Prologue

Reseda

"Time's up, brats!" I sighed, letting the pencil fall from cramped fingers as I stretched out over my desk. Other students around me did the same, giving off various groans and other sounds of exhaustion.

"The written portion of your exam is now completed. Please collect your gear, and meet up outside the school for your practical."

"Yes, Professor Branwen!" There was a shuffling of activity as everyone gathered up their stuff, and I quickly made my way to where my combat gear was stashed.

"Jeez, that test was brutal!" a voice exclaimed from next to me, and I looked over to see one Yang Xiao Long talking with some of her friends. "Uncle Qrow didn't pull any punches with this one, did he?" I shook my head and kept walking, giving the group a friendly wave as I passed.

I wasn't one of the first ones to arrive at the place, since I had to put armor on in addition to grabbing my weapon. Professor Xiao Long was waiting, arms folded. When the last straggler arrived, he started the introductory speech.

"Now that you're done with the written exam, it's time for your practical," he began. "We will be dropping you in the forests around here, and you will have a Grimm slaying competition. Your scrolls will automatically record the kills you get, with higher point values being awarded to more difficult kills."

A kill contest? But the forests around Signal were very notably low on Grimm specimens that could feasibly threaten a senior year student at Patch. The most dangerous things were Ursae, and there were barely any Alphas because of the frequent live-fire class trips.

"Now before you ask," Professor Xiao Long explained, "The forests have been seeded with some of the nastier specimens the professors were able to capture. Don't treat this like any normal assignment."

That's more like what I expected.

"Teamwork is not discouraged," the professor continued. "If you do end up killing something while working with a partner, 75% of the point value will be distributed to both of you. This goes down to 60% or so with three people, and so on. These Bullheads'll get you into the forest. Any questions?"

No one said anything, so at the professor's urging everyone piled into the Bullheads and lifted off.

Once we were airborne I quickly closed my eyes and tried to calm down. This was the last step before Beacon, and the last step before being able to actually affect things in this world, so I'd better not fuck it up.

Eventually, the professor's voice crackled on through the Bullhead intercom. "Drop point is coming up, kids!" He announced cheerily. "Get ready!"

There was a brief, confused silence until one of my classmates spoke up. "Uh, Professor, did you just say 'drop point?'" He asked nervously.

"Sure did!" Professor Xiao Long cackled. "What, did you think we were actually gonna land these things? With all the Grimm down there they'd be wrecked in seconds! Consider this a hint: Make sure you've got a landing strat ready!"

I don't know what I expected, honestly. That was my last thought before the ground opened up beneath us, and all of a sudden the entire class was falling towards a sea of green.

I quickly spread my arms and legs out, activating my Semblance on my armor to slow my descent even further. There was a jerk on my arms and legs and a slight drain on my Aura, but my fall became much less dangerous as my armor's descent slowed down, with me being carried by it.

Below me, all the other students were deploying their own means of landing safely. Yang in particular was using the recoil of her shot-gauntlets to dive towards what looked like a large cluster of Grimm, whooping like the adrenaline junkie she was.

Not that I could blame her, though. I felt a manic grin spread across my own face as I angled towards a nearby pack of Beowolves, pulling out my weapon, Orquestra, as I fell. As I drew it out, its single blade split in two lengthwise, and part of the hilt folded out so that instead of one large machete, I was wielding a two-pronged monstrosity that was best described as a bladed tuning fork.

Yeah, it looked kinda stupid, and not a little impractical, but neither was an issue when both tines of the weapon found themselves embedded into the skull of an Alpha Beowolf. The large Grimm was flattened into the ground by the kinetic force of my fall, and I yanked Orquestra out of its head to turn around to face the remaining Beowolves, who were taken aback by the sudden loss of their leader.

With a flip of a switch, Orquestra split into two, giving me the twin machetes Alto and Baixo. Alto then folded in on itself even further, and the hilt flipped open with a mechanical whir. In a matter of seconds, I went from holding one large tuning fork to dual wielding with a machete in one hand and a large pistol in the other.

I grinned widely as the Grimm snarled, and decided to take the opportunity for a cheeky one-liner as they charged forwards. "How's it going uglies? My name's Reseda." I twirled Alto around my finger before aiming it at the lead Beowolf. "Now thrill me."

Alto fired, and there was a large CRACK as the Beowolf's head snapped back and it collapsed bonelessly to the ground, tripping up some of its fellows in the process. My next shots all had similar effects, significantly thinning out the pack of Grimm before they got close enough for melee combat.

Baixo batted aside a set of razor-sharp claws as I sidestepped the first strike, and I used another shot from Alto to kill the Beowolf for its mistake before flipping over another's pounce. Baixo flashed once, twice, as I carved furrows into its hide, before turning around to blow a hole in the chest of a third.

Eventually, Alto clicked on empty, and I swapped it back to its machete form while Baixo similarly shifted into its own pistol form. Unlike with Alto, though, when I pulled the trigger a stream of fire rounds shot out, carving a burning line into the Beowolves surrounding me. They probably weren't going to kill, but they bought me enough space to reload both guns before charging back into the fray.

A few minutes of gunplay and bladework later, and all the Grimm were dead and dissolving. A quick check on my Scroll showed that that'd earned me a total of 30 points from this pack, at least ten of which probably came from the Alpha.

"Heads up!" A voice sounded out from nearby, and I ducked just in time for an Ursa to go flying over my head, impacting the nearest tree with a large crack. I turned around to see Yang strolling out of the woods, casually cracking her knuckles under her twin shotgauntlets.

"Sorry 'bout that," she said with no remorse whatsoever, "But the big guy over there was a little weaker than I thought."

I sighed. Yang would be Yang, I suppose. That's something that wouldn't change even years later. "No harm done," I replied as I got to my feet. "Having a good time?" I asked dryly, taking the opportunity to reload Alto and Baixo before combining them back into Orquestra.

"Like you wouldn't believe!" she exclaimed happily. "The whole entire forest chock-full of Grimm to smash? It's perfect!"

I was about to make a comment of my own on the matter when motion in the brush caught my attention. "Incoming!" I called out, but by that point it was already a little too late. A Boarbatusk charged its way out of the trees, already in its deadly Sonic-esque Spin Attack. I barely had enough time to get my hand out, feeling the familiar rush of my Semblance responding to the call.

A fraction of a second later, the boar-like Grimm very abruptly slowed down, as if it were trying to charge through molasses. I grimaced at the large drain in Aura as my Semblance worked its magic, slowing the Boarbatusk's movements to about an eighth of what they were.

Thankfully, I didn't have to hold it for long. A megaton punch from Yang smashed into the thing from the side, and for a second I almost saw ripples fly through its body like in a bizarre slow-motion video before I canceled my Semblance. The unfortunate Boarbatusk was sent flying into a nearby rock, nearly pulverising it and leaving the Grimm scrabbling to get back up. I quickly charged up and buried Orquestra into its underbelly, and when the Grimm still didn't die I pulled the trigger sticking out from the hilt. Alto's barrel, which was hidden between the two tines of the weapon, discharged, and the Boarbatusk finally went limp and dissolved into a black mist.

I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding after that close call, and suddenly a weight rested itself on my shoulder. I looked over to see Yang leaning there with a grin.

"Thanks for the save, Spiky," she commented. "Really made him spin out there, didn't we?"

I groaned internally at the pun and the atrocious nickname, but outwardly just gave her an appreciative nod. "Nice hit. Want to team up for this?"

Her response was a grin. "Sounds like a plan to me," Yang said happily. "Just make sure you keep up." And with that, she ran off towards some loud roars that echoed in the distance, leaving me stumbling from the sudden absence of weight.

"Hey! Yang!" I scrambled after her as best I could as her laughter rang out through the forest. "Wait up dammit!" I don't know what I expected, I really don't. Welp, time to go make sure my temporary partner doesn't get herself killed before canon starts. Just a day in the life for a Support Main, or something.

I shook those thoughts from my head as I followed the trail of destruction, casually slashing through a Beowolf that thought it was being sneaky as I went. Hopefully my time at Beacon wouldn't be this harrowing.

Ah, who am I kidding, I was doomed from the start. Not that I wanted it any other way, though.


Serra

"Time's up, pencils down!"

I let the pencil clatter onto the desk from my hands and stretched them out carefully, noting the soreness as I let out a sigh of relief. Around me, other students were letting out similar sighs as the sound of pencils clattering to the ground echoed through the room.

Wow, that was it? That was easier than the SHSATs, although to be fair there was a lot less stuff on this test.

"The written portion of your exam is now completed. Please collect your gear, and meet up in the courtyard for your practical."

"Yes, Professor Nero!" Everyone got up from their seats, and I followed the flow of students out of the room to get to where my stuff was stashed.

People separated into little friend groups, chatting as they went by, and I spared a few seconds to admire the fact that I couldn't see anyone panicking over their potential grades -unlike my peers from back then- before going on my way.

Then again, this was a small combat school meant for people that were either serious about being a Hunter/Huntress but lived too far away to have access to one of the good ones, or naive fuckers trying to play at combat.

I'd stomped my fair share of said naive idiots during spars, but all that really did was make them act like I was the rare exception. Which was a load of bullshit, but whatever. Can't cure stupidity, and whatever god or gods exist here probably knows that already.

I was one of the first to arrive, a couple of other students already there. Some of them had armor, some of them didn't, and most of them carried some form of weaponry of decent quality. I myself had two of my chakram in my hands, holding the bladed metal carefully. The rest of them were sitting in either the bag on my back, or the pouch at my hip.

10 minutes later the courtyard was full of anxious students with deadly weaponry, and at that point the teachers probably decided to start the exam because everyone fell silent at the sound of a bell ringing.

"Hello, everyone," Professor Alastair said as he sat by the aforementioned bell. "If anyone that is meant to take the practical isn't here, that will be their own fault and will have to try again next year."

Oh… jeez, kinda harsh. But how're they gonna keep anyone from coming in late?

As if to answer my question, the walls of the courtyard shot up with the sound of grinding stone, and not 10 seconds later the entire place save for the already-massive wrought iron gates at the entrance were elevated by a good 10 feet or so.

"If anyone can vault this wall in time to make it to the practical if they were late, then they have deserved to take it."

Oh, oof. But if you're late to a damn physical practical that gave you 10 minutes to prep, you can go stuff it.

"Your practical, students, is to last 1 to 3 minutes against me in one on one combat." Professor Alastair's polite facial expression took on something much more predatory, and I was suddenly slapped in the face with the realization that this, this must be one of the reasons that the success rate at Oriel Academy was so low despite being an eh school overall. "And I won't be using my Semblance."

Ah, fuck. Professor Alastair was the combat teacher for a good damn reason, he was really really good with his bisento. It didn't have any long-range capability, and the professor's Semblance was out of the question, thankfully. So I would probably be able to last at least 1 minute against him with my own weapons and Semblance.

Professor Alastair brought out his Scroll and swiped a few times before presumably opening a list of names. "Azurite, Serra. You're first."

Ah, shit. Ah, shit. I don't even get to see how other people will fare against him- you know what, no need to mourn a lost opportunity. I've trained, I've prepared, that'll have to be enough to pass and be able to get to Beacon.

I strode towards him with false confidence, and the students around me parted so that I could get to Professor Alastair easier. When I was within earshot, the man pressed something on his Scroll and walls of glass shot up, separating us from the other students.

"This timer," Professor Alastair gestured towards the digital clock with a glowing red timer "Will only stop when you either surrender or reach the 3 minute mark. If you are still standing by 1 minute, you automatically pass."

He then proceeded to chuck the bell over the glass walls, and I would've stayed still gaping at it had it not been for the flash of metal catching my eye.

Oh shit-! I caught the blade through the inside of a chakram, angling it so that it wouldn't threaten my neck before chucking the other one at Professor Alastair's kneecaps, a Aura string attached.

He dodged it, swerving to the side and withdrawing the blade before making a series of jabs at my own kneecaps, and I scooted back before yanking on seemingly thin air with my right hand.

The chakram embedded in the ground lurched out and whizzed for Professor Alastair's neck, who dodged to the side again before doing a wide sweep attack that I countered with the chakram in my left hand.

This really weird game of back and forth continued for what felt like several hours, and I had to remind myself that no, this wasn't a fight to the death, and I wasn't in any mortal danger. But man, is that hard to remember while dodging fast as hell strikes while trying to strike back without getting hit once.

Holy crap it's been a full minute and I haven't even been hit. Hell yeah, training paid off. But only just barely, because fuck was Professor Alastair fast, I barely had any time to react.

A particularly nasty strike made me backflip, chucking the chakram in my hand at his torso and swerving it to match his movement as I landed. Frustratingly, it didn't hit, and I felt my eyebrow twitch in anger before I realized that I'd let myself be maneuvered into the corner.

Shit. Wait, no, I could still salvage this if I just-

I popped open my pouch and withdrew all of the small chakram I had, attaching numerous strings to each of them before launching them and praying they hit their targets.

Chakram one ricocheted off of one wall and headed for Professor Alastair's sternum, and was promptly launched into the ground. Chakram two and three were aimed at different body parts, but ultimately met the same fate. Chakram four, five, and six bounced off of several walls before whizzing towards Professor Alastair, and also ate dirt.

Damn, not enough strings.

So naturally, I reached behind me to undo the clasp of the backpack and let the 4 chakram fall into my awaiting palms, attaching truly ridiculous amounts of string to them before letting them fly.

As expected, none of them hit Professor Alastair. But they did hit their targets, and I waited until Professor Alastair took a step forward to jab at my face before my hands blazed to life, wreathed in oceanic blues.

All of the thin Aura Strings suddenly became very reinforced, and it became very obvious that my goal hadn't been to score a hit on the Professor, but to achieve contact with as much surface area possible so that I could create more strings.

I slashed downwards in a X desperately and the strings obeyed, shooting downwards to latch onto his arm and weapon before more of them shot towards his other hand, immobilizing his arms.

I slashed upwards, and strings rose up to entangle the professor's legs, immobilizing him before bringing my hands close to bring all of the chakram I'd thrown hovering at his neck.

Not a single second had passed before a wave of nausea hit, and I grit my teeth against the strain that the strings were causing me while Professor Alastair fought relentlessly to free himself from my control. Both of us knew that it was only a matter of how much Aura I had left until he broke free, and that if that happened the tables would turn completely.

Ding!

I froze, eyes automatically trailing to the timer. A bright, blinking 0:00 met my eyes.

No. No fucking way. I lasted the entire 3 minutes without being hit with the biggest baby tactics known to man, aka projectiles and running away. I actually made it to minute 3.

"Miss Azurite, you've passed, and with flying colors. Your practical is over. Please release me."

I unconsciously obeyed, the blue of my Semblance flickering away back to its near-invisibility as I gathered all my chakram and put them back where they belonged, the strings restraining Professor Alastair fading away to nothingness.

I barely took two steps out of the makeshift arena before getting swarmed by the other students, and the second a sword got too close to my jugular for my liking, I attached some strings to the courtyard wall and pulled hard, launching myself clear of the students with sharp pointy objects and landing right on the wall itself.

"Jeez, do none of them know to keep their weapons to themselves?" I muttered, stretching out and wincing at the full-body soreness. "Damn, I've been slacking off in training. But then again, I don't usually go for speed training… I'll have to modify that."

"Get down here, you coward!" one of the less-bright students hollered, and immediately shirked back when a chakram embedded itself an inch away from his feet.

"Up yours, fucker!" I said, flipping him the bird. "I don't see you lasting 3 minutes against Professor Alastair without getting hit!"

"You didn't land a hit either!"

"Well, I passed, and that's what matters! So fuck off!"

At that point Professor Alastair called out the next name, and I got to watch as people took their own practicals.

It gave me no small amount of pleasure to see the guy that had called me a coward not last to the 1 minute mark because he rushed in like an idiot. Karma, fuckers. But better he fails now than have a gruesome death at the hands of a Grimm.

...oh god I've adopted a Aizawa-like mentality. What's next, getting befriended by two loud idiots? Wait, no, the dude's full posse of friends was 4 people altogether, if I remember right. And one of them bit the dust in a rather gruesome way.

Damn, now I've made myself sad. But at least this place doesn't have some all-powerful person pulling the strings from the shadows. Right? ...Right?


Maxie

The engines howled through my ears as we flew over the small village about a hundred miles east of Beacon. I was super excited to be out and about. Even if it was to fight a small hoard of Grimm. Thankfully it was just Beowulfs, some Ursas Minor, and maybe a Nevermore. Perfect for my entrance exam!

"Yeah I start school in one week!" I shouted excitedly as I did a backflip of joy! Only to pause in midair as Miss Goodie used her Semblance to stop me.

"Take this seriously, Maximus.' She said as she read a small romance novel. I just kept doing spins as I floated smiling the whole time. "And you haven't passed yet."

"I am, Miss Goodie~ Ozzie always says being calm before battle is the sign of a great Hunter," I said as I tried to swim towards her. She gave a small sigh as I dropped to the ground in a handstand before pushing up and landing headfirst into her lap. Miss Goodie just calmly started scratching my head as she kept reading. Yes, head scratch! Never too old for these! I thought in bliss as I closed my eyes, wolf ears wagging in happiness.

Just then, the alarm sounded as we reached our destination. Jumping to my feet I grabbed my massive Punisher Cross-weapon and slung it over my shoulder with ease, grinning from ear to ear. I loved fighting so long as it was what I wanted and it was for a good reason. And oh boy did fighting monsters that feed on negative emotions count for that!

"Party time!" I said slamming the open button for the ship hatch. Behind me Miss Goodie put her novel in a small pouch on her belt before drawing her weapon. I raised my hand and set my countdown clock.

5:00 Mins

"Hopefully you won't need it," Miss Goodie said as she set her own. I just looked over my shoulder and shot her a quick grin.

"Then cross your fingers and toes Miss Goodie," I said as I jumped out of the plane. I was only a few hundred feet above the ground as I activated my aura to protect me from wind pressure. Flipping my cross around, I placed my feet on the short side and started riding it like a surfboard….or a skyboard more accurately.

"WOOOHOOOO!" I shouted as I saw the horde of Grimm below. Above them I saw a Nevermore leading them. Oh, cool entrance time! I turned my Punisher and aimed for the Nevermore. At this speed I was essentially a rocket.

"Heads up Tweety!" I shouted as my one ton cross slammed into the back of its head, sending it crashing to the ground as it embedded itself in its skull. It dropped like the world's angriest rock right in front of the Grimm army. The force of the crash made a deep trench in front of the horde.

All the Grimm came to stop in front of the downed Nevermore. Stepping off I landed on my feet with a small hop. Moving my right hand, I grabbed the center of my cross and using my middle and ring fired a high-powered round through the Nevermore skull. It vanished in the usual disintegrate-y fashion The Grimm around me began to howl and claw at the ground at the sight of the Nevermore being destroyed. Placing a hand on each side of the handle I gave a massive smile as I split the Punisher into two down the middle.

"...Your turn, guys." I said with a grin as the Grimm charged me. I unleashed pure auto fire on the Beowulfs and Ursa Minor that charged me. The front went down in seconds as I held the Punisher out at shoulder level. After I expanded half my ammo I charged forward and jumped, shooting the ground under me to send me skyward with the recoil!

Grimm howled up at me in rage as they tried to reach. Spinning in the air, I continued my assault. Flipping my right half of Punisher around and catching a grip on the barrel, I slammed it on the head of nearby Beowulf. I then did the same with my left one before landing.

"Who here likes fireworks?!" I shouted, putting the cross back together as I rested the long side against my shoulder and aiming up. I fired a round of Dust mortars into the air that fell all around me, engulfing the Grimm in a hail of fire, lightning, ice and whatever else I stuffed in there. I listened intently around me for any noise.

Just then an air-shattering roar shook the ground as an Alpha Beowulf stepped out of the woods, followed by five others. I looked back at Miss Goodie, who was watching me intently as she floated above the battlefield, ready to jump in at a moment's notice. God, I have the best teacher!

Leaning the Punisher against my shoulder, I locked eyes with the Alpha and came to a decision. I dropped the Punisher to the ground, watching as the sheer weight of it made a small crater around it. The Alpha, seeing this, gave a roar as its pack rushed me.

I held up my watch, knowing Miss Goodie did the same to her own. I waited until the last moment, until I could smell the stink of their breath.

4:59

Grabbing two of them by the throat, I slammed them into the other three and watched as they went flying. Squeezing my hands, I felt their necks shatter in my hands and they dissolved into pieces. Kicking off the ground, I slammed a barrage of blows against the body of one of the Beowolves, making sure I always kept the Alpha in my sight. Moving around, I grabbed the Grimm by the waist and suplexed it into the ground, destroying both its spine and the land beneath it. Pivoting, I threw a side kick to the palm of another Beowulf as it swiped at me. Using the force, I jumped back and put the last two and the Alpha in front of me.

3:47

I got time before Beast. I needed to show I could fight within my time limit. I wanted to make my teacher proud! Falling forward, I kicked the ground and unleashed a lariat against one of their throats before reinforcing my hand and stabbing it through its eye. Swaying back, I dodged swipe after swipe from the last regular Beowulf, each one cutting furrows in the ground.

2:30

Timing it just right, I stomped hard on its claw, breaking its hand. It howled in pain and tried to bite my head off, only to get a headbutt under the jaw which shattered its teeth. Moving close, I wrapped my arms around it's chest.

"Hugs!" I shouted, crushing its ribs and spine. As it disintegrated, a claw came from behind and stabbed at my chest. I instantly focused my Aura on my chest as I was sent skidding across the ground by the Alpha. I would have kept going if the other Beowulf hadn't body checked me into the ground.

1:20

Next thing I knew it was on top of me, and I was stuck either parrying the blows or blocking them. Running out of time! Kicking my legs up, I kneed the Beowulf in the butt, knocking it off of me. Hopping on it's back, I began to slam elbow after elbow to it's head before grabbing its upper and lower jaw and pulling in opposite directions.

:30

My body began to burn as I checked my clock. Thirty seconds, not gonna make it. I looked up at Miss Goodie, and she gave me a small smile as she activated her Semblance. Instantly, numerous trees uprooted themselves and pierced the ground around me and the Alpha, forming a ring around us. She is too good to me.

:00

-:01

The Alpha felt a cold wind blow through the field as the Huntsman in front of himt paused. Their burning red hair covered their eyes as they hung their head. Snarling, it charged forward and stabbed at his head, only to pull it back howling in pain. Looking down, half its fingers were gone. The Huntsman had bitten them off. As always, the Beast is brutal, Miss Goodwhich thought from her position as an observer, pulling a canister from her waist as she watched.

-:50

The Beast unleashed a brutal side kick to the knee of the Alpha, breaking it easily. As it fell, the Beast grabbed its left arm and twisted it while swiping the jaw with his own left arm, breaking both. Rearing his head back, the Beast opened his jaws wide, revealing razor-sharp canines. Snapping forward like the animal he was, the Beast sank his fangs deep into the Grim's throat, ripping and tearing away at it with animalistic cruelty.

-1:45

Until finally, the Grim vanished. Falling forward and landing on all fours, the Beast gave a long howl, raging at the loss of its prey. A pair of blue slitted eyes locked themselves on Goodwitch. In a flash, the Beast was gone, leaving behind a crater of destroyed earth. Instantly, Goodwitch sent out an omnidirectional blast from her Semblance, catching and stopping everything around her.

Turning around, she saw one metal clawed hand an inch from her face. On Maxie's own visage was none of the gentleness, none of the kindness, none of the life it usually showed. Right now, all that was left gnashing its teeth at her was the Beast. His Semblance in all its savage fury.

"Well done, Maxie," She said, spraying the contents of the canister in The Beast's face, applying a concentrated dose of tranquilizer potent enough to put a hundred people to sleep. Struggling against her semblance and the spray, the Beast fought to stay awake before it finally passed out. Lowering them both to the ground, Goodwitch landed in a kneeling position before placing Maxie's head on her lap as she brought his Punisher over next to them. Then she pulled out her scroll to make a call.

"Well? How did he do?" Ozpin asked as he picked up.

"Passed with flying colors. The Beast came out as he was dealing with an Alpha and its pack, but it's under control." She reported, unconsciously stroking Maxie's hair. She couldn't help but notice the small scars across his face and his hands. Knowing there was more under his armor as well as their source made her wish he had left a Grimm for her.

"Such a powerful Semblance. I am thankful at least it is in his hands," Ozpin sighed. "I will have a full self-serve buffet waiting for him when you get back."

"And cocoa!" Maxie murmured in his sleep, causing Ozpin to chuckle over the call. Goodwitch herself couldn't resist a small smile of her own.

"And cocoa. Ozpin out."


Aaron

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to the finals for your one and only Mistral Championship! We've seen a lot of good fights this year, but none so much as our two finalists have had to get where they are today! In one corner, we've got our very own Invincible Girl, the 3-time Mistral Champion, Pyrrha Nikos!" Out strode a red-haired, green-eyed girl, wearing bronze armor, a shield of the same color, and a red gladius. "And on the other, the up-and-coming Turbo Monk, Aaron Jaspar!" I walked out, a brown-haired, green-eyed young man wearing an orange shirt with a red dragon ampersand and denim pants, a metal staff over my shoulder, and a confident grin on my face. "Both have battled their way through several challengers and stand before you today, ready to claim the coveted victory! Will this be Miss Niko's fourth victory in a row, or will Mister Jaspar beat the victory out of her grasp, like so many of his other challengers?"

I bowed to Pyrrha from across the floor, calming myself down- two lives and I still can't handle crowds- and prepared to fight a battle I wasn't entirely sure I could win, but I was going to do my best regardless.

Pyrrha smiled and bowed back, and I felt a pang of memories from the future. I mentally renewed the promise I made to myself that she wouldn't die and that poor Jaune wouldn't get the girl just to lose her right after.

"Begin!"

I leapt forward, only momentarily activating my Semblance and going straight in with a yell. She blocked my straight trust and follow-up left kick, and forced me back with a stab of her blade, shifting it immediately into spear form.

"And Nikos goes on the offensive rather early for this match! Could she be feeling pressured?!"

I swiped aside a jab with one end and tilted forward slightly to swing the other end of the staff at her head, though she slid out of the way with ease, like it was second-nature. I dived to the side as her weapon shifted into gun form, forcing me to move back out of range.

"A nice attempt by Jaspar, but the Champion doesn't go down that easily as she forces her opponent back!"

I smirked as her bullets kept me from closing back in. Trying to keep me at range so you don't have to risk your Semblance getting shown? You really deserve your title, Champion… But… I pivoted on the spot and used a small charge of my Semblance again, orange energy crackling over both me and my staff as I reared back and tossed it like a javelin.

Pyrrha got her shield up, but it still pushed her back a few feet. As it did, she was momentarily surprised to hear the crowd shout and barely had time to brace herself as I leaped over the shield and plant a solid punch on the jaw, sending her flying. Yes! A solid hit on the Invincible Girl!

"Ohhhhh! You could hear that one from the booth! A bold move from Jaspar results in a solid hit on our Invincible Girl!"

The elation of my success was dashed almost immediately when I felt my arm get grabbed and then I was flying- no, I was falling, and then my back hit the ground, knocking the wind out of me.

"And Nikos answers back instantly, slamming the Monk to the ground in what i would call a Turbo Toss!"

Feeling a chill on my back, I quickly rolled away just as Pyyrha stabbed at me with the butt of her spear. I quickly spun my body like a top as I tried to sweep Pyrrha's legs, only to get blocked by her shield right on the shin. Oh God, the bad spot! I groaned, clutching at my knee as I rolled around in pain, much to the crowd's amusement.

"Sorry," my sweet but very deadly opponent said sheepishly, taking a step back as she waited for me to recover. "Are you able to keep going?"

I growled lightly and flipped to my feet as my Aura healed my knee up in a few seconds, then slammed my staff into the ground. Kneeling into a runner's stance, I channeled the last of my Semblance and shot forward, launching a fast set of kicks and punches, followed up by a flurry of elbow- and knee-strikes.

She avoided most of them by either blocking with her shield or by barely dodging out of the way, and only the last one connected to send her skidding back. As she did, though, she got a solid hit on my side with her gladius to send me staggering away.

"And it's an all-out assault from Jaspar, but Nikos expertly turns almost all of it aside! The Invincible Girl has the clear advantage in this fight, but our challenger is not out of this just yet!"

A quick glance to the side told me that Pyrrha was very clearly ahead in Aura. Mine was firmly in the yellow, while hers had only dipped a few points down from full. But, just because she has more Aura, more experience, better gear, better skills, I can… this was a terrible decision, I realised as I charged the Female Achilles. Using the reach of my staff, I struck from my maximum range, only to find myself stymied each time by Pyrrha's defense.

"Shields! Are! Such! A! Pain!" I grunted with each slam of the staff against her shield. Taking a few steps back, I went for a running stab at her, but as she brought up her shield I immediately changed my target to the floor. With a shout of effort, I planted my staff and vaulted over her, twisting to slam my staff against her undefended back and send her flying with a cry of pain.

"And a masterful bit of misdirection from Jaspar gives him a second blow against Nikos! I don't care what kingdom you're from, that one's gotta hurt!"

By the time I was able to go for a follow up blow she had already recovered. I desperately swung at her head, hoping to disorient her at least a little bit to keep an assault going, but all of a sudden I felt some unseen force tug at the end of my staff, and it whooshed right over her head. For the briefest moment, I could make out a grayish black aura surrounding her hand before the realization hit. Oh right. Superpowers.

Pyrrha dropped low, and I stumbled as her spear slammed into my legs. As I staggered back to try and recover, my face was suddenly full of bronze as a heavy shield bash sent me flying. I rolled back to my feet, before staggering and falling to a knee as my vision spun.

And then the bell rang.

"After a blistering combo, Jaspar's Aura has fallen into the red!" the announcer declared. "The winner, and your four-time Mistral Champion, is the one and only Invincible Girl, Pyrrha Nikos!"

I looked up to see Pyrrha offering me a hand and a smile. After taking the hand and getting pulled up, I shook it and then raised Pyrrha's hand to the sky.

I swear Pyrrha, you will live a long life. And then, when you're 60 and half-blind, we're gonna have a rematch, I thought with a smile as the stadium erupted in cheers around us. It will be such a shame when you lose in front of yours and Jaune's kids and grandkids.


Ozpin

Ozpin sipped from his coffee mug, feeling the caffeine fuel him. Being around for the creation of coffee is easily one of the highlights of my many lives, he mused. The moon was full against the clear night sky, giving him plenty of light to read with as he finished up some extra bits of paperwork for the night.

"Now then, who's first?" He said to himself as he took an application from the 'interesting' pile.

"Serra Azurite, hmmm? Promising, promising. But does she think I don't know the truth? Accepted. Hopefully she can contain her...outings," he muttered with a smile as he stamped the form. I can't say I haven't had my share, he thought wryly while taking a bite from a nearby sandwich Maxie had made for him. The young Faunus had used leftovers from the buffet as a thank-you gesture, and it had come out deliciously.

"Grilled fish, shrimp, with a light dusting of green peppers. The lad's figured out what I like. Now, onto the next one. Reseda Antem… Rare to see the child of a celebrity such as this one aiming for our profession. A recent Signal graduate, too, with such high academic marks. Accepted. We'll see how he fares under Beacon's more rigorous curriculum." And with another stamp one more was added to the accepted pile.

"Aaron Jaspar... Put up a good fight against the Invincible Girl... not bad. Accepted... despite graduating combat school a year ago. I wonder what he's been up to… Let's keep an eye on him during the initiation test." At this moment Ozpin couldn't help but notice a pair of red wolf ears sticking out from a semi open door. He just gave a small smile. Many things you may be, Maxie, but stealthy is not one of them.

"Yes, Maxie, you're accepted too. Perhaps you might even graduate before having experienced the wonders of coffee."

"Coffee is evil and thanks Ozzie!" was his response, as a series of footsteps hurriedly made their way off towards the Beacon Tower elevator, probably to inform Glynda of the news. Ozpin smiled fondly at the happiness of his youngest student.

It's heartening that he's able to be so happy, with a past like his, he thought, his expression storming over briefly. If there were any other beings in the room, they'd have felt a near-imperceptible amount of pressure settle over them. The Roja clan had better hope that I do not find any meaningful break from my responsibilities in the next few years.

Banishing the dark thoughts with another sip of coffee, Ozpin turned back to the pile of documents in front of him. "This coming year has several interesting prospects," he commented to himself. "I wonder what the future will hold for these young Huntsmen…"

Then another interesting application caught his eye, for very different reasons. "Hm… Jaune Arc? How interesting…"

-o-

Serra froze, pen stilling as a chill swept over her. "...Something just happened," she muttered to herself. "Not bad, but… not exactly good, either. Did someone find out? Nah, can't have been, I'd feel more panicked than just this…" Eventually she went back to writing things out, but Serra couldn't shake the feeling of unease...


Welcome all to an admittedly very ambitious RWBY 4-person SI, written in collaboration with Shadgan, CaffinatedDragon, and Maximus Max on both Spacebattles and AO3. Hope you enjoy this first look at what we have to offer, and feel free to leave a review if you've got any questions! Until then, though, see you in the next chapter!