't here, however. There can be only one victor to the Beacon Civil War." To Ozpin's credit he managed to sound a little embarrassed. "Sorry to rain on your parade."
There went my plan.
Yang and Weiss pushed off from the door, flanking around slowly, though not so slow that Ren and I didn't have a chance to realise exactly what was happening. Blake had taken a step back as well, blocking our escape route, and weirdly enough it was the frantic scratching of pen on paper from Octavia that really drove home just how screwed we were.
"Let's not be hasty," I said, unsure who I was really talking to. "We can still declare a peace and wait until the war ends. Maybe we can change their minds!"
"I'm afraid you can't."
"I wasn't talking to you!" I howled.
"Ah, my apologies. I'll leave you all to it, then." The PA system sounded again as it was switched off. A little too late for that in my opinion; thanks for nothing, Ozpin.
"You heard him, Jaune," Pyrrha said, standing. "I really was willing to go ahead with this, but if it's not going to work then there's no point. One side might as well get the prize money for competing. Otherwise all of this was a waste of time and effort."
I knew she had a point, and hell, a part of me knew that even if she agreed there might be others who took the decision out of her hands. Pyrrha was their leader but a leader was a slave to the people's wills. That was why I was stuck being some high and mighty general in the first bloody place.
"Ren, plan B!" I shouted, flipping the table.
Should anyone have later asked I'd have pointed out that there wasn't really a Plan B, since there hadn't been a Plan A either, or anything resembling a plan at all. My reputation worked in my favour however and Pyrrha gasped, leaping back so that she wouldn't be caught in whatever trickery we had in store.
In contrast, I bolted for the exit – Ren hot on my heels.
(I'd fought alongside Jaune long enough to know when to retreat; always)
"GET THEM!" Pyrrha yelled.
To their credit the girls reacted quickly. Weiss and Yang gave chase while Blake moved to cut us off. She glanced between Ren and me and quickly decided incorrectly I was the most dangerous, moving to obstruct. I didn't stop running.
In a fair fight the difference between Blake and me was pretty big, the only advantage I really had being size and weight. I decided to put that to best effect by just not stopping as I charged toward the exit and crashing into her. She tried to drag me down, and even managed a few good hits on my head and shoulders, but the sheer momentum of my flight ensured I accidentally kneed her in the thigh, carried her along more than a few feet, and then knocked her to the ground. I windmilled my arms for good measure, too.
"Keep running," I gasped to Ren, finally escaping the tangle of faunus on the floor. "Don't stop."
"Not stopping," he replied, gasping. "Do we split up?"
I shook my head, knowing full well that if we did every single woman would pick me since they all thought I was the real threat here. "No, it's safer if we stick together. Go left. Head to the cafeteria."
"After them!" Weiss howled.
We burst out of the cafeteria and practically skid across the tiled floor, catching ourselves on the opposite wall and fleeing. I heard Pyrrha close behind, and Weiss behind her, throwing threats our way in a manner that ensured we both found untold energy and kept running. The next turn was a right and we took it at full pelt, dashing down the corridor and out into the open area that spanned the short sprint to the cafeteria itself.
What we saw froze us both in place. And when Weiss caught up a second later she made that a literal fact.
"Hi Jaune," Ruby said, stood at the head of a hundred girls, all between us and the cafeteria. The red reaper laughed nervously. "Um. Surprise?"
We'd been caught.
We'd been betrayed.
"You surrounded the cafeteria while we were in the peace meeting," I accused.
Pyrrha didn't quite meet my eyes. "It was just in case things didn't work out. Please understand, Jaune. I have to look out for my people just like you do yours. If we'd found a way to make peace work, then they wouldn't have attacked." She strode forward and placed a hand on my shoulder. "You've been captured. You're my prisoner now."
"And not a moment too soon," Weiss laughed. "There's less than an hour to go."
"We still have all the capture points outside this area," Yang reported, checking her scroll. "The boys only own the cafeteria now." She lowered it and looked to the dark shapes manning the windows and walls. "And they're all stuck in there."
"Perfect," Pyrrha said. She tugged me forwards. "I really am sorry about this, Jaune. But just in case things went south I had my entire army come here and prepare. You'd do the same, I'm sure."
"I really wouldn't have," I said. "I'm more of a defensive kind of guy. I'd have probably had them guard what we already had."
"Maybe that's where we differ."
Pyrrha stopped a good forty metres or so away from the main entrance, out of range of any attack and with plenty of time to dodge if the defenders tried anything. She coughed and raised her voice. "Men of Beacon! We now have your leader, Jaune Arc, prisoner. The peace treaty has failed and you have this one opportunity to surrender. Do so, and we shall promise you fair treatment until the end of the war. Forty-five minutes as a prisoner is better than a protracted battle neither side needs."
There was no response from the barricade. The men stood there, unmoved and undaunted, even in the face of my capture. It seemed to unnerve Pyrrha.
"Tell them to surrender, Jaune."
"I can't." I said.
"You know this is hopeless! What is there to gain from holding out?"
"I can't tell them to surrender," I repeated.
"Because they can't hear me," I said, quite reasonably.
Pyrrha didn't seem to understand. "Raise your voice."
"I can't shout loud enough."
"I know for a fact you can scream loud enough to be heard all across the Emerald Forest," Weiss growled from behind. "Pyrrha, he's obviously playing stupid. I say we attack immediately. There's no point delaying this any further. There isn't much time left."
"No…" Pyrrha's eyes narrowed. "Something isn't right."
She released me, even if Yang was quick to grab my hand and hold it behind my back, pushing me forward as Pyrrha walked towards the barricades. As she approached her pace quickened, until she was jogging forward – ignoring the cries of warning from her own ranks. She reached the barricade without taking a single attack, the men on the walls not launching any, and clambered over the upturned lockers without difficulty.
To the shock of all watching she tore Cardin's head off.
"It's not real!" she shouted, waving the inflated ball in one hand and even going so far as to rip te mop off the top of it. She kicked the body, and Cardin's armour crashed down to the ground, spilling bundled clothing and blankets from it. "None of them are real!"
"No way," Yang breathed. She let go of me and dashed forward. She hopped the first bench and slammed a fist into a hooded man's stomach. He toppled and fell, but remained oddly rigid as he did, the hood falling away to reveal a shell of clothing propped up around a broom covered and wrapped in kitchen towels. She took a deeper look inside. "The whole place is empty. The people at the windows don't even move. What the hell!?"
"I told you they couldn't hear me," I called. My voice echoed in the silence.
Weiss snarled and pushed forward, reaching me in an instant and gripping my hoodie with one fist. She dragged my face down, but not – as my dreams might have had it – to make out with me. "Where are they?" she hissed.
"You girls spent a lot of time in the cafeteria. It was pretty much your home for the first three or four days. I guess it makes sense you'd leave a lot of clothing behind, not to mention sleeping bags and the like."
Understanding dawned in her eyes. "You… no… you couldn't have!"
A distant explosion cut through the silence. A plume of smoke started to rise from the west. Pyrrha threw aside Cardin's head and stalked back into the open, staring out over the building to where the smoke came from.
"That's the West Wing," she whispered. "But why-?" Her eyes widened. They shot to me. "No…"
"Technically, if you'd not gathered all your forces here to try and root us out this wouldn't have happened," I said. "But I kind of figured Weiss would convince you to turn on us at the peace treaty. Why do you think I let her go?"
"B-Because you needed someone to pass on your message!"
Ren, held prisoner by Blake, laughed. "Anyone could have done that," he said. "But there were very few people who Jaune could be sure would whip you all up into attacking us. Calmer minds might have settled for holding just enough points to win, but we knew Weiss would want revenge for us capturing her."
Weiss shook her head, unwilling to believe it. "B-But Winchester disagreed. He was arguing with you. I saw it!"
"With good reason," Ren said. "No one liked the idea of Jaune being put in such danger."
"No one but me, of course," I added, grinning wildly. Because right now the safest place in Beacon was as a prisoner for the last half an hour of the war, protected by the rules that said no one could harm me and with not enough time for Nora to humiliate me. "Oh, you might want to check your scrolls by the way."
Pyrrha tore hers free, gasping at what she saw. She dialled a number quickly, and although she didn't activate the speakers it was all but impossible to hear what was taking place on the other side. It was the sound of battle.
"We need help!" Someone, Coco, I would have guessed, yelled. "They're everywhere. There's so many!"
"How?" Pyrrha asked. "How did they sneak up on you?"
"T-They didn't! They were here already. They dressed up as girls. It's a trap!"
"Traps everywhere," Velvet shouted, before she yelped and went silent. There was a clang of steel on steel, and the sound of a male voice calling out.
"For Jaune! For the King!"
The call went dead. For the longest moment no one dared move, before – in an instant – everyone came to life, shouting and yelling, some milling at the back and others making to run back and contest the objectives I knew would be turning blue even now.
"Stop!" Pyrrha yelled. "Don't run off. That's what they want!" Her warning was enough to stop most, though some had already gone by that point. The Champion addressed the remainder. "We can't rush off or we'll be crushed. Yang, take some girls and go to the West Wing and capture one point. Weiss, do the same on the east, but only the single point. Don't spread out, but rather focus all your efforts on a single location. Defend it as hard as you can! Blake, I want you to take two teams and ensure the other two points in the Centre of Beacon are ours. We can't spread out and weaken ourselves. Focus on claiming five points and five only, and then hold them!"
"Yes, ma'am!" the girls cried, before they split up and rushed away, Yang and Weiss barking orders the whole time.
"Ruby, you're with me," Pyrrha called, dashing into the cafeteria. "It's our job to hold this area."
"Just the two of us!?" Ruby asked, chasing after with Zwei yipping at her heels, excited to see all the people running around and shouting. His stubby tail wagged at a thousand rpm.
"The guys won't think to come back here," Pyrrha said, and she was right. The cafeteria was too hot, and I'd sent them out to the outer wings, where six objective points stood with minimal guards. It would take the women time to organise in chase, and even with Pyrrha's quick thinking there was a chance they might not make it.
Only a chance, though. They were more than strong enough to one point in each wing, and with the centre off limits that would leave the guys hard pressed. If my forces could only take four points then we'd still lose. I couldn't even pass any orders on, being limited by the prisoner rules, but also by the simple fact that the plan was already in motion. There was no stopping it now.
Ren and I were pushed down to sit together in the middle of the room, a mere two prisoners in what had once been a hard-fought fortress, now reduced to a graveyard protected by two women, albeit one of them being the strongest.
"Do you think they'll manage it?" Ren asked.
"I don't know. If anyone can, Cardin and Sun will find a way."
"But Yang and Weiss only need to take one point each, and they have a third of the female forces with them."
I knew that, even as I knew they wouldn't be able to fight the girls back. We'd been forced to split our forces into a sixth each, one group for each point – while the girls had taken a third to just one point, instantly giving them the two-to-one advantage in every fight they took. Meanwhile, Blake's forces would take over the inner ring, preventing anyone from getting here and taking the three points spread through the cafeteria, library, and training rooms.
Our worst fears were confirmed as the minutes ticked by and Ruby began to rattle off what she was seeing on her scroll.
"Yang's got the upper-floor classrooms!" she yelled. "It's gone red!"
"Pink?" Pyrrha called.
"Red!" Ruby insisted, sticking her chin out. "It's ours. Weiss hasn't- no wait, it's just changed! Blake's got the other two in the middle, too. We're doing it!"
"And now we've done it," Pyrrha said, tripping over the blue flag in the cafeteria and putting the pink one in its place. "That's five points to four. How long is left?"
"Less than five minutes! Weiss just messaged me; she says they're holding strong!"
Damn it! Time was running out. That wouldn't have been an issue before, losing wouldn't have either – but after coming so far and giving up this much I'd be damned before I let it end like this. I'd put up with too much shit! I'd started a bloody cult!
Ruby's scroll rang.
"I need help!" Yang screamed through it. "We're being attacked from behind. They're coming from the North Wing. They – it's-"
"FOR JAUNEHALLA!" Cardin Winchester screamed. "Drive them back!"
"The point's contested!" Ruby gasped. "It's gone grey! That makes it four to four!"
"A draw?" Pyrrha gasped.
"N-No. The rules say if it's a draw it'll enter sudden-"
The school's speakers came to life with a familiar screech. Ozpin's voice came through, clear as day.
"The time has been reached but the score is currently even. As such, Beacon will now enter sudden death mode. The first side to have a numerical advantage in terms of capture points will be declared victors of the Beacon Civil War." The message ended with a loud click.
Sudden death? Why hadn't I known about this? Oh right, it was because I'd been so focused on survival that I'd paid no attention to actually winning up until now. The decision to continue the war left the fate of the battle in Cardin's hands now, the General of my forces, who had abandoned his post in the North to launch a blistering attack on the flank of Yang's army besieging Yatsuhashi's forces in the West Wing.
"Ruby, call Blake and tell her to dispatch reinforcements to the West Wing," Pyrrha ordered. "I want her there in person! Tell her to focus on the flag. Forget the battle, just get that flag placed pink!"
"Okay, okay!" Ruby was shaking as she dialled her teammate's number, and frantic as she relayed the message – getting an affirmative. I knew things were bad. They were about to get worse. Cardin and Yatsu were tough as nails, but not even they could hope to stand up to the combined might of Yang, Blake, and all the Ninjas of Love. Nora might even be on her way too, in which case it was only a matter of time until this ended.
Damn it! If only we could do something, but without a guy to `free` us, we couldn't reach the flag – and if we tried then the teachers would surely discount it. There wasn't a damn way for us to influence the battle at all, and Ruby was standing guard near it, still on her scroll as Pyrrha paced by the entrance and-
"Fetch!" I screamed, voice high pitched. Ruby, Ren and Pyrrha turned to look at me, none the wiser, but I didn't give up. "Fetch!" I repeated. "Fetch the stick, boy. Fetch it!"
Ruby wasn't an idiot. She gasped and dropped her scroll. "Zwei, NO! Don't fetch!"
The corgi's head perked up. It hadn't before, too distracted by what was going on, but Ruby's shout – his master's shout – had reached his ears. The word `fetch` dominated, even if the `don't` part went curiously forgotten. It was always the same with Zwei. I knew that from being asked to babysit him regularly. You could say `don't eat my food while I go to the bathroom` and you'd come back to find it eaten. He was a very clever dog. He just had selective hearing. In this case `don't fetch` had only one translation.
His tail wagged.
He zipped forward.
Ruby activated her Semblance instantly. Crescent Rose was tossed aside as she surged toward the corgi, or more into its path. She came to a skidding halt in front of him and tried to catch the dog, only to struggle and yelp as Zwei slipped between her legs and ran on, ducking past Ruby's grip with the experience of one used to escaping whenever he was cornered for a bath.
The pink flag stood proudly ahead – attached to a long, wooden stick.
Zwei's panting reached a fever pitch.
But a pair of hands caught him before he could reach it. Pyrrha hit the ground hard, the diving-tackle carrying her a good few feet across the tiles. She held onto the dog, cradling it against her chest so it wouldn't be hurt from the fall.
"Yes, Pyrrha!" Ruby shouted.
My heart fell. Zwei had been our only hope…
"Not today," Pyrrha groaned, wincing a little from her fall. She held Zwei out in front of her face, easily ignoring his frantic squirming as he tried to escape. "You already cost us food before, mister. You're not – ow – losing us this as well."
It was done. All hope fled and I sagged where I sat, hands hitting the tiled floor as reality struck with the force of a Bullhead. Our final chance, my desperate gambit, had been stopped at last. Now all that was left was to rely on Cardin, who surely couldn't hold against two thirds of the women's forces. It was over for us. We'd lost.
"Pyrrha!" Ren suddenly cried out, eyes flashing. "When Jaune took Ruby as his personal prisoner they shared a room together. They slept together!"
My mouth fell open.
"The hell, Ren!?"
"No, no, no." Ruby yelped. "W-We didn't do anything like that. That didn't happen! Pyrrha, don't listen to him."
"Ruby…?" Pyrrha asked, voice oddly hurt.
"He's lying! We didn't!"
"But Jaune is your prisoner now," Ren continued. "He's yours to do with as you wish, for you to do whatever you want with. Your personal prisoner."
"Ren, you traitor!" I yelled.
"Anything at all, Pyrrha. Anything. Just imagine it. Imagine what it would be like…"
She clearly did imagine it, though what terrible things she might put me through I had no idea. They must have been truly awful though, for she gasped and coloured instantly. Her mouth fell open, but no words came forth. Her cheeks turned pink, and then red, and then something resembling fire dust. Her eyes widened too, and as she looked to me, they only grew wider.
"Um. Be gentle?" I begged, cringing. When it didn't provoke a response, I decided to try a little harder. "Be gentle, my Queen?"
It was too much. Pyrrha stared at me, somehow growing even redder in the face. Her entire body vibrated, green eyes almost popping out. With a mortified squeak, she slapped both hands to her cheeks and hid her face from view.
"The Beacon Civil War has ended!" Ozpin announced. "All students lay down arms and cease fighting immediately. I repeat – the Beacon Civil War has ended!"
It was fitting, perhaps, that the war end where it had all begun – in Beacon's cafeteria. I could remember vaguely that moment between the fourth and fifth bite where the war had been declared, and where Ren and I had become strangers in a world that didn't feel our own. A time before Kingdoms, before religion, and before warfare. That was only a week ago, and yet it felt much longer. The Beacon Civil War had started with noise and violence but ended differently.
It ended with a cheerful corgi proudly spitting out a pink flag at Ruby's feet, ignoring the hand she'd slapped over her face.
Confidant, Spymaster, Friend
To those who have read thus far, I commend thee. I strove to write down and collect the disjoined tales and notes that made up the Beacon Civil War, augmenting them as necessary with excerpts from others who could add insight from additional angles and points of view, while always working from the source material that made up Jaune's diary.
I feel that many who read this in times to come will see it as a fictional tale, or a story to read in search of entertainment. If that is so, then I believe none of us shall complain – for it is better to be entertained than gripped by anger or sorrow.
But that was not my full intention in penning this. Though the legend lives still in the hearts of many, legends have a tendency to grow larger than life, and my goal was to ensure this did not happen. Heroes were made in this lone week, but not all were as it seemed, and people like to exaggerate at times. I hope here, that by giving you an unadulterated view into the thoughts and feelings of the man at the centre of it all, that I can provide you – if only for an instance – a chance to see what it was truly like.
A chance, perhaps, to see what Jaune Arc was truly like. The man behind the legend.
Some saw Jaune as a God, others saw him as a leader, and there were even some who saw him as a desperate man trying to survive. Here, in his own notes, you can see the man for what he truly is. Not an infallible agent of good, not a genius beyond all measure, but a man like any other, and one wracked with doubt and self-criticism. Perhaps you can even see what I see; that he judges himself too harshly.
For after all, how could one judge given what He has created?
How can one judge the man who would unite us all? He who reaped? He who created the mighty Kingdom of Jaunehalla, which lives on today in the hearts of all men. Yes, my brothers. Our Lord is one so humble that even He can feel doubt, even when His mighty will is beyond all reproach.
Long Live Jaunehalla.
Long Live Jaune.
Long live the-
The book closed with a loud clap. Jaune put it down on the cafeteria table, staring over the cover at Ren, who watched with a curious expression. "What do you think? I tried to capture the essence of it all. I think I did a fairly good job."
"What I `think` is that I clearly misjudged you," Jaune said with an acute note of despair in his voice. "And that fact leaves me deeply disappointed. You do realise I was genuinely terrified, right? All of my `strategy` was just luck mixed with fear."
"If you say so," Ren replied. It was obvious he didn't believe it. He was as fanatical as the others, he just knew how to hide it – and any criticism Jaune aimed at himself was clearly just another sign of how much he misjudged himself. The disappointment was real.
"Well, that was pretty interesting," Yang said, stealing the book as Jaune groaned and let his head fall onto the table. "So, I mean, I know you were their leader, but you actually started a cult? Is this for real?"
"Russel did try to sell me some book earlier…" Ruby murmured.
"Mental note," Jaune moaned. "Steal and burn them all."
The girls laughed, Yang jeering a little as she poked his cheek just to add to his misery. The war had ended only a week or so ago and life had pretty much returned to normal, albeit some repairs were still being undertaken on the school. There didn't look to be any lasting effects. Well, unless you counted the fact Zwei had been forced to bunk with Team JNPR for a few days to stop Blake from doing anything hasty.
"I can't believe how wound up we all got about that thing," Nora said, and they could all laugh at the memory of it now, even if it had been a little darker at the time. "I mean, wow, that was nuts!"
"I know," Pyrrha giggled, "and to think it didn't even matter!"
"Huh?" Ruby blinked. "What do you mean?"
"We shared the prize money anyway," Jaune said, shrugging. "Pyrrha and Nora said they'd have done the same if they won, which means it actually didn't matter which side won the war. We have two girls and two guys either way, so it didn't matter who on for us. Pretty funny, huh?"
A deadly chill spread across the table, causing all four members of Team JNPR to stiffen.
"Yeah," Yang gritted out, eyes red, nails biting into a solid wood table. "That's real funny. No difference either way. Ha ha…"
"Who needs cookies anyway?" Ruby's laughter was brittle. "Full of carbs and fat. Who even needs them?"
"Ninjas of Love special edition collector's set… all gone…"
Weiss just glowered.
"A-Anyway," Pyrrha said, changing the subject before another civil war could start. "Miss Goodwitch said this will all be valuable experience for us, not just in terms of fighting, but also leadership and organisation. She did say there would be plenty of remedial lessons though. She seemed upset."
"I heard she made a bet with Ozpin on who would win," Yang said, calming down.
Weiss rolled her eyes. "Don't tell me you believe that rumour. I very much doubt the teachers would be so unprofessional as to gamble on us like that. She's probably just upset that we let victory slip out of our grasp. How unlucky can we be?"
"Unlucky?" Ren asked. "Don't you mean `outmatched`?"
"I mean unlucky," Weiss growled. "You may have found religion, but I'll thank you not to try and push it in my face. Jaune practically admitted he was all just a lucky accident."
"My work makes it clear he's simply self-critical."
"If that's what you want to call it. I'd say delusional."
"Coming from the one responsible for leading her own forces into a trap."
"That wasn't my fault!"
"Octavia's notes suggested otherwise."
Weiss surged to her feet. "Take that back!"
Ren did the same opposite. "No."
"Whooo!" Nora cheered. "Go Renny! Defend our team leader's honour! Fight, fight, fight!"
Jaune ignored it all and stood from the table with a sigh, scratching the back of his head with one hand as he waited for Pyrrha, Ruby and Blake to stand, leaving the others behind – Yang to spectate and record the upcoming argument, Nora to cheer it on.
"Ren certainly seems to have become a lot more confident after this," Pyrrha giggled. "That or he's just protective of his work. He put a lot of effort into writing that."
"And I'm sure it'll look really good on the fiction section of a book store," Jaune groaned. "Believe me, I wasn't nearly as awesome as he made me out to be. I was a nervous wreck the entire time. I just wanted to survive."
"But in the end you won," Blake pointed out.
"Yeah, and you were frightened off by Zwei," Ruby giggled.
"With good reason, I feel. That mutt cost us the entire war! Jaune wouldn't have even started his insurrection if it wasn't for you letting that stupid corgi out of your sight. He only found Cardin and teamed up with him because he was chasing Zwei. We only lost the food in Jaunehall-"
"Please don't say that name," Jaune begged, face red.
"In that place," Blake amended. "We only lost it because of Zwei. You only got captured because of him. I only got captured because of him – and we only lost the war because of him!"
"All hail Zwei," Jaune said sarcastically. "In His name do we trust."
"Praise be," Pyrrha echoed, and then quickly laughed. "Oh, come on, you guys. It's not so bad. We all had fun, no one got hurt, and we had a week without homework. What's not to like? We also made a whole heap of new friends too. I met this girl called Cinder, and she seemed really impressed with you, Jaune. She said something about how she had to `call something off` because `he` might ruin all their plans or something."
"Weird. Did she say what that was about?"
"I don't think so. Her teammate – that Mercury guy - is loyal to you though, and she seemed worried about that. Either way, I feel like everyone is a little closer now. Ren has been spending time with Team CRDL and Team SSSN. I also heard Cardin declare he was wrong about faunus and shout about how Sun was his new best friend. All in all, I'd say this was a grand experience."
"Easy for you to say," Blake grumbled. "You got the prize money…"
"I'm more curious to see how things continue on around here now that this is all done and over," Ruby said. "Do you think this'll change anything? With the Vytal Festival, I mean?"
"I doubt it," Jaune stepped through a door being held open for him. "Honestly, not much has changed as far as I can see, and life will go back to normal soon enough. It was fun, don't get me wrong, but I think the most we'll get out of it is the experience. Well, unless Ren sells that book of his."
Ruby stopped to stare. "You don't think anything will change?"
"Nah. It's the same old Beacon as far as I'm concerned." Jaune yawned and walked on, Pyrrha beside him gazing lovingly – and not so subtly – at his backside.
Ruby hesitated and looked back, first to Cardin, stood on one side of the corridor, and then to Sun on the other, both with a hand on the doors, opening them for Jaune and his party. Down the corridor they'd just passed, men knelt with their hands on their hearts, and each time Jaune passed another, the man would stop and kneel, whispering words of awe and fealty. Even Doctor Oobleck had bowed low, wiping a tear from one eye.
"Yeah…" Ruby said, as a bead of sweat ran down the side of her face. "Nothing different at all…"
And there we go. I put the last two chapters into one, looking to end it on 13 because of reasons. I dunno. Anyway, that's the end of the Beacon Civil War. Zwei retains MVP Status, and Jaune pulls out a desperate gamble that relies on his enemies acting exactly as he thinks they will except that – lo and behold – his decision to release Weiss was precisely to increase the chance they would get cocky and go for an all-out attack.
And yes, it's intentional for it to go third person in the end. The entire fic has basically been the teams reading through Ren's book at a cafeteria table one week after the war.
All in all, it's been a fun story.
Could it have gone on for another chapter or two? Maybe, but I felt it would be dragged on if it did and I wanted to avoid that. They had a treaty until two hours before the end and Jaune and Ren were trapped as prisoners. Were there another day to the war it might have been nice to have a display of how the guys can work together even without their leader – all to rescue him. But ultimately the war didn't have another day and I liked this ending. Also, it's 10k words, so arguably it's two chapters anyway. Go figure.
I'm glad to see people warmed up to this story, and I hope people can see how something like this might actually be good for people - forging bonds of friendship between Cardin and Sun, for instance, but also granting everyone really good experience on what war can be like, while in a peaceful and controlled setting.
Well, there's normally a week off before a new story comes out, but call me insane or call you lucky, but I've actually already been writing ahead on it, which means I may not need that week. As such, I'll say the new story will come out in two weeks – on the same time as this would normally. It's not one being Beta'd by College Fool for a change, though CF has seen and offered thoughts on the plan at times. This has no beta because I've just been too busy to write chapters early and actually get them to CF. It's not because of any drama between us, and CF is actually writing some stuff of his own now, so double win from my point of view.
I don't really want to say what my new story will be because I don't want that to overtake the reviews at the end of this one. I might just save and keep it a surprise for once, since usually when I reveal what I'm writing some people decide to PM or comment that they don't like it even when they haven't read a single chapter or it's not out.
I'll save myself the negativity in that case! It ISN'T a story on my profile however, so don't ask. It's something I came up with a few weeks back and started planning and plotting out.
Beacon Civil War: Finished (24th February 2018)
Next Story: 10th March - NEW Story Released
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