A.N. (11/4/20) - Nothing new. This is just a reupload of all the chapters in one post so that people don't have to keep clicking for the next chapter. I'm mostly doing this to test if posting new chapters works while the site is still fixing itself since some of my other stories aren't updating properly.
I'm not sure if this is against the guidelines because if it is, I'll probably take this down. I'll make a note in the summary that you can skip to the last chapter to read it all at once. Either way, if you're re-reading this or reading for the first time, enjoy!
Chapter 1 - It's Showtime
"Are you… robbing me?"
"Yes!" The henchman cried out.
As the young girl dressed in black and red kicked the man dressed in… black and red... out the window, the young receptionist slowly backed away.
"Fiiiiiiiiiinally, the plot starts now," the young man said.
As everyone moved outside to duke it out outside the shop, the young man got out a pan and a broom to sweep up the broken glass from the window.
"You were worth every cent. Truly, you were," Roman replied.
He dropped his cigar and crushing it with his cane. "Well, Red, I think we can all say it's been an eventful evening, and as much as I'd love to stick around…"
The thief raised his cane and continued, " …I'm afraid this is where we part ways."
Opening fire at the girl, Roman took this chance to run away. The girl looked back at the young man.
"You okay if I go after him?"
"Yeah, go for it."
Watching the girl run off into the distance, the young man pulled out a scroll and called a number.
Chapter 2 - 11 Years Ago
Qrow was running desperately down the path, barely looking down once in a while to check for wagon drag marks.
He had checked on Tai earlier at his house, only finding out later that Yang and Ruby were missing. Worried as he was, he had to stay calm in order to prepare for whatever horror might befall Yang and Rub-
"Hey! Are you a Huntsman?"
Qrow turned and saw a young boy - maybe fifteen - walk towards him. Lying in his arms was an exhausted Yang and Ruby, while the boy had a rope tied to a belt buckle pull a red wagon behind him.
"With that kind of speed, you must be. Mind helping a guy escort these girls home?"
Qrow blinked, then shrugged.
"Sure. The name's Qrow. I see you found my nieces."
"Well, that's convenient. The name's Rory."
Chapter 3 - Thank You
"Bye Rory! Make sure to call us." As the family consisting of two girls and two adults waved the strange visitor goodbye, Tai thought about how the last few weeks were.
At first, he was shocked that Yang ran off to look for clues about Raven. Then Qrow punched him for being too depressed to not notice his eldest daughter run off with a toddler in a wagon.
If it wasn't for the young boy who helped Yang and Ruby get away from those Beawolves…
"So, do you think he'll call?"
"I dunno Yang. He said he can't call us that much since he travels a lot," Tai replied. The boy named Rory had stayed with the family - plus Qrow - for a couple of days.
The girls bonded with the young man while Qrow gave what the kid said was his first drink. As for Tai…
A memory of waking up in the middle of the night, walking outside to see the young boy stare at the broken moon.
"Don't grieve for those you lost. Cherish the memory, but don't let the memory blind you from what you should cherish instead. You still got two girls counting on you… be their Dad before being a Husband."
One line from a young man won't suddenly cure Tai of his depression.
"...but I hope he does."
Yet, he took those words and promised to clench them to his heart.
Chapter 4 - Vale Tourist
"No, I don't need any new clothes."
"But Mister, your clothes are sooooo out of fashion." A young girl - if Rory remembred right - named Coco berated the young man in the middle of the street. He didn't know if Coco was from Vale or if she was just visiting, but somehow he found her by herself in the middle of the street.
Now, he was carrying her on his shoulders while she looked around for her parents.
"I like what I'm wearing. Isn't that the most important part about wearing clothes?"
"It is... if it isn't an ugly wool sweater. Why are you wearing wool? It's summer!"
Rory shrugged, before realizing that there was a seven-ish-year-old child on his shoulders.
"It's nice and warm and it keeps the cold away."
"More like it's ugly and cheap and it keeps the ladies away."
"Hey!" Ignoring his indigent cry, Coco screeched as she pointed to a frantic looking couple.
Thanking him profoundly for his help, Coco yelled out a cute "Goodbye!" before the three left to wherever they needed to go.
Rory smiled as he waved, the sleeve of his sweater poking down slightly. Feeling a breeze, he shivered before pulling up the sleeve as he held himself.
"...maybe I should get a better sweater after all."
Chapter 5 - Meet the Arcs
"Like I said, this color looks good on you."
After that strangely coincidental meeting with Coco, Rory went into a nice-looking thrift shop to look for something nice. There, he met a nice young lady who offered to help him pick out some clothes... in exchange for allowing her to burn his sweater to the ground.
Why was she carrying a match and an isopropyl alcohol wipe? Rory didn't question it. Nor did he question why none of the staff batted an eye at the burning attire in the middle of the store.
Isn't the smoke from the chemicals poisonous? Eh~ it's a different world. It's probably okay to burn.
"It's fine. I had fun picking out clothes for you. I mostly have sisters, so I rarely pick out clothes for a guy."
As if waiting for those words, seven blonde children pounced out of nowhere onto the young lady. Or at least, half of them pounced while the other half lingered near the eldest sibling.
One of the blonde children seemed to linger away even more so from the others, so Rory ignored the chaos behind him and walked to the lonesome one.
"Hey, what's up? I'm Rory."
"H-Hi, m-my name's J-Jaune. Jaune Arc."
"Oh," another one. How was he meeting these guys?
"G'day Jeanne d'Arc. 'Tis an honor to meet you."
"Eh?" Somehow, the way Rory said his name was... odd.
"Just asking - don't read into it - do you know how to read or write?"
"Do you have visions of angels or hear voices proclaiming themselves God in your head?"
"No, huh. Cool. Tell your sister I said thanks for the clothes. Be a good girl and help your sister out. I'm gonna leave before things get dicey. See ya!"
"H-Huh? Er, bye!"
It took a few more seconds before he realized what Rory said.
"W-Wait! I'm not a girl."
Chapter 6 - Little Green
Rory patted the scroll he bought a couple of weeks ago. Within his contact list was the numbers of the Xiao Long residence, Qrow, and now the young lady Saffron.
And no... the young girl only gave him his number in case the police got her for arson and they needed a witness to say otherwise. Of course, since she really did commit arson...
Well, this wasn't the first time Rory lied to the authorities.
"Huh?" Feeling a hand in his pocket Rory suddenly turned around and grabbed the connected limb.
Rory looked at the child who's hand he grasped. "Oh, come on!
A young girl with tanned skin, red eyes, and mint green hair stood before him. Or rather... in his grasp. Letting the hand go, the girl rubbed her wrist before glaring cutely at him.
Really! Why was he running into so many characters? Was Emerald even in Vale when she was a kid?
"Now, now. You shouldn't be stealing from people. What's your name, little one?"
"Go to hell!"
Ohhhh, she's a keeper.
"I'ma call you... Little Green."
"Shut up! My name is Emerald!"
"Let's go, Little Green."
Chapter 7 - Speechless
A young Neopolitan stared at him.
"HAH! I win!"
Neo grinded her teeth as she watched the strange guy parade his victory over the abrupt staring contest. The young girl he brought continued to glare at him even as the strange one ignored her looks.
"...so is there any reason why you broke into my room with what looks like a kidnapped child?" A young Roman Torchwick asked.
"Oh, I'm looking for someone in the removals business. I need you to send someone a message for me. Also, I took the kid cause she looks like she has potential."
Yup, let's have the pickpocket learn the trade from the flamboyant one himself.
"Okay, I think you're mistaking my skillset for something else. I steal things, not deliver love letters."
"You break into places. Trust me, this place is gonna need the best there is."
"...okay, let's assume I'll listen to your proposal. Who am I sending a message to?"
Rory gave a wolfish grin.
Chapter 8 - Get Mugged
Headmaster Ozpin of Beacon Academy waited for the doors to the elevator to open. It was a bad month, with the Vale Council acting like idiots, Summer declared KIA, and Qrow skipping his missions to console his nieces.
None of those reasons were small, and Ozpin must have done something terrible in his last life to deserve all these problems all at once.
Trust him, Karma does pay back eventually.
Entering his office, he immediately noticed the white envelope in the middle of his desk. He also noticed the rather eye-catching message, with the envelope sporting the bold words "Notice me, Senpai."
It was probably a Mistrilian reference or something.
Taking the letter - after checking for any inconsistencies or traps - he opened the letter and took out the message inside.
Dear the Wonderful Oz,
I'm sure Qrow told you all about me, and I apologize for the manner of delivery this message took. If you haven't done so yet, please do not investigate into my background. It's a bit personal, and if you do or have already done so, please don't tell Qrow or his family. I happen to like the Xiao Longs/Rose/Branwen and I don't really feel comfortable with them knowing my past yet.
Thank you for taking time to read this.
From, Rory Radiant
P.S. By the way, I took your coffee mug. I couldn't help it, it was a perfect joke opportunity.
Ozpin took a moment to re-read and understand the last line before he suddenly got its meaning and groaned at the bad pun.
Chapter 9 - The Club
"So you spent a ton of Lien just for me to break into a schoolteacher's office and drop off a letter."
"Plus taking his mug."
"Yeah, that's still not the point. Couldn't you just - I dunno - mail it to the school?"
"It's a power play, Roman." Rory almost forgot the fact that this was Roman almost a decade before the canon-Roman made his debut into the public eye. Right now, he was just a young lad lost on the path of life, doing strange favors for not-insane customers like himself.
"Ozpin won't take the time to read every single letter he gets." That's what Goodwitch is for. Or at least, that's what she's forced to do when the Headmaster ignores his growing pile of paperwork.
"I need to catch his attention. And what better way than breaking into a secured facility and taking his most treasured object."
"I repeat, you made me break into a school office - to steal his coffee mug."
"And I can guarantee it is his most treasured object." Either that or his cane. Or the Relic.
"Hey, is there a place called 'The Club' around here?"
"Yeah? 'Round that corner there. Why?"
"Oh, no reason." Pulling a golf club out of his bag, Rory grinned.
Chapter 10 - Charging the Gates
Breaking down the doors with a kick, Rory yelled out loud, "All right, maggots! Your new Leader is here."
Expecting a bunch of swords or guns pointed at him, Rory instead saw a bunch of dirty scoundrels surrounding a table playing cards.
Rory blinked twice. "Hey, Roman. This is 'The Club' right?"
"Yeah. You mean a nightclub that serves drinks and has loud music, right?"
"Well, yeah. Then where's the lights, the music, the well-dressed employees?"
"Rory... it's the middle of the day."
He blinked twice again. Huh, he had a point.
"And besides, well-dressed employees? I think you're giving King a bit too much credit."
King? Oh, shoot! Was he too early? Is Junior not a thing yet?
...oh well. Not like it changes his plans much.
"Alright, now y'all work for me now. We're gonna make some big changes around here."
"Now, see. I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding here." A large man stood up from the back of the table. He was a giant of a man, with all the stereotypical looks of a crime boss.
He even had a scar diagonally cut over one of his eyes. How cliche.
"I don't know who the hell you are." He slammed his fist on the table, causing several cards to fly in the air. "But this is MY territory. You walk in here, you bow before the King."
"...do you practice that in front of the mirror?"
Chapter 11 - Mutiny
There they were, the two facing off against a gang of criminals and scoundrels. They were outnumbered 20-to-2 and were totally outclassed in terms of numbers and weapons.
Thus, it's time to reveal the secret weapon.
"Now!" At Rory's cry, an explosion of glass made the goons and King look behind them. Seeing them distracted, Rory lit a match and threw it at the source of the sound.
The broken bottles of alcohol lit up as the ground started to burn extremely fast.
"Oh! OH! OH SH- EVERYONE! PUT OUT THE FIRE!" King realized how bad the situation was turning, with his base suddenly catching fire and the goons not knowing what to do.
Taking this chance, Rory and Roman took the chance to attack while several of the goons were distracted. Roman, using his cane like a baton. Rory, swinging his golf club and smacking heads.
"Idiots! Put out the fire quickly and get rid of these guys!" While King stood near the back away from the fighting and the fire, Rory and Roman took out the few goons not fighting the fire.
As King tried to find a way out of this situation, the sound of glass breaking made him turn back in fear. Suddenly appearing before him was a strange oddly colored girl holding a parasol in her hand. The girl smirked, before swiping the object in her hand with a wide swing, letting out a loud SMACK upon hitting King's head.
Meanwhile, Rory was facing off against two of King's henchmen using the club to deflect blows from their shoddy knives. A stray swing managed to cut at his cheek.
"What th- this guy doesn't even have Aura!"
Yup, that was Rory. No Aura, no Semblance, not even proper fighting techniques or anything like that. Just a frantic assault that left no room for comfort.
"You think you're so great?!" King suddenly yelled, throwing Neo backward. Rory turned to King, noting how Neo managed to land perfectly with her usual grace.
"I have run this business since before you were in diapers! I have control over the criminal empire of Vale itself, what gives you the right to come in here and claim my throne?!"
"Cause I don't have an ego-inflated head!" Throwing his weapon at King - who was hit with a loud *SMACK* - Rory turned around and ran backward while Neo once again jumped at the opportunity.
"You think you can stop me?! Three kids against my group. I'll make sure yo-" Whatever King was going to say was interrupted as he took a blow to the back of the head.
Falling unconscious, everyone turned in shock as they saw that it was one of King's henchmen who knocked the leader out himself.
Seeing the stares directed at him, the lanky teenager - who Rory later realized was Junior - shrugged and said, "Down with the King."
Chapter 12 - Team Heron
"Hei Xiong, Emerald Sustaria, Roman Torchwick, and Neopolitan. The four of you have been randomly recruited by yours truly. From this day forward, you will work together as Team HERN (Heron), led by... Hei Xiong!"
The four in front of him looked like they didn't like the name. To be fair, Rory didn't like the name either. Honestly, he didn't give Beacon enough credit to find names for every team. HERN? Rory kinda wished Neo had a last name starting with 'O' just so that they would be named Team HERO.
Four sorta-antagonists in a team named HERO... the irony it could've caused. Such a waste of potential.
"With Junior's information gathering skills, Emerald's pickpocketing skills, Roman's thievery skills, and Neo's... Neoness the four of you will now take control of Vale's criminal empire!"
The four looked at each other for a moment, before Emerald raised her hand.
"Um... why? Also, what's the difference between pickpocketing and thievery?"
"One's small-time and the other's big-time," Roman explained.
"Thanks, Roman. And I'll explain right now Little Green," ignoring her glare, Rory explained.
"I have a dream, of one day taking control of all the criminals and having a voice in what goes on."
"So..." Junior hesitantly spoke. "You're saying you're gonna be our new gang leader?"
"Oh heck no! That's your job. I just want the people I know in charge so I can ask for some favors once in a while."
That didn't really reassure them, and to be fair, Rory was telling three teenagers? and a child that they were in charge of taking over a criminal empire.
"Look, I see potential in all four of you. Just look at what we did in the past few days."
Taking control of King's remaining forces, throwing him to Vale's police to handle. Stealing most of the other gang's hidden stashes of weapons and Lien. Having all henchmen wear matching uniforms. Even the tiny Emerald helped out, once Rory had someone open her Aura and explain what her Semblance was.
"And besides, with me gone, you'll have to live your lives somehow. I mean... Junior was already planning on doing something similar. I just provided you all some partners to work with."
That was the reason why Junior even helped taking King down last time. Apparently, he was always planning for a mutiny in the ranks, but Rory and Roman helped give an opportunity.
"Now! All in favor of becoming the youngest criminals to singlehandedly taking down the criminal empire that is hidden away from the Kingdom of Vale... say 'Aye'!"
...nobody said 'Aye'.
Chapter 13 - Discussion
Rory left the four of them alone to talk amongst themselves.
"So..." Roman started. "Are we in?"
"I mean, I don't mind working with you guys," Junior replied.
He was used to working as a henchman, but he never really thought of how he was gonna lead as the Boss. It was kind of a good thing that Rory forced him into a team, making the others equal in power to Junior.
Even if it meant having a kid as his partner.
Speaking of Emerald...
'That damn idiot, calling me Little Green. Why don't you say it to my face again? I'll show you some things that will make you green in the face. I'll totally shout 'What's wrong, Big Green?' while I do it too."
She was muttering some things under her breath. Junior felt that it would be wise to stay far away from that potential piece of trouble.
"Guess we're in," Junior said, somehow speaking for the four of them.
Walking out of the room they were in, they saw Rory was in the middle of a call.
"Yeah, I got the team together. No there wasn't any— well, it turns out the Club was run by someone else. B-But I found who I wanted anyways, so all's well that ends well or however that quote goes."
Listening to his scroll for a moment, he finally noticed the four stares he was getting.
"Uh— sorry, I gotta put you on hold for a bit..."
Turning off his scroll, he looked at the four and his stare seemed to question them.
Hearing Junior's words, Rory gave a wide smile.
Chapter 14 - M&M's
"Hrk— It's getting tight again."
Rory rewrapped the bandages tightly around his chest.
It was a few weeks since Rory helped take control of Vale's criminal network. Currently, he was in his own room in what was now 'The Club - Grand Reopening' taking time to himself while the others set up for business later that night.
He had a thing against sharing rooms, especially when he needed to changes his bandages every day. It was something he did every day for a couple of years now.
The first time he asked Neo to go buy some for him, she kept mother henning him and tried to see if he got any injuries from the fight against King. Only she and Roman - and Junior and all the other gang members during King's fall - knew that he had no Aura.
Of course, due to several reasons, he had to deny her attempts of stripping his body down and checking for every little cut he didn't have. There is a reason why Rory always wears sweaters or other long-sleeved clothes.
Walking out of his assigned room, Rory went directly to the kitchen. While Junior and the rest of the mooks knew how to stir together some drinks, none were exactly skilled in the culinary arts.
During King's time, The Club was more like a seedy bar than it was a club. While prices were dirt cheap, it came with the problem of poor service.
Junior decided to rebrand their image and to take things up a notch. Roman was a big supporter of this initiative, saying how the club should cater to more high-end types.
Emerald and Neo didn't really care, and the two went out for ice-cream while everyone else worked.
While the others were preparing for tonight's opening, Rory was wondering what to make in the kitchen.
A sudden crash brought Rory out of his thoughts, and Rory snapped his head in the direction the sound came from.
Walking forward, Rory turned a corner and saw behind the island countertop were two young girls in the middle of a mess of pots and pans.
Seeing him, the two only quivered and curled up - shivering as if they expected to be hit.
Rory only stared at the two twins before slowly bending his knees and crouched down.
"Hey, my name's Rory. What's your's?"
The two didn't answer, but Rory knew who they were. It made sense that he would eventually meet the Malachite twins.
Chapter 15 - Twin Blade Works
"And now, a rare demonstration from the Malachite Twins!"
A well-dressed goon of Junior's spoke to a seated crowd with a mike in his hand. Performing in front of the crowd were Militia and Melanie.
Dressed in a black and red chef jacket, Militia held several knives in each hand. Next to her, dressed in a clean white uniform was Melanie, holding several vegetables in her hand.
"Of course, Militia."
Throwing the various ingredients in the air, Melanie raised her leg and started using her bladed heels to slice at several falling pieces. Militia, also cutting vegetables, stabbed each sliced piece so that they all were caught on the knife's blade like a kebab.
Throwing them in the already boiling frier, the twins distracted the audience by performing other feats of knifework and dancing. Taking a pre-prepared tray from several minutes earlier, Militia raised the tray and flicked her wrist in a way so that the contents flew in the air without much oil.
Catching the falling contents into a tray, Melanie threw several herbs and pinches of salt onto the tray before turning to the crowd of teens and young adults.
"Your order of potato wedges are done!"
"I've never seen cooking like this before!"
"The Malachite Twins are too cute~!"
"How are they so good with their knives?"
Theatrically prepared by two knife-wielding children, the showmanship added value to the simple dish of potato wedges. Live cooking and intricate knife work, the Twins were one of The Club's best performers.
Under the various praises from the customers, Militia and Melanie shyly blushed and fidgeted in their uniforms. Seeing this, the crowd only cheered even more at how cute the two girls were.
Rory watched from across the room, smiling as he watched the twins quickly leave before the crowd got too excited. It was his idea to utilize their Huntress training to create a show similar to the Benihana restaurants he heard about before.
When the two sneaked into the kitchen several months ago to steal some food, he never expected that they would become The Club's top show performers as performing chefs.
Taking them into their care, the twins were sorta adopted by the entire gang. With Emerald, the three girls became the unofficial mascot of Team (pending for change) HERN's gang.
Distracted by the twins leaving, he didn't notice the man walking up to him until his shoulder was caught.
"Well, how 'bout that! How come none of your calls ever told us you were in Vale all along?"
Rory turned to look at the face of a smiling Qrow. Even though he was smiling, Rory saw that there was a hint of irritation in the older man's eyes.
"Er— I can explain?"
"Yeah, that's not gonna cut it."
Chapter 16 - Drunk Rory
"You're mah bwest fwiend, Croww" Rory drawled, clearly drunk.
"An' yor mah bwest fwiend too, Roro. Even bwetter than Tai. Tai can go suck mah toes."
"W-Wha? I'm yowr best fwiend?" He honestly felt touched at what Qrow said.
"Yup. Tai's always getting da ladies and stuff. Just 'cause he's handsome an' buff and shows off some skin—"
"He does have som nice biceps."
"...and he's always so niccceee." Qrow almost fell over for a moment. "An' there's me."
"Wha's wrong wi' you? I think you look 'ansome."
"Aw, shucks. You just sayin' that."
"Oh by the Brothers, just throw them in a room and let them fuck already!" Emerald cried from the side, being volunteered by the others to watch over Rory.
Seriously, what did Junior think was happening. Someone trying to get Rory drunk so they can "have their way" with a defenseless Rory?
"Hey, wannah crash at mah place?" The scruffy man drinking with Rory asked.
Shit! She was just kidding. Emerald was not prepared for a situation like this. She turned around to call for Roman, only to see that he was busy with Neo, and Junior was off handling some customers. Turning around, Emerald found that Rory and the other guy were already gone.
...she saw nothing. Nothing happened. He probably left to go to his room or something.
"Emerald, where's Rory?" Melanie asked.
"Having a one-night stand with some drunk."
"What's a one-night stand?" Militia asked.
"Ask Junior when you're older. Just don't ask for one."
She was too sober for this shit.
Chapter 17 - Hangover
Qrow groggily opened his eyes. Then they opened wide with shock.
A cute oriental face stared back at him. The face was serene and calmly sleeping. On a good day, Qrow would be hooting at the catch he got to bed.
This was not a good day.
For one, Qrow didn't remember what happened last night. Fearfully, he checked and sighed in relief when he found their clothes were untouched.
Qrow doesn't swing that way... not that he's against it. Don't hate what you ain't tried. But yeah, he'd prefer waking to a woman in his bed.
Second, he was pretty sure Rory was underage and at least ten years younger than him. Thinking about it, this probably looked bad out of context. Him, offering an underage kid a drink before taking him home to sleep with him.
Maybe he should lay off the alcohol for a bit...
"Ugh, what's that pain in my head?" Next to him, Rory started to wake up. Looking at Qrow, he only blinked twice before flopping back to bed.
"Qrowww, where are we?"
"Hm, looks like we're back in my room at Beacon."
Suddenly Rory shot straight up. "...we're at Beacon?"
A knock suddenly came from the door. "Qrow. Are you awake yet? Ozpin said to call you in once the two of you woke up."
Rory reaaally hoped this nightmare would end soon.
Chapter 18 - Waiting
"Just wait here, please. Headmaster Ozpin is in the middle of a meeting, which should take a few minutes."
Glynda Goodwitch directed Rory to a small waiting room after Qrow kicked him out of his room. Rory was still slightly panicking from having to meet Ozpin. Ignoring the fact that he had some metaknowledge of the future, he was also a criminal Mafia boss of some kind. And then there's another reason...
"So, Ms. Goodwitch. It's nice to meet you."
"We've met," a curt reply came from the stoic Professor.
"Yes. Last night, though I'm not sure how much you remember. You said something about - and I quote - how you could 'Take over the world if you recruited Ozpin's bitch' before falling asleep on the floor."
"Oh..." a bit awkward there. "Sorry, I had a little too much to drink."
"I'd say. Ignoring the fact that you are clearly too young to drink, I'm pretty sure Qrow had a large hand in your state last night."
Not really, since Rory was the one who paid for the drinks. Not that he was going to admit that. "Yes."
Another awkward silence ensued when neither knew what else to talk about. Not knowing what to do, Rory pulled out his scroll to check on Team HERN.
Unlocking his scroll, he saw a long list of missed calls and text messages. The latest message said, [Don't turn on the TV.]
"...Ms. Goodwitch. Did you happen to hear anything on the news about anything happening last night?"
"Funny you should ask. There was a large fire that consumed a large portion of the commercial district. Witnesses said something about a pink, brown, and white demon chasing after a little green girl throughout most of the destruction."
Chapter 19 - Meeting Oz
After a few more minutes of waiting, Goodwitch finally told him that Ozpin was finally done.
Going up the elevator, Rory thought of all the reasons he should be worried.
Breaking into his office, establishing a criminal empire, and then there's his past...
"It is good to finally meet you. Please Mr. Radiant, have a seat," Ozpin said as he stood behind his desk, a new coffee mug in his hand.
Shoot! Rory was many things, but an experienced practitioner of communication he was not.
"Greetings, Headmaster Ozpin."
"Please, just Ozpin is fine. You are most certainly not one of my students."
"Then call me Rory. Mr. Radiant kinda sounds like the name a signer would have."
The two took a seat, with Goodwitch standing near the entrance. Ozpin took a moment to stare at him before he spoke.
"When Qrow informed me about the situation his nieces had gotten themselves into, it was a relief when we found out how you helped escort the two of them home."
"It was just the right thing to do."
"And it warms my heart that there are people like you who think that way."
The two sat in silence for a bit, with Ozpin staring and Rory trying his hardest not to fidget.
"I'll be blunt. Rory, do you feel uncomfortable being here?"
"Yes." Hurridly explaining, he continued, "It's not you. I'm just not comfortable with you due to personal reasons."
"I suppose that's all the answer I'll get." He sighed and then set his coffee mug down.
"To be honest, I just wanted to see what kind of person you were. I've heard a few things from Qrow and even Tai. I suppose this is enough for me to ponder over for a while. I guess we're done here."
Getting up, trying to not act as if he were excited to leave, Rory offered a hand and said, "It was a pleasure to meet you, Sir."
Chapter 20 - Phone Calls
Rory was on the Bullhead heading back to Vale when he finally decided to call Roman. Well... he tried calling Junior first, but for some reason, he wasn't picking up the call.
Answering quickly, Roman talked in a desperate voice, "Hey, Bossman! Where the hell are you?"
"Roman, what's going on? I've been out of the loop for a bit."
"Yeah, I heard. Emerald was going on all about it after her third bottle. Say what you will about the kid, but she can hold her drink."
"Emerald was drinking?!"
"Yeah, you might wanna know that some of the customers reported on us about that. Pretty sure Junior's stuck with the authorities all over his case about underage drinking. Oh, and also child labor."
Well, that came to bite them in the ass. In hindsight, what was Rory thinking employing two little girls to cook with bladed weapons?
"What about Neo?"
"The real question is... what happened to Emerald after Neo found out she didn't stop you from being taken advantage of?"
"Okay, try to get the heat off you guys while I'm out of town. I'm gonna be gone for the next few weeks. Once I'm back, I'll have gotten us some funds for us to use for whatever. Heck, you can even bribe some of the authorities to lay off us with the kind of cash I'm bringing in."
"Bossman out of town making money. I'll spread the message."
"No problem. It's not like anyone can find themselves a sugar daddy. We'll remember your sacrifice for giving up your body for the greater good," Roman quickly hung up after dropping that last line.
"...goddammit, Roman." Opening his contacts list, Rory pressed another number and started to call.
"Hey, so... I might have gotten Ozpin's attention on me."
Chapter 21 - Heading Home
Getting off the Bullhead, Rory started walking to the seedier part of town. Entering a warehouse he bought off the books long ago, he opened a secure garage door that revealed a modified aircraft for private use.
"This is gonna take a while." Boarding the aircraft, he activated a pre-set program that started up the ship. The ship slowly exited the warehouse, before it began to fly out of Vale.
For the next few days, Rory flew down a private air path that was made up of various stops and turns. He didn't know where he was going, but he trusted the computer would know how to get to his destination.
Eventually, the lands started to turn more wild and desolate. The sky and ground started to take on a shade of purple.
"God, this place never changes."
Looking out the window, he saw countless cesspools of black tar. Occasionally, a couple of Grimm slowly crawled out of the pools. In the middle of all of this, was a dark tower that stood out amongst the barren wasteland.
As the aircraft grew closer to the tower, Rory started to clutch his chest. Sweat started to roll down his face, and a slight pain started to grow within him.
The aircraft landed in a small clearing. Exiting slowly, Rory saw an unknown type of Grimm slowly approach him. Waiting for a second, it began to move towards the entrance to the tower, and Rory slowly started to follow it.
Rory walked without speaking and continued to follow the strange Grimm. As he climbed the stairs, his complexion slowly started to worsen, and his face began to turn white.
And then... he was here.
Moving past the Grimm, he placed his hands on the ornate black gates. Taking several quick breaths, he slowly opened the doors.
At the head of the table sat Salem herself.
"My, my. It's been too long... Aurora."
Chapter 22 - The Red King
"Greetings, Master." Rory kneeled as he said this. Technically, he should have said 'Mistress' but Rory had reservations on that title. So he conceded and usually called his Boss either by her name, addressing her as his liege, or by 'Master'.
"Oh, don't get all formal with me Aurora. We've known each other long enough that we don't have to go through such stifling ceremonies."
Salem spoke in a controlled manner, yet from her eyes, Rory could tell that she was amused.
"Normally, I would agree. But I feel that I have to address some business first." He stood and took a seat at the other end of the table.
"Hmm," she hummed in amusement. "Speak freely."
"Very well. When I set off several years ago on my mission, I took my time consolidating my forces within several of the kingdoms. I recruited Headmaster Lionheart, as well as taken over a local crime syndicate led by a woman who calls herself Lil' Miss Malachite."
It took Rory by surprise when he found her children somehow all the way in Vale, not knowing who their mother was. He hadn't gone back to meet with the Lil' Miss for a while, so he never knew that she ever had children.
"Afterwards, I stayed in Vale for a couple of months. Unlike Mistral, the established criminal empire was embarrassingly pathetic. I had to recruit a couple of people to start over."
"I see. And what of Ozpin?" Rory held back the urge to roll his eyes. Of course, she would ask about him.
"I don't think he suspects my allegiance. He suspects my criminal status, but he doesn't seem to care much about it. I previously made a friendship with one of his subordinates, earning me some trust that may have given me some protection for a while."
"Perfect. You have done extremely well, Aurora."
"My liege, may I request you not call me that?"
"But dear Aurora, I have called you that for years now. And I must say, I don't quite like the new name."
Rory inwardly grumbled. He always did have misgivings about the name he received in his new life. When he went undercover, he latched on to the opportunity at creating a new identity for him.
"Well, I kept you here long enough. You must be exhausted from the flight. You should go rest in your room for the night. You can give a more detailed report tomorrow."
Hearing her dismissal, Rory stood and bowed once more before leaving.
Chapter 23 - A New Mission
Rory spent the rest of the next day writing up a detailed report for Salem to later read at her leisure. It was around late afternoon when she summoned him again.
"I have a new mission for you."
"Speak, and I shall do as you command."
Rory had a taste for the theatrics.
"I have a recruit that needs withdrawal. He has done his part, and will better serve us closer at hand."
"Where is this recruit?"
"Atlas. His name is Arthur Watts, a scientist who I sought out years ago."
"Hm, so you took a look at my list?"
Years ago, when Rory was still a child, he had drafted up a list of prominent characters. Salem had been given a redacted list that only told her those who were already grown up.
"Yes. In this new digital age of Scrolls and Robotics, someone who is knowledgeable in that field is necessary to keep up with the opposition."
Are robotics and smartphones related?
"Is there a deadline?"
"Not particularly. It's only come to my attention because Watts himself does not feel welcome in Atlas. Fostering loyalty early is not off the table."
"Very well. I shall leave in two days."
"Hm, you are dismissed."
Chapter 24 - Coworkers
"So, how ya doing?"
"Good, huh? That's nice. I'm supposed to head out tomorrow for Atlas."
"Don't worry. I packed some warm clothes for when I'm there. Do you want me to bring you any souvenirs?"
"You don't know? Well, you can tell me before I leave tomorrow."
"Welp, nice talking Hazel."
Hazel was always nice to talk to. Rory always loved their conversations.
His other coworker though...
"Hah! It is my liege! Your Majesty has graced my presence."
Tyrian was batshit crazy. Worse, he somehow respects Rory as much as he does Salem.
"The Red King has a new mission?"
"Yes, I'm off to Atlas tomorrow. We're probably getting a new person living around here."
"Another follower of the King and Goddess? Oh, how wonderful."
He gave a shit-eating grin after he spoke. God, why did Salem make Rory personally recruit Tyrian? And why didn't he know better at the time?
"Welp, I'm gonna go see Cinder."
"Bleah! I'll take my leave now."
Heh, he always runs when I mention Cinder.
"My Fall Princess~ where are you!"
"Ugh, what do you want Aurora!"
Cinder was a cute kid. Slightly older than Emerald, though by how much Rory couldn't tell.
"Did you miss me? Did you miss me?"
She looked at me for a while, before she shyly gave a slow nod. "...yes."
The best part... SHE'S FREAKING ADORABLE AS A KID!
"I'm sorry I had to leave too long. I'm not leaving till tomorrow. Why don't we spend the rest of the day watching some movies together."
"...can we watch Spruce Willis?"
"Of course, my Princess."
Chapter 25 - Stowaway
Rory guided the Atlesian aircraft he was borrowing for the trip. He didn't ask Salem how she got an Atlesian aircraft when none of her subordinates had one, but Rory felt that it was better to leave that train of thought alone.
Last night was fun. Cinder and Rory spent the night watching a couple of action movies while cuddled up in a blanket on the couch.
He felt bad for the poor girl, being trained to be some merciless agent by Salem to fight against Ozpin. So whenever he was around, he tried to shower her with love and attention that she clearly wasn't receiving enough of.
A thump in the back of the ship brought Rory out of his thoughts. He set the controls on autopilot and stood to walk to the back.
Opening the door, he looked down in surprise.
"...this isn't what it looks like."
Cinder Fall, future manipulator and top agent of Salem, was on the ground eating what looks like preserved food with crumbs on her face.
"Cinder? Why are yo- wait?! Did you sneak on board?!"
"N-NO! Well, I did... b-but I had permission from her Majesty."
Rory was shocked. They were already close to Atlas, and the aircraft wasn't exactly good at circulating heat. She must have been freezing in the back for hours now. Cinder looked down, worried at how Rory would react.
"...Princess, look at me." She did. "I'm not mad at you. Let's move up, you must be freezing here."
Rory sighed as he wondered how he was going to do his job with Cinder around.
Chapter 26 - Sights of Mantle
"It's stinky," Cinder crinkled her nose as she said that.
"Really? I find it kind of nostalgic." Rory remembered the cities of his past life when he went shopping with his friends downtown with the surrounding buildings similar to how Mantle looked.
"You're weird. Let's find a hotel Aurora!" Cinder grabbed his hand and started to drag him forward.
"Okay, okay. I know you're excited, but we're not in a rush."
"I'm not excited! I just... want to finish the mission so the Queen will look favorably on us."
"Come on, Cinder. This is the first time you've visited a big city, it's normal to be excited."
"Pooh, stop making fun of me Aurora!"
"Call me Rory when we're outside. Can't let anyone find out who I am. Besides... Aurora sounds so girly."
"A girly name for a girly guy."
"Hey!" Cinder laughed at Rory's indigent face, and the two spent the next few hours looking around the city. More than once, Rory commented on how amazing it was that the entirety of Atlas was floating above them.
"So, who's this guy you need to pick up?"
"His name is Arthur Watts. Some sort of genius Atlesian scientist. He's gonna meet us in two days, so we have time to explore if you want."
"Meh, you can decide where we'll go. S'long as it ain't too boring."
Just then, Rory saw a poster for a music recital by a young Weiss Schnee. Cinder saw where he was looking and groaned in her hands.
Chapter 27 - Concert
"Pst- Hey Cinder, wake up."
"W-Wha? Izzit done yet?"
"Yeah, you slept through the final act." And Rory didn't blame her either. Honestly, the concert was nice... but that's it. It was kind of boring even if the music was good and that Weiss had a good voice.
"Why ar—," Cinder yawned, "Why are we even here?"
"I wanted to see if I could recruit someone else, but I don't see them here."
"Who? Weiss Schnee?" Cinder asked with a sarcastic drawl.
"Nope! Her sister." Rory didn't know how old Winter was, but he guessed she was still at least a huntress-in-training or whatever military equivalent there was.
Ah, it was time to clap. Rory roused Cinder to stand up with everyone as they clapped their hands.
"Y'know, I kinda wish Tyrian was here now. I bet even he could make this more exciting."
"I wouldn't call Tyrian's brand of madness exciting."
Just then, Rory turned his head to the side and saw something unbelievable. Someone from one of the balcony booths next to them had a person with a sort of gun pointed towards the stage... at Weiss Schnee.
"Cinder! Glass, now!" Directing the young girl, Cinder quickly saw what Rory did. Immediately, she used her semblance to burn off a piece of her chair and form a glass knife to fire at the assailant.
The knife stabbed into the man's arm, who let out a loud scream as he fell. Unfortunately, they couldn't stop the gun from firing, and the shot managed to hit several feet next to where Weiss was standing.
Immediately, the audience started to panic.
Chapter 28 - Assassin
"So, apparently we stopped a murder by accident," Rory said to the Scroll in his hand.
"How did'ya do that?" Junior questioned on the other end. "And who's we?"
"Oh, I'm taking care of a young ward of mine. I met her a couple of years ago and left her with the people I work for."
"Right... this mysterious group that you supposedly work for that you never tell us about."
"Anyways," Rory said, redirecting the conversation. "Apparently it was some local Dust shop owner who lost his business. Guess he figured revenge on the Schnees was a good idea."
"Cool, so what? You getting some reward or something. You can't tell me you saved a Schnee and didn't get paid or something."
"Well..." Rory looked over to the Atlas soldier keeping guard over him. "I'll call you back on that one."
Yup, for the grand deed of preventing the assassination of a ten-year-old Weiss Schnee, he was arrested for suspicious circumstances or some other lame excuse like that. Cinder was being held in another room but without bars or anything more than a kind female guard looking after her.
Rory handed over the Scroll to the Atlas official, who then left and closed the door behind him. It's not like his one scroll call was wasted, but Rory felt that he was probably going to be let out anyways, so might as well check on how Vale is going.
Just then, the door opened wide to reveal someone Rory wasn't expecting to meet on this mission.
"Good evening Mr. Radiant. I am General Ironwood, here on behalf of Ozpin."
'...fuck my life,' Rory thought.
Chapter 29 - Siri
Good news, Ironwood doesn't know Rory's working for Salem. Apparently, he was just here to cut him and Cinder free.
The two of them walked behind Ironwood as he led them out of the building they were held in. Surprisingly, they were held at Atlas Academy, which seemed strange to Rory. Why hold a prison in the heart of a Hunters Acade— never mind, he found the logic in the madness.
"We are of course grateful that your opinion on Atlas hasn't lessoned during your stay here."
"It's cool. Can you thank Ozpin for me later? I don't have his number you see..."
"But of course. Now, down this hallway, we have some of our labs for weapon maintenance..."
Yup, the two of them were getting the grand tour from the head honcho himself. It was kind of interesting, Rory had to admit. And even Cinder was looking around curiously.
"Ah, Dr. Polendina! I didn't expect to see you here." Ironwood stopped to talk to a portly man with a white beard.
"I'm afraid I'm not here on pleasantries. I'm looking for dear Arthur. Have you seen him anywhere?"
"Dr. Watts? I'm afraid not."
"It's just... he managed to take one of the prototypes for the... special project." The scientist looked over to our direction for a moment, before continuing on. "And apparently, Arthur managed to get it activated."
That seemed to shock the general. "Well, that's not good. I do apologize, Mr. Radient. But I must go and get on to this problem."
"It's fine. Cinder and I can just check out the sights in Atlas."
"Very well. Good day to the two of you." And with that, the General and Dr. Polendina started to walk away in a hurry.
"Well now, let's get goin—," Rory felt a small bump in his leg, before looking down to see a small child grabbing on to him.
"Mommy!" the child exclaimed, with Cinder looking shocked by his side.
Chapter 30 - Asking for Advice
"Hey, Saffron. How's it been?"
"Rory, you fashion horror! When was the last time you called."
"Last month? I think it was something like that. Anyways, I kinda need some advice right now."
"Really? Okay, shoot."
"So..." he turned to look and saw Cinder locked in a staring contest with the strange girl they met.
"Just to clarify, I just turned sixteen recently."
"Oh! That's nice."
"Yeah, the problem is that some kid just popped up claiming to be my kid."
"... I mean, if you did it at thirteen—"
"No! She's not my kid, and I haven't done that with anyone. Also, she looks like she's at least ten."
"Sexual relations at six years old! Damn, I didn't know you were such a naughty kid."
"Okay, okay. So, what's wrong? I don't know enough of the situation to give you much advice, so it's not like you're asking me for help in dealing with the kid."
"Yeah... what I need help with is... how do you take care of kids."
"It's just... I dunno, but recently I've been having the strangest of luck. I told you about Emerald, and the Malachites, probably Neo should be counted, and I just told you about Cinder. Now there's another girl, how do you deal with having so many kids around you."
"I dunno, Rory. It's not something that I can explain in words. It's just something that you have to experience."
"Well, that's not helpful."
"Hey! So basically you're freaking out that you have to take care of another kid and you're worried it's becoming too much. Just roll with the punches and see if it works out."
"No prob! And send me pictures."
Chapter 31 - Watts is the Father
"And you found the child. Congratulations, it's a girl!"
Rory slammed his head against the wall. Somehow while he was talking to Saffron, Arthur Watts of all people came upon them. Currently, the four of them were hiding out in a room that Watts led them to.
"So you know who this kid is?"
"Why of course! I made her."
"...can you clarify your phrasing?"
"I mean what I said, quite literally. She's a test tube baby using a mix of robotics, DNA samples, and even some Grimm essence. She was supposed to be a prototype for synthetic entities capable of generating an Aura."
What? So this kid is basically proto-Penny? And she's not really a robot at this point. A cyborg? A homunculus?
"And why does she think I'm her mother." At Rory's question, Watts flushed and coughed into his hand.
"Well, you see. I wanted to use your unique biology to stabilize the Grimm essence our Majesty gave me. Since there was a precedence for this kind of situation, I knew that there was a chance at success."
"So let me get this straight. You took a sample of my DNA without consent, created a test-tube baby with it using illegal materials, and I'm guessing you're on the run because the government or military found out a bit about your project. Did I miss anything?"
"Well, she's biologically yours, so congrats on early parenthood."
"WATTS YOU ABSOLUTE SON OF A—"
Chapter 32 - Rory's Secret
Welp, finding out he gained a daughter was not how Rory was expecting this week to pan out. When Watts told him that he hadn't named the girl yet, Rory ended up naming her Metis from the Persona game series. She kinda looked like a child version too, with the Rory black hair and the Grimm red eyes.
It was late at night, and the four of them were in the hotel room Rory got them. Watts and Metis were sleeping currently, leaving Cinder and Rory awake.
"Hey, Rory." Cinder tugged at his sleeve.
"What did Watts mean when he said that there was a precedence. And why did he think your DNA would help Metis?"
Rory was silent for a moment. Slowly, he started to take off his shirt. Revealing the bandages underneath, Cinder watched as Rory slowly removed the coverings.
Cinder gasped once part of the bandages were removed. Where skin should have been, Cinder only saw patches of what looked like Grimm flesh. The flesh seemed to unnaturally fuse with Rory, filling up a hole where his heart is supposed to be.
A white number  stood out and covered the Grimm flesh. Seeing Cinder's reaction, Rory smiled as he spoke.
"I am Aurora, a human without an Aura. My story begins, when I died six years ago..."
Chapter 33 - Meeting Salem
~15 Years Before the Plot~
Smoke and clouds of dust filled the air. Every breath he took only allowed him to inhale even more of the pollutants in the air. A sickening cough could be heard next to him, but he was more worried about the spear of darkness stabbed into his chest.
The woman - or whatever creature Salem was - stood before him, with the other end of the spear in her hand.
Rory laughed, then coughed up some blood as his body moved too harshly.
"Yeah, and whose fault is that?"
"This village harbored another one of those Silver Eyed Warriors. Or, it was supposed to. Why is it, that only you stayed behind when everyone else ran away."
"W-We have n-no vehicles. No cars, no a-airships, nothing that a-allowed civilians to evacuate. I am t-the only villager here that does n-not have Aura. I v-volunteered to stay behind so that n-no one would have to take me on as their b-burden."
"Oh, you don't have Aura? Why were you not Awakened?"
"You don't understand," and Rory laughed again. "I don't have Aura at all! The v-villagers called me the D-Deadman walking, for I held no soul."
"Well..." and then Salem smiled, and Rory felt that he wasn't supposed to let her know that. "This changes everything."
Salem moved closer and placed a hand on Rory's forehead. Without warning, he blacked out.
Chapter 34 - Grimm Heart
"What did you do to me."
Rory screamed at the Queen of Grimm herself, who only smiled sadistically at her work. Rory was barechested, with a hole shaped like a black splatter filled up with Grimm flesh. The number  stood out with its thin bone-like appearance.
"I made you into something I thought impossible. I made you into a Grimm... well, partially at least."
"T-This is wrong. Y-You can't. I-I'm still human. Maybe a bit of me is Grimm-like, b-but it's just like getting a prosthetic. For my heart."
Even Rory felt that he was deluding himself a bit much. Salem only chuckled as she watched him try to deny the truth.
"No, no, no. Dear child, it is not just your body that is Grimm. Let me show you."
Salem stood up, and with something in her voice, she commanded, "BE SILENT!"
Rory's mouth shut up at her words, and no matter what he did he couldn't speak. Fear could be seen in his eyes as well as confusion as to why he listened to her.
"KNEEL BEFORE ME!" Dropping to his knees, Rory couldn't control his actions as his body moved without his permission.
"Hm, you seem to act like any other Grimm," Salem commented.
"S-Shut up! I am not a Grimm!" Rory shouted through clenched teeth.
"Oh? I guess you can only process one command at a time. Interesting."
Salem thought about what she was going to do next before she smiled. To Rory's horror, Salem uttered a simple but terrible command.
"By my command," she paused as she looked down upon him. "CHOKE YOURSELF TO DEATH!"
Rory's hands wrapped around his throat. Crying and choking on the ground, Rory felt his mind start to fade even as his hands continued to tighten around his throat. Before Rory blacked out, Rory felt his hands sharpen and his throat exploded under his grip.
Chapter 35 - Regeneration
Rory woke up in shock and panted heavily. He looked around confused for a moment, wondering what happened.
"Hm, most interesting," Salem commented. The two were still in the same position as before, only Rory was lying on the ground. Clutching his head, Rory ignored the aching headache and looked towards Salem.
Salem directed her gaze to his chest, and Rory took a moment to figure out what she was looking at. Looking down, he saw that the bone plating shaped into the number  had changed into .
"You died. Your body dissipated just like a Grimm would. However, something... interesting happened."
Rory looked at how Salem's eyes suddenly turned into that of pity. It felt strange, seeing the supposedly evil woman looking at him with sympathy.
"Your body started to reform, looking exactly like it did before your throat was ripped apart. Except... the number over your heart lowered."
Rory looked at her in shock, guessing at the implications.
"If I'm guessing correctly, every time you die you have a set amount of lives to restore yourself from."
Salem started to laugh bitterly before she spoke once more. "Congratulations, you will now experience the same curse as I do. Albeit in a more limited nature. What irony."
Rory grew silent as he wondered how this was possible. Was this... a Semblance? No! Rory didn't feel like he had Aura. Then... Magic?
"No matter," Salem concluded. "As one of my creations, you now serve me from now on. We can figure out how this is possible another day."
Rory glared at the woman and spat out, "If you think I'll work for someone like you, then you've clearly lost your mind."
Salem looked at him for a moment, before smiling. She started to walk out of the room, opening the doors to leave. Before she closed them, she looked back at him.
"As if you have a choice."
Chapter 36 - End of Story
"And that's pretty much it," Rory concluded. "Salem picked me up when I was a kid - just like you - and now here we are."
Cinder looked at Rory in wonder. She knew that her Majesty wasn't a paragon of good, seeing how Cinder first met Salem was also on bad terms. Still, she didn't realize Rory was also taken in by Salem at a young age.
"How old were you?"
"I think... ten? Yeah, ten-years-old."
"And your chest... it says . How'd you... ?"
"Well, that's a story for another time.
Cinder pouted, and Rory laughed at her expression. The serious mood seemed to dissipate as the two started to giggle and laugh.
"So, you can just die and recover back to normal?"
"Yeah. But it's not as cool as you think. Since I don't have Aura, I'm just a squishy human. If I die to a Beowolf, and then I revive, I can still die a hundred more times to the same Beowolf. This quirk of mine just lets me have more opportunities to run away."
"Beowolves wouldn't hurt us."
"You know what I'm talking about."
Cinder looked at the number on his chest on a moment and had a strange expression on her face.
"You know... I don't really like how it's just the number . Can't you knock off a number and get lucky number ?"
Rory playfully looked offended. "Cinder!"
Chapter 37 - Q&A
The next day, Cinder and Metis got along enough with each other where they decided to tag-team me and ask Rory a ton of questions about his curse. Metis knew his story already, having learned the basics from Watts. Rory made a mental note to himself to talk to Watts and ask why Salem felt the need to have Watts study his biology.
"So you're a ghost?"
"Not really. I'm technically alive and I don't want to eat brains."
"Are you a Grimm?"
"Can you talk to Grimm?"
"Can you summon an army of Grimm?"
"No! Why would you think that?"
"Can you summon an army of zombies?"
"I'm not a zombie!"
Cinder and Metis laughed, having asked several questions in succession to each other. The two seemed to act like sisters with the way they were acting. They even looked like sisters too, both having short black hair and similar body frames. Only their eyes differed in color.
Watts watched the two and commented. "So, I see they're getting along."
"Yup. Glad to see the adopted daughter accepting the biological one."
Chapter 38 - Two Dads Talking
"So, Watts. What is Metis exactly?"
"She's a biologically grown homunculus with cybernetic implants."
"Is she like me? And is she related to you?"
"You mean does she have your curse? No. I did some tests on the concentration of Grimm essence inside her. She'll have an above-average healing factor, but no regeneration. Also, I just made her. She's not genetically related to me."
"And she's biologically mine? I'm not that savvy on my biology, but aren't test tube babies made from egg and sperm cells?"
"...should I be worried about how you have access to my sperm?"
"OKAY! I did not need to know that! ...who's the egg donor?"
"I dunno? Some Huntress."
"Watts, there's like hundreds of Huntresses. Can you be a bit more specific?"
"I really can't. I didn't care too much about the specifics, and my paperwork is probably in military custody. I did briefly glance at the profile picture though."
"...is she hot?"
"Welp, nice to know I'll have to beat the boys after Metis with a stick. I wonder if I still have my golf club from when I crashed King's lair?"
"What about Cinder? She looks like she'll grow up with eyes turning after her."
"Please, Cinder can look after herself. I'm more worried about the poor fools after her."
Watts hummed, and the two sat in silence.
"By the way, I got a phone call from the hotel staff. Apparently, someone left an invitation for you."
"Really? Who's it from?"
Rory slowly turned her head towards Watts, before smiling evilly.
"Hey Watts... do you know how to set up a divorce?"
"Why Rory, I believe I'm interested in what you're planning."
Chapter 39 - Marital Discord
"Mr. Radiant, it is so nice to meet you."
"Please, Mrs. Schnee. Just call me Rory."
"Then call me Willow. Mrs. Schnee was my mother."
Rory found himself shaking hands with a... sober? Yes, a sober Willow Schnee. That was weird already, as Rory was pretty sure Willow was the type of person who bled alcohol.
"I apologize for the reception. Weiss is still meeting with the psychiatrist her father set up for her and Winter is still in school. My husband—"
She sighed, and the two of them sat down on fancy looking, but slightly uncomfortable, chairs. Willow poured some tea for the two of them before she spoke.
"I requested to meet you because of - of course - how you saved my daughter. I noticed that the young girl that was with you is not here today."
"She's staying with her uncle right now. She didn't really feel like going out today."
If Cinder heard Rory calling Watts her uncle, her face would've soured like crazy.
"But I must confess when I heard about the proposition you sent me last night—"
"Willow, let's not play any more games. Just tell me what you think."
Willow grew silent for a moment. Her hands started to shake before she gripped her wrists and steadied them. She softly spoke, in a quivering voice.
"Please... save me."
Chapter 40 - Discussing Plans
Cinder and Metis were cuddling together on the same bed sleeping. While Metis was sleeping quietly, Cinder gave out loud but embarrassingly cute snores that drowned out the whispers of the two men.
"So you told Willow Schnee about Salem!"
"Yeah. In exchange for getting rid of Jacques Schnee from power and reinstituting her as head of the SDC, she'll join us as one of Salem's agents."
Yup, having one of the most integral parts of the whole world's economy and lifestyle under the rule of Salem will surely change the world. For the worse? Even Rory didn't know how bad the repercussions would be.
"Cool, so what's your plan?"
Rory liked how Watts didn't seem to care how he was essentially sabotaging the people of Remnant of their best and most valued resource. It made things like morality easier to ignore.
"We can't kill Jacques. That's one of her conditions."
"Okay, so slander the shit out of him. Make him look bad in front of everyone."
"I'm not really that good at politics."
"Neither am I. But do you know what you are good at?"
"Getting a good word with the immortal Queen of Grimm who once ruled over Remnant as its Goddess. Who probably has more political savvy in her finger than the whole of Atlas combined."
"...Watts, have I ever told you how much of a genius you were?"
"You could remind me from time to time."
Chapter 41 - Recruiting Allies
"Okay, so I talked with Salem last night."
"I have an idea at how we can attack the SDC. I know that we were supposed to get you out of the city, but this is more important than that. For the next few days, take care of the kids while I leave the Kingdom. Continue to talk with Willow about any future plans."
"Alright. And where will you be?"
"I have someone I want to recruit in helping us bring down the SDC."
"The White Fang."
Currently, it was around nine years before the show's plot was supposed to start. Right now, the White Fang isn't a violent terrorist group, but merely a growing organization of Faunus protesters. And if Rory's plan was gonna go as he hoped it would, then they never will be terrorists.
Watts scoffed. "The White Fang? Seriously, that gathering of riff-raff?"
"Hm? I didn't know you were racist."
"First of all, that's not the correct term. It's supposed to be speciesist. Second, I'm not. It's just that the White Fang isn't exactly a political movement. They're just a group of miners and laborers. I hardly think any of them even has a proper education or upbringing."
"...so it's not about race, but class? You know technically I never went to school and I'm as homeless as a Grimm."
"You work for royalty. It's hardly the same thing."
"Whatever. I'm gonna recruit some Faunus leaders to talk about the SDC's worker's treatment rights or some sappy thing like that. You'll keep an eye on the kids and Atlas while I'm gone."
"Okay, fine. I just have one problem."
"How's Cinder gonna react to you telling her you're not taking her with you?"
Rory looked at Watts for a moment with a dumbfounded face, before slowly opening his mouth and saying, "...ah, shit."
Chapter 42 - Don't Go
Surprisingly, it wasn't Cinder who made a lot of fuss. At least, at first.
"NoOOoO! Don't go!" Metis screamed while clinging her whole body to Rory's leg. Cinder watched from the side, trying to keep a level expression on her face.
"Metis, I have to go."
God damn, even without Aura the girl sure has strength. That must be due to the cybernetic implants or whatever Watts did to her.
"No! I wanna go with you! You're my squishy Mommy, I need to protect you!"
Ugh, she's still calling Rory 'Mommy' instead of 'Daddy'. It's cute, if rather embarrassing.
"Don't worry, I'll have someone I know with me. He's someone I need to bring with me anyways to talk to the White Fang."
"His name's Tyrian."
"Tyrian!" And now it was Cinder's turn. "You're telling me you're leaving me and Watts behind to go off with Tyrian?!"
"Hey, to be fair, you know he'll at least take care of me."
"No! I won't let you do something so stupid."
Aw, great. And now Cinder's also grabbing his leg. Rory saw Watts standing nearby smirking under his mustache, to which Rory quickly gave him the bird.
"Hey, Watts! You know, it's not too late to convince Salem to switch our roles around. Why don't you go in my place?"
Watts froze as the two girls suddenly stopped making noise and turned to stare at him. He only had a few seconds of warning before he was eventually caught by the two girls. Rory laughed the whole time Watts screamed.
Chapter 43 - Daily Life of Tyrian
During the time Rory was in Atlas with Cinder, Tyrian was on his own mission somewhere in Vacuo.
Rory never bothered to socialize much with Tyrian. When he first met the crazed Faunus, Rory had little information to go on how Tyrian normally acted when he wasn't on missions for Salem.
The Faunus had taken himself on admiring Salem and Rory to unbelievable levels. So much that whenever he traveled, he gathered a following of people to discuss his beliefs and admiration of his superiors.
Somehow... he gathered a strange crowd of followers.
"Pray for our Goddess!" Tyrian shouted.
"PRAY FOR OUR GODESS!" The crowd cheered.
"And her loyal follower, the Red King."
"AND HER LOYAL FOLLOWER THE RED KING!"
"For they will lead us to greatness!"
"FOR THEY WILL LEAD US TO GREATNESS!"
"And under their rule, we shall—" Tyrian was interrupted by the ringing of his Scroll. Tilting his head in confusion, he beamed when he saw that it was the Red King Rory who was calling. Without caring for the crowd's confusion, Tyrian accepted the call on the spot.
"Your Majesty, have you need for my service?"
Tyrian listened for a bit, answering with small hums of acknowledgment once in a while before hanging up. Turning to the crowd, Tyrian called out.
"Who here knows someone in the White Fang!"
A young girl with brown hair and long ears timidly raised her hand. Seeing her, he called her forth.
"The Red King has given me an important mission. I require your services for this worthy task. Will you assist me in this endeavor?"
Velvet Scarlatina shyly nodded her head.
Chapter 44 - Cult Leader
"No, Watts. General Ironwood only got his position last year. I don't think Jacques can expect much support from the military at the moment. Just make sure Willow rallies the Faunus workforce for support. Salem will tell you what to do with the Board Members."
Rory finished his Scroll call and turned to face the runway. Tyrian had called and said that he would have someone fly them to the current White Fang headquarters.
Just then, Rory saw Tyrian waving exaggeratingly while exiting an aircraft. Rory smiled at the crazy man's enthusiasm, that is until he noticed the other occupant of the aircraft exit with him.
'The hell? Seriously! How the eff is Velvet here with Tyrian? Why the hell do I keep running into people I know by accident?!'
Now, let's get a headcount. There's Ruby, Yang, Coco, Jaune, Emerald, and the twins. Should he count Metis as well? And those were the ones he met by pure chance, not including those he sought out on purpose.
Even Salem technically met him by chance, once he thought about it. It's not like Rory chose to be born in a village with a Silver Eye Warrior.
"Tyrian, why did you bring a teenage girl here?"
"M-My name is V-Velvet Scarlatina, your M-Majesty! It is a-an honor to m-meet you!"
The hell? Majesty? What?
"Of course! I was with some of our worshippers when you gave me that call. Young Velvet here has offered her services with meeting the leaders of the White Fang."
Worshippers! What the hell was Tyrian doing?!
"Y-Yeah! It is an honor to aid the revered leader. My cousin twice-removed has an Uncle-in-Law that's friends with one of the leaders of the White Fang."
Huh, that's useful.
"Great job, I guess? Thank you so much, Velvet. You don't know how much this means to me."
Velvet's face grew bright red before she promptly fainted.
Seriously, what the hell did Tyrian do?
Chapter 45 - Holy Artifact
The three of them were currently sitting in the back of an aircraft. Rory asked Tyrian who was piloting them, only for Tyrian to reply that they were just another one of their worshipers.
With nothing to do but make small talk, Rory finally couldn't hold it in anymore.
"So... Tyrian. What have you been doing in Vacuo? And can you explain to me why you keep referring to Velvet as one of my followers?"
"Why, it's simple. Salem often has a group of people who fall under her rule every few years or so. This can either take the form of a religion or a monarchy. Either way, it is usually one of her agent's jobs to go out and recruit a large following for her. That's how we provide for ourselves in food and resources."
Huh. Somehow Rory never questioned how they got food in the Grimmlands till now.
"Okay, I get that. But... how am I involved in this?"
"Why, you are our Holy Leader! You serve directly to the Goddess herself, and we serve you."
Holy— So he's the fricking leader of a cult!
"And why has Velvet been unable to look me in the eye since I met her?"
"Eep!" Velvet blushed and turned away once Rory turned to her direction.
"I don't know myself? All I did was give her one of the Holy Artifacts in return for her cooperation."
"Simple trinkets that were once worn by the Red King - you. They're really great as rewards for the worshipers. In Velvet's case, I gave her one of your old boxers. The really bold ones too."
Velvet blushed, as she held out a pair of one of Rory's bright red stretchy boxers. Tyrian cackled as Rory blushed and snatched the offending article and stuffed it into his pocket, ignoring Velvet's devastated look.
Oh, God! And Rory just remembered that Watts was provided some material from Tyrian too. How did he even—
Rory chose that moment to decide that this trail of thought was not worth it and that he would forever avoid the topic of this supposed cult.
Chapter 46 - Meeting the White Fang
"Okay, we're almost there. Tyrian, watch out for Velvet while we're there just in case we get separated. Velvet, stay close to Tyrian."
The two nodded, although the insane grin on Tyrian did little to settle Rory's worries. The current White Fang was at most a bothersome activist organization, years away from being the terrorist organization Rory knew it as.
Thus, Rory had no idea how the current White Fang would treat them. They might give some leeway to Tyrian and Velvet, but Rory was still technically human so that might be a problem when dealing with some of them.
The three of them started to walk out of the aircraft. A large crowd had formed to see the visitors. Rory saw a couple of Faunus grimace in his direction.
Standing in front of the crowd was a large man. Like, LARGE large. Holy hell, the man looked like he could bench press Rory with his finger.
Ghira Belladonna, the current leader of the White Fang, had come out to meet them personally. Okay, he'll deal with it. Rory's used to dealing with important authority figures. Ozpin, Salem, Ironwood, Willow, etc. There's no need to be nervous.
"TYRIAN! I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU NEVER TO APPROACH US AGAIN!" Giara bellowed, completely red-faced.
WHY! Why can't life just give me a break!
...also, fuck Tyrian.
Chapter 47 - He Used to What
...this is really awkward.
So, after a couple of Faunus calmed down Ghira, the three of them were taken to a room with two couches and a small coffee table between them. Ghira sat on one side while the three of them sat together on the other. Tyrian, in a rare case of normalcy, was silent and seemed content to keep up with the strange staring contest he was having with Ghira.
This continued for several minutes before someone thankfully interrupted when they came to bring them tea.
"So... you're back!" Ghira said as he took the cup from the server.
"Bitch, you know it."
"I'm sorry," Rory interrupted, causing the two to look at them. "But I didn't know that the two of you knew each other."
"Oh, we go waaay back. I met this bastard when I was barely older than you are."
"Hehe, it was a long time ago your Majesty."
Okaaay, this was unexpected. Even Velvet seemed to be interested in the drama between the two.
"So what's your relationship with him Tyrian?"
"Well, I used to date his wife."
"Tyrian, shut up."
"What? Why can't I talk about how I used to enjoy some good pus—"
"Tyrian!" Rory's face was bright red. "There is a child here."
"Did you know I even offered to share? I ain't a man's man, but I'm willing to explore."
"WELL I'M NOT!"
Rory and Velvet blushed a storm, as the two Faunus continued to argue. Lamely, Rory thought that he could've probably cut the sexual tension in the room with a butter knife. And as Rory realized what direction his mind was going, he suddenly felt the urge to barf.
Chapter 48 - Gathering A Case
"This is the list of all members of the White Fang formerly affiliated with Schnee Mining services willing to testify to whatever you want in court."
Ghira handed over a vanilla folder to Rory, who took it and quickly skimmed the page in it to see how many names were on it. Negotiations went by smoothly, and now they were hashing out the details on what to do.
"You know that even with everything we have, it'll still be hard for us to succeed. Jacques has a team of lawyers and he has the monopoly of almost all of Remnant's Dust supply."
"The people don't need Jacques Schnee," Rory replied. "They only need the Schnee Dust Company. Whoever's in charge won't change the world too much, only those who work there."
"I feel like you're oversimplifying the problem."
"Who cares! It's not my job to think too much about what we're doing. I'm not the driving force here. My Boss is working out the politics. Willow is handling the support. Your job is to provide me with dirt. I'm just the guy tasked with connecting people together."
"Some would argue that you're job is the most important of all."
"Maybe. Either way, are you gonna hand me that list on possible solutions to worker's compensation?"
"Sure. Just make sure to get that son of a bitch."
"Oh, I will."
Chapter 49 - Bunny and Cat
Rory finally relaxed as he sent his report to Salem. He closed the laptop he was using for the past two hours and set it aside.
Ghira and some of his people were currently packing for the next flight to Atlas. First-class private aircraft - courtesy of Willow Schnee. They were gonna help testify in court or compile evidence or whatever else Willow needed. Either way, it wasn't Rory's problem.
"AAAHHHH!" A sudden scream shocked Rory to action. He started running to Velvet's room, having immediately identified her voice.
"Velvet, what's wrong!"
Velvet was running for her life from her pursuer. Her chaser had an intense look on their face, causing Velvet to tear up even as she ran.
It was... the most adorable sight he had ever seen in all his multiple lives.
"D'aww, who's your little friend?"
It was a rhetorical question, of course. Rory and Velvet were invited to sleep in the same building as the Belladonnas. So it was no surprise to him that he found Blake playing around with Velvet.
"Great job Velvet! You made a friend."
"YOUR MAJESTY! SAVE ME!"
Chapter 50 - Back to Atlas
They were on a large airship headed back to Mantle. And by they, Rory meant him and the representatives of the White Fang including Ghira and his family.
Some notable names included Sienna Khan, Tukson, the Albain brothers, and Kali Belladonna. The last one wasn't really a representative and was more of a babysitter. Currently, she was playing with Velvet and Blake.
...oh yeah, and apparently Velvet didn't want to go home yet and Blake wanted to follow Velvet. So somehow Rory ended up taking them along.
"Not that I'm complaining, but why didn't Tyrian follow us?" Ghira asked.
"His job was only to help me get in touch with the White Fang. He has... other duties to attend to."
And whatever those duties entailed, Rory didn't want to know. But honestly, Tyrian had actually left ahead to go to Atlas on Rory's orders. Since Rory failed to extract Watts due to him being side-tracked with the Schnees, Rory had Tyrian go on his own to get Watts out of Atlas without him.
Cinder and Metis were staying behind though. Rory wondered if Kali was willing to take on watching two more girls.
"You know, I still can't believe this is happening. Atlas has never seen us as any proper organization. This event will help legitimize us and put our word out there."
"Don't get ahead of yourself. You still have the hard part left."
"I know, I know. But... I never asked. Why are you helping us? What do you get out of this?"
"Me? I benefit a lot from what we're doing. I have a favor of a potential CEO of the Schnee Dust Company. I can help Faunus rights improve by giving you an opportunity to help. I can feel happy knowing that somehow I did some good in the world, even if all I did was gather the right people to do the job for me."
"Heh... for what it's worth, I think you're giving yourself too little credit."
"You said so already."
"And I'll repeat it until it gets through that thick head of yours."
"Heh, thanks Ghira."
Chapter 51 - Day of Snow
Today was the day.
Willow Schnee felt a brush against her hand for a moment. She didn't need to look down to know that it was probably another high-brand wine bottle - one that she once would have used for comfort.
But now, being sober is important enough for Willow to temporarily ignore the crutch she had been using all these years to handle her feelings about her husband. After today, if she ever drinks again, she'll only toast to the idea of Jacques Not-Schnee leaving forever.
Now that's something she can get drunk to.
She has been preparing for this for the past few weeks. Her days of hollow drunkenness had been replaced with long-forgotten board meetings and conversations with lawyers and fellow relatives involved in the company. Meeting that strange teenager, representing one of Remnant arguably worst villains, had been a godsend.
She felt the urge to cry for a moment. Oh god, she was going to be free.
"Mother, are you alright?"
Winter. Oh, her beautiful Winter. When she announced her plans on getting rid of Jacques in public, Winter had been one of the first people to immediately come to her. Willow felt a pang of gut-ripping guilt attack her for neglecting her eldest child for all these years, and even more so when Winter showed how useful of an asset she was with her connection to the Military.
"I-I'm fine Winter. J-Just calming ourselves before the inevitable."
Winter nodded, even if she still looked concerned for her mother's welfare.
"Weiss and Whitley are staying with Klein in a hotel while this whole situation is happening. We also hired several bodyguards to watch over them, in case another attack happens."
"Good. Have any calls come from Rory yet?"
"No, only a representative who calls himself [The Brain]. His voice felt familiar to me for some reason. Maybe he's a contact with the Military."
"That's not important right now," Willow interrupted. She knew about Arthur Watts and his apparent seniority over her in being one of Salem's agents. "Just tell me if Rory or this [Brain] calls again."
"I will. A-Are you... alright, Mother?"
No, she wasn't. The next week would determine not only her fate but the fate of the entire Remnant. She was effectively taking over the largest supply of Dust while being in cahoots with the enemy of Humanity and Faunuskind.
"I have to be, Winter. I just have to— if we want to free ourselves."
Chapter 52 - Girls' Night Out
Cinder ignored the urge to rub her forehead again.
"So both of you have four ears? Does that mean you have better hearing than regular humans?"
"E-Erm, Metis? C-Can you stop touching them. MEEP!"
Metis had instantly bonded with the bunny Faunus Rory had brought with him, while Cinder was being watched by the other girl.
"What? You got a problem with me?"
It was kinda weird how similar they looked. Black eyes and similar eye colors. Cinder even thought that if she added some fake cat ears to herself people would mistake the two of them for sisters.
"You smell like smoked fish."
"What!" Cinder sniffed herself, but she couldn't tell if anything was wrong. Suddenly, she felt a weight press on her side. Looking down, she saw the cat Faunus was leaning against her.
"Get away from me!"
"No! Fish is good!"
"Speak in proper sentences. You're not an infant!"
"Fishy lady don't be mean!"
"DON'T CALL ME THAT!"
Ugh, she was gonna kill Rory once he comes back.
Chapter 53 - Escaping Atlas
Rory met up with Tyrian and Hazel in an alleyway near the outskirts of Mantle. Following him was Watts and a large bag containing some of his sensitive research.
Huh, Rory just realized that he never called Watts by his first name. It felt kinda weird to just switch to calling him Arthur all of a sudden.
"You got it from here?"
"Of course, my liege. The two of us will be in and out in a jiffy."
Of course, Rory didn't take just his word. He looked to Hazel for confirmation and got a firm nod in reply.
Good old Hazel.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye for now. I'll be gone from Atlas in a few days and then I'll head on back to Vale. I dunno when I'll see you guys next, but I'll stay in touch."
"Thank you for watching out for me the past few days. But I must ask... why are you taking the children with you?"
Watts was talking about how Rory planned to take Cinder and Metis back with him. It would have made more sense for Rory to send the two back to Salem, but he decided otherwise.
"I wanna enroll them in a Hunters Training Academy. Build up a good record so that they can enroll in Beacon, maybe even get into Ozpin's trust."
Well, that was one excuse Salem would accept.
"Then... this is goodbye."
"Take care." All of a sudden, the three of them kneeled down and crossed an arm over their chests. "We wish the Red King good fortune in his endeavor."
"And I, you." Rory saluted in return, and the group split ways. Rory never told them, but the three men knew that Rory always loved when they acted all dramatic like that.
They were good friends that way.
Chapter 54 - Doing Nothing
"...soooo, why aren't you doing anything?"
"Cinder, what can I do? Everyone's already off to the trial or hearing or whatever it's called. I'm not a Faunus ex-miner or an emotionally abused wife filing for divorce and company takeover. I don't really have anything else to contribute at this point."
"So what? Can't you find something better to do than laze around in a hotel room?"
Rory raised his head to look at Cinder, who was lying facedown on the bed next to him.
"Not really, no."
"Hey, what about that one girl you wanted to meet? The young Schnee."
"Weiss? I mean, I guess we could visit her. They should be doing nothing too."
"She has a brother. Name's Whiney or something like that. I think the two of them are being watched by their family butler. I dunno, I'll ask them."
Rory picked up his scroll and gave a call to the number Willow gave him. It took a while for Klein to pick up, and Rory started a nice conversation with him.
"Uh-huh. Yup. Oh, they're bored too? You want to— well, I don't want to insist. Oh? Oh! Oh, sure. We can be there in an hour."
Rory hung up and turned to Cinder.
"So, I'ma go and meet with them. Wanna come?"
Chapter 55 - Meanwhile in Vale
Emerald was not happy.
Earlier, she heard one of the mooks that belonged to Junior talk about her with his friends. They didn't know she was nearby when they referred to her as 'Little Green'.
Of course, once she heard that accursed name, she immediately interrogated the poor sap who said it. Say what you want about Neo, but Emerald learned things from her. Terrible things. Things that she immediately applied to the man, allowing her to find out that frickin Roman was spreading that nickname around.
Ugh, picking up the remote she turned on the TV that hung off Junior's wall. Usually, it played some news or fights from competitions, which Emerald wasn't really in to. But there was an exception this time around.
"Atlesian Anchor Avian Asker here - reporting on the current situation regarding Jacques Schnee and his debated position as head of SDC. It was only several minutes ago that Ghira Belladonna, the renowned leader of the White Fang, entered the building—"
How long has he been in Atlas already? The Club had reopened weeks ago, thanks to a large sum of funds Rory wired Junior. Even then, Rory said that he would probably still be in Atlas for the next few weeks.
"Oh, you're watching the news? That's rare."
And Junior just comes in and drinks his coffee. Emerald ignored him as he took a seat nearby to watch the screen too.
"Hm... I'd thought he'd be more involved. At least to the extent of having his face shown on the screen."
Hearing what Emerald said, Junior gave a short bark of laughter.
"Nah, he's more like the shadow puppeteer who controls the players behind the scene. Besides, he's probably babysitting his new daughter or something. It's not every day you find out you have an illegitimate kid."
Emerald whipped her head and turned to Junior with a snap.
"Err... did you not know?"
"No," and Emerald said it through clenched teeth. "So why don't you explain to me what exactly you know."
Junior gulped in fear, trying to find his words.
'God damn it, why are kids these days like this?'
Chapter 56 - Our Protagonist
Ruby Rose was bored.
"And currently, security has escorted an agitated Sienna Khan from the room. Jacques Schnee is calling for the young Faunus to be arrested, while the Faunus within the crowd are growing restless—"
"Uncle Qrowww! Can we watch something else?"
"Can't Squirt. This is pretty big news, and I don't wanna miss a thing."
"I'm surprised you're actually even paying attention," Taiyang commented from the side.
"Are you kidding? Did you not see the look on Jimmy's face when that Khan girl started talking smack about the military. This is practically a live soap opera."
Ruby sneakily tried to take the remote, but her Uncle merely lifted it in the air out of her reach. Pouting, she kept hopping up and down in an attempt to grab it.
"James had always been... harsh at taking rebuttal. Still, it's not nice to laugh at his misfortune."
"Yeah? Well, with my Semblance that's something I've been gaining a lot of experience with."
Ruby Rose gave up and stopped paying attention to the two bickering men. Ugh, this is soooo boring! Why can't she watch her own movies like— ooohhh, cookie commercial.
Never mind, she's good.
Chapter 57 - Jacque Ass
Jacques Schnee was furious. Slamming his hand on the desk, he yelled at the top of his lungs.
"Unacceptable! I thought you told me that this was in the bag!"
"But Mr. Schnee," his lawyer started. "Your wife has also gained a staggering opposition. Familial board members, White Fang affiliates, military personal, and even public support."
"Bah! I pay enough of our board members to outnumber her. I'm talking about the fact that you're losing to... to ANIMALS!"
"Regardless of who they are, the White Fang has presented a powerful case. The public is spinning a story about how the SDC is ignoring basic Faunus Labor Laws."
"I don't care! I want her out! I'll throw as much money at this as I can, just get rid of this mess."
The lawyer paused for a moment.
"Sir. I may have... an idea. Do you remember that one fellow from a month ago at a charity ball?"
"Dominic? That low upstart owner of that tiny local Dust shop. What about him?"
"Remember how he recently got into an... unfortunate accident."
Jacques paused for a moment, before leaning his elbows on the desk and holding his palms together.
"I know a guy. We have utilized his services in the past for certain... dirty tasks."
"...what's his name?"
"Black," the lawyer answered. "Marcus Black."
Chapter 58 - A Big Step
Several days have passed since Ghira left to deal with Willow. Kali slowly hummed a soft lullaby while stroking her daughter's head lying on her lap.
Today she was playing babysitter. The two young girls who came with Ambassador Rory were lying on the bed nearby. The younger one - Metis - was hugging the other girl Velvet in a tight hold as if she were a body pillow.
Kali didn't mind being out of the loop on most occasions. But this... this was different. Her husband was an incredible man, and he was the leader of something incredible.
Definitely a better man than Tyrian was - and what was she thinking back then.
Regardless, his position marked him as a target of politics and racism. While she was in Mantle, her husband was fighting against the forces of Atlas thousands of feet above her. Every hour, she worried that she would receive a call only to find out that some riot or political trap happened involving her husband.
So, of course, she freaked out when her scroll started ringing like crazy. Hurridly picking it up so that the noise wouldn't wake the children, she answered the call.
"We did it! Honey we did it!"
Ghira's words didn't register until a moment later. Tears started to roll down her eyes and she covered her mouth with her hands.
Jacques Schnee was no longer the CEO of the SDC. As of a few minutes ago, he was not even a Schnee anymore.
...actually, what the hell was his original name anyway?
Chapter 59 - Black Snow
Willow couldn't believe all that has happened in the past few weeks.
The judge had actually listened to her story. Public opinion was on her side. The White Fang and the majority of the SDC deferred to her. Even Winter's contacts in the military were helping.
And then... she did it. It's just... unbelievable.
Currently, she was alone in her room at the Schnee Manor. Tomorrow, she was gonna call back Weiss and Whitley so that they could finally go home.
A sound of something falling came from behind her. As she turned to look, she felt something enter her gut.
No. Nonononononono. Falling to her knees, she tried to call out for help but her throat seized in panic.
'Why! I-I just w-wanted to b-be free."
Blood started to come up her throat. A burning sensation had spread throughout her body from where the knife stabbed.
In her dying state, she thought of her children and what would happen to them. With her remaining strength, she cradled the necklace around her neck into her hand.
Twenty hours after Willow Schnee divorced her husband, she died alone in her room from an unknown poison.
The next day...
Chapter 60 - I'm Sorry
"I-I can't believe it. But how - no, what does this change. Find out what happened and see if this is his fault! If it really is his fault, he'll try to make a move in the next few days. Is Winter— no, let her have a break. I'll find someone else to take care of this."
Rory hung up his Scroll call and all but collapsed on his bed. Tears started to uncontrollably leak at the corner of his eyes. All of a sudden, he threw his Scroll away and started to scream.
"AAAGGHHH! It's not fair! It's not FAIR! We were so close!"
Sobbing uncontrollably, he didn't notice the door creak open. Cinder peaked in and saw how Rory was acting.
Even in his depressed state, Rory still chucked as he finally noticed how Cinder no longer called him Aurora. Oh, God! Cinder was supposed to be with Weiss and Whitley. What was he supposed to say to them?
"I-It's fine. I'm fine."
Rory saw how Cinder made a face at him, looking at him as if he was stupid. He awkwardly laughed between a few sobs, then spoke.
"S-Sorry. Can you please t-take me to Weiss and Whitley?"
Cinder didn't say anything, but she did open the door for Rory as he walked out of the room. He quickly found them in a large living space in the hotel room they were staying at. The two children looked at him when he entered.
"Mr. Radiant? Are you okay?"
Rory saw Weiss look up to him, and his gut clenched uncomfortably. Weiss must have seen something on his face because her already pale skin turned even whiter.
"No. NO! NOOO!" And now Weiss was screaming and throwing pillows at him. "Stop making that face! Stop it!"
Finally, Weiss stopped throwing things and just sank to the floor crying. Whitley looked to his sister in confusion, but still awkwardly hugged her. The whole time, Rory only repeated the same words. "I'm sorry."
Chapter 61 - What Did You Say
"What do you mean 'fall back'!"
"Rory, you need to understand," Watts tried to explain. "The SDC is a lost cause. Jacques Gelé managed to somehow turn over all political opposition around. The White Fang are already leaving the city if I recall."
"Yeah! But that's cause everyone suddenly turned batshit crazy. Why are the citizens of Atlas attacking the White Fang?!"
"Did you not hear? The SDC made a statement claiming that it was a Faunus assassin who snuck in and killed Willow Schnee."
"That's bullshit! Willow was promoting fair Faunus labor laws, there's not a Faunus on Remnant with a bone to pick with her."
"They're claiming that the White Fang only allied with Willow to get closer to her and pick at her defenses. It's stupid and illogical, but the public - specifically the racists - are eating it up. Any excuse to rationalize their discrimination."
"So what - you want me to just leave? There must be a way to turn this around. What did Salem say?"
"Rory... it was Salem herself who told me to order you to leave."
Rory was shocked into speechlessness. His body's instincts suddenly flared in confusion for a moment, before they slowly calmed down.
"...I'll return in about a week. I just need to tie up some loose ends."
"I understand. I'll inform Hazel and tell him to meet you in a week."
Rory hung up and stared at his Scroll. The piece of technology had a dent from the last time he threw it, so he didn't want to risk another throw.
"God damn it, what do I do?"
Chapter 62 - Chipped Fang
"Remember, it's dangerous right now. Ambassador Rory managed to bribe off one of the patrolling guards to allow us through Mantle and onto a parked aircraft outside. But the people of Mantle might be trouble, and they'll attract the SDC and the military."
Sienna Khan was leading the group at the moment. Their leader Ghira was currently meeting up with his wife and daughter and will be leaving the city in a different way. Everyone else was under Sienna's protection while they attempted to sneak off Atlas and leave Mantle through the Grimm walls.
The group slowly pulled up their hoods to hide their faces and Faunus features. One of their new recruits, Tukson, took the lead while Sienna watched the groups from the back. There were about a dozen of them, split into smaller groups that managed to stay in sight within each other but still separated enough not to be noticed.
After around half an hour of walking, Sienna felt her pocket vibrate. Pulling out her Scroll, she saw that it was her leader calling on silent. Answering the call, she was assaulted by Ghira's panicked words.
"Sienna! You have to get out of there!"
"High Leader! What's wrong?"
"Rory managed to find out who's the assassin. His name is Marcus Black, and he's famous in his line of work. But that's not important. He's not done. He still not finished!"
A blood-curling scream distracted Sienna, and she looked up to see a horrible sight. Tukson had fallen facedown with several knives stuck in his back. She knew he was dead since one of them was embedded deep where his heart would've been. The other Faunus were already backing up in fear as they saw the figure of the Faunus' killer.
"He's after the White Fang. Run! RUN!"
Chapter 63 - Assassin of Atlas
Hello, my name is Black.
And I work in an Assassin's Guild.
I have a knife, and a kid (that's a son).
One day my boss came up to me and said,
"Black, are you busy?" I said, "No!"
"Then take this job and get out of here."
Hello, my name is Black.
And I work in an Assassin's Guild.
I have a knife, and an employer (that's Jacques Schnee).
One day the man came up to me and said,
"Black, are you busy?" I said, "No!"
"Then take this job and go kill my wife."
Hello, my name is Black.
And I work in an Assassin's Guild.
I have a knife, and a target (that's Willow Schnee).
One day the woman came out of the room and said,
"...eh?" Then I stabbed my knife in her gut.
...huh, that was easier than I thought.
Hello, my name is Black.
And I work in an Assassin's Guild.
I have a knife, and a new job (that's unexpected).
One day Jacques ? came up to me and said,
"Black, are you busy?" I said, "No!"
"Then go kill the rest of the White Fang."
...I said, "Yes!"
Chapter 64 - Moving the Belladonnas
"Shit!" Ghira hung up his Scroll and turned to everyone in the room. "Let's move! They're already fighting."
"Okay, Cinder. I want you to go with Velvet, Metis, and the Belladonnas through Mantle. Take the alleys until you reach Nicholas St. and take the underground passageway I showed you a few days ago."
"Got it! Good luck Rory."
The group split and Rory ran off alone towards where Ghira mentioned the White Fang were. To think it was only a week since Willow died. Already it seemed like everything was going to all kinds of fuck (usually he doesn't cuss much, but he feels that this whole situation kinda warrants it).
The White Fang was being framed for killing Willow, Jacques somehow managed to retake his position as SDC head, Tyrian telling him that it's all Marcus Black's fault (and how did Tyrian figure that out?), and Ironwood is pushing for Martial Law to stop all the rioting Faunus in Mantle.
That last one was the real kicker though. Seriously, fuck Ironwood.
Wow, he really is bottling up his frustration, isn't he? He was probably more affected by Willow's death than he thought. Well, it's not like this could get any worse.
...aw, shit. He just invoked a literary device, didn't he?
Alarms started blaring just as he thought that. A loud crash sounded ahead of him, and Rory saw an Atlas robot break apart as a horde of Sabyr Grimm starts to pour in.
What the hell Salem!
Chapter 65 - Grimm Attack
My God, she actually did it. She actually allowed the Grimm to attack Atlas en masse.
Then again... it might not be her fault. With all the recent chaos the city's been involved with, this could just be an unfortunate accident. Either way, Rory needs to find the members of the White Fang quickly and get them out of here. Might as well take advantage of the chaos.
It's just... there's one problem.
All around him, the citizens of Mantle were running and screaming from being chased by the Grimm. The Grimm were hunting everyone... everyone except him, that is.
After all, due to either his strange circumstances or as an envoy of Salem, the Grimm seemed to completely ignore him. Luckily no one was in their right mind to question why that was so, but if the knowledge of Rory's inability to be noticed by the Grimm somehow made its way back to Ironwood or even Ozpin.
Maybe he should get a disguise. Just in case someone catches him on camera when he inevitably gets involved with trouble.
Passing by a clothing store with its window broken into, Rory stared at a particular outfit that was on display.
...well, it does cover most of his body shape. And there's even something to cover his face with.
Rory blushed and looked around him to see if anyone was around. Quickly, he ran into the shop and lifted the mannequin with the outfit he needed.
As he ran to the back to change, he prayed to the two Brother Gods that no one would see through this disguise.
Chapter 66 - My Sadist Boss
Tyrian watched as his Goddess picked up the ringing Scroll laying next to her. Salem merely held the object to her ear for a moment before she set the item on the table and switched to speaker.
"YOU STUPID BINT! WHY THE EFF ARE YOU ATTACKING ATLAS!"
Tyrian's face paled in horror at the sheer audacity of Rory's words. Somehow, Salem only chuckled at Rory's language and answered back.
"Whatever do you mean, dear Aurora."
"I had to run through the whole city while dodging your stupid Grimm - without any Aura! Sure, they can't attack me. But it doesn't matter that they don't attack me if they can't see me! I almost got trampled TWICE! I thought I was gonna waste a life from a hit-and-run and I want to know WHY AREN'T YOU STOPPING IT!"
"Dear Aurora, you must remember. I may hold the leash - but my creatures are given free rein when I'm not around. I could tell them to stop, but why would I?"
"Because escalation! Didn't you say that Ozpin's holding back the big guns cause of that stupid cold war attitude you both have going on? What about the unwritten rules! No involving the public unless you have a way around it! We're not getting any Maidens or Relics from this, so why antagonize the old fossil?"
"The Grimm must follow their directive. If Humans and Faunus believe themselves above the natural way - that they can self induce panic and misery without consequence - then they must learn the error of their ways."
"So you're telling me - that the Queen of all Grimm who's orders are above even their natural instincts - is basically telling Atlas to go fuck themselves... because you want to punish them?"
*BEEEEEEEP* The Scroll call was ended from Rory's side and Tyrian watched as Salem merely let the sound drawl out. Still smiling, Salem made a hum of approval.
"We have the nicest talks. Don't we Tyrian?"
"Yes, my Queen."
Nope, he still didn't get their relationship.
Chapter 67 - Shit! I Totally Forgot
Cinder cursed under her breath as she reached into her pocket.
"Guys! I forgot the thing!"
Ghira took a moment to pull back his wife from a pouncing Grimm before punching it in a different direction. He would've killed it, but punches and kicks didn't really leave him a lot of room.
"The what? What thing!"
"I dunno? It was something Rory gave me in case we had to fight!"
"Well, where is it?"
"I left it in one of my bags, but I didn't bring them with me."
Kali held Blake closer to herself and pulled something from her shoulder. Tossing a large duffle bag towards Cinder, Kali explained.
"I brought some of our stuff. I didn't check to see what exactly. Check if I accidentally grabbed one of your bags."
Already, she had opened the bag and pulled out a tiny dark red shoulder bag. Opening it, she ruffled through the contents before pulling out what appeared to be a slip of paper.
"Does anyone have some water?"
"Corner of the duffel bag!"
Thanking Kali, Cinder placed the piece of paper on her skin while pulling out a bottle of water. Uncapping the bottle, she poured the entire contents all over the area of her skin with the piece of paper on top. A hiss came out of her mouth, and the paper burst into flames.
"Holy Hel— Is this really the time to get a tattoo now?!"
For as Kali shouted that, a black tattoo formed on Cinder's forearm in the shape of a strange heart. Cinder held the arm over her chest as it started to glow bright red.
"Grab a weapon everyone."
Suddenly, several swords fell onto the ground next to them. Ghira and Kali and Velvet each grabbed a large sword and inspected it.
"Where the hell did these come from?"
"Dust infused tattoo mixed with my Semblance. Grab a sword and cut down a Grimm."
"I don't know how to use a sword."
"Pointy end facing the enemy, swing to hit the soft spots. Besides, we have a Velvet!"
Everyone turned to look at the usual meek bunny, who had suddenly turned serious. Without warning, she charged into a horde of Grimm and started slashing and cutting with amazing skill.
Within minutes, she came back with Grimm essence blowing in the wind around her.
Ghira gulped. Damn, Huntresses were getting great training these days.
Chapter 68 - Saving the Fang
Sienna whipped her metal chain at the retreating assassin and released another one of her Dust projectiles. Black merely swiped it away from him, causing a pillar of ice to rise from the ground.
'Damn, he's good.'
This was bad. So far, only Tukson bit the dust but the others were sporting serious injuries. The assassin kept preventing Sienna from going anywhere while the Grimm kept taking out the rest of their members.
"Oh ho ho! I didn't think I'd find someone like you here. But what a surprise... you're perfect."
This was the first time the other man spoke since he appeared, and already Sienna felt nauseated.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Your soul... it's so bruised and hurt it's beautiful. And then there's your Semblance."
As Sienna was about to rush in, she suddenly collapsed to the ground - struggling to breathe. Gasps escaped from her mouth as she tried to hold her throat.
"Oh, this is perfect! Your soul will fit perfectly with my collection!"
Sienna tried to bring herself up, but her knees collapsed under her again. Black stood above her with a demented grin on his face, and slowly reached his hand towards her.
Out of nowhere, a large piece of debris smashed into Black's body - knocking him away. The attack didn't do much, as Black had his Aura protecting him. But it did knock off the strange power that had Sienna struggling earlier.
"Wraaaghhh!" She quickly swiped with her weapon, causing Black to temporarily retreat. Turning to look at who saved her, Sienna's body unconsciously flinched back.
"What the hell are you wearing?!"
It was Ambassador Rory... fully dressed in a dark blue Victorian styled dress covering up his entire body. White gloves covered his hands, a large hat hid most of his face, and even then he wore a strange masquerade mask that only left a little bit of his mouth visible.
"I needed a disguise." Even his voice was high pitched like he was trying to pretend to be a woman.
Chapter 69 - Assassin vs Fang
"Well well well, two ladies all for little old me? How thoughtful."
Then he frowned before Black's face suddenly hardened. He pointed a knife at the crossdressing Rory and shouted.
"Y-You! What are you?"
"The hell? Khan, what's with him?"
"Something to do with his Semblance. I think he can see souls or some bullshit like that."
"Really? I thought it was just stealing Semblances. Huh."
"Stop!" Black suddenly interrupted them. "You! No Aura! Explain!"
"No! Now Khan, can you deal with him while I gather up everyone else? I can't fight, but I have a way of making the Grimm ignore me."
"Don't take too long. He may be crazy, but he's strong."
Rory ignored Black's shout of "Come back!" before heading off to assist with the other Faunus. Sienna turned back and held her weapon ready to block off Black.
Closing in, she swiped at the man with her chain. The assassin vaulted over the swing and swiped back with his knife. Sienna brought her arm back up and—
You know what, screw it. Five minutes of fighting later and nothing significant happened.
*Huff*-*Huff*-*Huff* Black was breathing heavily. "You are hard to put down, Tiger-Girl."
*Huff* "And you... are quite the fighter. I'm actually starting to get serious."
Okay, that was a lie. Black was clearly better than her. Already, she could feel her Aura running low. Is Rory done yet?! She needed help cause at this rate, she's fucked.
Out of nowhere, a bunch of robots starts shooting down the various Grimm that was still around them. The two combatants froze as dozens of guns surrounded and pointed at them.
"THIS IS THE ATLAS MILITARY! ALL HOSTILES STAND DOWN!"
...okay, now she's fucked.
Chapter 70 - Shit! Where's Metis
Cinder slashed at another Grimm before backflipping to allow Ghira to stab at another one. Velvet jumped over Ghira's back and slashed at two more Grimm before landing on a third one, killing it with her fall.
'Damn... Velvet's already killed more than double of what Ghira and I took down together.'
This was going well. They were making their way outside of Atlas, which supposedly meant a higher chance of encountering Grimm. But Cinder has been secretly unleashing her borrowed Authority to slowly nudge the Grimm away from them. One of the perks of being the agent of the Queen of Grimm.
Cinder turned to look at Kali, who was still protecting her daughter. Out of the six of them, only Blake would have trouble with the Grimm having trained the least. At least Metis could—
Wait, Metis doesn't have Aura!
Sure, she's part-robot but that just means she's durable. She doesn't have a magical forcefield to protect her, so every blow she takes slowly weakens her. And since Watts isn't here, no one can help repair her if she gets injured.
Actually, where is she? Cinder lost track of her a minute ago when she went into one of the buildings.
What the f— where'd Metis get those weapons from!
"Metis! What are you carrying!"
The young girl was carrying a gigantic backpack that was connected to two gigantic guns that were longer than Ghira was tall. Metis pointed the two barrels at a horde of Grimm and smiled widely.
"Bitches love cannons!"
Cinder watched as Metis started to mow down the Grimm around them with a rain of bullets. Looking at the sword in her hand, she shrugged and threw it over her shoulder, seeing that it was probably not needed anymore.
'She really is Rory's daughter.'
Chapter 71 - Captured by Fang
Rory ran away from Sienna and her fight against Black.
"Alright! Everyone, to me!"
The Albain brothers were the first to reach him, then the rest of them gathered up once they finished killing the nearby Grimm.
"Is this everyone?"
"Y-Yeah," Corsac replied, tears rolling down his face. "W-We lost Tukson."
...who? Aw shit, not the time.
"Mourn for your fellow man another day. Right now, we got work."
"Ambassador! What do we do?"
"Okay, there are a series of underground tunnels that run underneath Mantle. I already showed Cinder how to go through some, but you guys won't know where to go unless I lead you guys. I'm gonna first have everyone except Fennec go through one of the entrances and we'll waif for Sienna to catch up before we all move out."
Rory led them to an ice cream shop and showed them downstairs. Pointing to a wall in the basement, Corsac nodded and had a few Faunus break it open to reveal a large expansion on the other side. Everyone started to walk through while Corsac took the time to hug his brother before leaving.
"Let's go Fennec."
The two went back upstairs just in time to see the Atlas Military roll-up.
"Shit!" Fennec cursed when he saw that Sienna was surrounded. "Now what?"
"Let me think, let me think," Rory mumbled. "Okay, I have an idea."
"What is it?"
General Ironwood ordered his men to close in on the two combatants. Today was one of the worst days of his career. Among the chaos that followed Willow Schnee's death, an anonymous caller told him of a bomb threat that opened the Grimm into the confines of Mantle - supposedly done so by the White Fang.
Ironwood knew that the chances that were true were slim. Still, it was better to arrest the Faunus to question them anyways to hold them in custody and question them on what happened to Willow.
"Everybody stop moving!"
A voice suddenly shouted out, and Ironwood turned to look. His blood ran cold when he saw a Faunus holding a dagger to a captured woman.
"Nobody move or this bitch gets it."
Atlas be damned, this really is the worst day for him.
Chapter 72 - Atlas vs Fang
"Stand down! Release the woman!"
"Then leave the Faunus alone. You can have the other man if you want."
This is bad. This is really bad.
Sienna wanted to shout at Fennec and ask what the hell he was doing. Or maybe this is Rory's plan. Trick the Atlas Military into freeing her in exchange for the safety of a 'defenseless civilian'.
But there's just one problem with that...
"No! Atlas does not negotiate with terrorists. Release the woman, or wait as more reinforcements arrive before you give in."
Yup. No way they're getting through Ironwood's thick head. Sienna watched as Fennec's face turn pale at Ironwood's words. Hm? Why was he lowering his dagger? Wait, is he...?
Holy hell! Fennec just stabbed into Rory's arm! What the hell!
"AAAAAARRGHHHHH!" And now Fem!Rory was screaming in a surprisingly convincing female voice. Is he actually playing the part, or is he really in pain?
"Shit!" Ironwood looked queasy as he saw that a red stain started to grow on Rory's sleeve.
"If you guys don't get this woman to a hospital soon..."
"Alright, alright! We'll exchange. Just let her go."
"Let my fellow sister go first."
Ironwood held up a hand and signaled his troops to move away. Turning to look at Sienna, he gestured her to move forward.
Moving under their watchful eyes, she walked towards Fennec and Rory. Turning to look at Rory, she saw him give her a playful wink before moaning in fake? pain again.
God damn it, she was gonna give him hell later.
Chapter 73 - Trading Fang
"Alright. You got what you came for. Now hand over the woman."
Ironwood resisted the urge to rub at his headache. This really was turning into a bad day. He watched as the Faunus release the woman, allowing her to walk forward slowly.
Ironwood grimaced as he noticed that the knife was still embedded in the woman's arm. Hopefully one of his troops radioed a medic to come here.
"Miss, are you alright?"
"Y-Yeah. I'm fine."
Hm? Somehow that voice seems familiar.
"Hey, hey, hey. So now what? Something else happening soon?"
The man that was fighting the Faunus earlier looked at ironwood with a cocky smile on his face. Ironwood stared suspiciously at the man.
"You will be held in for questioning. Why were you fighting the woman earlier? Who are you? Why did you kill one of the White Fang?"
"Sheesh, you got a lot to ask. But if you ask me..."
Out of nowhere, the man moved with such a burst of speed that he bypassed several drones that were blocking his way. Grabbing on to the recently freed woman, he held up his knife to her throat.
"I'd say I'd like to negotiate my own freedom."
Chapter 74 - Threatening Fang
You know how you make a stupid plan that's based upon other people acting exactly as you predict them to?
"Okay, if you wanna have this perfectly nice throat intact, then you better move the fuck away from here."
...yeah, screw that! Why the hell did he think this was a good idea?
Rory shifted while still being held close to Marcus Black. He felt the knife touch his throat, but honestly - he wasn't really all that worried. At worst, he'd die and the Military will know that he's somewhat immortal. Which is still bad, since if Ozpin finds out then everything goes wrong. But it's not like he's in any mortal danger.
"Now, y'all are gonna let us walk away. Once we're far enough, I'll release the nice gal and you can decide whether it's worth chasing me or helping stop the Grimm."
Wow, he really is a bastard. Taking advantage of the chaos to escape. Ironwood ground his teeth and Rory worried for a moment that he would do something reckless.
"...you better let her go."
Slowly, the two started to walk away from the troops.
Chapter 75 - Out With A Bang
When Rory first found out about the various aspects of his curse, he had adapted to several methods of combat that allowed him to fare against Huntsman and Huntresses.
Surgical operations on his body were temporary at best, as every death resets his body to a state before any unnatural modification. Thus, it was the obvious conclusion that he took full advantage of that fact.
Such as keeping a suicide bomb inside his body.
Of course, the problem is that Rory's body would just reform over the spot where he died. This is an unfavorable outcome in a public setting, so it is not available to execute this last-ditch plan.
Or at least, that was his reasoning before he met Watts.
"Hey, Black. You know... I really liked Willow. She seemed like she would've been a nice co-worker. I wanted to see how far she would change things."
Feeling the two rings he always wore on his hand, Rory prepared his next move. Rory crossed his fingers in a way that never would've happened in an accident, letting the rings scan each other. The trigger should activate after a full minute of constant pressure being exerted on each other.
"Wha- just shut up. Be quiet while we get out of here."
"I guess fate had other plans. Fate had planned that you would've been killed by your own son."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Who knows. It won't matter in a second anyways."
"Huh? What the hel-"
Rory finished counting the last few seconds, before looking straight into Black's eyes.
"Your death still doesn't make up for Willow."
And as he finished his sentence, a loud *BOOM* sounded out and the two of them were swallowed up in a gigantic explosion.
Chapter 76 - Shit! He's Dead
Cinder heard a beeping sound coming from somewhere. Turning to look at something on her wrist she cursed.
A tiny watch rested on her arm. Normally, she wouldn't wear accessories like this, but it was something Rory told her to wear just in case. He had Watts make it a few days ago to allow her to know if Rory ever activated the bomb inside his body.
He's dead. He's dead!
But Cinder wasn't worried. He had a plan. She had to follow the plan.
"METIS! Activate the [Deadman] Protocol!"
Metis stopped shooting for just a moment, expressing the shock on her face before her expression turned serious.
An opening in her chest opened, revealing a large hole that was proof of her non-human birth that Cinder never noticed before. Black pores of Grimm essence started to slowly float out of her body, covering the ground in front of her with a pile of dark ash.
"This is Atlas Unit M.E.T.I.S. activating custom [Deadman] Protocol under the instruction of designated superior -Aurora (Rory) Radiant-. Regeneration in progress. I repeat, regeneration in progress."
Metis spoke in a robotic voice as she gave out a progress report. Slowly, the Grimm essence in front of her started to mold together into a vaguely humanoid shape. This was the first time Cinder had seen Rory actually come back to life, and it was terrifying.
The [Deadman] Protocol was made to extract Rory from his location of death, only needed when he died in a hostile environment. A signal would be sent several seconds before he died to let Cinder or Metis know to prepare for his extraction. The information makeup of his body would be sent to Metis, who would use a pre-stored amount of Grimm essence to recreate his body.
"Regeneration ending. Revival stabilizing in 3... 2... 1... NOW!"
Chapter 77 - Reforming
"Gaaahhhhhh!" Rory found himself waking up with a shock. Panting heavily, he took a moment to slowly calm his confused thoughts.
He was still wearing that ridiculous dress of a disguise, even though it should've exploded with him. Rory never questioned that aspect of his ability, but honestly, he was just happy he didn't have to worry about waking up naked every time he died.
Ugh, where were these thoughts coming from? He really needed to find a place and take a moment to think. He did just die after all.
"ROORRRYYYY!" Two pairs of voices suddenly cut off his train of thought, as Cinder and Metis both came crashing into him. Metis was babbling excitedly while Cinder was only sobbing quietly into his clothes.
Rubbing their backs while hugging them, he softly said, "I'm back."
Chapter 78 - After the Attack
Rory's memories of the next few days after he revived were fuzzy.
Somehow, he managed to escape with Cinder and Metis hiding him from the Belladonnas and Velvet. The duo apparently hid him, because to the White Fang he was officially dead. Rory probably could've made an excuse and said that they used a body double or something, but honestly he'd rather just wash his hands of his involvement with the White Fang. He'll help out in the shadows, but he won't act so openly anymore.
That said, the White Fang are now officially on the opposite side of the law. The Atlas Military is now stomping out the few protests held in other parts of the Kingdom while the White Fang continues to spread the word of the brutal deaths of Tukson and the Ambassador.
Rory is dead, officially.
"Welp, time to get used to my new identity." This was, after all, not the first time Rory died. He had managed to hold on to his Aurora identity for a few years before he needed to change, and now it was just another name that he needed to get used to.
"It's still weird to call you that," Metis commented while looking at the vanilla folder containing the papers that would support his new name.
"Don't worry. You can call me whatever you want when it's just us."
He still wasn't used to the idea that Metis was his kid. Currently, the two of them had a relationship not dissimilar to that between him and Cinder. Right now, he had no jobs he could do since his identity was no longer usable. At most, he can still work with the criminal elements in Vale as long as he made sure only a select trusted few knew of his existence. So for the next few years, he had nothing to do.
Maybe he'll spend that time learning to bond with Metis. Or maybe he'll stay around Cinder more and live at Salem's base. Who knows.
"Hey, why don't we go and see what Cinder is doing now? Okay, Metis?"
"Yeah, let's go Rudy!"
Rudolph Rowan, or Rudy for short. Hm, he'll have to get used to that now.
Chapter 79 - Several Years Later
"You may now kiss the bride."
Rudy watched as Saffron dived in to kiss her newly dubbed wife. It was interesting to see his friend after so many years, but Rudy made sure that he couldn't be seen from the rooftop he was staying on.
Several years have passed since the events of Atlas. Rudy had managed to stay under the radar for a while before returning to Vale and continuing to expand the criminal empire. Once in awhile, Cinder and Metis would join him and order around the top criminals of Vale under his thumb.
Rudy sighed as he rested on the ledge of the roof. Only two years left until the plot starts. That was also what Rudy predicted would be when Salem will order Cinder to kill the Fall Maiden.
After all these years, Rudy still hasn't found the Maiden himself. Sure, he's visited some places she was last seen at. But he never met her in person. And since the Winter Maiden's heavily protected, the Summer Maiden's location is unknown, and the Spring Maiden's a bitch there really hasn't been much work for him in the past six years.
Rudy had barely grown in the past few years. He still retained that youthful look that made him look 16 instead of 23. Salem might order him to infiltrate Beacon since he can pass for a younger student. He'd have to dye his hair or something though to avoid Ozpin's suspicion.
Chapter 80 - You Want What
"You want me to what?!"
"You remember dear old Lionheart," Salem replied over the Scroll. "He's managed to remove most of the Huntsmen in the area over the years without trouble but has yet to find the Spring Maiden. I feel that he is not putting enough effort into the search, which is why I am sending you and Cinder over."
"Okay, I get that. But why must we enroll in Haven Academy!"
"This year Mistral will host the Vytal Festival. During this time, I want you to legitimize your position and make yourself stand out in the tournament. This way, when the next Vytal Festival in Vale comes up, you will not draw as much suspicion from Ozpin when we enact our plans."
"Alright fine. I'll gather up Cinder and Metis and make a plan."
"That is all I ask. Dismissed."
Rudy hung up and picked up a pillow to scream in. Since he reincarnated, he managed to elude getting himself sucked into mandatory education due to a multitude of factors. Riding on his previous life's knowledge helped him avoid the need to enroll himself into an institution that traps teenage angst and drama.
Ugh, this is gonna suck.
Chapter 81 - Nepotism
A few weeks passed since Rudy got an order from Salem to enroll in Haven Academy. Rudy brought Cinder and Metis with him, and he and Cinder planned on partnering up during the school year.
Metis (who still looked like a child) will stay in a house provided for by Lionheart and do some miscellaneous tasks. Rudy really asked a lot from Lionheart, which also included asking Lionheart to directly enroll him and Cinder and skipping the initiation.
Nepotism for the win.
Rudy and Cinder stood on stage with two other students with Lionheart in front of them.
"From this day forward, you will work together as Team CRSM (Crimson), led by... Cinder Fall!"
Cinder looked surprised at the fact that she was chosen as the leader of the team. When the rest of the students left the auditorium, she quickly cornered Rudy.
"Why? Why did Lionheart make me the leader instead of you?"
"Because I told him to."
Cinder looked shocked. Rudy took the time to properly look at the girl he practically raised as his daughter. Already a grown woman in the eyes of the law, she had reached the same height as him and was beautiful in both appearance and spirit. For the last few years, she had faithfully listened to him during their various missions and jobs Salem had them do. She was similar, yet completely different, to the woman Rudy knew she could have been.
"Cinder. As much as this is a mission, you have to consider the fact that we are actually learning at a Huntsman Academy. The leadership position is not something that the school delegates randomly. As a learning institution, the role of a leader is given to those who need the experience and training to become a more formidable Hunter."
Rudy pressed his hand on Cinder's shoulder and gave her a kind look. It was only moments like this when his true age shown through.
"I want you to grow up into someone amazing. And I don't want to keep holding your hand forever. I already talked to Salem about this, and both of us agreed that... you will lead this mission for the entire duration of our stay here."
Cinder's shocked face almost made Rudy laugh, but he held it in and continued to smile warmly at her.
"Now... it's my turn to take orders from you."
Chapter 82 - Branwen Maiden
"Hey Cinder! I'm gonna skip school for the next few days. Can you have someone take notes for me?"
"Of course. Good luck."
Rudy left campus on an airship Lionheart prepared for him. Piloting the contraption himself, Rudy made sure that any onboard systems wouldn't record his flight pattern or attract attention from other airships. Once he did so, Rudy set a course for a particular area.
Several hours passed until Rudy noticed something strange. Clouds were gathering together at an abnormal speed before him, slowly covering the sky up.
Seeing what was happening, Rudy quickly snatched the radio and spoke. "Patching in to Channel BR. Password: Haruhime! I repeat, Password: Haruhime."
Rudy waited for a few more moments before suddenly the clouds started to clear up. Letting out a sigh in relief, he finally noticed the tiny black figure flying before him.
Well... it's been a while since he saw her. Rudy was looking forward to meeting Raven again.
Chapter 83 - The Tribe's Spy
"Here's a report on the past year. Sorry I couldn't visit before. I had to babysit for a mission."
Rudy was lounging around in Raven's tent. Being a double agent rarely allowed him to truly relax, even in the safety that is his boss' home. For all that he has done for Raven, he doubted she trusted him as far as the next guy in this tribe.
"Tch, so you're really gonna take a strike at Beacon aren't you."
"Well, yeah. I've been telling you that since forever. But we still got a few years left."
"Is Salem still suspicious of you?"
"If she is, then she's amused at my attempts of gathering information. Honestly, I can't tell if she's going along with me or just truly arrogant to think I wouldn't do anything."
"Don't get cocky. If she gets too suspicious, she can just order you directly to tell her all your secrets."
"And that's why you don't tell me everything. Like how you managed to already take the Relic out of Haven."
Raven bristled under the accusation, and Rudy took that moment to smirk. Yeah, it was a bit of a shock when he snuck out one night to check out the vault and found it wide open already. At least he can't accidentally tell Salem where it is since even he didn't know.
"Forget it. I won't ask and you won't tell me where it is. I'll just trust you with it for now."
"Hmph, that's the smartest thing you've said all day."
Chapter 84 - Caught
Rudy was wondering how his life came to this. When he first reincarnated into this world, he managed to stay off the radar only until his village was attacked by Salem. Not only did he die once again, he got converted into some eldritch being that now had to follow her orders.
Somehow, he managed to meet Raven on one of his missions and convince her to help him learn a way to kill Salem. Rudy had even volunteered a few of his lives to test a way to permanently kill an immortal. Seeing as how he's still alive, the tests failed and all they got out of it was a weaker Rudy.
Rudy sighed and walked into the tent the tribe lent him. Entering without much thought, he froze when he saw who was inside.
"So you're planning to kill Salem."
Metis stared at him with disappointment. Shit! Thirteen years of working undercover and he's never been caught. How the hell did Metis figure it out?!
"What are you doing here?!"
"Did you forget that I'm connected to the GPS in your body needed for the [Deadman] Protocol? I followed you the moment you left the city."
Metis stared at him and Rudy couldn't decide what to do. He didn't know if Metis would rat him out, seeing as she's also one of Salem's agents. But why was she here in his tent anyway? Metis isn't that great at being subtle, so it's not like she could've snuck in...
Rudy's thoughts were interrupted when he heard a noise from behind him. Turning around, he froze again when he saw Raven walk in behind him.
"Oh hey, so you really did get a kid. I guess Watts managed to use my eggs after all."
Chapter 85 - Chapter Title Too Long
"So let me get this straight."
"You set a plan years ago to see if it was possible to genetically engineer artificial humans with extreme regenerative properties."
"And as a result, you contacted Watts to work for Salem - who I'm just finding out is another double agent working for you - to mix my s-sperm," Rudy stuttered with a bright red face as he said that last word. "With some of your donated eggs and as a result, Watts was able to make Metis."
"Yup. I never really met Metis before, but then again that's how I treat my other daughter."
"Why - and I'm trying to be extremely civil here - did you do all of this?"
"I'm strong. I respect the strong. I respect the fact that Salem is strong, but she's a crazy bitch so we need to get rid of her. You're not strong in the conventional sense, but with my genes and you're weird curse thing we have the potential to create the strongest children ever."
"...okay, I barely got any of that logic. But I have a question. How did you convince Tyrian to get m-my... how did you get the materials for Watts?"
"So," and the two turned to look at Metis. "So you're my Mom. My actual biological mom, instead of a kinda-mom like Mommy Rudy?"
"If you care about labels, sure."
Metis jumped up eagerly with stars in her eyes. "When are the two of you getting married?"
Rudy slapped himself in the face.
Chapter 86 - Potential Plan
Rudy felt life was starting to turn meaningless.
To date, the years he lived on Remnant are now longer than he did in his previous life. But most of his new life has been under the rule of the literal enemy of humanity.
He has spent years trying to find a way to kill Salem and failing each time. He didn't know Magic. He's never seen a Relic. Heck, he couldn't even die fighting against her due to his curse and lack of Aura.
So he gave up. He followed her orders and kept his head under the radar. And his life still went on, but he grew to settle and care for the people in his life.
Looking at Raven, he suddenly found himself at a crossroads.
"You found out how to kill Salem?"
Could it be true? Can he risk it just one more time?
"Yes. Working with Watts and going over everything we learned from you, we have a theory. One so strong... it warrants the use of a question from the Relic of Knowledge."
Rudy had once lost hope that he would ever leave this life.
"What are we waiting for? Let's go!"
Now, he was ready to fight once more.
Chapter 87 - Relic of Knowledge
"Are we ready?"
"Yeah, we can summon her now."
Rudy looked at the Relic in his hands. Raven had brought it to him and the two planned together how to ask their questions. Moving to an empty clearing, the two of them and Metis watched as Rudy whispered the spirit held in the relic.
The wind died around them. A strange silence filled the air, and Rudy felt someone appear behind him. The three turned to look around and saw a floating blue woman stare at them.
"I am Jinn, the spirit housed in the Relic of Knowledge. Tell me, what knowledge do you seek?"
Raven stepped up to the spirit and spoke curtly.
"Let's get this over with. You supposedly know everything, so you'll know what I'm talking about. My question is this... what parts of our knowledge of Salem's source of immortality incorrect?"
Rudy made sure to have Raven word it exactly as she said it. The duo already theorized what was the source of Salem's immortality, but that was all it was. A theory. Asking the question in this matter helped clarify if the theory was not only correct but what parts of their theory were inaccurate or wrong.
Jinn took a moment to think about it for a moment, before pressing her finger to Raven's head. Raven suddenly collapsed and Jinn spoke.
"I have filled your head on the minute details you got wrong, but I will state this important tidbit out loud. For your plan to work, all four sources must be destroyed at the same time. The knowledge on how to do so is already given."
"Thank you," Rudy said in Raven's place.
Now... for their next question.
Chapter 88: Chapter 88 - Understanding Magic
With their first question, Raven gained complete knowledge of the source of Salem's immortality. It was a theory that she proposed to Rudy when she first learned about his own curse of immortality.
What exactly made Rudy so special? The obvious answer was Magic, but more specifically? Why is it that only a select few could use Magic?
At its source, all Magic originated from two sources. The first source is Ozma, with his Maidens and the siblings Qrow and Raven. And the other source, Salem. Who controls the Grimm and technically Rudy.
So what made these two individuals special? Rudy knew the answer to this.
It was the Gods.
Raven theorized that the Gods are the source of all Magic. Without the Gods, those living on Remnant no longer have access to Magic and its power. The only exceptions were those whom they paid personal attention to, which were Ozma and Salem.
And then there was Raven's underlying theory of the source of their abilities. The Gods were special because their power was that of Divine making. Their divinity left with them when the two Gods left Remnant, but they did leave behind a small portion of their power.
Yes, the Relics. The four Relics not only contain an aspect of humanity but are also the last source of Magic itself. Rudy could argue that it might even be the source of Aura, Semblances, and Dust as well.
So how does this all tie to Raven's question to the Relic of Knowledge? Well... it's simple.
To kill Salem, you must first remove the source of her immortality.
Which meant they had to destroy all four Relics.
Chapter 89 - Goodbye Jinn
Now that they understood how to kill Salem, it was obvious what their next question should be. This time, it was Rudy's turn to ask. Stepping towards Jinn, he spoke clearly.
"What actions must we take in order to destroy all four Relics?"
This was a loaded question. Just asking for the location of the Maidens or Relics alone wasn't enough. Wording the question like this not only tells them where the Relics and Maidens are but also how to make the Maidens either help or work with them in order to destroy the Relics.
The exact words said are extremely important. When Rudy first practiced his question, he had said "I" instead of "we". This mistake would have made the question either impossible to answer, or almost impossible to accomplish. After all, there are limits to how much one person can accomplish by himself.
"I assume that by 'we' you mean those of your companions you trust?"
Knowledge seeped into Rudy's mind, and suddenly he had the current locations of where each Relic and Maiden were. The Atlas Relic and Winter Maiden he already knew, so that didn't change anything. The current Fall Maiden was Amber and the Relic was... huh? And for the last Maiden and Relic... well, he didn't want to spoil the unfinished volumes of RWBY.
"Wow, I got them all."
"Very well, I believe it is time to take my leave."
As Jinn started to fade, Rudy had thought and hurriedly turned to her.
"Wait! If our plan succeeds, what will happen to you?"
Rudy knew that she wasn't human and that there was some strange form of afterlife since Ozma was able to come back due to the Gods. Still, there's no guarantee that Jinn would continue to exist if her Relic is destroyed.
Jinn gave a sad smile and replied in a teasing tone.
"Sorry, hun. You used up all your questions. Too late to ask now."
And with those final words, Jinn disappeared.
Chapter 90 - Here's the Plan
"Okay, so here's what we learned so far."
Currently, Rudy was sitting in Raven's tent at a table with Raven and Metis. The three of them have agreed to work together to find the other Relics and destroy them. According to the Relic of Knowledge, it is possible for one to destroy the Relic.
All Relics are theoretically indestructible. But due to some weird divine magic loophole, it is possible to destroy the Relics using simple means as long as certain conditions are met.
1. The Relics must not be near each other, less they summon the Gods.
2. The Relics must be destroyed during the night of a full moon. No reason was given as to why.
3. The trickiest condition of all. As long as the conditions are met, it's easy destroying the Relic. You can stab them with a sword or smash them with a hammer. As long as the Relics...
"...are all destroyed at the exact same time, otherwise they'll block any attack. So for this to work, we need to have a minimum of four people coordinating together to destroy the four Relics while a distance from each other."
"And with the Relics gone, then all remaining Magic on Remnant will disappear forever," Raven followed up. "Which sucks for me, since I'll lose my ability to turn into a Raven and the power of the Spring Maiden."
"So..." Metis started, "Who's going after which Relic?"
"Well, since I'm the Spring Maiden it's obvious that I'm keeping the Relic of Knowledge."
No one bothered to argue with her.
"Hm, Metis you're still keeping in touch with the White Fang, right? Aren't they based in Vacuo now?"
"U-Uh? Yeah! I sometimes talk to Blake and Velvet."
That was one of the butterfly effects Rudy caused. Since his 'death' in Atlas, the two girls have bonded together and have stuck with each other. Now, they're pretty high up in the organization.
"Try to ask them for help in getting the Relic. I still have my contacts in Vale, so I'll be going there."
A silence filled the room for a moment before Raven asked the question they were all thinking.
"So... who's gonna get the last Relic?"
Chapter 91 - Recruiting Cinder
Rudy barely listened as his teammates planned how to win the Vytal Tournament. Knowing Cinder, she'd have already made her own plans on utilizing the team in an effective but subtle manner.
No, what Rudy should be concentrating on is how to convince Cinder to work for him and against Salem. Cinder had spent a large portion of her life growing up under the care of Rudy, but Rudy wasn't sure if that was enough to hold sway over Cinder to switch sides.
Sure, Cinder may care for him and even love him (as a father or older brother) but she won't hesitate to cut his throat open if she perceives him as an enemy.
"Hey, Rudy! Metis sent me a text that you needed someone else to help secure a Relic. I'm guessing I'm taking the Atlas Relic. Can you let me borrow Emerald and Neo when you do so?"
...well that was easy.
Chapter 92 - Back to Vale
"Hey Roman, what's up!"
"Bossman! Long time no see. I've heard about that tournament you and the kid won."
Roman Torchwick had grown these past few years. No longer the scrawny teen he was before, he was now dressed in designer clothes and had that roughish charm that came with being a skilled thief.
"So, what's up? You said you needed me for a job?"
"Remember the first time we met? The first job I requested from you?"
"Yeah, you had me steal that Ozpin guy's mug or something."
"Well... I'm gonna need you to something similar. Only this time..."
"It's gonna be a lot showier than before."
Chapter 93 - From Dust Till Dawn
Rudy looked over the countertop, counting the minutes pass by on the clock hanging from the wall. The sound of the bell attached to the entrance door jingling snapped him out of his daze.
Ruby Rose walked into the store. Humming to a tune, she walked up to him and pulled down her headphones.
"Hi there. Is Frank in?"
"Nah, he's taking the week off. You're here for the experimental Gravity Dust rounds, right? Frank told me it's a custom order."
"Yup! Oh, I've been waiting for these babies all week!"
Rudy chuckled and handed the young girl the package she was expecting. Ruby squealed in delight as she saw it and held it to her chest tightly. For some reason though, she started to stare intently at Rudy with a weird look on her face.
"Hey... you look familiar. Have we met before?
Rudy remembered a time several years ago when he first met the young girl. Back then, he was still getting used to the fact that he was part Grimm and had been prowling the forest near Patch. When he saw Yang and Ruby about to get attacked by Beowolves, he ordered the lesser-minded Grimm to retreat.
Now, the girl would go on adventures. But not the ones he knew of, but one that has an unknown future he can no longer predict.
Because things were different. Some things stayed the same, but there were subtle differences. Rudy made sure that the White Fang was more organized and pure in their ideal. And if this plan worked, then Salem and her court will no longer play a part anymore.
Yes... this girl before him will have a brilliant life. But not one involving him.
"Nope. I just have that face."
The door jingled again, and from the corner of his eye, Rudy saw Roman walk in with a bunch of goons.
Chapter 94 - Ruby Rose
Ruby chased after Roman Torchwick, who had fled once the battle turned into her favor. Oh, this is so exciting! Who would've thought Ruby would get into a battle right when she's shopping.
Oh, snap! Torchwick turned around and started firing shots from his weird cane cannon. Caneon? Canyon?
Ruby dogged out of the way and switched Cresent Rose to gun mode. Firing back, Roman was protected out of nowhere by an... umbrella?
The umbrella moved out of the way to reveal a pinkish girl protecting Roman. Oh great, and now they're two of them. Ack! This isn't good.
"You done yet, Red? How 'bout you just give up now!"
"Nope! A true Huntress never gives up."
As Roman said that, he threw a large piece of Dust in her direction. Firing at it with his cane, Ruby knew that this wasn't gonna end pleasantly.
...or that's what she thought. Because out of nowhere a purple dropped in front of her and projected a large magic circle to act as a barrier.
Wait a moment...
"Oh my gosh, are you a Huntress! Can I have your autograph?!"
The Huntress glared at her for a moment, before turning to Torchwick.
"Roman! Give up now. Soon, reinforcements are gonna arrive soon."
"Well good thing he's got us."
Ruby turned around as she suddenly heard a voice from behind her. A large man dressed in a white dress shirt and black vest had appeared with a green-haired girl next to him. Seeing them, Roman let out a bark of laughter and pumped his hand in the air.
"Hell yeah! Team Heron's here for the win!"
"Roman, no! We agreed never to call ourselves that again!"
"But come on! Little Green!"
"AND DON'T CALL ME THAT!"
Ruby clutched Cresent Rose in her hand and switched it to scythe mode. The green-haired girl noticed this and looked her way with a smirk on her face.
"You gonna fight?"
Ruby gritted her teeth and charged.
Chapter 95 - Start the Plan
Cinder hung up the scroll call and climbed up the stairs. Currently, she was in the Atlas Academy, heading straight towards where the Relic is located.
Raven and Metis were in Vacuo with some people from the White Fang looking for the other Relic, while Rudy was planning on breaking into Beacon while the Headmaster and Headmistress were distracted with Roman.
Time passed, and Cinder managed to find the entrance to the elevator leading to the Vault. Her job was arguably the one with the most consequences, as the entire city of Atlas needs the Relic to safely float in the sky.
That's why she requested some... technical help to solve this problem.
"Cinder dear, do be a polite one and pass me the box to your left."
Arthur Watts started to hook up several machines to the Relic, moving his fingers constantly in ways that Cinder had trouble understanding.
"So you're sure that Atlas won't crash once we take the Relic?"
"Yes. I looked up their plans for the Amity Colosseum, and I'm currently moving the colosseum underneath Atlas so that the colosseum will keep Atlas in the air. This is only a temporary solution, but Atlas will have a few months to figure out that problem."
"Hurry up, we only have one more hour until we're supposed to destroy the Relic."
"You can't rush genius, dear Cinder."
Cinder sighed, and hope that nothing goes wrong.
Chapter 96 - Choice
Rudy had a plan.
Recreate the events of the first episode. Lure Ozpin and Goodwitch away from the school. Sneak in and take the Relic while they're gone.
Thanks to Jinn, Rudy had confirmation that the Vault was open and the Relic hidden inside without a lock blocking the way. Rudy wasn't sure if this was what happened in the original timeline, but that's what the information Jinn provided him said.
There's just one problem with the plan...
"So, you gonna fight?"
The Fall Maiden, Amber herself, was guarding the Vault.
Chapter 97 - Against a Maiden
There is not a lot a person without Aura can do when fighting against a Huntsman. Even more so if the opponent is a Maiden.
Rudy realized that he was in a perilous position. But he had spent the better part of his second life learning the various weaknesses of Aura. Not enough to take down a Huntress, but enough to hopefully incapacitate momentarily.
Either due to arrogance or some other circumstance, the Relic itself was on full display right behind Amber. Rudy took a peek at his watch and checked the time. Tonight was a full moon, and the plan was for the destruction of the four Relics. The condition of the full moon only needs to be applied to one Relic, as the light of the moon will weaken the power of the one Relic and simultaneously weaken the other three Relics.
But that meant that Rudy had to take the Relic and carry it outside with him. While running away from a Maiden.
Pulling out his weapon, he charged forward.
"Huh? You do know who I am right?"
Amber smirked and stood still as Rudy charged. It was obvious from his running speed that he had no Aura. That was probably why she didn't put up a proper defense as he ran right up to her.
Even as he unloaded an extra-strong can of pepper spray right into her eyes. Courtesy of Watts.
Dropping to her knees with her hands over her eyes, Rudy ran right past her and snatched the Relic with both arms. Running away, he heard the sounds of her standing up, causing him started to pick up the pace.
He did not want to be near her when she realizes what happened.
Chapter 98 - Final Fang
Metis kept a check on her internal clock and tapped into her weapons systems. While she may be durable, she didn't have the same protection that Aura afforded regular Huntresses. Next to her, Velvet and Blake prepped their weapons and gathered around her.
"Alright. I know I asked you both a big favor at the last minute. But this is important. As Huntresses, there is literally no better foe than the queen of all Grimm."
"I'm still going over the fact that Rory was still alive all this time. What even was the point of hiding from us?"
"I dunno. This story has way too many plot inconsistencies already."
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Oh hey look," Metis pointed towards their target. "Shade Academy is just ahead of us."
"Are you sure we're able to get in? Didn't you say that the Relic needs a Maiden to unlock the vault protecting it."
"Funnily enough, Haven Academy was actually the only Vault that managed to stay sealed for so long. All the other headmasters thought they could protect it better by unlocking it themselves."
"Again, this story already has enough plot holes."
"No, seriously. What are you talking about?"
"Whatever," Metis lifted the two cannons attached to her back and aimed towards the school. "When the students start running out screaming, that's when we'll move in."
"You know, this is actually the first terrorist attack the White Fang will commence on a school."
"Good thing we have back up."
Metis smiled, even as she linked herself to the commlinks connecting to the rest of the three hundred volunteers for this mission.
Today, the entire White Fang will participate in an attack that will lead to saving the world. By committing a school shooting.
Metis pulled the trigger.
Chapter 99 - Destroy the Relic
Running from an angry Maiden is actually isn't the most dangerous thing Rudy's done. There's a reason he hasn't told Cinder how he lost lives 11 to 9.
"Come back here you bastard!"
Oh, and apparently Amber is quite the hothead. Currently, she's smashing through the elevator shaft, almost catching up to him. Joy.
But Rudy was almost done with his job. All he needed to do was bring the Relic out into direct moonlight. Then, he can finally destroy the Relic... in approximately 2 minutes.
Yup, there's a time limit to when he can destroy the Relic. Without directing each other through communication means like Scroll calls, everyone decided to destroy their Relic at an assigned time. Thus, if one of them does not destroy their Relic at the assigned time, Rudy's pretty screwed.
Oh, and if he doesn't destroy his Relic he's screwed anyway. But it's not like the others have to worry about a Maiden.
Finally! He's outside. Rudy ran into the courtyard and placed the Relic on the ground. Checking his watch, he found that he still had a mother 50 seconds left.
"There you are!"
50 seconds he might not have.
"Give that back, and I might not beat you up too badly."
"Yeah, how 'bout no to that."
30 more seconds.
"Look, just give it here and we can sort this out. Do you even know what that is?"
"The Relic of Choice. But I can't give it back. I'm sorry, but if we are to ever defeat Salem, this must be destroyed."
"Hah? What are you talking about?"
10 seconds left.
"Look, I don't have a lot of time. Please, just let me do my job or else Salem will find out about this and we won't have another chance again."
"Look, buddy. I don't know—"
1 second left.
Swinging his golf club straight down, Amber panic when he moved and instinctively sent a blast of wind at him. Feeling the metal deform underneath him, Rudy smiled at completing his job... even as he felt the wind smash into his body.
The attack was a lot stronger than he thought, for his body flew straight into a wall nearby. The last thing Rudy remembered was smashing head-first into the wall, then a black silence overtook his consciousness.
Chapter 100 - The End
~1 year later~
Cinder watched as Emerald walked towards the center of the Arena to face off against Pyrrha Nikos. The Vale Vytal Festival was in full bloom, and everyone was cheering for the final contestants of the tournament.
Next to her, Metis was petting a black raven perched on one of her fingers. The raven preened under the little girl's care, even as Raven glared at it from where she stood behind her.
"Can you not bring your pet everywhere you go?"
"No! Mr. BlackBird needs his preening."
Cinder ignored the two and started another conversation to distract them.
"Salem's been getting more and more restless with Ozpin finally going on the attack. She's becoming more hysterical as well."
"Hmph. I still can't believe we're still working for her. You'd think she'd notice that it's our fault that she's lost her immortality."
"And without that safeguard, she's finally feeling the sense of dread like the rest of us."
Cinder stared at the fight below them for a moment, before she signed and sat down next to Metis.
"I still miss him."
Rudy had died the day they destroyed all four Relics. By destroying all the Relics, all Magic was wiped out. Salem was no longer immortal. Ozpin will never reincarnate again. And even Raven had lost her ability to turn into a Raven.
Without the strange divinity that powered the Magic of Remnant, Rudy's curse had finally stopped working. And so, when Cinder found out that he had smashed his head from a fight against the Fall Maiden, Cinder was livid.
Without Magic, there was nothing special about Amber, so Cinder got her revenge easily. Even so, Rudy was dead and his body was proof that he wasn't coming back. Watts took a look at it and shook his head sadly when Cinder first brought Rud— no, Aurora to him.
"If we had sent someone else to go with him—"
"Doesn't matter. He made sure to complete his objective and that's all that matters. To him, killing Salem was probably one of his life goals."
"What's the other?" Metis asked in confusion.
"Well, duh? I may be a shit mother, but that guy would do almost anything for the two of you. You're his daughters. He would've liked it if you guys lived happily ever after or something mouth-vomiting like that."
"How would you know that?"
"Oh, I read his will."
Cinder stood up with an outrageous expression on her face.
"...oh, shit. Did I forget to give it to you?"
"Well... here you go." Pulling something from a portal, she tossed a book over to Cinder. "I took a peek at it, but it didn't really matter much to me. It's something you'd probably like more since it involves you."
Cinder stared at her for a moment, before sitting down to read the book. Looking at the first page, she skipped a few lines until she saw something that mattered to her.
'To Cinder Fall, the Princess of the Grimm. I'm gonna assume that our plan went well and the only bad thing that happened is my untimely demise. I'm hoping I died in an epic battle against a worthy foe who had to struggle with a reviving zombie.'
He died of a head wound from a breeze caused by a young woman in one hit.
'So... I already settled a few things in the case of my death. I have a list of all of my possessions and who they'll go to. I'm trusting Raven will help out with some things, considering the boon I gave her in the case of my death. This is the favor for not taking custody of Metis or outright kidnapping her to join the Tribe.'
Metis Branwen... nope, that would be terrible for everyone.
'And... I guess I have a few things to say. From this point on, I will be writing about a story that could have happened but will never come to pass if we managed to complete our objective. You may choose to skip this part, as it does not matter too much in the long term. Be warned, that this was and will always be just a possibility.'
And so, Cinder read about a story called RWBY. About how four young Huntresses were recruited alongside several others to join Ozpin in his attempt at fighting Salem. There were also notes of other people she knew. Raven, Emerald, Roman, Watts, Velvet, Blake, etc.
And she found out how she could have been the Fall Maiden. How she would have wielded an incredible power at the cost of her arm and eye.
'Of course, none of this will ever happen. I made too many changes since my arrival here that it's impossible for things to stay the same. The White Fang, while still a terrorist organization, is more on track than it would have been. A few people mentioned are now facing different circumstances. And if Magic is really gone, then Ozpin and Salem will soon not matter anymore.'
'I just wanted to say... just live. Live a long life, you wonderful daughter of mine. Have a fantastic life, because we both know there's more to death than just the end. I'll be watching, hopefully, uninterrupted by the Gods. But you still have your whole life ahead of you. You once asked why you were chosen to lead over me when we first arrived in Haven. I have been a part of your life so long, that I worried I may have dictated your actions and decisions more than I should've.'
'No, you didn't,' Cinder thought.
'But now, it's your turn to make your way into the world. Whether it's as Queen of Remnant or Headmaster or even a Huntress. Whatever path you choose...'
Cinder's eyes started to tear up, and she thought she heard his voice read those last few words out loud.
"I'm proud of you, Princess."
Final Note (6/26/20) - And that's it. Thank you so much for those who actually read from start to finish. I probably wouldn't have done so myself.
To be honest, I did actually have a plan for how this story would have gone. The trouble is that I soon started to feel like this work became a chore of mine. Daily chapters with posts of 300 or so words with little to no thought put into it. If some of you were paying attention, there was a drop in quality sometime after the 30?th chapter or so? I thought about quitting this for so long, but I wanted to at least give a somewhat satisfying end before doing so.
The entire reason I even kept up with this was to see how bad authors with daily schedules had it and to exercise what little writing skill I had in short bursts every day. I now worship the grounds of authors like Coeur Al'Aran who can post over 5000 words a day for most of each week.
I don't think I actually did justice to this. I stopped caring at around chapter 40, and some of you can tell from the drop in quality and effort. This isn't ever gonna be my best work, and I will only see this as 'that one project I tried but failed at'.
But yeah, that life is not for me. I'm a reader at heart, not a writer. I write because it's fun, but not to the extent where I can commit enough time to do so daily. This experience has been interesting, but not something I'll likely repeat anytime soon.
So, ignoring all of what I said, let's talk about the story. I had a few ideas about how things would have played out if I wanted this to continue.
Mercury Black was supposed to introduce himself at some point. Qrow and Ozpin were supposed to discover that Rory was not, in fact, dead, but working for the enemy since day 1. Aurora was supposed to have his backstory expanded upon. Metis was a plot accident (as in, I literally had no plan for her before I added her into the story). Cinder was supposed to initially side with Salem instead of Rudy, before switching sides again. And Rudy was always gonna die, but he was supposed to have fought against Ozpin instead of Amber. I changed it at the last minute to fit the first episode of RWBY, and also cause it's easier to imagine Rudy beating an arrogant Maiden instead of THE Wizard.
But yeah, that's not happening anymore. So, to sum it up, thanks for reading up to this point and I hope you enjoyed the ending. This is Mister PurpleBook, signing off.
...oh, and before I forget, I did a real quick drawing of Cinder, Metis, and Rory. It's on my profile page, or you can get the link here:
fa v. me / de 06 aqd (get rid of the spaces)