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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." – Orson Welles
Chapter 49: Epilogue 1 (The End)
It's been five years since Salem's defeat and… things had surprisingly gone well for Remnant.
The decline of the Grimm's horde led to moderate expansion for all Kingdoms, with the new lands providing a good chance for all nations to deal with the problem of overpopulation and the rapid increase of denizens for each of the countries led to an exponential economic growth. More money flowing, more investments and improvements. Atlas faced a great upgrade, shifting a large part of the funds on Mantles and other cities in an effort to bring the rest of the kingdom to the same level of their capital. Vale managed to restore the colony in Mt. Glenn, having first to deal with the mad scientist Doctor Merlot as he had taken residence within the abandoned settlement with his mutated creatures but this ultimately led to a greater launch into expansion compared to places such as Vacuo and Mistral. With the former having the slowest process due to its internal struggles and the latter facing a few financial issues regarding the effort due to how ineffective the budget had been when it came to these new costs.
Of course, nothing was perfect. While criminals did indeed take part in some of the military effort back against the Queen of the Grimm, the normal status quo resumed shortly after. Not many saw a reason to 'start anew' and names like Roman Torchwick and Miss Malachite were common to the ears of many through the news. People that made a fortune in criminal deeds and saw no reason to leave it. Nothing really worrying since most of their deeds was prevented by the ever-active police force within the kingdom. The 'Battle against the Grimm' had a positive influence on the new generation as many either became part of the Huntsmen Corps, or actually shifted their interest to their nation's police forces if they lacked the Aura affinity to follow the first path.
Ozpin had seemingly retired, favoring Glynda Goodwitch as his successor as he sought a proper exile after what happened. No Salem meant he had no reason to genuinely keep behind. I didn't hear much of him and I would have expected at least one last visit. Questions, the need for answers- nothing. Ozpin decided to no longer care about his future as he was now 'done for'. The old wizard could finally go in retirement, and no one saw a reason to keep him around. Everything culminated on the many commissions formed after that final battle, some of which I either was included as a member or presided as the leading representative.
Some of these managed to promote a form of unity to encourage greater cooperation between the nations, while some failed in their intent, such as trying to promote a combined effort to stabilize Vacuo. The reason this particular attempt failed could be attributed to the strongly-influenced commission due to Atlas' own interests in the region. Resources untapped that could be exploited with acts of 'goodwill'. Vacuo's government was still recognized as a valid point of reference in this instance, and they decided against asking for any support from any kingdom. Just two years after that proclamation, the nation had stabilized into a decentralized monarchic federation with an elective succession.
It was a nice day to spend sitting outside. I had already dealt with the last batch of paperwork for the day, and in a week from that moment I would see the closure of my career in the White Fang. After spending so many years into that job, it was time for me to pass the torch to someone else. A minority within the organization thought that it was quite nepotistic that I decided that Cinder would be a good successor, but everyone could agree that the girl had done more than enough to warrant that promotion. I was going to enjoy semi-retirement, as my attention would shift to my little pet project that I had been quite careful to not expand on during my pseudo-political role: the creation of a company that would serve as a Menagerie's own SDC. An organization that would remain within the borders of the newly-accepted Republic, and serve as a means to further expand businesses, infrastructure and services. I held back from jumping on that boat due to my commitments with the White Fang becoming reason for condemnation. One could easily accuse this dual approach to be dishonest in some aspects and… truth be told, I saw that myself. So, I decided to wait for retirement and then shift all my might into getting the company started and get to work.
"Daaaaaaaaaad! Wren is hitting me with a stick again!"
I chuckled, noticing poor Damian now running around the garden, being chased by the little terror girl that was giggling and waving a lengthy tree's branch at him. The younger child was Raven's own desire coming to reality. She eventually got through the reluctance and 'attacked'. The final result was nine intense months which culminated in Wren Bukharin's birth and the many ramifications that warranted. I was still a bit nervous about the overall situation, specifically what it meant to Yang but… the blonde was ecstatic when she could 'have two sisters instead of one, and an extra one due to relation'. Poor Nora faced a bit more teasing than before due to this matter, but she seemed fine as she had Weiss instantly keeping by her side.
With the passing of these few years, the two girls matured from their nervous attempts to show off their affection from one another. Their actions were 'calmer' and less prominent as they favored the chance to spend more time alone rather than being too showing off their relationship. They were engaged, but not rushing through it. There was a bet running between the 'adults' about when the two were going to marry. As Nora's father and Weiss' replacement paternal figure, I was keen to go for them to do it by 25, while others, Sienna too, thought they would go for it when they were either 20 or 21.
"Wren, hun, no bashing your big brother."
The red-eyed little menace seemed to hear me, but instead of stopping, the girl shifted her attention to me and rushed to get to where I was sitting. What she didn't expect as she got right in range to strike was that I swiftly grabbed her by her sides and lifted her off the ground.
"Wah!" She exclaimed in a mixture of awe and giddiness. "Papa!"
"Wren, no hitting big bro."
Her awe vanished, and a cute pout appeared. "Hm!"
"Oh my, a pouty cutiepie! What will this papa do?"
Her expression cracked to show some amusement, and she definitely got the message clear as I gave her a 'response'.
"I know! Some tickling shall do!"
"B-Bwah! Papa, y-you meanie!" Wren eagerly rebuked, her giggles filling up the whole scene as a sheepish-looking Damian approached.
"Dad, she can be so mean..."
"She can," I muttered in agreement, "But your sis is just a tough nut that is 'training' on you."
"For when someone will try to hurt you. Isn't this little sister a good one too?"
Wren nodded. "I train. To kick butt."
"No buttery in this house, sweetie," I remarked and she giggled again at the silly wording. "Now, how about… we go and bake some cookies'"
Damian hummed. "Didn't mom say that it would be best to not cook anything since today's going to have a big lunch?"
"Oh, oh right!" I admitted to the embarrassing laps of memory, remembering just that moment that Older 'Rubes' and Mary were going to come back from their trip in Vacuo that day. These two had started working together ever since James allowed the two to 'operate in deep operations'. I could tell the jerk was trying to play matchmaker and… surprisingly enough, I could tell that it worked well. They weren't taking any big steps just yet despite how long they had been operating on the field together, but I knew it was going to happen. And the teasing… was going to be legendary. "Well, how about we prepare something delicious for Lunch? I bet your moms will not mind that."
Damian's cat-like ears twitched in intrigue. "Okay!"
"Yay!" Wren exclaimed happily as we all retreated back into the house.
Not the finest ending, but definitely the happiest. I hope… Ozma and Sallie are happy right now.