A/N: That prologue was a bit hard to work through; not because I had trouble writing it, but because of what I had to do to Summer. I asked Phoenix Commander to be my Beta for this fic, and they agreed! Which is awesome! I really enjoy their RWBY fics, and I recommend them.

1 – Seven Years Later

DropShip Eisenfaust, JumpShip Weißer Berg,

Nadir Jump Point,

Pencader en route to Poulsbo,

Alarion Province, Lyran Commonweatlh

14 May 3025

Hauptmann Weiss Schnee sat in her cabin aboard the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces DropShip Eisenfaust (or "Iron Fist" when translated into English), looking over the personnel files and TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment) of her command. While nominally supposed to share a cabin space with at least another hauptmann, her family name had given her the 'privilege' of a private cabin aboard the massive Overlord-class vessel. The 9700-ton starship was capable of carrying a full battalion of 36 BattleMechs, with a full squadron of AeroSpace fighters – 3 Aero Lances of 2 AeroFighters each – for air cover, and Weiss was one of the company commanders. Unlike most graduates of the Nagelring Military Academy on Tharkad, the Atlas-borne Weiss Schnee didn't graduate with the rank of Leutnant or even First Leutnant (the lowest command rank in the LCAF, a lance/platoon commander); she was given the rank of hauptmann (the equivalent of captain within the Commonwealth's ally-state of the Federated Suns). It was the rank she had felt she had truly earned, even though she had been marked for commandant (or major, a battalion command rank). That had more to do with her name – as one of the Schnees of the Schnee Defense Company, Atlas's premier military manufacturing company as well as one of the major military contractors for the Coventry Province – than her skills as a leader and MechWarrior, and she had vehemently declined it. That had lead to a row with her father, one in which she'd forced him to acquiesce by threatening to remove as heiress to the SDC. To defuse the situation, she'd accepted his 'gift' of a brand-new ZEU-6T Zeus built by the SDC under license from Defiance Industries of Hesperus II.

"Not that I wanted such a machine," she muttered to herself as she scrolled down from the personnel files of her company to the equipment and began looking over the other eleven BattleMechs under her command. Unlike a lot of Lyran MechWarriors, Weiss actually preferred lighter-weight machines as opposed to the Heavy and Assault-class 'Mechs many of her contemporaries preferred. It was often joked that a Lyran scout lance was composed of Medium-class 'Mech and three Heavy-/Assault-class 'Mechs. Although more than capable of handling such 'Mechs, she was against the mindset of being able to take damage in order to dish it out. Like most academy MechWarriors, she'd started out on the 50-ton CLN-7V Chameleon, a Medium-class BattleMech intended specifically for training and had found she liked its speed and mobility. The deliberately low number of Heat Sinks, combined with the high number of heat-inducing weapons, had been meant to teach MechWarriors about proper heat management and staying mobile – which was aided by the McCloud Specials Jump Jets – but the snow-haired young woman didn't mind that; she preferred the elegance (as she saw it) of laser weapons over missile launchers and autocannons. Her callsign of "Ice Queen" had been earned not only by her 'frigid' personality towards her fellow cadets, but also because she never lost her cool under fire and rarely had her 'Mech overheat on her.

Shaking her head, she pulled out of her reverie and focused on the data before her. Her command lance consisted of her 80-ton Zeus – which she left unnamed – as well as a second Zeus (this one an -6S model rather than a newer -6T like hers), a 95-ton BNC-3E Banshee (she snorted at the thought of such a heavy machine mounting an armament better suited to a Heavy or a really burly Medium), and a 65-ton TDR-5S Thunderbolt. This had three of her four 'Mechs mounting LRM launchers, making them more ideal for long-range combat, though the Thunderbolt's loadout also made it well-suited for shorter ranged warfare like the Banshee. She made a notation in the file to work her lance as fire support, dependent upon further review, and moved on to her second lance. Its heaviest machine, surprisingly, was an ARC-2R Archer; its main firepower was the pair of LRM-20 launchers, though with each arm mounting a Medium Laser as well as a battle fist it was no slouch in shorter-range combat, and the 2 rear-facing Medium Lasers covered the 70-ton machine's back. Supporting it were a pair of 55-ton GRF-1F Griffins, each mounting a PPC and an LRM-10 (personally, Weiss despised the Griffin, as she felt it was a weak design as it had no short-range weapons – beyond two battle fists for melee combat – and mounted its only two weapons on the right side). Rounding her second lance was an HCT-3F Hatchetman, a rather slow-for-its-weight Medium BattleMech that was armed with an AC/10, a pair of Medium Lasers, and the large hatchet that gave the 'Mech its name. She sighed as she realized her company was geared more towards long-range, indirect fire support and moved on to her last lance.

"Well, this is a surprise," she muttered. Her third and final lance was obviously influenced by the Federated Suns as it consisted of a CN9-A Centurion (a 50-tonner that carried an AC/10 in the right arm as its main weapon), a pair of ENF-4R Enforcers (another 50-ton design that carried an autocannon – also an AC/10 in this case – as its main weapon), and a single VLK-QA Valkyrie, a thirty-ton Light BattleMech that was armed with an LRM-10 and a Medium Laser, with five Jump Jets for mobility. While all of her machines were able to, in some way, fight at shorter ranges, it was obvious her company was meant to provide long-range cover for the rest of the battalion. A klaxon sounded, jerking her attention away from her datapad; she realized that it was merely the jump alert. Which meant that the Star Lord-class JumpShip the Eisenfaust was docked with, the Weißer Berg (or "White Mountain" in English) had finished the long process of stowing its jump sail and was ready to make the last jump to Poulsbo, where her company and its battalion were being stationed. Moving over to her bunk, Weiss laid down and strapped herself in; it was a secret, known only to her family, that she suffered from a mild form of Transit Disorientation Syndrome and laying down – along with a small dose of dralaxin – mitigated her symptoms for the most part.

I hate hyperspace jumps, she thought.


Union-class DropShip Forever Fall

Combat approach to Harvest,

Rasalhague Military District,

Draconis Combine

13 May 3025

"Captain Vernal, could you just shut off the comm unit?" Ruby asked as the Forever Fall's communications system indicated yet another incoming transmission from Ozpin aboard the Beacon. With a sigh, the older woman motioned for one of the bridge officers to turn off the Fall's communications array.

"Ruby, you know we're disobeying orders to make this burn," the brunette reminded her.

"Ozpin can kiss my ass," she replied; it was obvious that in the past seven years Ruby still had an axe to grind with the commander of their mercenary unit. Of course, to everyone that personally knew her it wasn't a surprise, as the crimsonette – once she'd learned the circumstances of her mother's death – blamed Ozpin for what had happened. After all, he'd known Salem longer than anyone, had gotten reports of her meeting in secret with Marik officials and officers from Raven, and he'd been the one to order Summer to link up with the Betrayer's lance.

"Ruby, as much as I prefer independent operations, Ozpin is our commanding officer, and disobeying orders isn't a good thing," Vernal told her.

"We were ordered to conduct a raid on Harvest, and that's what we're doing," Ruby said. Vernal sighed.

"You're just lucky the company commander agrees with you in this instance." The 19yro in the red and black jumpsuit nodded in agreement, as she knew that Major Amber – groundpounders with the rank of captain always got a temporary brevet to major when aboard a ship, as there can only be one captain – distrusted Ozpin a bit, as her personal lance had been the first to suffer from Salem's betrayal, but for the most part still trusted him somewhat. In the case of the raid on Harvest, Ozpin wanted to wait and discretely gather intel, but Amber agreed with Ruby that it was best to strike hard and fast while the Combine was in the process of redeploying its House units from the world to replace them with militia units and a pair of mercenary commands. They were aiming to drop onto the continent of Ohio, where most of the major cities and industries were located. Harvest's main industry was agricultural, with some on-world electronics and manufacturing. Ruby had suggested that they deploy to disrupt the military forces on-world, but cause minimal disruption to the local industries. Snatching some shipments marked for the Draconis Combine would be a plus.

"Well, better head down to your 'Mech, kid," Vernal went on. "We're at the point for our de-orbit burn. Ruby nodded and left the DropShip's bridge, aware of the older woman watching her leave. As the bridge doors closed, the brunette felt a wave of sorrow wash over her. That girl is carrying a lot of pain in her, she thought sadly. She's found a channel for it, but sooner or later I'm afraid it'll destroy her.


Mech Bay, DropShip Forever Fall

Ruby drifted into the Forever Fall's Mech Bay, seeing that everyone in there was either prepping the twelve BattleMechs of Ranger Company or strapping in for the coming de-orbit. As she drifted over to her 'Mech, the same Lancelot her mother once piloted, she saw Yang standing near her Hunchback, clad in a yellow sports bra and black shorts, her cooling vest on but open, as she argued with her Tech about the 'Mech, and Amber was climbing into the cockpit of her THE-10E Thug. A heavier 'Mech than her own, it was nevertheless well suited to her. Approaching her Lancelot, which she'd renamed Crescent Rose after she'd rebuilt what damage it had suffered, she shrugged out of her jumpsuit – having already been wearing her MechWarrior togs underneath it. After all, even with a cooling vest, a 'Mech's cockpit can get hot in combat so MechWarriors tended to wear as little in the cockpit as possible. Ruby had heard of some pilots who nothing more than the cooling vest when piloting, but she couldn't bring herself to do that.

"Hey, Rubes!" she heard her sister shout. Looking over, she grinned at the blonde waving at her wildly and returned the wave. "We're gonna some action today!"

"Not too much, I hope," she replied. "After all, it's just our company going down there, with a full regiment of veteran mercs waiting."

"Aw, don't be such a downer, sis! We pop it in, shoot a few Snakes, then pop out."

Ruby sighed and then said, "Just be careful, okay?"

Yang came over to her and pulled her into a hug. "Hey, I'll be fine, alright? I've got you watching my back." Ruffling Ruby's hair, she moved back over to her Hunchback and climbed in. Unlike Ruby, her half-sister didn't use one of her parents' 'Mechs; her Hunchback, while the same model as her dad's, was actually salvaged from a battlefield in the Capellan March and rebuilt. Yang had actually dropped the Small Laser and a half-ton of armor to increase the size of her autocannon's ammo bin. As Ruby accepted her cooling vest from the Tech assigned to her, she gazed up at the 60-ton 'Mech before her. When it was her mom's, it had borne a white and red paint scheme; now, it was mostly black with red and gray trimming on it. The cockpit viewscreen she'd had polarized to silver, making it match her and her mom's eye color. Don't worry, Mom, she thought as she climbed up and strapped herself in, hearing and feeling the rumble of the Forever Fall's drives lighting up, I'll get that bitch who killed you. One of these days, I'll put her in my crosshairs and watch as she dies under my guns.

A bit further away in the 'Mech Bay, the pilot of an Spider, the -5V model, watched as the crimsonette MechWarrior disappeared into the cockpit of a much heavier Lancelot. The amber eyes of the raven-haired girl had tracked the younger warrior as she'd entered the bay, conversed with the blonde that commanded the lance the amber-eyed warrior was assigned to, and then parted with her. She could sense, even from this distance, the heavy burden the other woman bore, as well as the strength of her spirit – even if said spirit was fragile right now. One day, she thought, you'll overcome that pain. Unless you fall prey to it and allow it to consume you.

"Dragon Two? Are you awake over there, Blakey?" came the voice of Yang over her commline. Sighing, the Combine expatriate opened her own system and replied.

"I've asked you not to call me that, Chu-I Xiao-Long," she replied, her Combine accent still noticeable.

"I'm just kitten with ya," came the reply, drawing a groan from her. Yang liked to liken her to a feline, and had even made some cosmetic additions to Blake's Spider to make it seem like it had feline ears and claws on its battle fists' fingers.

It was perhaps rather telling that, even after being with the Hunters for a year, Blake had yet to remove them.


Golden Plains, Ohio Continent

Harvest, Rasalhague Military District

Draconis Combine

13 May 3025

Because Ruby had insisted upon ignoring orders and heading out immediately, Amber had placed her in charge of the operation – which also included responsibility for it. The crimsonette hadn't been expecting that, either of those really, but knew that was the point. Ranger was definitely a mixed-bag of 'Mechs: the Command Lance consisted of Amber's 80-ton Thug, a 75-ton Orion, a 65-ton JagerMech, and the modified Dervish piloted by Pyrrha Nikos, a 21-year-old pilot hailing from the Crucis March of the Federated Suns (she was a recent addition to the Hunters, having been picked up shortly after graduating from Mistral's Sanctum Academy); Ruby's Rose Lance had her in her mom's Lancelot, Coco Adel in her 75-ton Marauder, Yatsuhashi in his 70-ton Warhammer, and Jaune in a 60-ton Rifleman (watching him in simulations had her wondering just how the guy had even been allowed look at a 'Mech, much less get into one's cockpit); and rounding things out was Dragon Lance, led by Yang in her modified Hunchback, with Blake's 30-ton Spider, Ren in a modified 40-ton Assassin, and Nora in her modified Swayback (Swaybacks being Hunchback variants that replace the AC/20 with another weapons system). She had deployed Blake and Ren as scouts, considering the high speeds of their 'Mechs, while holding back Yang and Nora as their 50-ton 'Mechs were much slower than the two of their lancemates.

Ruby also had a feeling that there was more to Amber's picking her to lead the mission than she'd let on, but hadn't had a chance to question the woman on it.

"Strike Lead, this is Recon One," Blake's voice came over the commline. "Kurita convoy sighted. Escort consists of a full armor company with a 'Mech lance in support."

"Okay, Recon One," Ruby replied. "Shoulda thought up better codenames," she added to herself, before keying her comm again. "You and Recon Two pull back to the rest of the company. We'll hit the escorts hard and fast."

"Hai, Strike Lead," was the response. Closing that channel, Ruby opened one up to the rest of the company.

"Alright, everyone, we've got incoming. We know the Kuritans tracked us coming in, and that because of our location they'll have to scramble a DropShip to get heavier assets out here. That'll give us time to ambush this convoy and grab the cargo."

"What's the plan, Ruby?" Amber asked.

"Well, uh, our long-range assets can hit the 'Mechs with LRMs and PPC fire to disorient them and soften them up, then our faster ones can dash in and knock them down."

"And the armor?"

"Turn Nora and Yang on them?"

"As…dangerous as that is, you can't just rely on two 50-tonners to take on a full company of armor."


"Here's some advice, Ruby. Have Blake and Ren hold back in low-power mode until the escort's rearguard gets past them. Deploy your slower assets as to hold the line and slip the faster ones around the flanks."

"That makes sense," she replied, feeling a depressed.

"Don't worry about it, Ruby. This is your first time commanding anything larger than your lance. You can't always rush in and hammer things hard-"

"Why not?" Nora interrupted.

"-and a good leader is willing to accept advice from her more experienced subordinates."

"Okay. So….I want Nora and Pyrrha on either side of the convoy, and I want Coco and Yatsu – and you, Amber – ready with your PPCs to hit those 'Mechs hard. The rest of us will handle the tanks and any air assets."

"Good calls, Ruby. Alright, everyone, deploy as ordered. Remember, cover each other and pull out if things get too hot; we don't need anyone dying here."

Ruby side-stepped out of the way of a burst of autocannon fire, her 'Mech's unique and narrow profile offering a harder target. Twisting her torso, she locked onto the Tokugawa tank that had fired and triggered her PPC, the burst of charged particles slamming into the upper deck of the heavy tank's hull and slagging the armor. She followed it up a shot from her left arm's Large Laser, punching through the rest of it armor and into the fuel cell for its I.C.E. Ruby was already shifting for another target as the 60-ton armored vehicle exploded, killing its crew of four. She watched as another Kurita tank, this one a Bulldog, shuddered to a stop as smoke wafted from the rents in its armor.

"That was the last one, Rubes," Yang said.

"Alright. Let's get this convoy back to the DropShips fast," Ruby ordered. A chorus of affirmatives sounded over her comm, and Ranger company – at weapons point – got the captured vehicles moving out.

Overhead, flying in an overwatch position, were the two Corsairs assigned to the Forever Fall. Its sleek design made it just as maneuverable in atmosphere as it was in space, and its compactly designed laser array supported by 16 heat sinks kept it a constant threat. On the nose of the lead 50-ton fighter was a heart that looked like it had been stitched back together, the parts of the heart brown while the 'stitches' were the same color as the fighter's hull. Almost unnoticed, though, was a uniquely designed rose right beside the pilot name painted underneath the cockpit seam.

"The skies look clear, Velvet," came the voice of the lead Corsair's wingman, Fox Alistair. The flight's leader activated her own comm.

"Only for now, Fox," she replied. "Don't forget the ground pounders are expecting enemy reinforcements, which means a DropShip or two."

"We're not ship-busters, El-Tee."

"We'll still try," she argued, her natural accent ever more noticeable the more emotional she got.

"Of course we will, Velvet." There was silence for a moment. "She still hasn't noticed you, has she?"

"I…she…we're on duty, Fox," Velvet stammered, flushing in embarrassment. Her wingmate and friend chuckled, pretty much able to sense her blushing.

"Fair enough, but that isn't always the case."

"I….I don't want to push her, Fox."

"Maybe that's just what she needs. Besides, painting her personal emblem underneath your canopy rail isn't as subtle as you think."

"Eyes on the sky, Sergeant," she said, her words rushed.

"Aye, aye, Lieutenant," came the mirthful replied. As they continued circling over the company below them, Velvet couldn't help her thoughts turning towards the crimsonette amongst them. While she hadn't been forthright about her attraction to the somewhat younger woman, she hadn't exactly been subtle, either. She would admit, privately and only to herself, that she was a little upset that Ruby hadn't noticed her yet – or at least hadn't made it known – but she couldn't really do anything about it. She had only been with the Hunters for three years now, and so had only heard about the Betrayal. How it had ripped apart the mercenary command….and how it had taken Ruby's parents from her; one by death, the other by vengeance. Velvet Scarlatina was a sensitive soul, and was good at reading people, so she could tell Ruby's pain was deep. She could also see that it remained as fresh as the day it had happened, causing her heart to go out to the tormented young woman.

"Ruby…." she sighed, banking her fighter again. She had it bad for the Lyran, she knew that, and would do whatever she could to help her out.

E/N: Wow. I honestly didn't expect this chapter to get this long, but that's a good thing. Now we are seven years after the events of the prologue, and have met all of the RWBY girls now. I hope I'm covering the 'Mechs and all so that anyone not familiar with BattleTech can pick it up. Until next time.