"Hastings Brothers Win Scrap Gathering Prize!"
On the surface, the article was deceptively simple. Two brothers finding a bunch of old cars and prams for the scrapyards, in a time when raw materials were desperately needed. The two lads won a wonderful fifty Lien prize, the metal got used to help build up the city's industry, and everyone moved on with their lives.
Safe. Happy. Simple.
For Arthur Hastings, looking over the headline, the article was anything but simple.
He stared at the picture to the right of the article, seeing a sight that he had forgotten long ago. On the left of the image, Arthur saw himself smiling awkwardly at the camera, trying to hide his uncomfortableness behind a pair of massive glasses and well-combed hair. On the right…
The image showed Percival standing around, ramrod straight, gazing disinterestedly off to the side of the camera. His eyes were a bit sunken from exhaustion, and his hair was a touch more unruly. It almost looked like he would simply walk away from the picture…
"Where are you, Arthur?! Arthur, please!"
Were it not for Arthur's hand firmly gripping Percy's arm.
Was it meant to be reassuring? Forceful?
Why couldn't he remember?
The children scream in panic as the trains are hastily loaded. Armed guards stand on the platforms nearby, glaring at anyone nearby and forcing parents back out the doors.
His vision began to swim as memories stormed into his mind, drowning his consciousness in a wave of pain and fear. Arthur's arm reached out, gripping onto his bottle of Joy as if it was the only thing that could keep him sane. He quickly tore off the cap, throwing a handful of pills into his open palm.
"I should just take my Joy…shouldn't I?" Arthur mumbled, staring back at the ancient newspaper before him. One pill, and the memories, the panic, the shame, all of it would be no more.
Percy would be no more.
Whistles shriek out as bobbies call for order. The speakers overhead calmly ask the children to keep inside the train, seemingly oblivious from the chaos unfolding nearby.
"No, no, no! Arthur!"
Arthur slammed the pills into his desk before sweeping them off onto the floor. The empty pill bottle quickly followed, flying to the trash can in the corner of his office with an unsatisfying thump.
He didn't want to forget. He couldn't.
Arthur clutched his head, struggling to make sense of the sheer number of visions and sights that went through his head. Feelings that had become foreign to him suddenly crushed his mind, causing him to double over in shame and fear.
More feelings, more memories, more shame, more pain, more fear, more Percy-
"What have you been up to?" A new voice suddenly called out, breaking through the fog in his head.
Arthur flinched, looking wildly around the room until his eyes landed on the new occupant standing in his doorway. He couldn't help but flinch upon seeing who it was.
Victoria Byng was watching him, arms crossed and a stern look on her face. It was a terrifying, unnatural sight, the likes of which Arthur had only seen a handful of times. He still wasn't quite sure what had happened to that poor intern, but the rumors had been far from pleasant.
"Oh, you know…working! J-just working!" Arthur stuttered out, laughing awkwardly.
"Then why haven't I heard a whoosh from here in hours?" Victoria asked back, moving towards his desk.
Arthur blinked, glancing towards the clock. He was sure it had been early morning when he had first seen that article! Surely it couldn't have been as long as the clock said! Even if the shadows were much, much longer in his office. Or if his stomach felt like it was trying to curl up into a ball of misery.
"Have you taken your Joy?" Victoria asked, suddenly right next to his desk. It took everything Arthur had to simply flinch instead of flinging himself backwards out of the chair. He hadn't even seen her move!
"Y-Yes, o-of course I have! Snug as a bug on a drug!" Arthur said, trying to offer a calming smile towards her. From the unimpressed look she gave him, it was abundantly clear it didn't work.
"Then hurry up. You don't want to miss the birthday party, do you? Don't take too long to finish." She said, popping a Joy pill into her mouth. Her concerning frown swiftly morphed into a radiant, joyful smile, accentuated by the white mask she wore.
'That's…a rather fast change of attitude.' Arthur thought, blinking again as Victoria practically skipped back towards the hallway. 'Is it always like that, or did I just not notice before?'
As he watched Victoria close the door behind her, Arthur's eyes fell back on the Redactor machine in front of him. They then trailed over to the pneumatic tube sticking out of his desk, filled to the brim with dozens of other articles in need of approving or 'restoring'.
"…Well, I suppose this might give me a chance to clear my head, at least." Arthur said, sighing as he looked at the article one last time. His eyes fell on the picture one last time, burning the image of Percy's face into his mind before he covered it all in ink.
He couldn't afford to have anyone figuring out he was off his Joy. Not yet, at least.
After all, he had a promise to keep.
He would find Percy, even if he had to travel all over the Four Kingdoms to do so.
Ozpin stared at the image on his scroll, trying to resist the urge to sigh. Instead, he simply grabbed his favorite coffee mug, hoping that the new blend would keep him from getting a headache.
Even in his many, many years of existence, there were always those moments that never seemed to truly go away or fade into history. The Great War, the events at Mountain Glenn, everything that had happened with Salem…
And now, it seemed that the forgotten town of Wellington Wells could be added to that ever-growing list.
It had been years since most people had thought about the town. Grimm attacks on outlying settlements were not uncommon, and the unfortunate events that befell the poor town had quickly been forgotten. Little news had been heard from there ever since the inhabitants had gone into isolation, and many of those that still remembered it thought that it had simply died off.
The corpse currently lying in one of Vale's morgues told a much darker story.
Prudence Holmes, identified by an I.D. card found in her bag, had been found washed up in Vale's harbor a few days ago in a small, heavily damaged rowboat. The police investigation had quickly turned up a number of questions, such as the unusual clothes and disturbing white mask the woman wore, glass tubes filled with a glowing purple substance, and a variety of unknown pills in a small bottle labelled 'Joy'.
However, the real horror didn't begin until the autopsy report came back.
The body had shown signs of starvation, extensive drug use, blunt force trauma, and other significant injuries and problems. From what the coroner had been able to determine, the body showed signs of sustaining this type of damage for a number of years, although decay made exact figures difficult.
It all painted a disturbing image as to what had happened in the town, along with even more questions. The town had clearly not fallen as most had believed, but it seemed that something terrible was going on there once more. Prudence Holmes had clearly been fleeing from something, and it was doubtful that she was the only one suffering in such a manner.
Ozpin frowned, sipping at his coffee. Whatever was going on in that town, they couldn't simply ignore it. At the same time, Qrow was already out on a mission, and as much as he disliked it, he couldn't risk losing the information that he could provide.
As he thought, his eyes glanced over the rosters of teachers and student teams. The new arrivals certainly seemed promising, with a number of students he was taking care to monitor personally. Silver eyes, mining heirs, repentant criminals, tournament champions…
Ozpin shrugged, opening the messaging app on his scroll. While he disliked sending out students into uncertain situations like this, they had already proven themselves thus far.
What better way to challenge them than by sending them out on an expedition to an unfamiliar, potentially dangerous settlement?
So yeah, this is a weird idea I had.
Writing something for a game I've never played and a series I've never watched.
Well, it's not like wiki's, YouTube, and other fanfics have ever steered me wrong before, right?