A/N: Yeah it's been a while, I apologize.
The site has been giving me problems with formatting this chapter for some reason, so if something seems off or missing I'll try and correct it as soon as I can.
Anyway, here's chapter 8, enjoy!
Beacon Academy, Headmistress Oznia's office, evening
The ride in the elevator to the headmistress's office was an agonizing one. The boys of Team ARGN all had an uneasy feeling in their stomachs. The elevator dinged and the doors opened.
"Ah, Jaune, Rost, Gabriel, Shadow," Oznia greeted, "please come in." The huntsmen in training walked to the front of her desk. "Do you know why you're here?" She asked with a neutral expression.
Jaune stepped forward. "Glynda said you wanted to talk to us about what happened in the Forever Fall Forest," he said.
"Correct. What happened is a very serious matter. I need to write a report about this and I need testimony from everyone involved. Do any of you have a problem with this conversation being recorded?"
They all shook their heads.
"Good." She hit a button on her computer. "Now, the incident in Forever Fall, what happened? Start from after you arrived."
Forever Fall Forest, hours earlier
North of the kingdom of Vale, the Forever Fall Forest was unique in that while every other forest on Remnant was filled with lush green leaves and plant life, the vegetation here was all red, as if it was permanently autumn and the leaves and plants refused to wither away for the winter.
Jaune thought the color contrast was beautiful. "Looks like the ground is covered in blood, doesn't it?" And then Shadow had to mess it up by asking that.
"No, blood staining the ground like that would become darker, closer to black than bright red," Rost said.
"Do I even want to know?" Jaune asked.
"I helped clean up bodies from time to time. Bodies belonged to the bandits and murderers so don't feel too bad."
"If you say so."
"Alright focus, we got a job to do," Gabriel chimed in. "Jaune, where do we start?"
Jaune was quiet for a moment and looked around. "Uh… I guess we'll start with that one," he pointed to the thickest tree he saw.
"Alright. Anyone mind if I go first?" Shadow raised his jar. No one objected. "Cool, thanks." Shadow kelt and inserted the spout to start extracting sap. Everyone else stood guard for any potential threats, but their only company was the sound of the wind swaying the leaves.
"This what any of you guys expected to be doing?" Rost asked.
"What do you mean?" Gabriel raised an eyebrow.
"When Oznia asked me to join Beacon, I was like 'sure, I'll gladly be one of the world's first huntsmen and fight Grimm,' and yet, here we are, collecting tree sap." He had a point. None of them really understood why collecting tree sap was worthy of a huntress, or huntsmen in their case, mission.
"Probably just some initiation hazing or something," Gabriel replied. "They did a lot of that in basic training, giving us a lot of 'death by boredom' missions."
"Or gathering tree sap is a lot more dangerous then we all realized," Shadow joked.
"Yeah man, don't you know, millions of people die each year just to get us breakfast toppings," Jaune added.
"I've seen whole divisions wiped out just protecting syrup deposits," Gabriel said in an overly dramatic tone.
"Oh damn, I never realized that. I feel guilty about eating waffles now," Rost said.
"Actually, since we're here, can I ask what exactly the sap is used for?" Shadow asked. Everyone else was curious as well.
"Simple, we sell the sap for profit," Oznia answered.
"...wait, that's it?" Gabriel asked in annoyance.
"That's it for the sap. The point of the mission is to show that not all missions and assignments you receive will be action-packed Grimm slaying as soon as you land. Sometimes missions you get will be slow, borning, and involve menial tasks at times. The annual Forever Fall mission is to help show that and emphasize that patience is a key factor in this line of work."
The boys nodded, accepting the answer as it was.
Forever Fall Forest
The rest of their time going to different trees and filling up the jars was met with similar small talk and joking if not mostly silence. They haven't encountered any other student during their mission, but they also haven't run into any Grimm so they weren't complaining. They got 3 of the jars filled up, Jaune's was the last one left.
"Alright," Jaune paused to look around and pointed at a large tree. "I think I'll settle on that one." No one objected so they started walking towards it. As Jaune took out the spout, Shadow called out to him.
"Jaune-" Was all he managed to get out before Jaune recoiled back as a spout was violently jammed into the tree close to his face.
"Too slow," Carlisha leaned against the tree with a grin.
"Oh you can fuck right off," Rost stood next to his leader.
"First come first serve, bitch," she narrowed her eyes at him.
"Am I to assume all of you and CRDL have had this feud of yours for a while now?" Oznia asked with a sigh.
"I-" Jaune started.
"No, ma'am" Rost stepped forward. "It was just between me and Carlisha."
"And just how long has this been going on for?" She leaned forward.
"Since our first round in Glynda's combat class," He answered. "I… tried to keep it hidden from the rest of my team."
"So the rest of you were aware?" Oznia looked to the other three boys.
"No ma'am," Jaune said after a moment. "Well, I came across Rost having a… confrontation with Carlisha. I broke it up and offered help, but Rost declined, saying he wanted to sort it out on his own." He could feel Rost staring at him.
Oznia sighed and shook her head. "Alright, continue. How did it escalate?"
Forever Fall Forest
Jaune sighed and stepped back. This verbal spout was getting them nowhere. "Alright alright, fine. Not worth it guys, come on." He motioned for the guys to follow him.
"This won't work again next time," Rost glared at the girls.
"I'd like to see you try, Scar Boy," Carlisha responded. Jaune, Gabriel, and Shadow froze where they stood and slowly turned to Rost.
"What did you just call me?" Rost growled and took a menacing step forward.
"Are you deaf? I said I'd like to see you try Scar Boy," she crossed her arms and stared him down.
"...that's what I thought you said." To the rest of ARGN's surprise, Rost turned around to join them and they started to walk away.
But after a few seconds, with Shadow and Gabriel in the front, Jaune noticed the footsteps behind him slow to a stop. He turned around in time to see a jar leave Rost's hand. He was too stunned to speak up as the jar shattered upon impacting the back Carlisha's head.
"Ahh!" She recoiled from the impact and brought a hand up to feel the sap and broken glass. "What the fuck?!" She turned around in time to see Rost shoulder bash her into the tree. He got two good quick punches into her before she retaliated by kicking him to the ground and pouncing on him, returning the favor with punches of her own. He kicked her off and they both got on their feet to continue their brawl.
The initial shock from the rest of their respective teams finally faded and they rushed forward to try and hold them back. Rost and Carlisha were trying to break free while angrily shouting over each other. The rest either shouted at their teammate to calm down or shouted with their teammate. It was a chaotic mess.
"So the rest of Carlisha's team weren't lying when they said you threw the first punch," she said more than asked.
Rost felt uncomfortable under her glare. "Yes ma'am. I accept full responsibility."
"Rost, I know your file, all of it. While I can not blame you for lashing out at what she said, if you have another outburst like that you will be put into mandatory counseling in addition to any other punishment the situation calls for. This includes expulsion. Am I clear?" Rost nodded. "Good."
Forever Fall Forest
Shadow had to take a few steps back from it all. The volume of noise was irritating his hedgehog ears. His thoughts were halted when the faint sound of rustling leaves and breaking bark reached his ears. He quickly turned to the side. At first he saw nothing, but soon noticed the red menacing eyes of a Grimm in the foliage.
"Uh, guys?" He called out and got no response. "Guys?!" He started stepping back. They narrowed as the foliage started to rustle some more. "Guys?!" They were too engaged in their confrontation to notice the approaching threat.
In a panic, Shadow acted on his first thought. He activated his grav-shoes, dashed for Gabriel's rifle, took it and shot at the Grimm. The gunshots finally grabbed everyone's attention, just in time as the large Grimm burst through into the open towards them, it's claws raised for a killing blow.
By some miracle, they all managed to dodge the attack. Jaune rolled back to his feet and drew his sword. The Grimm stood tall and looked back at him. It was a tall bipedal with large leather-like wings. It had a long tail with a sharp arrow pointed spear at the end of it. Its head had a long-faced beak and was connected to a jointed neck, looking much like a dragon from old storybooks.
Its eyes locked onto Jaune, and not a moment later its tail lashed out. Jaune managed to block the first strike, barely blocking the second, but the third and fourth strikes came too quickly and he was knocked prone.
Before the Grimm could capitalize on it, the others came about and attacked. Everyone struck at different times and at different parts of its body. Bullets pinged harmlessly off, blades barely made shallow cuts, blunt strikes did little to no damage, and the dust users held back in fear of -friendly fire. For every attack received, the Grimm managed to dish one out of its own with either its tail, talons, or by snapping its jaw. The students were not as successful at dodging or blocking the attacks taking multiple blows with their aura dropping at an alarming rate.
Eventually, the Grimm flapped its wings, throwing dirt and leaves in the air. When the dust settled, it was gone. Everyone raised their weapons, unintentionally backing up into a circle as they all kept alert of their surroundings.
"Ok, what the fuck was that thing?" Rost gasped.
"How the hell should we know?" Carlisha shouted back.
"Aren't you huntresses?!"
"That doesn't mean we know every single Grimm when we see one!" Dove argued back.
"What the hell have you been doing the past few years then?"
"More than you ever could!"
"I just want to clarify that the Grimm you encountered is called a 'Cyrano'," Oznia said.
"Cyrano? How'd it get that name?" Gabriel asked.
"I wish I could say..."
Forever Fall Forest
"All of you shut up!" Jaune shouted. "My little sisters are better than this!" That was half a lie. Fights with younger siblings were always messy, but he believed they at least would stop when there were Grimm nearby. "Did anyone see which way that thing went?" No one answered.
"I don't even think we were denting it," Sky chimed in.
"...we're not," Carlisha relented after a sigh.
"I suggest we call Glynda for help and pull back," Gabriel said. "We can't fight this thing on our own."
"Gabe's right," Jaune said. "We-"
"Incoming above!" Shadow shouted. The Cyrano was directly above them now, diving straight down at a speed that left them no time to think. It impacted the ground with such force that all eight of them were sent flying.
Jaune got back up as fast as he could and realized he was alone. He looked up to see the Grimm hovering above him. Its mouth opened and a red glow started to illuminate from it. "Oh shit," Jaune muttered. Years of telling his sisters bedtime stories told him what would happen next and he started running away. Moments later, a continuous red beam of plasma and fire shot from the Cyrano's mouth, destroying the ground and setting fire to anything in its path as it chased Jaune down.
He ran until he entered a clearing, and found Gabriel snapping a rifle to him.
"Jaune!" He lowered the rifle down. "Are you ok? Where are the others?"
"I'm fine but I don't know," He looked back at the raging fire. "How'd you get here?"
"I landed here. It wasn't too far from where we were, but I lost my scroll." They snapped back to the forest. It sounded like the Grimm found a new target.
They heard a whooshing noise and Shadow quickly appeared next to them, holding one of Rost's arms over his shoulder as he was coughing up a storm. "Are you ok?"
"I'm *cough* fine," he swiped his arm away and stood up. "Thanks."
"You're-" Their heads snapped up as a high pitched roar echoed from above.
"That thing just doesn't quit, does it?" Shadow asked rhetorically. They all brandished their weapons and started backing up slowly as the Cyrano flew towards them. Rost and Gabriel opened fire on it. Jaune was about to give a command, but then something caught his eye.
"Wait! Stop, stop! It has someone in its claws!" Jaune shouted.
"Oh shit, it does!" Shadow pointed up. Gabriel and Rost ceased fire as they too now saw it. The Cyrano had Carlisha in its grasp. She struggled in vain to get free. "What the hell do we do?"
No one had an answer.
The Cyrano would force them to act. It flew above them and then and then threw her down as hard as it could. Team ARGN was already rushing towards her before she impacted the ground. The Cyrano's mouth started to glow again, but right as the beam left its mouth, Shadow reached Carlisha and used earth dust to make a barrier to block the attack.
"Carlisha," Rost was the first to reach her. "Are you ok?"
"Get off me," She swiped his hand away and got up herself with a slight wince.
"You're welcome, princess," Rost insulted.
"Can it, both of you!" Gabriel fired up at the Cyrano. Its mouth glowed again but this time multiple balls of fire spewed out. They were thankfully easier to dodge but set small areas of the field on fire. Area's of black smoke flooded the field and they all were cut off from another.
After a few disorienting moments, Rost heard a faint sound of cracking glass and gut-wrenching, pain-filled scream.
"Carlisha?!" Rost burst through the thick smoke to see her crying on the ground and bleeding badly. The Cyrano stalked towards her, seeming to savor the moment before the kill. "Oh fuck," he charged forward firing his gun. "Hey, asshole!" He switched his gun to the battle axe and cut it deep in its wing. The Cyrano looked back and gave a minor annoyed growl and blocked the next swing before swatting Rost away.
Jaune was next to come out of the smoke. His quick swings failed and he was quickly on the defensive behind his shield. With its attention on Jaune, the Grimm didn't see Shadow glide in from the side and incase its upper head in ice.
With its vision obscured, team ARGN had an opening. They exploited it to the best of their abilities; slashing and shooting and cutting the Grimm wherever they could. But even blind, the Cyrano's violent and random thrashing and thick hind negated all but minor, insignificant cuts. The Cyrano, by luck, hit its head on a tree, shattering the ice and restoring its vision. As if it was originally playing with them, the Cyrano went all out on the boys, using its size, flight, and powers to its full advantage. They were barely able to land a hit that wasn't a defensive one against the monster. The ferocity and speed of the Cyrano made calling for help impossible. The fight was never in ARGN's favor, but now it was all coming apart.
Gabriel lost his chainsword, it was crushed in the Cyrano's jaw and broke into dozens of pieces. All he could do was now fire effectively at a distance. Shadow was able to match the Cyrano's speed and was able to keep up with it. However, it was now wary of his dust abilities and was able to maneuver too sporadic for him to land a hit. Jaune was able to take the heavy hits thanks to his shield and larger aura. But, he was not as fast or nimble as his colleagues and had no ranged weaponry, and thus he struggled to keep up. Rost was less focused on attacking the Cyrano like the others. His focus was on trying to get to Carlisha and help her. But every time he had a clear path to run to her, the Cyrano would suddenly attack him or get in the way.
The Cyrano grabbed Jaune with its claw and slammed him down to the ground, breaking his aura, and then tossed him aside. He skidded on the ground. He managed to get up, wincing in pain from the bleeding scrapes on his arms, and saw the Cyrano flying low towards him. He barely had time to scream as a large tree came flying out of nowhere and threw it aside.
Shadow helped him to his feet and they saw Glynda Goodwitch walking towards the Cyrano, flicking her wrist and sending more trees to the Cyrano. The Cyrano quickly recovered on its feet as its mouth started glowing. "Miss Goodwitch!" Jaune shouted, but she blocked the beam with a glyph at the end of her riding crop. Even the Grimm seemed taken aback at how she didn't even flinch.
"ARGN," Glynda shouted, "The rest of CRDL are pinned down by Grimm back from where I came! I have a medivac en route to them! Take Carlishia and get out of here, now!"
Everyone followed her order without question, making a team effort to get Carlisha out of there. The boys would occasionally take quick glances back at Glynda to see if she was ok, only to see her holding her own against the Cyrano, even pushing it back.
"Two bullheads arrived shortly after that and got us out, and, well, that's pretty much it," Jaune looked at the rest of his team. "Anything to add or ask?"
"Will Carlishia be ok?" Rost asked with genuine concern.
"Her injuries were bad, but not too severe or permanent. She should be fine within a few days," Oznia answered. Rost let out a relieved sigh.
"Was Miss Goodwitch able to dispatch the Cyrano?" Gabriel asked?
Oznia was silent for a moment. "No, despite her best efforts, it managed to escape." They shared nervous glances with each other. "Grimm are not entirely mindless and have been shown to gain intelligence over long periods. It was able to realize it would die and so it retreated. Grimm also get stronger and can mutate over time as well, like with the Beowulfs and Alpha Beowulfs. This was a dangerous and strong enemy you faced and you had no right to come out as good as you did."
She paused as a smile formed on your face. "And yet, you did. While anyone else would have retreated or faltered, you stood your ground not only against an almost impossible foe but doing so in defense of one of your sisters in arms. By rights, Carlisha should be dead, but she'll live thanks to you four." She let the pride set in for a few moments. "Unless there's anything else, you're dismissed. Have a goodnight."
They said their thanks and goodbyes before leaving. When the elevator doors closed, Oznia waited a few moments before pressing the button on her computer again. "You heard that clearly?"
"Yes," General Ironwood said.
"Loud and clear," Rouge said. "Oznia, when was the last time a Cyrano was sighted?"
"The last 'confirmed' sighting of one was 41 years ago, during my reincarnation," she answered. "Salem uses them sparingly."
"And he now just sent one of them after Gabriel," James' voice was filled with dread. They couldn't blame him.
"Wait, how was team ARGN able to fight it off as they did?" Rouge asked.
"Unfortunately simple: Salem didn't send the Cyrano to kill them, he sent it to fight them," Oznia said.
"A test," Ironwood realized first. "He wanted to see how skilled the huntsmen were. But, why did it drag Carlisha into this?"
"It could have killed her several times over, but didn't." Rouge cupped her chin, "She was bait, forcing them to stay and fight instead of retreating."
"Correct, and that also confirms something: for good or for not, this means Salem has no intention of killing them."
"But he does have an active interest in them," Rouge said. "Can we keep them safe in Beacon?"
"We'll keep them safe to the best of our abilities. Salem hasn't made any major moves for years besides now. He hasn't been ballsy enough to attack the academies head on and he isn't now. That's why he waited for the forever fall trip where they would be far from the school to strike."
"I trust you," Ironwood sighed, "but at the slightest hint he's at risk, I'm pulling Gabriel back to Atlas, personally if I have to."
"I-" before she could continue, a message popped up.
It was from Qrow, and it simply read "Maiden down."
A/N: And that's a wrap.
- The Cyrano is heavily inspired by, if not a direct copy of, Ridley from the Metroid series. He is my favorite boss and he would honestly be a really cool Grimm.
- Cyrano is also the scientific name for pterodactyl (at least according to noble4259, who is fun to toss ideas around with... he really ships Jaune/Fem!Sun)
Thanks again for reading, have a good day :)