Sigh. Here goes... HELLLOOOO EVERYONE! Sorry again about the late update. Guess I didn't quite take into account the drawbacks of juggling three different stories (including this one) and a real life job. It's tough. But hey. Better late than never and I will reiterate this now: I have NO plans of abandoning this story for the foreseeable future. Keep that in mind, please.
Also, this chapter is beeg. Originally, it was gonna be literally over twice its size because I was going to include the entirety of initiation. Then I realized that was insane while my beta readers went into an uproar. So I cut that bit into two parts, this one and the upcoming initiation (don't worry, it won't take nearly as long as this one). And there you have it.
Now, for reviews. I'll add the whole review this time before replying, in case peeps have forgotten them.
M2R: "nicee... i kind of guess he wasn't as strong as other students level but if he is stronger than jaune by not much, he is kind of pitiful isn't he? well, it is only the beginning and he will have time to improve as long as he doesn't slack off."
To answer the second part first, yeah. He's not planning on slacking. Like the pun there, by the way, intentional or unintentional. As for the first... don't worry. He's not physically much stronger than Jaune. But Jaune doesn't have Personas, now does he? Mwehehehe... But yeah. Due to some other complications that will be addressed in... chapter 8 or 9 (maaayybe 10 or 11 if I have to split another one like I did here)? One of those two. Either way, he has some other circumstances that he has to deal with before his Personas are actually fit for proper combat. Remember how Orion's Agi spells aren't quite doing what they should be doing. Meaning in the upcoming chapters, he's going to be focusing on his sword skills. Little spoiler alert there, but no matter.
Sleepysaurus Rex: "Your assistance to the Galactic Empire has been noted. If this information leads to the capture of the droids, you shall be greatly rewarded."
Sweet. Love me some rewards.
J0K3R4014: Too long to type, sorry, and the copy-paste thing was acting up. Anyway, I believe I mentioned your concerns in a dm. If I missed anything, feel free to let me know!
fuyuki365: "while I'm here I'll ask...is it possible for salem to be a persona? Or at least girl in the tower version? Also good chapter looking forward to next update."
Why thank you! And to answer your questions? I have no idea. I mean, possibly? Personas stem from myths, legends, and stories. Most of them will, of course, originate from Earth (because that's where the P3 Protagonist lived), but that's a very good question. I'll tell you this though. If (and this is a very heavy IF) she does become a Persona, she'd be a very high-level Tower Arcana (of course) Persona regardless of her form, with high-power elemental skills, with good ol' Mamudoon thrown in there, of course.
With that all done, I have one last thing to say. I remembered, while writing about it, that the whole idea behind a reinforced Huntsman/Huntress outfit is not mine. I read some fic, somewhere on this site, that had those and I thought "Huh! That makes sense!" So, yeah. Don't remember where I saw that, but if someone could tell me, that'd be absolutely amazing and I'll be sure to give proper credit where it's due.
And, of course, thank you oh-so-much to all the wonderful beta readers, who kept with me. Notably Sleepysaurus Rex, who created the Riftiverse and naturally has a big part in betaing my work, and Wizz, who's a whiz at catching plotholes. If you wanna talk to these guys yourself, then hop on over to my profile and join the Discord! Seriously, please do that. We always love more members.
So now let's get into the chapter you've been waiting for... another (sorta) filler chapter that will be closely followed by one with lots of combat! Yaaaaaay.
CHAPTER FIVE: Chariot First?
The first day of Beacon was as glorious as it was portrayed in the show. The sun was out, birds sang in the trees and in the skies, and a slight breeze blew across the campus. I had been pacing the courtyard, waiting for the first airships to arrive, grinning like an idiot.
I hadn't even seen an airship aside from a Bullhead yet, and those just looked almost like Ospreys back on Earth, so I felt a heavy sense of "Oh… That's it?" But then… the passenger airships arrived, carrying all the returning (and new) students to the campus. They were immense. A 747 would be dwarfed by these behemoths, and these things practically swam through the air.
The gracefulness and the delicacy of their movements… the precision… it was astonishing that humanity could create a giant machine that had so much softness incorporated into it.
I shook my head to clear the reverie and eagerly stared around at the first airship to open its doors, hoping to see a face that I'd recognize from the show. Nothing revealed itself, aside from Coco standing across the courtyard from me also scouting the first-years that were beginning to pass us.
"You got here fast," a voice spoke behind me, abruptly, and I stiffened. It was familiar, yet I couldn't place it until—holy shit… "How'd you manage that?"
I turned to face Cardin Winchester, the bully of Beacon, as he towered over me in his armor. The easily over-six-foot teen made me feel minuscule. Not quite as tiny as when I stood next to Ozpin and Glynda, but it was pretty close.
"How'd I what?" I asked.
"Get here so fast," Cardin replied. "I know I got on the first airship coming here, and I was the first to get off. But you're obviously a first-year too and you're already here. How?"
I couldn't help but gape. Cardin was… talking normally to someone!? To me, no less!
"What?" he snapped. "Is there something on my face!?"
I shook my head. "Uh, no. Nothing at all. I was just surprised that you'd ask me that question." I thought on the spot. "Um… I'm here early because… Oh, because there were issues at my place, so my parents were forced to take legal measures and send me to Beacon early."
"If you don't wanna tell me, then just don't tell me!" Cardin glared at me. "Jeez, if it's that hard to lie, then just don't do it!"
I glared back at him, feeling kind of absurd. "No, I don't think I will!"
Cardin's eyes narrowed and his fists clenched. I felt my heart skip a beat. I took a deep breath. "Alright… Let's start this over. I haven't even gotten your name yet. I'm Orion, Orion Tafel."
"The hell d'you think I want your name for?" Cardin clicked his tongue. "I'm not here to make friends. I'm here to make a name for myself."
"What, ya don't think I can!?" Cardin snapped.
"Eep!" I reeled back slightly, raising my hands. "N-no! That's not what I meant! It's just… I didn't expect anyone to come here with that in mind."
It was true. I had been expecting most people to come to Beacon to just become a Huntsman or Huntress. I hadn't really thought about how most of them probably did have dreams of their own, aspirations of glory that a good portion of them never got to accomplish because of the Fall of Beacon.
I suddenly felt a little sick to the stomach.
"So that's why I think I'm well on my way to becoming the best!" Cardin finished.
Oh shit, had he been talking?
I nodded. "Well, it's a big goal. I hope you get a great team that will help you out."
Cardin gave me a surprised look. "Really?"
"Yeah," I nodded again. "Perhaps I can help you out too."
I extended a hand to him, vowing right then to change Cardin. To make him a nicer person and to get to know him as a friend. From what I could see now, he was almost as easily corruptible as Ruby. He was naive and rude, and probably began losing confidence when he saw how far above his level some of the students like Nora, Yang, and Pyrrha. And that would've made things even harder for him. But I bet I could do it. It couldn't be too hard, right?
Cardin stared at my hand. He tentatively shook it, seeming more confused than anything. "Uh… yeah. Thanks…"
I am Thou, Thou art I.
Thou hast Created a New Bond.
Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Chariot Arcana.
The words echoed through my mind, neither a voice nor visible before me. They simply were. Their presence brought a myriad of feelings with them. Cardin was the Chariot Social Link!? This… This was all wrong! But Cardin was supposed to be, like, a bad guy! I know I basically promised to help him become the greatest Huntsman in the world, but still!
A memory surfaced, of a small boy holding out a clipboard and telling the protagonist to take responsibility for his actions. I mentally sighed. Welp, once I was stuck with a Social Link, I was stuck with that Link! I was seriously gonna have to work hard to help Cardin, though… Oh, dear… Beacon life was already cut out for me, wasn't it…?
"Well, I'm gonna go find my friends," Cardin said. "I'll… see you around, I guess?"
I nodded dumbly and he was gone.
Externally, I probably looked like a deer in someone's headlights. On the inside, however, I was currently undergoing what could be the mental equivalent of a DEFCON 2. I put the end of my thumbnail in my mouth and bit down on it with my front teeth, another nervous tic of mine that must've carried over to this world. My mind whirred into overdrive.
Cardin was a Social Link now. This meant that I really had to make an effort to change him. I made that vow to myself on a whim, but now I was really gonna have to pay for it! Well, it couldn't be too bad… I had to simply treat him as that one Social Link that everyone had and needed to complete, but no one really wanted to.
I began to pace slightly. 'Well, whatever… The bigger issue is this,' I thought to myself. 'If I got as many Social Links as the protagonist, that was a ton! How was I gonna balance them all!? As far as I knew, the Fall of Beacon was in less than a year, which… wait a minute… In Persona 3, you had to manage, like, 20 Social Links in a year!'
I froze and let out a heavy sigh. 'Oh. Okay. I can do this, then! No problem!'
Confidence restored, a grin stretched across my face again and I began roaming towards the students filtering in the direction of the school.
Eventually, I paused near a bench. I put my hands on my hips, frowning. The sun was high in the sky and I still hadn't seen any members of the unformed Teams RWBY or JNPR. It was like they were avoiding me subconsciously, or something. Weird…
Well, no matter. Even if I missed 'em today, I'd see them later. I'll see them for sure tomorrow during initiation. And, if even that doesn't happen, I'll see them at the team formation ceremony tomorrow evening.
In the meantime, I should be carefully planning how I'm gonna introduce myself. Imagine if I just walked up to Yang Xiao Long and said, "Hi there! I'm Orion! I'm actually from another world and I've watched a web series all about you, your sister, and your friends as you try to save the world!"
Yeah, no… Yang would launch me into orbit on the Flaming Fist Express.
I've always been a much better actor than a liar. And no, they're not the same. I mean, I've never been able to, say, tell someone that I didn't do something that I did, whereas it's far easier for me to make things up. The problem I had was being able to convincingly convey that made-up story…
That's where I quite often found myself stumbling. Honestly, I was just lucky that Coco did most of the talking when we met. I had hardly had any time to prepare a believable story for her.
"Excuse me," a finger pressed into my side.
"Geh!" I jumped away from the point of contact, raising my fists towards the source of the finger. And I froze, eyes widening (though I kept my jaw from falling open).
Sitting right before me was Blake Belladonna. The black-haired, amber-eyed girl was giving me a strange look, one eyebrow arched. Her left index finger was extended, the offending digit that had prodded my side. In her right hand was a book.
"You were blocking my light," she said. "And your muttering was getting annoying."
I felt my cheeks and ears heat up. Had I been muttering!? Oh, that was embarrassing!
"Ah…" was what came from my mouth. "I'm sorry 'bout that." then I frowned. "Wait, why are you reading? Today's, like, your first day here at Beacon."
Blake shrugged. "Orientation isn't for another twenty minutes. Nothing else to do."
"You could be meeting new people."
"Why would I—"
"Orion Tafel!" I interrupted, thrusting out a hand. "Nice to meet you!"
Blake sighed and rolled her eyes quite visibly before shaking the offered appendage once. For a hand that wielded a deadly weapon on a daily basis, her palm was remarkably soft. Like, inhumanly soft. "Blake. Likewise, I guess…"
Yes! Now if I slipped up and called her by her name, I wouldn't be labelled as a super suspicious character!
Yep. That was my motive for meeting every member of the main cast. I needed to have them tell me their names so I didn't accidentally slip up and have a weapon of mass destruction aimed at my face for my troubles.
Also, I really, really wanted to see how they looked in real life, because that was AWESOME. By the way, Blake looked amazing! That came out weird in writing, but I can't help but record it in my journal! I knew that the girls of RWBY were like most anime characters; their looks designed to far outclass those of regular Earth women, but wow… Seeing them, with all their anime… proportions and the superior-to-real-life looks, translated into real life? It was something else. It felt too perfect, in fact. Almost to the point where it was a little unnerving. Almost.
But then it stopped being almost unnerving and looped back around to being totally AWESOME because holy shit this was cool!
I noticed that Blake had gone back to her book without another word and I sighed, rolling my eyes. Whatever. She was always really antisocial in the show and I had gotten what I needed from her.
Now, however, I could just wait here and I'd get to meet Weiss, Ruby, and Jaune. Perfect. I pretended to busy myself on my Scroll, then managed to actually get distracted by the games. I had been horrified when I first did this last night. The selection of games for Scrolls was abysmal! For most games on Remnant, you could hook your Scroll up to your holo-TV (ironically called a HoloVision, or HV) and use it as a controller for the games there, but actual Scroll games? Almost nothing.
My rumination was disrupted by a deafening explosion barely a hundred feet away. I shot about two feet into the air, like a cork from a bottle (and judging by the upright shadow next to me, Blake had jumped as well). Blake and I exchanged equally surprised looks (though hers was far milder) and then there was a soft clink from down by the girl's feet.
A small glass bottle had rolled over to us and clinked to a stop against Blake's boot. The faunus in disguise picked it up and peered at the white emblem on the front. Her amber eyes narrowed ever-so-slightly.
She began walking towards the two arguing girls and I followed along right behind her.
"We're here to fight monsters!" the once white-haired girl (now ashy-gray) was snapping at the red-cloaked girl. "Not just play around! So watch where you're going!"
Ruby finally straightened and glared at Weiss. "Hey! I said I was sorry, princess!"
"It's heiress, actually," Blake cut in, without missing a beat. "Weiss Schnee, heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, the largest producer of energy propellant in the world."
Weiss' smile, while smug on-screen, was downright pompous in real life. "Why thank you! Finally, some recognition."
"The same company infamous for its controversial labor policies and questionable business partners," Blake went on.
Weiss' face went red and she spluttered furiously in response. "Wh-wha—!? How dare— The nerve of— Ugh!" she gave up, stomping a foot and folding her arms before marching away.
All it was… was a sound. Just a tiny one, probably easy to stop should the producer of said sound be aware of it. But this producer of the sound was not aware of it and I realized the half-chuckle had escaped my lips a half-second too late. I realized this when Weiss froze in her march and slowly turned around, arms no longer folded and her fists clenched at her side.
Her sky-blue eyes were as frigid and unforgiving as a glacier as she glared daggers at me. If looks could kill… well, I'd be off to my second reincarnation already!
"Are you… laughing?" she hissed.
I bit my lips. "No ma'am."
That only served to make her more angry and the furious snarl as she whirled and stormed off was audible to everyone present.
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding. "Well. That was something. Cold as Weiss, she is," I punned. "Eh?"
Blake rolled her eyes and walked off, while Ruby groaned slightly. "Great… an enemy on my first day, and someone who likes puns… Welcome to Beacon…"
"Oy, that's rude!" I objected.
"Ohmygosh, did I say that out loud!?" Ruby squeaked. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"
I shook my head slightly. "You're good…" I stepped forward, then, and extended a hand. "Orion. Orion Tafel. Nice to meetcha!"
Ruby slowly extended a hand and I eagerly took it and shook it. My heart did a somersault in my chest. I was meeting Ruby Rose in real life! Ruby freakin' Rose! Whoever gave me a second chance after getting my shit wrecked, thank you with all my heart! You couldn't have possibly made this any cooler!
"Um… can you please let go now…?" Ruby's voice was quite high-pitched as she tried to slightly tug her hand away.
"Whoops!" I let go and held my hands up next to my head. "Sorry 'bout that! I haven't really met many new people here at Beacon yet, so I just got a little excited."
Ruby chuckled nervously.
"So, what's your name, girly?" I asked.
"Ruby," she replied, after a moment's pause. "Ruby Rose. Um… nice to meet you too?"
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jaune lingering in the area. He had originally helped Ruby up after she slumped down when Blake and Weiss left. Seeing as Ruby hadn't slumped, and I was already talking with the little red reaper, Jaune was probably not having a good time finding a good place to jump in.
Jaune was approaching with determination gleaming in his eyes. He extended a hand as well. "Jaune Arc. Cool—er Nice to meet you!"
I shook the offered hand vigorously. "Orion Tafel. Likewise!"
Ruby took his hand and shook it. She opened her mouth, probably to introduce herself as well, but paused. She frowned slightly. "Aren't you the guy who threw up on the ship?"
Jaune looked like someone had doused the inside of his mouth with lime juice. "N-now hold on! That's… er… I didn't… Wait! When? You don't have proof!"
Ruby gave Jaune the blankest stare I'd ever seen. "You threw up on my sister's shoes, Vomit Boy."
Jaune's shoulders stiffened, then sagged. "Ah, yeah… alright, fine… That was me…" he perked up with a vengeance. "But it was because of airsickness! Everyone gets airsick from time to time! You can't blame me! And don't call me Vomit Boy!"
Ruby and I exchanged a glance and shrugged.
"Alright fine!" Jaune waved his hands madly. "Look, all I'm saying is airsickness is more common than most people let on!"
"Fine, fine," Ruby laughed slightly. "Look, Vomit Boy was just the first thing that came to mind."
"Well, what if I called you Crater Face?" Jaune countered, triumphantly.
"That explosion was an accident!" Ruby protested, childishly pumping her arms slightly.
"Ladies, ladies, you're both beautiful," I cut in, shutting them both up immediately. Jaune gave me a very confused look while Ruby, the adorable little shut-in, actually blushed. "But let's not fight! We just met!"
"You're right," Jaune took a deep breath as we started walking. "Well, the name's Jaune. Jaune Arc. Short, sweet, and the ladies love it."
"Do they?" Ruby asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Th-they will!" Jaune quickly assured. "Or, at least, I hope they will. See, my mom always says that…" Jaune's voice petered out as he probably realized that was not the right thing to say. "Nevermind…"
Ruby giggled and I snorted.
The ensuing silence was quite peaceful, for me, but Ruby evidently didn't think so. With a whirring, clicking, and clanking of metal, she whipped Crescent Rose out from behind her back and jabbed the massive scythe's blade into the concrete.
"So, uh, I've got this thing?"
Even though I knew what was coming, I nearly flinched at the giant piece of razor-sharp metal that practically came flying from behind Ruby's back.
"WOW!" Jaune yelped, hopping a quick step away. "Holy Dust! Is that a scythe?"
"Yep," Ruby replied, stroking a loving hand along Crescent Rose's shaft (immediately after writing that, I regretted using ink to write in this journal). "It's also a highly-customizable, high-impact sniper rifle."
"It's… it's a sniper rifle…?" even though I'd seen it in the show before, seeing this massive chunk of metal that looked too heavy to even pick up in real life made me think twice.
"Yep," Ruby cocked the slide with a grin.
"Whadda-what?" Jaune still seemed lost.
"It's also a gun," I explained.
"Whoa! That's awesome!"
"So what've you guys got?" Ruby asked.
I tuned out Jaune's explanation of his weapon as I took in what was going on. We had been walking along a path that would, in fact, take us nowhere. It was a big circular bit that formed a sort of plaza area. Neither Ruby nor Jaune seemed to notice, though.
Huh. We were actually really close to the Beacon student dormitories, funnily enough. The eastward path would take us about fifty feet before we reached the southernmost end of the Beacon dorms. The westward would take us towards the library at the far south stretch of lecture halls. Between them was the main plaza leading towards the CCT tower. The amphitheater was in the building directly to the east of the CCT tower, on the other side of the sparring buildings.
"Hello?" Ruby's voice boomed loud in my ear. "Orion? You there?"
"Wagh!" I flinched as a hand waved furiously right in front of my eyes. "What? What!?"
"You, like, zoned out for a minute there!" Ruby replied.
"For real!" Jaune nodded. "You just stared over at that tower thingie and didn't react to anything."
I let out a breath. "Sorry 'bout that. I was thinking about where we had to go."
"Oh," Ruby brushed it off instantly, staring at me intently. "Anyway, what weapon do you have?"
Oh, we were still on that topic? Okay.
I shrugged. "Just a sword. It's in my locker. I got here earlier than you guys and already received one. A locker, I mean."
"Aw…" Ruby looked glum. "Darn…"
I pulled aside my uniform coat slightly and removed my Evoker from its holster. "But I've also got this!" Ruby brightened and I sighed in relief. "It's my secret weapon!"
Ruby's silver eyes flashed (not the silver-eye-warrior-flash from the show, but a more anime-like excited flash) and, in a rapid-fire burst of vocalization, exclaimed, "Ooh! How? It doesn't seem to be capable of shooting anything. The chamber's slide is artificial and can't be cocked and the barrel lacks a hole large enough to fire any sizable shell capable of piercing a Grimm's hide or armor. Could it fire concentrated Dust lasers!? 'Cause I read about that in Huntsman Weekly and that would be SO COOL!" she cheered. "But it'd need reloading a whole lot, because it turns out that Dust lasers take a whole bunch of Dust and I can't see any canister large enough to fit that kind of amount. So, what is it? Is it lasers or something else entirely!? Because if it's something else, I really, really, really wanna know!"
Jaune's and my expressions were probably identical looks of "Wut."
I blinked and shook my head slightly. "Um… Elaborate, Miss Auctioneer?"
Ruby's cheeks turned the color of ripe tomatoes. "Ah! Um… Uh…" she kicked the ground slightly, looking sheepish. "What can it do…?" she asked, somewhat nervously.
"Ohh…" I nodded. "Um, it's a secret."
"Awww!" Ruby slumped. Then she straightened, face set with a determined grin. "I'll figure it out eventually! Just you wait!"
"I'll give you a hint," I decided. "I aim it very differently from how you'd aim a regular gun."
Ruby's eyebrows furrowed. "Aim it differently, huh? Hmm…" she put a hand on her chin and began muttering furiously to herself.
I blinked at her and then turned to Jaune. "Girls, amiright? Now, let me guess, you're lost."
Jaune looked around and blanched. "Uh, er… I, uhhh… Maybe…?"
"Hm? What's going on?" the little red reaper blinked, startled.
We turned to Ruby. "You're lost."
She looked surprised. "Um… I guess…?"
I sighed. "Well, you're lucky I know my way around. I, er, memorized a map of the school. Follow me, I'll take us to the amphitheater."
"Cool!" Ruby bounced up right next to me. "Do you know where the dorms are? The cafeteria? Ooh! The website said that Beacon has a workshop! Where's that? What about the swimming pool I read about? Oh, and the CCT tower actually has the headmaster's office at the top! Is that true? Wait, we should know where the classrooms are, right? Where are they?"
I suddenly felt very old as I endured the onslaught of questions Ruby battered me with. The four-minute walk felt like an hour and I had an odd feeling that I would be getting way too used to Ruby's rapid-fire speech in the future.
We arrived at the amphitheater on time, thankfully, and Ruby bid us farewell when she went to join Yang. Jaune split off, wandering aimlessly into the crowd, but I simply followed right behind Ruby.
The little red reaper gave me a questioning look as I joined the two sisters.
I shrugged. "I mean, where else am I supposed to go? I've met you, Jaune, and three others here. And I've only held a conversation with you and Jaune."
"Oho?" Yang got an interesting grin on her face. "Ruby's already made friends with two boys? Nice goin', sis!"
Ruby waved her arms wildly, nearly knocking my lights out with her flailing. "It's not like that, Yang!" she squeaked. "They're just friends! And I'll have you know that it wasn't all good after you ditched me! I exploded, you know!"
"Oh no, she had a meltdown in front of you, didn't she?" Yang looked apologetically towards me.
"N—" I tried to reply, but Ruby was faster.
"No, I literally exploded! There was fire, and lightning, and maybe some ice…? Anyway, it was a mess!"
Yang chuckled. "Heh, nice."
Ruby's arms flailed again. "I'm not kidding, Yaaang! It was horrible! First I tripped over a crabby girl's luggage, and then she yelled at me, and then I sneezed, and then I exploded, and then she yelled at me again, and it was all just really, really, bad and I just wanted her to stop yelling because it made me really, really uncomfortable!"
"You again!" even though I expected it, the suddenness of the shout from behind Ruby made me flinch and sent Ruby herself flying into Yang's arms (who caught her with practiced precision).
"Oh no it's happening again!" Ruby wailed.
Weiss, who had obviously prepared to yell at Ruby again, locked eyes with me and glared. "Oh, and you too!"
"Howdy," I gave a slight wave.
"I still remember your disgraceful attitude, you—" she cut herself off, taking a deep breath. "No, nevermind. But don't think I haven't forgotten."
"It's… been like twenty minutes," I replied. "I'd be kinda worried if you had."
Yang snorted as Weiss turned a truly astonishing shade of purple. The white-haired heiress set her sights briefly on Yang before her hands began to shake. Without another word, she whirled and marched away.
I was taken aback. With a grand total of three sentences, I had entirely shut down a rather lengthy bit of canon. Was this the butterfly effect, or whatever it was?
"Whew, what's her problem?" Yang nodded in the direction Weiss had gone, setting down Ruby at the same time. "She seemed cold."
A grin stretched across my face. "Snow kidding."
Yang's eyes lit up and she opened her mouth to reply.
"NO!" Ruby shot up between us, waving her arms. "No, no, nope! I'm stopping this right here! No puns! Nein!"
The use of that word did not escape my notice and I filed it away for later. In the meantime, though, I focused on Ruby, who now had her hands on her hips.
Yang rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Rubes. If there's a fellow pun enthusiast attending Beacon, it's best if we get to know each other, yeah?"
"Not around me!" Ruby reprimanded, wagging a finger. "A-anyway, Yang, this is Orion. He's cool."
"I'm cool," I agreed, nodding and extending a hand. "Orion Tafel. Howdy."
"The name's Yang Xiao Long," Yang grinned and took my hand in an absolutely crushing grip. "Remember it, boyo!"
My grin was starting to get strained as her handshake ground my bones together. When she finally released me, I flexed my fingers, wincing slightly. "Well, Yang, nice to meet you. Now, I've got to hand it to you… You've got a killer shake!"
Yang's smirk turned slightly evil and she examined her fingernails. "Yeah… I'd say I can nail it every time. Sometimes, the person's left a little shaken up, but meh."
Ruby cleared her throat, staring at us in a very authoritarian manner. "A-hem!"
"Sorry, Rubes," Yang apologized, not sounding very sorry at all. "I'll stop now. For now." she winked at me and mouthed, "Later," to me.
I opened my mouth to reply… and then snapped it shut as the whine of a microphone echoed through the auditorium. Every head turned to the front to see Ozpin standing there. The lights from the ceiling hid his eyes in the shadow of his brow and reflected off his spectacles, giving the anime-esque image of his eyes being hidden behind the gleaming white disks.
"I'll… keep this brief," he said, gazing absently over the gathered students. "You have traveled here today in search of knowledge, to hone your craft and acquire new skills, and when you have finished, you plan to dedicate your life to the protection of the people. But I look amongst you, and all I see is wasted energy, in need of purpose, direction. You assume knowledge will free you of this, but your time at this school will prove that knowledge can only carry you so far. It is up to you to take the first step."
I blinked. I remembered that Ozpin's speech from the show had been weird, but had it been that weird? It was… almost dismissive, in a way. No, scratch that. It was totally dismissive.
Glynda stepped up to the microphone as Ozpin left. "Tonight, you will all sleep in the ballroom. For now, meet the rest of your tour groups as determined by the message sent to your Scrolls. Welcome to Beacon Academy."
'Now that was different…' I thought, frowning. 'In the show, Glynda never said anything like that…'
"Looks like we're in group D, Rubes," Yang poked her sister with her elbow.
Ruby nodded, also looking at her Scroll. Then her head snapped to face me. "What group are you in, Orion!?"
I pulled out my Scroll and took a moment to remember how to open and unlock it (though I pretended I was just making it dramatic). The message from a sender called "Beacon Academy Administrations Staff" contained a simple box of text, which I read aloud.
"'Congratulations, Orion Tafel, for making it safely to Beacon Academy. For your first day here, you will be a part of Tour Group B. Be sure to listen to the instructions given by the staff and we hope you enjoy your year.'" I blinked. "Kinda tacky, no?"
Yang shrugged while Ruby groaned. "Awww… Group B… Do you know what group Jaune's in?"
I made a slight face. "And how do you expect me to know that right off the bat?"
Ruby blushed. "Um… I didn't…?"
"Ha!" Yang barked. "That's Ruby for ya!" she poked a thumb at Ruby and stage-whispered to me, "She's not the brightest, sometimes."
"Yaaaang!" Ruby cried, punching Yang repeatedly in the side while the blonde just laughed harder.
The humor was contagious and I soon found myself chuckling along with them. This was fun! Back in my old life, it usually took me about a day or two before I started making friends at a new school. Here, though, it took only a day! Granted, I knew what sorts of things to say because of my experience with the show (and I'd still screwed up my encounters with Weiss, which was a major yikes), but still.
Maybe my social stats were maxed out in this form? That'd be helpful…
Wait, no, they couldn't be. I was still dumber than a brick when it came to Remnant history.
"Oh! Jaune!" Ruby suddenly exclaimed, right next to me.
"Wuh, buh, huh?" I snapped out of my funk, looking around quickly.
"Huh?" Jaune seemed almost as confused as the cloaked girl rushed towards him. "Ruby and Orion!"
"That's me," I agreed. "I'm Orion."
"Jaune, which group are you in?" Ruby asked.
"Huh? Group?" Jaune arched an eyebrow.
"The, uh, one that they texted to us," I said, holding up my Scroll.
"Oh!" Jaune grinned. "I don't know!"
"Are… are you gonna look?"
"That is a very good idea!" his grin seemed strained for a moment before he opened his Scroll. After a moment, he nodded. "Um. Group A. Anyone else in Group A?"
Ruby slumped and Yang and I shook our heads in unison. Jaune sighed. "Well… darn… Can't win 'em all."
But I noticed something hilarious out of the corner of my eye. Pyrrha Nikos, the redheaded Spartan-based, four-time winner of the Mistral Regional Tournament had a tiny grin on her face as she looked at Jaune. In her right hand, she held her own Scroll.
Twenty to one, she got into A group as well, or I'll eat my Evoker.
Thankfully, I didn't have to annihilate my mouth as I was proven right when Jaune and Pyrrha stood in the same group of students gathered around Professor Port. Bemusedly, I noticed that I was in the same group as my pal Cardin and we all split. But not before I bid a farewell to Ruby and a farewell pun to Yang ("We'll Yang out later!"), who smirked like a devil and opened her mouth before Ruby dragged her off.
I chuckled and my lips stretched wide in a grin of my own. I still could hardly believe this was only my first day knowing the cast. As I made my way towards my own group, my grin faded as I felt a sudden rush of trepidation about keeping canon going.
Oh well. That can be figured out later. Time to get a tour of the school I've been living at for a week.
At dinner, I found my next targets somehow before Ruby, Yang, and Jaune even made it to the cafeteria. Nora and Ren were sitting alone in a corner of the room, surprisingly. Nora looked less than enthused to be in their remote location (as evidenced not by a look of displeasure, but by a multitude of envious and excited stares aimed at the surrounding students).
I didn't even make it to be ten feet away before Nora locked onto me and began waving. I blinked.
"Um… How'd you know I was coming over here?" I couldn't help but ask as I set my tray down. A fat bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, with a side of salad and baguette, a duo of apples, and Remnant's equivalent of Sprite (a drink called Fitzle) formed my meal tonight.
"You were walking this way!" Nora exclaimed. "So I connected the lines. Dots!"
"Why did you come towards us anyway?" Ren asked.
I thought for a moment. "You were sitting alone. So I thought I'd join you."
"Cool!" Nora leaned forward. "I'm Nora! Nice to meet you! This is your first day at Beacon, right? Wait, of course it is! We're all new here! It's everyone's first day here! Well, except for the older students. And the teachers. They've been here before. And they're still here now, too!"
I stared at the hyperactive girl. "Oh. I see."
"Sorry about her," Ren spoke softly, a welcome contrast to Nora's constant exclamations. "She's just a little excited to be here."
"A little!?" Nora cried, sounding outraged. "It's super exciting! I can't wait 'til we can start bashing those nasty ol' Grimm's faces in!"
She swung her arms around wildly, miming swinging a giant hammer. The raw glee on her face was… honestly, quite terrifying.
"Yes," I tentatively replied. "It is pretty cool to destroy Grimm. I'm Orion, by the way. Nice to meet you."
"Yeah!" Nora nodded at lightning speeds. "Yeah! Nice to meet you too!"
"Lie Ren," Ren bowed his head slightly. "It is a pleasure."
As I began eating, I realized I didn't even have to try and keep the conversation going. Nora went on and on about the adventures she had been on with Ren before coming to Beacon. Some were quite entertaining, though Ren would periodically correct little tidbits that Nora had exaggerated (or just straight-up invented).
Over the course of the meal, I discovered that Ren and Nora were like the two halves of myself. Nora was the chaotic, fun-loving excitable me, while Ren was the me who enjoyed playing games alone in the quiet darkness of my room. It was a little odd, actually, how the two seemed to embody those aspects of myself so perfectly.
I enjoyed it immensely, though. For the first time since coming to Beacon, I was actually socializing with people during a meal. I quickly found out that it was hard for me to connect with them by telling my own stories, because I had none to share, really, but Nora and Ren at least didn't seem at all uncomfortable with me talking about what I hoped for my first year at Beacon.
That is, I told them that I had never been super studious or strong, so I was going to try and change that for the better. This much was true; but I left out the whole "keeping canon going" and "trying to find out ways to prevent the Academy's collapse" bits. I don't think they'd want to keep me company much if I said that.
I sure wouldn't; I'd probably sound very much like an idiot.
Eventually, after dinner (Ruby, Yang, and Jaune had sat at their own table across the cafeteria and didn't try to make contact with me, interestingly enough), I exited the rowdy dining room and headed for the courtyard to get some cool, quiet air. Also, I wanted a nice, dark place to smile without restraint.
I sat down on a bench and leaned back, gazing up at the shattered moon.
"Hoo boy, Orion… What a world, eh? What a world… Ow…" my grin was starting to get painful, so I forced myself to stop and massaged my cheeks. "Well, first day of school, and I think it's gone nicely! You've met some members of the cast and really did a good job not messing that up! Except for Weiss…" I muttered. "Gonna have to make it up to her somehow…"
"Hello? Is anyone there?"
I jumped to my feet, startled, and whirled around. "Who's there!? Don't sneak up on me like that!"
"Sorry!" came a surprised voice from the shadows. I locked onto the voice and blinked at a stone pillar twenty feet away. "I wasn't aware that there was anyone else out here. My apologies."
A feminine figure stepped from behind the pillar and walked slowly towards me. I blinked again and squinted. Something was awfully famili— I froze and my eyes widened at the silhouette of the celebrity.
"You're Pyrrha Nikos," I simply stated, caught totally off guard by her sudden appearance.
Perhaps thinking she couldn't be seen in the dark, Pyrrha's shoulders slumped and she seemed to slouch over slightly. Oops. Wrong thing to say… But she answered as cheerfully as ever. "Why, yes! I am! Hello! I, ah, did not expect someone to recognize me in the darkness."
"Hm," I ignored her last sentence and extended a hand. "Nice to meet you. I'm Orion Tafel."
She seemed taken aback by my sudden introduction. "Nice to meet you too?" she shook my hand tentatively.
It was a surreal experience, not gonna lie. I could feel the strength in her arm and hand just from that one handshake. This was something I had noticed when I shook hands with Ruby and Yang as well. It was… indescribable, really, but it felt like all this power was built up inside her arm, waiting to be released at the slightest threat. Is this what Aura does? Is that why people are so strong, yet their hands are soft and free of callusing? Because the Aura protects them while giving them strength?
Awesome. If that was true, it meant that I get to have pretty skin forever.
"Um… Hello?" Pyrrha suddenly said and I flinched.
"What? What?" I looked around. "What'd I miss?"
"You were not responding to anything I said," Pyrrha replied. "It seems that you got lost in your own thoughts."
My face felt hot. Holy shit, I'd zoned out again!? It was seriously happening too much now! Well, I could blame that on me meeting every single member of Teams RWBY and JNPR in one day and having all those experiences crowding my mind. But for now, I had to focus.
"Sorry about that," I said, without missing a beat. "Just thinking over my day."
"Oh… Well, I can understand that," Pyrrha replied. "It has been an interesting day for myself as well."
I found myself arching an eyebrow. "Really? Heh," I chuckled. "Well, anyway, now that I've met you, I've got something to tell you."
Pyrrha's silhouette in the dim light didn't move much, but I got the impression that she was frowning. "What does that mean?"
"You're Pyrrha Nikos, the four-time champion of the Mistral Regional Tournament," I began, steepling my fingers. "But that's only to the public. Here at Beacon, to me, you'll be Pyrrha Nikos the student."
I hesitated, wondering if it was alright to have Pyrrha Nikos as a potential romance option. After all, this sort of mindset was what got her to like Jaune… Right?
I set my jaw. "Pyrrha Nikos the student, I am hereby declaring you my rival!"
That took her by surprise, no question. She even took a step backwards. "Wh-what?"
"I may not be very strong right now," I admitted, "but I'm gonna become so strong that everyone will know my name!" I was on a roll now! I was just saying what was coming to my mind and I'd say it wasn't going too badly! "So be on your guard!" suddenly, I backtracked. "But I'll still see you as a friend, of course."
There was no response from Pyrrha.
'Oh, dear…' I thought, nervously. 'Maybe saying that last bit was a little off-putting…'
Suddenly, there was a chuckle from the crimson-haired Spartan-based girl. "Very well then." her hand reached towards me as if reaching for another handshake. "I suppose I can live with that. A rival and a friend." her head tilted down to gaze at her outstretched hand. "Oh, dear… We already shook hands, did we not?"
I fought down a snort and shook Pyrrha's hand again. "One to meet, one to seal the deal!"
"I suppose, if that is how you would like to see it," once I released her hand, Pyrrha pulled it back and rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet. "Well, it was quite nice meeting you, Orion. I really should be going now."
And she hurried off.
Hm. Well, no Social Link from her. I suppose that was to be expected. I probably made her dislike me entirely, actually, damn it. Another Weiss…
I groaned and rubbed my temples. "Good going, Orion… You said something that only had a small chance of getting her to like you and in your efforts to keep that romance back in canon, you managed to say something that's gonna make her wanna stay away from you!"
I rolled my eyes and stretched my shoulders. "Welp, time to head back. It's probably about time for students to start getting ready for bed."
I gave another, bemused, glance at the shattered moon high above and headed towards my dorm to get my pajamas. I would still be sleeping in the ballroom with the rest of the first-years, but like hell was I going to be keeping my stuff in some annoying locker. I had enough of that at summer camp.
Come to think of it, that same summer, someone was kicked out of camp for hiding in the locker rooms and eating seven whole heads of iceberg lettuce that they'd stolen from the kitchens.
Another reason I don't like locker rooms.
By the time I had reached the ballroom, dressed in a loose t-shirt and pajama pants and toting a sleeping bag, all the good spots had been taken. Even that soft bit of marble in the corner was occupied by Cardin and his friends. I was tempted to go over and join them, actually, because they seemed to be having a genuine conversation with actual regular laughter rather than mocking laughter.
But a waving Yang in a tank top distracted me quite effectively. I am a teenager, after all.
I jogged over to the sisters, dodging the occasional airborne pillow missile and dancing around students already in their bags. I arrived next to the girls and set my sleeping bag down, sitting on the rolled-up bag of fluff as promptly as you please.
"Well, hi there," I greeted. "How're you girls tonight?"
Yang chuckled. "I'm fine and Ruby's writing a letter. So where were you at dinner? You totally just vanished!"
"I was meeting new people," I replied. "I got to the dining hall before you guys did, so I found someone new to sit with."
"You abandoned us," Yang nodded. "I get it."
I flinched. "Wha!? No!"
"Just kidding, pretty boy," the blonde chuckled. "So, who were they? Interesting?"
I nodded, thinking to myself. I felt a small smirk cross my lips. "They were fun. I'm glad I met them now."
"Uh, okay?" Yang gave me an odd look. "Anyway, let's talk about fun stuff! Do you play games?"
I blinked. "Uh, sure. Some, I guess. Don't really have anything to game on other than my Scroll…" I removed the piece of tech in question and dangled it from my index finger and thumb. "And the game selection is… lackluster."
Yang shrugged. "Some of 'em are pretty great. Wanna play some?"
"Aren't we supposed to be going to bed?"
"More like, aren't we supposed to be doing boring things," Yang pulled out her Scroll and began tapping away at it. "Come on, don't be boring. You have a good sense of humor, don't tell me that's all you have to offer."
I unlocked my Scroll and stared at it. "Uh… Fine, I guess. But I'm going to bed before midnight. If I pass out during initiation, I'll probably die and then come back just to haunt you about it."
We ended up playing video games until three in the morning. When I finally went to bed, I could feel Orpheus, Pixie, and Apsaras practically buzzing around in my head in disappointment.
Or would that be my own disappointment in myself?
Either way, time for a sleep-deprived battle against the creatures of Grimm after getting absolutely yeeted off a massive cliff. Aaand I just realized I hadn't thought of a landing strategy yet.