Chapter 21: The Flame Dragon
Disclaimer: I do not in any way or form own Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There or RWBY. They belong to their respective owners, Takumi Yanai and RoosterTeeth Animations respectively.
A/N: 2PoofyOhio: I am aware of the poor character development. Looking back, the main issue was the large number of characters - too many issues to squeeze into a certain number of chapters, while still progressing the plot. Honestly, putting team RWBY in may have been a mistake. They're still doing stupid things and living to tell the tale because that's what they always do. Plot armor is a powerful thing. As for the Blake thing, I agree. Too easy. I don't know why I didn't draw it out longer. Unfortunately, it's too late to change all that, and I don't plan on rewriting the entire thing. I'll try to patch up whatever character stuff I can, before focusing on just a few, more important ones. Thank you for the feedback.
Warning alarms blared, meshing with the roar of both a massive beast and consuming flame in a cacophony of noise. The interior of the damaged Bullhead flashed in various shades of red, the alarms competing with the shifting light of the raging fire outside.
The dying aircraft began to fall, systems irreparably and fatally damaged. Within the dying Bullhead, its passengers prepared to act. It was not their first time falling out of the sky, and it would not be their last.
Oobleck was the first to exit the vehicle, deftly dashing onto its roof with his unnatural speed.
A massive reptilian beast flew above them, its wings blotting out the sun. No such creature existed on Remnant, yet it was recognizable at a glance. Everyone had read Winter's report. Everyone had heard of the legendary Flame Dragon. With teeth and claws larger than adult men, along with its powerful fire breath, it was an unstoppable force to the inhabitants of Falmart. Even Winter's team, with all their technology and abilities, had barely managed to hold it off when they had previously encountered it.
The Flame Dragon opened its jaws, fire flickering within its throat. Accompanied by the sound of rumbling thunder, a roiling wall of fire emerged, spreading rapidly into a great wall of flame, ready to consume all in its path.
Unafraid, Doctor Oobleck raised his thermos, Antiquity's Roast. With his mastery over fire, he swept the incoming flames aside, the massive wall of fire parting like magic to leave the Bullhead unharmed. He had saved them from roasting, but the vehicle was still falling, damaged beyond repair.
In the pilot's seat, Tai was doing his best to keep the vehicle steady, but it was essentially impossible. His training on piloting Bullheads had never been through, and even the most experienced pilot would have difficulty controlling a Bullhead that had less than half its systems functioning. He could attempt to bring it down in a relatively controlled manner... but at that point, it was probably better to just jump. The girls would be fine - if he remembered correctly, Ozpin threw them off a cliff on their first day.
"Go! Jump! I can't control the Bullhead," Tai yelled.
With its fire breath negated, the Flame Dragon dived after the Bullhead, claws and teeth ready to rip it apart. Rory noticed its arrival and joined Oobleck on the rook, raising her halberd. In a swift throw, she sent it flying unerringly at the dragon. The heavy weapon slammed into its face, knocking its head aside.
Flailing, the dragon passed by close to the Bullhead, allowing Rory to notice that it was not alone. Someone was riding it, seated on its neck, and the Apostle had a very good idea of her identity and purpose.
Then a wing of the dragon struck the vehicle. The metal was forced past its breaking point, and the Bullhead all but disintegrated when the dragon's wing struck it, sending its passengers flying off, scattered into the air. It was not the first time team RWBY found themselves falling out of the sky. Having already been prepared by Tai's warning, the team burst into action.
Ruby unfolded Crescent Rose and aimed it at the dragon, firing off a few rounds to attack it while bringing her to a safer distance from its claws and fire. The shots did little against the dragon's armored scales, so Ruby decided against further attack. Instead, she fired downward, using the recoil to slow her descent.
Weiss quickly created a white glyph beneath her, allowing her to stand on it to assess the situation. The Bullhead was in pieces, completely beyond her ability to save. Her teammates were attempting to counterattack the dragon, but their efforts were useless against its scales. Knowing that she was unlikely to do any damage, Weiss instead used her Semblance to create more glyphs, as platforms for the others to use to descend safely.
Blake immediately flung Gambol Shroud's pistol out, hooking it onto the dragon's passing wing. The rope snapped taut, allowing Blake to swing under it. As she passed underneath the dragon, she sent a spray of bullets into it, only for its scales to deflect them. Undeterred, Blake swung onto its tail, slashing down with Gambol Shroud, to no effect. The heavy cleaver of the weapon did as little damage to the armored tail as it did to a giant Nevermore. Unable to hurt the dragon, she jumped off, aiming for one of Weiss' glyphs.
Yang blasted off with the recoil from her shotgun gauntlets, not away from the dragon but straight towards it. Aiming for its face, she threw a punch at the dragon, firing Ember Celica in a burst of fire as she did. That seemed to affect it, the dragon roaring as it shifted away. It was, however, still unhurt. Yang would rush back in, but a shout from below drew her attention, and she began to fall to where the others were gathering, using occasional shots to manage her path.
Doctor Oobleck was a green blur as he darted amid the debris of the Bullhead, seeming to walk on the very air as found a safe path down. Tai and Lelei simply used Weiss' glyphs to descend. Rory slammed down into the ground, unaffected by the heavy impact. Her halberd already back in her hand, she retreated to the others.
The group of them gathered together, weapons ready and pointed at the massive flame Dragon.
The Flame Dragon landed heavily, shaking the ground. It stood facing the gathered team, yet did not attack. Almost submissively, it lowered its head, allowing a human-like figure to dismount. Compared to the bulk of the dragon, the rider was insignificant in size, causing her to have gone unnoticed.
It was a girl of about 20 years, wearing white clothing. It was similar to Rory's priestess attire, but covered less of her body, revealing extensive tattoos on the blue-tinged skin. Large leathery wings, similar to the dragons', lay on her back. On her shoulder lay a massive scythe easily the size of Rory's halberd.
With all the arrogance of an immortal, she walked over to meet Tai and the others, grinning to reveal sharpened teeth. Her gaze locked onto Rory.
"Identify yourself!" Tai called out.
"My name is Giselle," the blue-skinned girl said, smirking. "I am the apostle of Hardy, goddess of the underworld. I'm here for Rory Mercury. Hand her over, and none of you need to die."
"She is to be married to my goddess, Hardy. It's rude to keep her waiting," Giselle replied.
Rory glared at her, "I don't want to marry her! Get it into your head!"
"You have no choice. You stand no chance against my dragon. Come quietly, or I will force you to," Giselle threatened. Rory merely raised her halberd, growling.
"Wait, wait," Tai called out, "You're bringing her to Hardy, in Bellnahgo? We're actually -"
"Silence, mortal. This does not concern you."
"But there no need for-"
"I said silence, fool! Do not meddle in the affairs of Apostles!" Giselle demanded, raising her scythe threateningly.
"Get it into your head! I don't want to be Hardy's wife!" Rory called out. She raised her rocket launcher, fumbling a little with the unfamiliar weapon. "I want to stay here and enjoy what little time I have left."
"Well, you have no choice. I'll drag you - wait, little time? You-"
Giselle was interrupted by a streak of light, headed straight for her. Taken by surprise, she did not manage to dodge the missile, which struck her directly and exploded in a burst of fire and smoke. It could not hurt her, but as the smoke cleared, Rory was there, swinging her halberd.
Knocked back by the blow, Giselle growled as she readied her own scythe. "What chance do you stand against my dragon?! I'll take you down myself and drag you to Hardy! Kill them!" she commanded.
At her order, the Flame Dragon burst into motion again, drawing back its head to unleash a wall of fire at team RWBY, Doctor Oobleck, Tai, and Lelei.
Oobleck stepped forward, raising Antiquity's Roast to deflect the fire. His mastery of the flame allowed him to easily redirect the fire, keeping his allies safe.
"What do we do? Our weapons don't hurt that thing!" Yang complained.
The Flame Dragon roared, turning and slamming its tail down onto the team. They scattered, dashing aside, easily dodging the blow that shook the ground.
"We can use its size against it," Tai analyzed, "It is too large and cumbersome to attack us. Dodge its attacks and find a weakness. Then we -"
The tail swept along the ground, smashing into him. Yang, also in the way of the tail swipe, tried to stand her ground, only to be thrown back like her father. They were both sent flying and landed heavily, but were uninjured.
The dragon did not let up, stomping down on the next closest target - Ruby. She darted away in a burst of petals, sprinting as the dragon loosed a stream of flame at her. Moving in a circle around the dragon, Ruby drew its attention, and fire, allowing the others a chance to attack.
With the dragon's flank now exposed, Oobleck, Weiss, and Blake went on the offensive. Raising their weapons, they opened fire. The fireballs from Antiquity's Roast, ice crystals from Myrtenaster, and bullets from Gambol Shroud all struck the dragon's side but were just as easily deflected by its scales. Even Lelei's magic fared little better, the lightning and fire serving only to irritate the dragon.
They did, however, get its attention, and the flame dragon turned back around to attack them with its fire breath.
"The dragon's scales are too thick for our weapons to hurt," Oobleck analyzed while drawing the fire aside, "We cannot hurt it like this. Either we must use a more powerful weapon, or find a weak spot to strike."
Realizing that its fire was ineffective, the dragon stepped forward, raking its claws down. The slash ripped the ground apart, throwing up a burst of dirt, but failed to catch anyone. Having easily dodged the telegraphed attack, the group scattered, surrounding the dragon. It growled, fire flickering in its maw, as it turned, trying to keep as many of them in view.
"Its eye!" Taiyang called out, noticing the dragon's strange movements. It's left eye had what appeared to be an arrow stuck in it, rendering it useless and forcing the dragon to use only its right eye. Trying to track seven people darting around with, while half-blind, the dragon was visibly struggling.
"Alright. Team RWBY, on me!" Ruby called out, "Everyone else, distract it for me." Her voice hardened, "We're going to kill this thing."
Muttering incantations in an unknown tongue, Lelei channeled her magic, her staff glowing as it began to charge up. Pointing it at the Flame Dragon, she released her power, sending a storm of lightning bolts at it. Oobleck added in his fire as well. All of their efforts struck the dragon, successfully drawing its attention even if they did not truly hurt it.
Plunging Crescent Rose firmly into the ground, Ruby caught Gambol Shorud's pistol as Blake sent it her way. The ribbon pulled taut, with Tai helping anchor one side while the other wrapped around the sniper-scythe. Weiss used her glyphs to pull Yang onto the makeshift slingshot, pulling her back in preparation.
Yang nodded, and Weiss released her glyph. Yang was sent flying like a bullet toward the dragon, firing her shotguns behind her for added speed. As she closed in on the dragon's face, she pulled back a fist, eyes flaring red. At the same time, Ruby blazed past as well, flying by with Crescent Rose out to slash at the dragon's snout. It was unable to pierce the scales but succeeded in drawing the dragon's attention to her, its head moving to track her. The move would allow Yang to come in from its blind spot and land a crushing blow.
But the Flame Dragon did not survive millennia without a certain level of intelligence. It knew that its right eye was hurt and its vision affected. It knew that they had noticed this weakness too, attempting to confuse it by running where it could not see. It knew that they would try to take advantage of its blindness.
So when Yang got close enough, a scaly claw slammed into her, reversing her momentum and sending her rocketing back the way she came.
"Weiss! Blake!" Ruby called out.
A white glyph formed under Blake, shortly before turning black. At the same time that she leaped up, the glyph pulsed, temporarily reversing gravity to send Blake flying into the air. Speeding through the air, she drew her weapon. Aiming for the figure of Yang, still falling, she flung the pistol of Gambol Shroud.
Despite having to account for her own movements and that of Yang while spinning in the air, Blake's toss was accurate, allowing Yang to reach out and grab hold of the pistol, while Blake held on to the rest of Gambol Shroud.
Below, Weiss plunged her rapier into the ground, concentrating on forming another glyph. This one went around Blake's waist, holding her in place. With all of the various forces pulling at her, Weiss had to make sure that the glyph was strong enough not to break.
Now suspended in mid-air, Balek acted as an anchor for Yang. Gambol Shroud's ribbon, despite being thin, held firm as it redirected Yang's momentum. Leaving a streak of fire behind her, Yang was directed in a circle, releasing Gambol Shroud at just the right time to take another shot at the dragon.
Distracted by bright flares of Lelei's magic, and completely expecting Yang to be out of the fight, the Flame Dragon could not react in time against her renewed assault.
Yang struck the dragon in the side of its head, channeling both her own strength and double the force of the dragon itself into a single, powerful blow that shook the very air.
It should have been an even match, like how most duels between apostles went. With their immortality, neither should have been able to find an advantage over the other. Yet Giselle found herself losing.
She was still immortal, of course. Her wounds healed and she could not die. The problem was that she was the one taking all the damage, while Rory relentlessly smashed her around, unhurt.
Gritting her teeth, she focused on just the other Apostle, confident that her dragon could easily kill her mortal allies and then come to aid her. Pushing herself, Giselle attacked, scythe spinning, in a pattern that only she knew, that could cut a person into ribbons.
Rory's halberd met her scythe, even though it was moving so fast that it was just a blur. The two weapons locked, and Giselle pressed down, trying to overpower Rory. She then found herself thrown back when Rory thrust out with a burst of strength, sending her flying back. Rory gave her no rest, leaping over than slamming the halberd down.
Giselle could not figure out what was going on. Rory was faster than her. She was stronger, more precise, and just better than any Apostle should have been. Dashing away from her opponent, Giselle leaned on her scythe, breathing deeply and trying to recover as her wounds slowly closed.
"How? How are you so strong?" she said, jumping back just in time to dodge a slash that could have torn her apart.
"Different worlds wield different powers, Giselle," Rory vaguely answered. Spinning her halberd, she grinned as she stalked towards the retreating and injured Giselle. Her aura glowed as she spread it, a physical manifestation. "I may not like what it's doing to me, but I now wield power from two worlds. You cannot defeat me."
"They did this to you? These mortals gave an Apostle such power? Who are they?" Giselle asked, steadily retreating. She just had to stall Rory, until the dragon could come to help. Why was it taking so long to kill a few mortals?
Rory charged forward, smashing through Giselle's block to throw her back. She grunted, skidding to a stop on her back, looking up just in time to see Rory and her halberd diving down from the sky. Giselle attempted to jump aside, but her body was too injured for such a nimble movement. She could only manage to push herself aside a little, enough to avoid being split into two, but not enough to prevent Rory's halberd from slamming straight down onto her shoulder, cleanly severing her left arm. Roaring in pain and rage, Giselle grabbed her scythe with her remaining hand, driving it into Rory. With a twist, Rory somehow disarmed her, pulling the scythe from her grip, and stepped down onto Giselle's right arm to prevent her from attacking again. She tried to push Rory off, but her unfavorable position, not to mention Rory's enhanced strength, made it impossible.
"These mortals did not give me power," Rory said, offended, "Powerful as they are, they are not demigods like us. But they know the human soul better than we. They unlocked my full power, without bonds, without limits."
Giselle stopped struggling, realizing its futility. "They understand the human soul... But we are no longer human, are we? Whatever they did to you, it was meant for humans. Mortals. The god's power, and the aura that you wield..."
"They react. They are changing me, as easily as they change each other," Rory quietly said.
"Hardy can help you."
"Then let me bring you to her. She will be very happy to help, as long as -" Giselle tried to convince Rory to join her peacefully, but she was having none of it.
Rory pressed down with her leg, cutting off Giselle and making her hiss in pain. "I will not marry her! Can you and your goddess seriously not get the message?"
"Then she will never help you! You will pay for what you have done! My dragon will kill those mortals and then destroy you!" Giselle threatened.
Rory laughed, "Your dragon?"
As if on cue, there was a sound, like that of someone being punched, except a hundred times harder. The shockwave it produced seemed to warp the very air, accompanied by a great roar of pain. Giselle managed to turn her head, just enough to see the great bulk of the Flame Dragon slam into the ground, the impact causing the ground to tremor. Despite the evidence before her eyes, Giselle found it hard to believe that her dragon - capable of destroying armies and empires - could have been defeated by a group of mortals. They had struck it so hard that its scales had cracked, something even she could not do.
"Who... are they?" Giselle gasped.
One of the mortals, a handsome blond man, stepped into her sight. Despite having just taken down a dragon, he seemed no worse for the wear.
"My name is Taiyang, Ms. Giselle. As I said, we're already - Rory, did you cut her arm off?"
"She'll be fine," Rory dismissed nonchalantly.