AN: So, apparently Today is Weiss's birthday. Now I kind of feel bad for what happens in this chapter.

Once again, thank you to Lord Maximus for the help with this chapter.

(TW: Domestic abuse)

Chapter 86

Cloud stood at alert as their mysterious assailant grinned at the prospect of a fight, when the man suddenly burst forward, jumping behind Jaune.

"Watch out!" Cloud yelled, slashing at the man before he could attack. Jaune backed up, and Ren fired his pistols, but the man covered his face and kicked Cloud away. Jaune stepped in to swipe, but the man jumped onto his shield, grinning madly at him. He stepped over him, using his wrist blade to bat away a swing of Nora's hammer before punching her in the face, causing a pink shimmer to appear where he attacked her. Nora fell backwards, only for the man to flip backwards and kick Jaune away.

"Freeze!" Ruby shouted, before a chunk of ice flew from her Keyblade and froze the man's legs to the ground. "Get him!" she shouted. Cloud nodded, drawing energy into the Buster Sword.

He slashed straight down, causing a glowing symbol of a straight line to appear on the man's body. He swung to the left, making an "x" appear next to the vertical line. He swung hard to the right, intending to finish his Cross Slash attack, but the man practically bent himself in half to duck under it, swinging his wrist blade at the ice holding his feet to smash it, freeing him. The man flipped backwards, and Cloud growled in frustration, lunging forward to try to stab the man with the Buster Sword, but he sidestepped the attack, punching Cloud in the side. The man furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.

"Interesting," he said. Ruby suddenly swung at him several times with her Keyblade, but he managed to either dodge or block all of them before he punched her in the face, and kicked her away.

With a yell, Cloud jumped into the air and flipped forward, bringing his sword straight down. The man managed to the block the attack, but it still created a small crater in the ground around him.

"How are you doing all this without Aura?" The man asked. Cloud refused to answer, instead pressing his sword down on the man harder. Instead of looking like he was exerting any kind of effort, the man just smiled.

And then Cloud felt intense pain in his abdomen. He looked down, and saw a scorpion tail sticking out of the man's back, its stinger embedded firmly in Cloud's stomach. With a cackle, the man pulled the stinger out, leaping backwards onto a roof and discarding his coat. Cloud stumbled backwards, falling to one knee and clutching his stomach.

"Heal!" Ruby shouted, and Cloud was surrounded by a green glow, closing the wound.

"This shit just keeps getting weirder," Cloud said, looking up at the man.

"He's… a Faunus," Ren said.

"What is this about?!" Ruby asked. "The White Fang? Roman Torchwick?"

"Plastic soldiers and pawns," the man said dismissively. "My heart and body belong only to out goddess!"

"Cinder…" Ruby said.

"That slave?" The man said. "Not even close."

"Okay, pal," Cloud said. "Who the hell are you?"

"Since you're about to die, I suppose I could humor you. My name is Tyrian. Tyrian Callows. Make sure you remember it!"

The man jumped down, heading straight for Ruby. Using his tail, he knocked her Keyblade out of her hands, and she ducked under a swipe of his blade, summoning her weapon back into her hand. She attacked him, but he jumped over the swing.

"Now that's just not fair," he said, landing on his hands and launching himself feet-first into Ruby's face. She stumbled backwards, and Tyrian launched a relentless assault on Ren before knocking him back, then deflecting an attack by Jaune and throwing him into Nora. He turned his attention to Ruby, attacking faster than she could react. He launched her backwards, and kicked her while she was still in mid-air, making a red shimmer appear. As she fell to the ground, he raised his stinger. Cloud ran forward, and put his sword up to block the stinger. Instead, he only slightly deflected it, and it left a deep gash in his shoulder before Tyrin kicked him away. He moved towards Ruby again, only for a noise to catch everyone's attention. The looked up and saw a man land in the center of town, with black hair and a red cape.

It was the man that had attacked Cloud right after he start travelling with these kids.

"U-Uncle Qrow?" Ruby asked in surprise and concern.

So this was her uncle? That explained why he had attacked him.

"As I live and breathe," Tyrian said dramatically. "Qrow Branwen. Whatever might have happened to you?"

"Heal!" Ruby shouted again, causing a green glow to appear around her uncle. He blearily opened his eyes, and looked up at Tyrian.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," he groaned. "I so don't have time for this."

"How fortuitous of me," Tyrian said. "I can bring the little rose to my Queen and take care of a pesky thorn in her side all at once."

"Look, I'm kind of in the middle of something, here, so how about you run along back to Salem, and I pretend this never happened?"

"Who?" Ruby asked.

"I'm afraid that's not possible!" Tyrian said, jumping to attack Qrow.

Suddenly, a fireball hit the scorpion man in the chest, knocking him back. Everyone looked and saw someone else approaching, a woman wearing blue armor and carrying…

A Keyblade?

"Just my luck," Qrow grumbled. "Now I have to worry about both of them."


"Unbelievable," Weiss's father said, pacing back in forth in front of Weiss, who was sitting on her bed, hands in her lap. "Absolutely unbelievable. Dou you have any idea what your stunt cost us?"

"I saved—" Weiss tried to defend herself, but he cut her off.

"And don't think I'm just talking about Lien here! Our reputation! Our… Our…" He couldn't finish his sentence, just leaving off on a sigh. Honestly, Weiss knew why he was upset. She had lost her temper and almost attacked that woman at the party. Sure, she had then saved everyone from the man in the black coat, but that didn't change what she had done. Plus, she heard the whispers. There were plenty of people that blamed her for their lives being in danger in the first place, since he was there for her. It didn't matter to any of them that she had saved them. But none if this would have happened if that woman had kept her mouth shut. If Atlas wasn't just so… Atlas!

She couldn't take it anymore, and she'd be damned if she was going to be reprimanded by a man who had never experienced what she did, who could never understand her point of view, and had no intention to.

"I want to leave," Weiss finally said, surprising her father.

"I beg your pardon?"

"I said I want to leave," she repeated. "I don't want to stay here anymore. I don't want to stay in Atlas anymore!"

"Young lady, I don't give a damn about what you want!" her father said.

"When have you ever?" she asked.

"How dare you?"! he yelled. "This isn't about you! This is about the Schnee family name and your apparent insistence on dragging it through the mud!"

"I'm dragging it through the mud?!" Weiss said angrily, standing up from her bed. "I have done nothing but fight to uphold the honor of my family name, a name that you married into!"

Her head suddenly jerked to the side, and pain resonating through her cheek. It took her a second to realize what had just happened.

He had slapped her.

She slowly turned her head, looking up at her father incredulously.

And what did she see on his face in response to striking his own daughter?

Total indifference.

"This behavior of yours is incredibly disappointing," he said, his voice devoid of the anger from before. "You couldn't possibly understand the lengths I've gone to in order to keep this family where it is. You think running off like your sister is going to make the Schnee name stronger? You're wrong. Siding with her only divides us."

"I'm not siding with anyone," Weiss said. And even if she was, he was delusional if he thought she would side with him over Winter. "I'm doing what I feel is right, and that does not include wasting my time up here with these clueless people in Atlas. The Schnee Family legacy isn't yours to leave. It's mine, and I'll do it as a Huntress."

"No…" he said, gazing at her intently. "You won't. You're not leaving Atlas. You're not to leave the manor grounds unless I specifically allow it. You're going to remain here, out of sight and out of trouble, until you and I come to an agreement on your future."

"What?!" Weiss demanded.

"Your presupposition that you can simply have whatever it is you want is a clear sign of our failure as parents. But from now on, I'll be giving you the full attention you require, starting by keeping you where I can see you." He turned around and headed towards the door, clearly intending for the conversation to be over.

"So now I'm just your prisoner?!" Weiss yelled. Jacques stopped and looked back at her.

"You are my daughter," he said. "You're a child, and children are grounded when they misbehave."

"This is only to make things worse, Father," she said. "People will ask questions! They'll want to know why the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company is suddenly nowhere to be found!"

"Which is why you are no longer the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company."

"Excuse me?" Weiss asked, taking a step back in shock. This was it? Really? Just like that, she was disinherited?

"Clearly, the trauma you endured at the fall of Beacon was too much for you. Which is why you've generously revoked your claim to the company and its earnings and passed in on to your brother Whitley. It's time to wake up and face reality."

He finally opened the door, and stepped out of it, walking past Whitley, who had been standing outside and clearly eavesdropping.

Seeing that little weasel made something snap in Weiss.

"Whitley!" she called out angrily.

"Yes, sister?" he asked, putting on an innocent smile.

"Did you know about this?"

"About what?"

"You never liked Winter," Weiss stated. "You never liked me. But you've been nothing but supportive since the moment I came back."

"If being kind to my big sister is some sort of crime, then I suppose I'm guilty."

Weiss recognized the tone. It was the tone Jacques used when he knew he had gotten what he wanted.

"You wanted this to happen," she said.

"It's foolish not to do as Father asks," he said, dropping any pretense and looking downright threatening, exactly like the looks Jacques gave her all the time.

"I can't believe you," she said, finally realizing that her brother had betrayed her in favor of the father that literally everyone in the family despised.

"Don't worry, Weiss," Whitley said, turning around to walk away. "The Schnee family name is in good hands."

Weiss walked back into her room, slamming the door shut behind her. She was taken aback, though, when she saw something on the bed that she absolutely didn't put there.

Myrtenaster.

Along with a note.

Figured you'd need this.


Jacques stormed his way through the manor until he finally found the gardens. Now that he had dealt with Weiss, there was one more issue he needed to get to the bottom of.

His wife's apparent fourth child.

It was in the gardens where he found her, wearing a white blouse under a dark blue vest, and a dark skirt, nursing a bottle of vodka.

She had white hair, kept draped over one shoulder, and blue eyes, traits their two youngest children had inherited. She had been beautiful once, before the ravages of age and alcohol had taken their toll.

Honestly, it wouldn't have matter to him if she was fat and missing an eye. With the amount of money her father had, he would have happily married her anyway. Her beauty was just a bonus.

And now, it didn't matter to him that her beauty had faded. She had already given him three children, and was too old to bear any more, so she was as good as useless to him now. If it weren't for the fact that she was the actual Schnee in the relationship, he would have divorced her after Whitley was born.

"What do you want?" Willow asked, not even looking up at him.

"When exactly were you going to tell me about her?" he demanded.

"Who?" she asked.

"You know damn well who I'm talking about!" he yelled. "That woman at the party! Your other daughter!"

"What other daughter?" Willow asked, reaching for the bottle.

"I saw her summon!" Jacques continued. "It was just like yours! And that blue hair. Tell me, you had a child with Marigold, didn't you?!"

"I only have three children," she said. "And unfortunately, you're the only father of any of them." Jacques snatched the bottle out of her hand and threw it against the wall.

"Stop lying to me!" he bellowed, watching as his wife recoiled away from him in fear. He stared at her for a few seconds, fuming, before he took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. "Fine," he finally said. "If you're going to insist on lying to me, I'm just going to have to handle this myself."

He turned on his heel, walking out of the garden. He could faintly hear sobs behind him as he left.

He had more important things to worry about than his drunken wife's hysterics.

He had a few calls to make.


"Do you know why I called you here?" James asked.

Aqua stood in the center of a large room, primarily colored black with white lines, giving a grid pattern along the floor, walls, and ceiling. She was wearing a white cropped tank top with the Atlas Academy logo emblazoned on the chest, apparently the standard issue for Academy students, along with black sweatpants and white sneakers.

She really hoped there wasn't some ulterior motive behind him giving her one of the Academy's uniforms to wear.

"At first I thought it was about what happened at the party," Aqua said. "From mine and Weiss's attitude towards those idiots to the man in the dark coat. Now…I think it's a little more than that." To prove her point, she gestured to the outfit she was wearing, as the general had asked her to put it on before meeting him here.

"Well, you're not wrong. Don't worry about how you and Miss Schnee acted. As far as I'm concerned you two were the only ones making sense in the whole room, and I applaud you for standing up for Weiss like that," James said, discarding his white coat. "As for the man in the coat…"

"You couldn't find him," Aqua guessed.

"No. He completely vanished. I hope you might know what he wanted with Weiss," Ironwood stated.

"I have an idea…" Aqua admitted. "He left Weiss something, some sort of charm. I remember Ruby mentioning she found a charm of her own in her pocket the night Beacon fell. And back when he pulled us all into that dream it was aimed at testing both me and Ruby. If he was testing Weiss this time, I have a feeling he'll be testing the other members of the team."

"You mean Miss Xiao Long and Miss Belladonna?" James guessed.

"Yes. I'm worried about Yang, but I know Tai and Barret are with her. I'm also worried about Blake sine she disappeared from Vale after that night and I have no way to warn them," Aqua admitted. "This man, he's testing us and I'm not sure why. I don't know what his angle is but if he's testing us then it must be part of some larger plan."

"I see," James hummed. "If so perhaps we should focus on the third reason we're here."

"Which is?"

"To get you back into fighting condition," James said, grasping his pistols. "Oz would no doubt give you a few days rest and let you train on you own, probably even recommend a light sparring with some teachers or students in class. I prefer… a more direct approach."

"I can see that," Aqua said, summoning her Keyblade. "Well, I'll give you this, James. You don't like to beat around the bush. I actually like that." Ironwood smiled and nodded.

"Thank you… Let's begin."

He started by aiming his pistol behind him and firing, the force propelling him at Aqua, who hastily stepped back and ducked under a fist aimed at her head. Aqua followed up with a series of slashes, but James either dodged or blocked with his with his arms before following up with a series of punches that Aqua would block or parry with her Keyblade. Aqua found her reflexes had been slowed slightly, taking a hit more than once that her Aura held off, but Ironwood's strength was enough to make her stagger. Realizing she should not rely purely on defense, Aqua fell back, her feet moving her from one side to the other as she spun and twirled, catching Ironwood's blows with her Keyblade

"Remember Aqua." She could recall her master advising her how to approach a battle. "In battle, a Keyblade wielder does not see it as a fight, but as two hearts expressing themselves. The best attack begins with attention, every strike, every step, every attack is either an obstacle or opportunity. Keep your focus and adjust yourself based on the movements of the moment, rather than overall strategy."

Aqua remembered and heeded that advice. She dodged and parried, and then attack, slashing at James who either dodged or blocked with his mechanical arm. James started to mix it up, trying to bring pistols to bear that forced Aqua to be more defensive, but she kept her focus. Rather than rely on her magic, Aqua focused on using her skills, flowing back and forth, attacking and then retreating when the situation called for it.

She even performed a back flip, her feet catching a pistol and knocking it out of James's hand. She then slashed at him and he ducked, rolling to the side to retrieve his pistol. Jumping to his feet, he aimed and fired at Aqua who ducked and jumped forward, sliding her foot under Ironwood's to knock him off-balance. James jumped over her, and when he landed on his feet, he spun to attack, but Aqua was too quick and rolled out of the way as James fired another shot.


"I can't really say I'm happy to be back here," May complained as she and Robyn walked through the halls of Atlas Academy looking for Ironwood's mysterious date. Thanks to the…Chocobros… They had managed to learn a couple things about her.

Her name was Aqua Branwen, and after leaving the party, Ironwood had brought her to the Academy. And that was pretty much it.

As much as May hated the Marigold family, she couldn't help but be a little intrigued by this mysterious woman who supposedly was related to her.

"Well, we're here for a reason, not for pleasure," Robyn said. "Otherwise, I totally agree with you. Now, we just need to find this 'Aqua'."

"Well, this is a pretty big place, so I don't even know where we'd start looking," May said, before a few soldiers ran past them.

"Hey, the blue-haired woman is fighting the general!" one of them shouted, and any other people around them dropped what doing and rushed to follow them.

May and Robyn looked at each other, shrugged, and followed the crowd.


James had both pistols out now as he and Aqua continued fighting, trying to hit her but she was agile and her thin frame made it even harder. She used her Keyblade to alter the course of his attacks just as he was about to pull the trigger and easily dodged or blocked any punches or kicks aimed at her. Fortunately James had his training and strength that allowed him to dodge and block her strikes, but he noticed she wasn't using her magic, or even her Semblance.

Obviously she was more focused on regaining her physical strength before taking it up a notch, which was fine with him.

She was already showing herself to be extremely skilled, but he expected that from a woman married to a Huntsman as skilled as Qrow. And she was just getting better as the fight dragged on. Just as he aimed a shot, Aqua surprised him by jumping up, planting her feet on the ceiling and falling back down, swinging her Keyblade down. Ironwood rolled forward and Aqua adjusted herself, rather than swinging her Keyblade down, she swung to the side and spun, catching the shot from Ironwood and continued spinning, knocking both pistols out his hands now. Aqua then slashed at his head, but James caught her Keyblade with both hands, fell onto his back as he placed a foot on her torso and kicked her off, sending her sailing over him.

Aqua grunted as she hit the ground, not expecting Ironwood to pull such a clever move at the last second. Spinning around, she was caught by surprise as James charged right at her, barely having the time to bring her Keyblade in front of her. Ironwood slammed into her, knocking her to the ground, trying to pin her down.

Fortunately Aqua was prepared for this after having trained with Qrow.

The best solution: use your head.

Literally.

Aqua dispelled her Keyblade as James tried to grab it and grabbed the collar of his shirt, pulling him down so she could head-butt him off her. Aqua then kicked him back and rolled back up, jumping onto her feet and summoned back her Keyblade as she tried slashing at the general. Ironwood hastily dodged the slashes, ducking and rolling back. As Aqua brought her Keyblade down he kicked away and then kicked her in the stomach. Aqua stumbled back and James seized the chance to try and take her down.

But Aqua's training kicked in, her style being one of constant movement as she twirled out of the way of Ironwood's fist and continued spinning until she was behind him and lashed out with a kick of her own. The general stumbled back as Aqua summoned her Keyblade.

Both opponents stared each other down…

And then charged at each other again.


"Just how long have been going at it?" Robyn asked a technician next to her, a large crowd having gathered to watch the most intense sparring she had ever seen in her life. This woman may have looked like a Marigold, but she sure as Mantle didn't act or fight like one.

"Almost two hours," the technician answered, stunning the audience.


Ironwood charged at Aqua who dodged, leaping forward on her palms and using her momentum to leap herself up and over the general, aiming a kick down that was blocked. He swung his left fist at Aqua, who raised her Keyblade to block, but the strength of the punch still caused her to stagger back.

That's a wicked left hook. Aqua grunted, her arms feeling a little numb now. He could go toe-to-toe with Qrow and I'm not sure who would win.

James charged at her again, but like before she sidestepped him, cocking her elbow and sending it right into his back. The general was sent sprawling to the ground as a result of that hit. James then did a combat roll to Aqua's right and performed a twist kick at Aqua who ducked and swung her Keyblade, to which Ironwood responded by ducking himself and performed an over-hand right. Aqua leaned back, watching as the attack sailed over her face.

Aqua planted her Keyblade on the ground and somersaulted up, using her Keyblade as a leaning pole as she sprung up and tried to kick James in the face. The general quickly stepped back, dodging the foot by mere inches and watched as Aqua landed perfectly on the ground several feet from him.

I can se why Oz and Qrow hold her in such high regard. Even without the power of her Keyblade, her skills are superb, James thought to himself. It's been a while since I've faced such a skilled adversary.

James of course knew Aqua was holding back. She wasn't keen on using her Semblance and magic when she was more focused on making up for the time lost in the wheelchair. James understood that was more than willing to help in that matter.

But he hoped he could see more.

He wanted to push Aqua to show him her full potential.

Both were panting slightly now, the sparring lasting longer than either of them intended.

Neither really wanted to be the one to throw in the towel, which was why the fight was lasting so long. Ironwood because he wanted to see more of Aqua's skill and his Semblance kept him hyper-focused on the match. Aqua because she wanted to improve herself to be beyind ready for the next battle.

Unfortunately, someone did interrupt the match.

"General, that's enough," the medical officer said over the speakers. "It's impressive she's held out for over two hours but as Mrs. Branwen's doctor I insist she stops now and comes in for a checkup so we can make sure her new vertebra has held out."

Both blinked in realization. We were fighting for two hours?

Time really did fly.

"Yes, of course," James said, wiping some sweat off his forehead and cleared his throat. "My apologies, doctor. We seem to have gotten… carried away."

Aqua suddenly realized how sore she felt and leaned on her Keyblade for support, chuckling a bit.

"Yeah…That's one way to describe it." Ironwood walked over and offered to let Aqua lean on him for support, which she accepted.

"I can see now why Miss Schnee and Oz think so highly of you. Qrow chose a very strong and interesting woman as his wife."

"Yeah, and I can see why you're in charge of Atlas's military," Aqua said, leaning on the general as they headed for the door. "I can't tell who would win if you and my husband fought."

"Fortunately that's not going to happen any time soon," Ironwood said as they left the sparring room.


"It can't be…" Ruby's eyes widened as she watched the armored woman settle into a familiar fighting stance. "Mom?"

Legs brought together with one hand pointed in front with an open palm and the other holding the Keyblade to the side. Ruby could literally see her mother standing right in this woman's place.

"Hahahahaha!"

Tyrian shot forward, stabbing at the woman, but she easily blocked his strike with a barrier that knocked him back. Orbs of light appeared on the tip of the woman's Keyblade as she pointed and fired in all directions.

"Look out!" Jaune held his shield out in front of him but a single yellow magical blast sent him crashing into a house.

Tyrian ran, dodging the salvo of magical blasts as he could. Ren grabbed Nora and rolled out of the way, the magical blasts devastating where they had been before. Uncle Qrow quickly dove for cover, while Cloud and Ruby blocked with their own weapons.

That attack… It's Mom's Prism Rain! Ruby thought, recalling her mother using this attack several times against the Grimm and the Heartless.

It was a Shotlock that could wipe out a large number of enemies in a matter of seconds.

Tyrian let out a laugh as he jumped through the smoke, firing his wrist guns at the woman that remained still, taking all bullets without the armor so much as suffering a dent. Charging in close, Tyrian lashed out with his wrist blades against the woman who easily blocked his strikes with amazing speed and reflexes. She lashed out at Tyrian, her movements precise and fluid as she attacked and nearly hit the laughing lunatic more than once, who was amazingly agile. He jumped back, firing again but this time the woman conjured a barrier that didn't just the bullets, it sent them flying right back and Tyrian was hit several times.

His Aura protected him and he once again tried for close-range combat.

It's just like that time in the Graveyard… Against Uncle Terra, Ruby recalled with dread. Uncle Terra was reduced to that suit of armor because his body was taken over… But that didn't happen to Mom.

The armored woman conjured a barrier around herself, blocking Tyrian and then it exploded into a shockwave that sent the scorpion Faunus flying back. She then held her Keyblade above her head, conjuring a large fireball that began raining smaller fireballs everywhere.

A Firaga Burst! Ruby thought as she changed her Keyblade into its scythe form and spun it as fast as she could, blocking the incoming fireballs. She activated her Semblance and grabbed Cloud, bringing him behind some cover with the others. "Uncle Qrow!" Her uncle landed next to her, leaning against the wall.

"I'm here, kid."

"Uncle Qrow, that armor, it's fighting like—"

"Aqua," Uncle Qrow finished as he peeked once the barrage was over. "Yeah, it's just like her. Her movements, her skills and even her spells."

"I don't get it," Ruby muttered, looking at Cloud who was injured from battling Tyrian. "It's like what happened to Uncle Terra, but Mom is still alive… I hope."

Ren jumped out, firing Stormflower while covering Nora who leapt and charged at the armor as soon as the fire barrage ended. She swung her hammer, but the armor easily blocked it with its Keyblade. The armor shoved her back and pointed its Keyblade at her, firing a lightning bolt at point-blank range. However it had no idea what Nora's Semblance was.

The electrical blast covered Nora's body as it was absorbed and Nora grinned.

She then shot forward with astounding speed, appearing behind the armor and swung her hammer. An explosion of dust shook the entire town and for a second all was silent.

And then the dust cleared to show Nora blasted away by what Ruby recognized as a Magic Pulse from the armor that sent her and Ren into another house.

"Ren! Nora!" Jaune shouted before rushing out at the armor with a battle cry.

"No wait!" Ruby shouted, but was too late.

Jaune got in one slash that was easily block before the armor batted him away like an annoying bug.

Ruby couldn't believe how easily they were losing, but she knew firsthand how powerful her mother was, and the way this armor fought reminded her of just how strong Mom really was…

Before she was crippled.

Had it been so long since she had seen her mother fight at full power with nothing holding her back, or was it because she never felt threatened by her mom even in spars?

"So what's the plan?" Jaune asked as he knelt down near them, having emerged from the ruined house. "Can we take whoever that is?"

"I don't think so," Ruby answered, memories of fighting Uncle Terra's armor coming back to her mind. "I don't think it's even or human or Faunus."

There was no way they could win if this was like Uncle Terra.

They needed to get out of here.

A sudden light appeared from above and everyone looked up to see large orbs of light appearing around the armor as it hovered in the air.

"Oh, crap!" Uncle Qrow muttered, recognizing the move.

Mom's Teleport Strike!

"Move!"

The orbs of light shot down, honing in on each target and blasting them across the deserted town. Tyrian leaped off the top of a building, aiming to stab the armor with his stinger…

Only for the armor to spin and use its Keyblade to cut off his tail.

The scorpion Faunus let out a pained scream as he fell and was hit by an energy orb like the others. The armor floated down to see most of its targets had been hit but were still alive. Its "gaze" settled on Ruby as she managed to get back up and slowly approached.

"W-What do you want?" Ruby asked, trying to sound brave but the memories of her near death by Uncle Terra was coming back to her, even if it was only a dream and a test. The armor stopped and pointed its Keyblade at her.

"Where… Is… She?" Ruby's eyes widened when she recognized the voice.

"…Mom?"

"Where is she?" the armor repeated, using Mom's voice.

It was looking for Mom? Ruby had no clue what was going on or if this was somehow connected to what she felt from Mom earlier. The armor looked at her and saw her Keyblade.

"Not her. Not her." The armor stepped back, darkness emanating from it now. "She is close… We will be one again."

The armor turned around and began walking away.

"Wait, what do you want with my mom?" Ruby called out. The armor stopped.

"Your…Mom?"

"She's my mother. If you hurt her…" Ruby clutched her Keyblade. "I won't let anyone hurt her ever again."

"We…want her…back," the armor said, continuing its walk. "We will be one again. We are her. Her hopes, her dreams, her Will."

Ruby could only watch as the armor walked away after having so thoroughly decimated her and the others like Uncle Terra had nearly done to her and Blake in the Keyblade Graveyard.

Nearby, Tyrian grunted as he staggered to his feet.

"She'll forgive me…"

He quickly took off before the others could recover, leaving them to lick their wounds. Ruby turned to her friends, helping to pick up Uncle Qrow and Cloud who were easily the most injured.

"What was that?" Jaune asked finally after a moment of silence. Uncle Qrow sighed, still clutching his abdomen.

"What's your favorite fairy tale?"

AN: So, in regards to Jacques slapping Weiss, the fact that Weiss didn't hit him back I always felt was because she was too shocked that he had done that. And honestly, since she was so surprised, it gives me the impression that as awful as Jacques was, getting physical was something he didn't do often, if at all. Like, the absolute shock on her face tells me that she totally wasn't expecting him to do that.

And I'd just like to say, that as a psychologist, I've always found the dynamics of the Schnee family to be really interesting, if depressing as all hell. And more importantly, I always thought it felt real.

Also, to address some concerns from last chapter after the Chocobros were introduced, there's only going to be one more Final Fantasy character being added to this story, and I'm pretty sure you already know who it's going to be. I might, way later in the story, dabble with adding characters from other Square properties, but to be honest the only ones I'm familiar enough with are the characters from Octopath Traveler.

On an unrelated note, has anyone gotten a chance to play NieR: Replicant? I play the PS3 version a few years ago, and really liked it, so it's cool to see that story from a different perspective before I finally get to play NieR: Automata.

As always, thank you very much for reading and I'll see you all next time!