Penny had followed the Chief to Beacon Tower. She'd seen him slot something into the computers, but she wasn't sure what, thus electing to only keep the information between herself and the General for the time being. Operations could not be disrupted just yet, so allowing the soldier of Wyvern to act under surveillance may yet be a boon for the Atlas military, in finding out what their Wyvern-side counterparts had exactly done.
Still, she regarded Dylan with a sense of respect. The man had gone through hell and beyond, considering what'd occurred with his kingdom. She watched him as they walked through Beacon together for their elected patrol times, having met up in the courtyard. Some of the students eyed the pair weirdly, but most elected to continue their own chats or just walk on, unperturbed by the sight of an armored behemoth and a young ginger girl walking among them.
Hunters were used to the weird, after all. They were the most eccentric bunch.
After finishing up a patrol near the classes, the two took a right down the main corridors, where even more students moved in groups of four to eight. Seemed like teams were used to befriending each-other, so that was nice. Penny gazed upon the Chief as he was figuring out how to work his Scroll, then the two stopped as a streak of scarlet petals appeared ahead of them, followed by a thud and a slight nudge-back of Chief's armor. His shields had also lost the tiniest sliver of energy from that impact.
The two looked down, to see Ruby sprawled across the floor in the standard Beacon uniform, a marriage of autumn colors on what one would expect to see from an elite school's uniform. The girl had damn near knocked herself out, had it not been for the Aura, Chief soon realized as he looked her over. Penny went to help her friend, then she, too, noticed the massive, red-colored, military-looking reinforced briefcase she had in her hand.
"Owwwww..." Ruby whined, rubbing her forehead, "Should've looked where I was going..."
"You alright?" Chief asked her, crossing his arms.
"Ears are ringing a bit... I think your armor's forcefield zapped me when I slammed into you." Ruby chuckled, rubbing her head with her free hand. She looked to her very concerned ginger friend, then said "I'm okay, Penny. Thanks for the help." as she hoisted up the package. Penny looked down at the item with wide eyes and was about to ask, before Ruby's eyes grew wide and she yelled "Oh, GODS I HOPE IT DIDN'T BREAK!" as she looked at the box.
With a tinge of red in her pale cheeks and an awkward, toothy smile, Ruby extended the briefcase to the Chief and said "Here it is!"
"In one day?" Both Chief and Cortana chorused as the Spartan took the box, the latter inaudible to the girls. Ruby's embarrassment grew into a wide, prideful smirk, taking the Chief aback slightly. He had to admit, anyone skilled enough to do such a complex task was probably very good at their job. Which was why Chief didn't think Ruby managed to actually build the thing he requested in one day. Seeing the slight reluctance in Chief's body language, Ruby nudged the box, then looked to Penny and beamed.
Chief sighed as Cortana let out one giggle. Here went nothing. He set the box down on a bench to their right, so they wouldn't disrupt traffic in the corridor, before popping the latches and lifting the lid. He blinked, looking at the weapon. The faint marks of coils could be seen in a relatively thin, reinforced barrel that was colored black. Rubber wrapped around the barrel's end, with a bunch of heat sinks at the top, near the main mechanism. The bottom of the weapon housed a magazine catch for a gigantic mag, followed up by a thumbhole stock made of polymer and reinforced metals and with a lilac shine coming from a vision port, presenting the Gravity Dust crystal inside. Atop, there was a scope with 2-times magnification, as well as an extra set of piccatini rails for extra mounted equipment like lasers and such.
And he also saw the joints for the transformation of the weapon, that would fold the stock and form it into the 'flower-shaped' head of the weapon, with the gravity Dust crystal acting as the centerpiece. It had a replica of the UNSC eagle stenciled on the side, minus the 'UNSC' writing in the ribbon below. On the bottom of the case, in a separate space, seven thirty-round magazines sat, loaded with high-caliber slugs. And several more slugs inside a series of smaller boxes on the left.
"Wow..." Cortana murmured.
"This is incredible..." Chief said, lifting the weapon from its box. Ruby felt pride well in her chest.
"Many thanks, my good sir." She quipped, bowing, "C'mon! We got a shooting range to test this out!"
Penny chuckled, watching as Ruby dashed off, stopping only to beckon them to follow her. The two looked to one-another, then the Spartan sighed. They joined Ruby on the walk over to the gun range, finding it a short trip from the amphitheater of Beacon, where most exposition and training fights take place. The gunnery range was a big, open area in the back with a multitude of holographic targets set up at different ranges.
Chief set the weapon down on one of the tables near by the mid to long range shooting booths, before taking out a magazine. He looked to Ruby, who smiled and said "It's basically your standard gun, just made into a mass accelerator... I have to admit, this was one of the hardest things I've ever had to design after Crescent Rose."
"Did you get proper rest?" Penny asked, "You have bags under your eyes."
Ruby rolled her eyes, then grumbled "You sound like Yang... Anyways..." She smiled again and gave a thumbs up to the Chief. The Spartan slotted in the loaded magazine and found the charging handle of the weapon. Pulling it back and letting it go, he heard the chamber being fed a round. He looked over the weapon itself again, then found an off-switch. He thumbed it and the weapon whirred to life in his hands, its magnetic coils feeding off of the energy in what he could only assume was a Dust-powered battery that was also in the bulky magazine. He looked to the girls as Cortana hummed a tune, making calculus.
Ruby covered her ears, as did Penny. He shrugged lightly to himself, shouldered the magnetic rifle and scoped in for the closest target, about 500 yards away. The scope itself was a smart scope, one which Cortana quickly adapted into the HUD. Counting down and letting his heartbeat slow below its normal rate, the Spartan zeroed in on the target for about half a second. The second half caught him between heartbeats. He squeezed the trigger...
The round basically screamed down-range. An electro-magnetic charge released from the muzzle of the weapon as the round surged forward, electricity arching around it as it flew, before slamming right into the holographic display and right into the thick reinforced concrete wall behind it, having drilled a hole deep enough into it to require repairs. He lowered the weapon, thumbing the switch again to turn it off and assessing the damage.
"Well... Damn..." Cortana mumbled, "0,13% of a mini-MAC Gun's power."
Chief was unable to process the strength. He looked to a cheering Ruby and a smiling Penny, before setting the weapon down. The red girl basically Petal-Dashed to him, then said "Wow! I knew I made her powerful, but I never thought she'd be like this! I added a few dozen coils infused with small flecks of gravity Dust, stuff I got thanks to Weiss. It was meant to boost power and allow the gun to punch through just about everything that the Grimm could throw at ya," then she eyed the still-smouldering hole in the concrete and chuckled awkwardly "And clearly, reinforced concrete..."
Sliding the weapon onto the maglock on his back, the Spartan said "Thanks, Ruby. She'll do fine."
She smiled, "No problem, Dylan. Hope she'll be of good use to you... Speaking of, what're ya gonna name her?"
"'Name' her?" The Spartan tilted his head. The girl nodded.
He hummed, then said "I'll think about it."
"Okay." Ruby smiled, "You two care to join me, my team and some friends for lunch? We were just about to head out, but I had to get you the weapon faster." to which the two security staff of Beacon looked to one-another. While Penny had vehemently protested originally, Chief had told her to go ahead and join the others. He was going to run one more patrol before heading back home, thus allowing the two friends to interact... And some time to themselves.
He spoke to Cortana, "Been tracking the contacts?"
"Yup. Radiation's still stuck to them like glue, though, so it's jamming the IFFs. All I can tell you is that they are friendly." She replied, appearing on Chief's Heads-Up Display again, "We could probably ask Ozpin to take a Bullhead out there... See if we can find them. Though some are close and some are far, it'd take a while to round up everyone..."
"How many IFFs per total?" He asked.
"On last check...?" Cortana hummed, "About three dozen IFFs."
That was a lot more than they'd started with. Maybe the rads were scrambling them hard enough to cause the swelled numbers? They were jamming the main signals of the IFFs sans the ident that they are, in fact, friendly. Even that was spotty, however, since the Rads could be corrupting it as well. He sighed, resigning himself to the idea that those that arrived would have to handle themselves until they reached the rally point Cortana had set up.
"How long until the first group reaches the Rally Point?" He asked, looking over the map of the area Cortana had picked. A secluded point in the Forest behind Beacon.
"A couple of days." She answered, "I'll tell you when we can take a Bullhead out." and then she dipped back into reading Data while the Spartan continued his last patrol for the morning. He'd have to go on another one in the afternoon, but right now there was the point of waiting out the arrival of their comrades. How many, who were they and what were they doing on Remnant? How did all of them get here?
And who were the newest contacts...?
The trees amidst a mountain forest lay littered with bullet holes. Among the thick shrubs within this unexplored part of Vale's national mountainous defenses, the corpses of Grimm began to disintegrate. A clearing farther ahead was filled to the brim with even more corpses, dozens perhaps, all slowly disintegrating. In the midst of all of this sat a squad of six members, their weapons' barrels still hot from the expended ammunition.
"Area clear." Reported one of them, "Motion tracker isn't finding any other hostile lifeforms."
She was one of the oldest members of the team. Her accent was thick, Slavic in origin. She wore a set of teal MJOLNIR armor and had a prosthetic right arm. She felt the back of her helmet for any holes, then asked "One, orders?" As she scanned the treeline. They'd just woken up here half a moment ago, a radio transmission bounced into their receivers and gave them a set of coords to go meet at and they'd just about killed almost a hundred alien creatures. She remembered clear as day, feeling that sting in the back of her skull for one moment and then, black, followed by waking up here.
"Everyone, sound off." 'One' ordered, shouldering his rifle and scanning the treeline as well.
"Two, alive... Somehow." The girl answered.
"Three, still kicking." A young voice called out. She recognized him as the team's sniper. Had the same accent as her. His thermal scope was on, tracing a 180-degree arc to ensure nothing else moved in the forest, "Anyone wanna tell me what the hell just happened with us?" and he took a step back, joining into the circle of Spartans pointing their weapons outward.
"Four, alive... Though I'm kinda shocked I am, boss." Replied the team's CQC specialist. His helmet was his trademark, the face of a screaming ghoul carved into the thick EVA Visor by the knife the man had on his shoulder. He'd spent a dozen of the shells attached to his specialized shotgun, "And what were those things?" He murmured to himself, eyes looking down the Shotgun's iron sights.
"Five, waiting on your orders, One." The biggest of the team mused, hefting his heavy chaingun up, its barrel still cooling, "May need a bit more ammo after that little bout..."
And finally, the voice of a woman echoed, smooth, calm, "Six, here..." And that was all she said, her finger twitching, hovering over the trigger of her DMR, out of which she'd fired almost three magazines' worth of ammo. She quickly switched out the mag for a fresh one. She lowered her rifle, then looked over to the rest of her team, awed that all of them still walked the earths.
"If this is Hell, boss, it's a bit more lush than I expected... Don't like it." Four murmured.
"I don't like it either, Emile... Eyes peeled." The Commander answered.
He sighed, lowering his rifle. He looked to the first girl, then asked "Kat, can you trace the call for us? Make sure it's where the Coordinates say it is?" and watched as the tech geek of the team pulled out her datapad and embedded into it the repeating radio message. She looked to the Commander of Noble Team, then shook her head "Nada... I can't find any satellite to link to, to even remotely give us any sense of the coordinates. All we know is what we got from the HUD."
"Damn..." The man mumbled, "Alright, three, Six, you're taking lead and providing scouting. Two, four, five, on me. We're trailing behind them."
The team took to acting as naturally as it had when they were on Reach. Reach. Carter remembered everyone and everything that had gone on on that godforsaken planet. They'd lost, lost so much in so little time that it pained him to remember. Alas, had he and his team somehow returned to the world of the living? Or was Emile right and this was an afterlife of some kind?
They'd probably find out, he figured, when they met the Chief and the AI that sent the message. Kat had taken to his side, the two of them marching in-step, with Jorge and Emile lagging farther behind. He hummed, wondering how to best bring up what had happened. Just as he was about to speak, Kat cut him off and asked "How bad was it?" almost carelessly.
He hesitated for a moment...
"Carter," She almost demanded, looking at him.
Sighing, he said "Pretty bad. Needle round pierced the skull through the back, exited out the front of the visor, left eye." And he saw her visibly wince. He murmured "You asked..." As they walked on.
Sighing, the girl then turned and asked "How about you?"
The man chuckled sadly, "Rammed a Pelican into the side of a Scarab to clear Six and Emile's path."
"Damn... Jun?" She asked.
"He got away with Halsey." The Team Leader replied, "Least one member of Noble made it off that rock."
"Hmm..." She gazed ahead at the other female Spartan in the team, clad in pure-white armor with golden accents. Kat then approached the Spartan, Six, and tapped her on the shoulder. The second of the scouting unit turned to her. Noble Two looked at Noble Six for a moment as they walked at the same pace, before asking her "How'd you go, Six?"
"Alone." The girl replied calmly, catching Kat by surprise. The girl explained, eyes still locked down the scope of her DMR, "A dozen Elites... Killed almost all of'em. Last one pinned me down and he and his friends ended it with a few energy swords and daggers." causing the girl to pause. Six had really gone out alone, during Reach's final hours, hadn't she?
"You alright?" She asked the Hyper-lethal vector.
"I'll be fine." The girl murmured, "At least I know I'm not all that alone."
"Silver linings, right?" Kat quipped, then looked at her robotic arm and wondered to herself why, if they'd been revived, had it not been replaced with her normal one? Then again, it was better to have it than her normal arm. IT could, at least, punch through Spartan armor if push came to shove. If any other Spartans were alive and around, that meant they'd have an easier time of it. If that was also really the Chief? Well, their odds for survival just tripled.
Still. Kat sighed. A lot more questions arose. Most of which she hoped the Chief and the others could answer. As they treaded forth through the forest, they soon caught sight of walls between the trees. A village sat at the edge of the city. The team then gazed at one-another, before deciding it best to find the front entrance. Scaling a wall would probably not have been a good first impression.
Alas... Here they were.
The Grimm Lands, as they had been referred to by many poor fools who'd wandered inside, were a perversion of the normal world. Scarlet soil and sand formed the core from which jagged stones of unnatural shapes jutted out into the scarlet skies, with lilac, shimmering crystals. Chief among the place's features was, however, the series of pools of tar-like substance that spawned the hordes of the Grimm.
Sat in the meeting hall of her castle, a perversion of what had once been home so many millennia ago, the Lady of Darkness herself, Salem, regarded the birthing of a new horde of Grimm. The ashen-skinned, grey-haired woman stared with a pair of scarlet, blackened eyes, at the process. She hummed to herself, turning toward the tables at the far back, before walking to them. Something had disturbed the natural order of events on Remnant. She needed to find out what.
She knelt, removing an object from underneath them. A contrasting item to everything else, the small device was an opaque grey color, with strands of blue energy coursing through narrow, almost imperceptible seams on its body. It resembled a shard of some kind, one that, by all means, made no physical sense. From its sides, two smaller shards flew, taking positions opposite one another and above , before flaring with blue light. She thumbed the device and watched as a holographic screen formed from a hundred particles of light.
She smirked, murmuring to herself "What do we have here...?"
The data that danced on the screens was a series of warnings, of containment and data projection failure. Salem was well aware of what that entailed. Setting the device down, she picked up her Scroll and thumbed the 'call' button. Seeing the recipient of the call answer, she spoke "Arthur, I may need you to bring someone in once you are done with the virus."
"It's already done and I've sent it to miss Fall. Who would it be that you need, milady?" The accented voice behind the call asked.
Salem smiled. Watts was a curt man, smart and well-spoken. "A certain Valeian doctor... One with experience in regards to the Grimm." She replied, walking back toward the window and letting the device register its data, "I will send Tyrian to contact our other assets in the Kingdom... A new development has occurred, one we need to deal with as quickly as possible. We will need a force to counterbalance the new development. This means a Military as well... A Doctrine of Shadows, if you will."
"It will be done." The man answered promptly. Salem shut off the call, then sat herself at her table, taking the technological masterpiece behind her and setting it down. Reading the Data proved exactly what she had thought would happen so long ago. Ozpin had no idea what he would soon have at his whim. All the more reason to ensure he and his little group do not gain control of these new arrivals.
Had Salem been younger, she would dread the things her old master had foretold. That her own species was so corrupted and vile that, perhaps, they would try and come back here again, to corrupt those she herself intended to end into fighting. Ozpin had been a callous fool, keeping the rest of the world from knowing the truth of her existence. It had worked in her favor.
She didn't know what these new arrivals would embolden the old man with, what kind of weapons and tactics they brought. All she knew was, that, unlike her beloved, she had to be proactive in countering them. She looked over her scroll once more, tapping two lines into it and sending the message. Moments later, the door swung open and possibly the creepiest, sharpest voice Salem had ever heard came to her. "What is your will, my lady?" The Scorpion Faunus bowed.
Salem smiled proudly. Tyrian had been a good asset for the team so far. Certainly not well-versed in politicking, but just enough to know that threats went a long way. She faced Tyrian Callows, the serial killer of Mantle, then stood up and said "I have a special job for you, Tyrian. In regards to Vale."
"Whatever you desire done, my lady." He answered.
"I want you to find the owner of the Hegarty and Kyrin corporation. From her, you will bring in the other members of our small sleeper cell in the city. We will need every single asset they possess to counter a possible new threat. Once you have acquired all of them and brought them together, you will contact me... H&K and their subsidiaries will provide to us what we need to fight this war that is growing in the Shadows..." Salem explained, handing Tyrian her Scroll, which had the faces and information of the ones he was supposed to find. Businessmen and businesswomen that had fallen from grace, a series of local crime syndicates and a Private Military Company. H&K Security Solutions.
The man gave her a smile wide enough to frighten any normal human being, before bowing and being excused. The two men she sent out had met up along the way and taken the same drop-ship over to Vale, while she was left alone once more, parsing through the data in the small alien device. It could never pinpoint the exact locations of the structures on the planet, but it gave enough clear data for her to know a malfunction was afoot. Perhaps she'd ask Cinder to scour the mountainside if they had the time. But right now, the girl and her minions needed to complete their main objective.
She set the device aside, turning it off with the flick of a proverbial switch, before looking outward at the world once more, to see the broken moon standing high above the plains of the Land of Darkness. Hope would be snuffed out as her own lord dictated. Her plans only needed adjustment to combat the new arrivals. The Age of Ending was coming...
The Reclamation had begun. And mankind and its Faunus allies were hopeless to stop it.