Time for another chapter. My previous Beta got busy with Real Life and I had to find a backup one. Thanks to Maverick on Discord who helped me. The Atlas visit didn't last very long for a couple reasons. One, Qrow would hate staying in Atlas. Two, it was just to meet a couple characters and build connections for future events. Three, for Jaune to learn a bit about his Semblance. Now it's just practice like his swordplay. I debated long and hard about how his Semblance would work on Grimm. Deciding that the destruction in Grimm would destroy Aura without anything to latch onto. Rather than him trying to create a soul or something. His power is Amplification, not giving.
Some stuff from canon will vary, along with a little history where the RWBY canon either has holes, or something that wasn't covered. Makes a good story and I'm delving into areas where the show didn't. I also haven't read all the side books in detail yet.
Disclaimer: I do not own RWBY.
Team RWBY (minus the R) and Nora and Ren were in the cafeteria, eating and talking. The topic was mostly about the status of their team leaders. Pyrrha was sitting a couple tables away. Even though Weiss kept saying she should eat with them, when Pyrrha was later than the others, she always sat by herself. Nora and Yang didn't care, Blake was impartial, and Ren tried to get her to spend more time with the rest of the team, but she always made an excuse.
Ren was the only one who realized how well Jaune brought them all together.
"...I still have a hard time believing this." Weiss muttered, looking shocked, as she stared at her Scroll.
"What is it?" Yang asked.
"Winter messaged me that she met Ruby and Arc in Atlas," Weiss muttered. "And… said they both had a lot of potential. Ruby I understand… but Arc?"
"Seriously, you're still on that?" Blake sighed.
"Why do you say that?!" Nora demanded. "Jaune unlocked his Semblance already, and it can heal people! That's awesome."
"Wait… he DOES have a healing Semblance?" Yang spun around to stare at her at the new information.
"From what Jaune mentioned, he does." Ren confirmed. "As he just unlocked it, he didn't have a lot of information.
"Do you think Ruby was telling the truth?" Weiss whispered to her team. Even Blake looked up as they remembered what Ruby had told them late one night.
'We ran into some trouble with a wanted criminal. He nearly killed me and Jaune saved my life with his cool healing Semblance.'
"The truth about what?" Ren asked.
"Nothing." Blake mumbled quickly, not sure how much Nora and Ren knew about that criminal. "Ruby mentioned it but we thought she was joking. We owe her an apology."
"I need to have a talk with Uncle Qrow." Yang growled. What was her uncle doing? Did Ruby really get injured by a criminal?
"But now they are already leaving Atlas," Nora continued excitedly. "They are going to kill Grimm in Mistral. That's awesome. Jaune and Ruby are making a name for themselves in every kingdom."
"Wonder what Pyrrha thinks of that." Weiss turned to look toward the champion, sitting alone and reading a book, much like Blake did when Yang didn't force her to socialize.
"Who knows." Nora replied passively, before slurping her soup.
"Ask her?" Blake suggested.
Weiss agreed with that suggestion and was about to call Pyrrha over, when the champion was suddenly accosted by Mercury. He seemed pretty sure of himself, sitting across from the strongest first year. His normal grin was plastered on his face as Pyrrha looked up.
"Hey, Pyrrha!" The boy greeted. "You never got back to us. Want to come to the movies tonight?"
"Oh… hey, Mercury." The girl realized a lot of people were staring at her. Most people weren't approaching her after seeing her fight in class. The title Invincible Girl was too prevalent, especially for the students from Mistral. She beat up multiple first years at once without taking a single hit. People were putting her on a pedestal. If it wasn't for her own competitive streak, she might have let her opponents hit her once in a while. "Ah, I've been pretty busy with training…"
"Yeah, but all work and no play will make you dull and boring." Mercury told her. "Come on, one movie won't kill you." He blinked and then spoke in a monotone. "Emerald told me to tell you she and Cinder will be with us, so it's not a date. Anything I say otherwise should be ignored."
Pyrrha's lips twitched.
"Well, maybe one movie won't hurt." The girl conceded.
"We're going to meet in front of Beacon in about an hour." Mercury stood up. "See you then!" He marched off confidently and several guys were gaping at the nerve of that guy.
"Damn, he's got balls." Yang commented.
"What's his team like?" Ren asked the others. "I don't know much about them."
"Emerald's pretty friendly," Yang shrugged. "Stops by to chat now and then. She mentioned that Cinder's strict during training and missions, but she mostly keeps to herself."
Ren closely examined Pyrrha, who seemed to be slightly more cheerful. There was a small smile on her face. Since Yang and Nora didn't really reach out to her anymore, he only saw her occasionally hang out with Weiss. Mercury being her friend might help her open up more. At the same time, if she started hanging out with another team, would they be able to repair their bond with theirs? Nora hated holding grudges, but she still refused to patch things up. She didn't glare at Pyrrha anymore, so there was some progress at least.
Argus was a major port city in the northern region of the Kingdom of Mistral. One of the largest non-capital cities on Remnant. The southern edge of Argus was bordered by a stone wall several stories tall with a single large gate allowing for road access. The city had cobblestone streets and a transit system with streetcar-like hovering vehicles following a groove in the roadway. Most of the buildings were brick, only a few stories in height. Hills protected the east and west sides of the city.
Jaune, Ruby and Qrow arrived at the Atlas base, located on an island attached to Argus by a suspension bridge. They landed at the small airfield and were escorted to the main command center. Qrow was given information on the Grimm sightings, including maps of the surrounding areas. They were not planning to stick around. As soon as Qrow examined the data, they were off. The military base also provided them some supplies, as they were officially on a mission for Atlas.
Shame those supplies came with a lot of Atlas military rations.
"Can we pick something up in town?" Ruby whined, going through her bag.
"No, learn to eat that shit." Qrow told her, forgetting how much Ruby hated swearing. He didn't notice because she didn't react anymore. "We have very limited funds on hand." Once they got paid for this, that would change, but he didn't want the kids getting spoiled. "And why do you look so damn happy?" The last question was directed at Jaune.
"Those pills for motion sickness were amazing!" The boy replied. "My stomach barely gurgled once!"
"And we don't have to smell anything!" Ruby announced excitedly. She had been kind of quiet on the flight to Mistral, so Qrow was glad she had cheered up. "Flying is going to be easy now."
Qrow could not deny that. He knew Jaune would have to get over his motion sickness, as those pills wouldn't always be available. At the same time, the selfish part of him did not want to be stuck in an airship with that smell again either. Winter provided Jaune with the medicine for free, so he couldn't complain about the cost. The best compromise in this situation would be to let him use it until he ran out, then see how he dealt with flying again. Many people eventually grew out of it.
"Whatever," Qrow rolled his eyes at the kid's antics. "Anyway, we got a bit of a hike to the next town, so we'll have to leave soon." His eyes fell on Jaune. "Your girlfriend's house… you know where it is?"
"I got the address." Jaune replied, shaking his head and shuddering at Qrow's comment. "Shouldn't be too hard to find."
Ruby suddenly grew quiet again as they made their way into the city. Atlas military offered to fly them to the next town, but Qrow declined. They needed to get back into their old routine and not get thrown into the fray immediately. He could do that without problems. Jaune and Ruby? They weren't trained enough yet. Instead, the plan was to get them used to traveling and fighting again without breaks. A couple days won't change the Grimm population too much.
"Okay, we're close…" Jaune was counting the numbers on the buildings as they walked down a cozy looking cobblestone sweet. "One more… here!" The boy stopped outside a brown house. "Easy enough."
Qrow looked almost amused as he strutted after the boy, interested why this girl was so important Jaune wanted to delay his training. Ruby on the other hand, felt her feet suddenly grow heavy. Her throat was dry as she followed them. The weird churning in her stomach was back.
'Hope I didn't get sick. I feel off.'
Jaune knocked on the door and waited for only about five seconds before the sound of footsteps echoed through. The door was thrown open and a woman with wavy, dirty blond hair and blue eyes came to greet them. She wore an orange top with a beige vest, light brown trousers with orange stitches on each side, and dark brown boots. Her eyes widened as she took in Jaune, smiled, and immediately lunged to embrace him.
"Jaune, you really came!"
"When do I go back on my word?" Jaune chuckled, hugging her back.
"Haha!" Qrow broke out in a bark like laugh. "It was his girlfriend!"
Ruby didn't say anything as she took in the woman's appearance. Even though she was blonde, she wasn't like her sister. Yes, she was very pretty, but not like anyone at Beacon. Weiss, Yang, Blake, Pyrrha, and Ruby's other classmates were much prettier than her. Though the moment she thought that, she suddenly felt ashamed of herself. That was mean and so unlike her.
"Jaune, are those Qrow and Ruby?" The woman asked, looking over his shoulder.
"Hehe, right. Sorry." Jaune broke the hug and gestured to his companions. "The man is Qrow Branwen, my Huntsman mentor." Qrow gave a small wave at this. "The girl is Ruby Rose, my friend, classmate, and fellow apprentice." Ruby nodded stiffly. "This is Saphron Cotta-Arc, my oldest sister."
There was a pause as this sunk in.
"Sister?!" Ruby cried out in surprise.
"Yeah, can't you see the resemblance?" Jaune stood side by side with Saphron, who was only up to about his shoulder. But their blue eyes and blonde hair matched perfectly.
"You little twerp!' Qrow reached over and put Jaune in a headlock. "You had me believe she was your girlfriend."
"That was what you made up!" Jaune gasped, trying to escape. "I never said that!"
"You never said it was family!" Ruby accused, as she refused to help save him.
"You never asked!"
"Well, if he had his way when we were younger, my wife might have been his girlfriend." Saffron giggled and Jaune's eyes widened in horror.
"Saph! Don't tell him-...!" Jaune was panicking, but Qrow covered his mouth.
"No, no." Qrow was going to get something entertaining out of this side trip. "Tell me more."
"All the embarrassing stories, please!" Ruby begged, zipping over to them.
"Ruby!" Jaune managed to escape Qrow's hold for a moment. "Why?"
"Just because!" Ruby stuck out her tongue at the confused boy. That will teach him for not telling her important things. A weight felt like it was lifted off her shoulders, but at the same time, she felt Jaune should squirm a little. Like when Yang did something wrong.
"Come in, come in!" Saphron couldn't resist the huge smile on her face. "Jaune messaged me you guys were stopping by, but didn't have a lot of time, right?"
"Yeah, we'll be heading out into the field shortly." Qrow answered, letting Jaune go at last and following Saphron into the house. "Going to investigate some Grimm activity. Pretty standard stuff for the kids."
"Jaune's already doing missions?" Saphron looked shocked. "Didn't the school year just start?"
"Certain things caused him to accept this position." Qrow replied. "Some I'm sure you're aware of."
The woman didn't say anything else as she led them into the house and had them sit in the living room. Jaune and Ruby took the couch, while Qrow sat on a sofa chair, leaning back and making himself at home. It wasn't long for another woman to appear with short dark brown hair and brown eyes. She wore a dark navy collar shirt with a light-blue cardigan, dark-gray jeans and red sneakers. She also wore red glasses. Compared to Saphron, she looked a lot more put together.
"This is my wife, Terra." Saphron introduced. "Terra, that's Qrow Branwen and this cute girl here is Ruby Rose."
"Nice to meet you!" Ruby smiled. "Thanks for letting us stop by."
"So you're the girl that got away from Jaune?" Qrow teased, nodding his head from the chair.
Instead of reprimanding him, Terra rounded on her wife.
"What have you been telling them, Saphron?"
"N-nothing!" Saphron diverted her eyes and Ruby couldn't help but let out a giggle. Jaune did the same thing when he was in this predicament.
"Okay, guess I'll explain," Terra rolled her eyes. "When Saphron and I were dating in high school, I came over to meet the family. Jaune had a little crush on me when we first met, but that was it."
"He gave you flowers." Saphron pointed out.
"He was a perfect little gentleman."
"Damn, kid." Qrow was laughing. "I see you had the charm with the ladies as a kid too."
"Can we please… stop talking about that…" Jaune begged, his face buried in his hands.
Ruby felt bad for her friend. She knew what it was like to be teased by sisters. At the same time, this was Saphron. The name wasn't unfamiliar. In fact, Ruby knew what this woman did for Jaune. While Jaune's family didn't support him becoming a Huntsman, she had paid for him to come to Vale to follow his dream. Without Saphron, he would never have gone to Beacon and Ruby would never have met him. This sister believed in Jaune, so she was allowed to hassle him a bit.
"When Jaune messaged me about possibly stopping by, we were a little surprised." Saphron admitted. "After all, he made it into Beacon, so we weren't sure why you all were in Mistral. I was worried when you left, but everyone was excited hearing you made it."
"Even dad?" Jaune looked up.
"Er… yes…" Saphron looked away again.
"Thought so." Jaune resigned himself to his fate. "Wasn't like he ever wanted me to become one anyways."
"I was surprised you did make it," Terra admitted, sitting down herself. "Beacon Academy has one of the toughest requirements to enter. Since you didn't go to a combat school, I always wondered how you did it. Ruby, you got in two years early, right?"
"Umm.. yeah." Ruby nodded, trying to take the attention off Jaune. "I stopped a criminal in the middle of a Dust robbery by chance and got invited."
"Jaune got in by passing initiation," Qrow answered after her. "From what I heard, he led a group against a large Death Stalker. Transcripts, past events, experiences? Beacon just uses that to weed out people they don't think they can make it. You pass initiation, you're in. It's that clear cut."
"You did that?" Terra and Spahron gasped.
"Er… I guess I did?" Jaune rubbed the back of his neck. Looking up, his eyes seemed clearer and a little embarrassed. Qrow and Ruby knew he was still sensitive to some subjects, but would quickly rivet back to normal once they talked about something else. "My team did most of the work."
"Then why are you traveling with Mr. Branwen here?" Terra asked.
"Just Qrow. Mr. makes me feel old." The man grunted.
"You just told us you were on an apprenticeship with Qrow and Ruby." Saphron continued for them. "If you passed initiation, why leave Beacon? I wanted to ask more, but you said you were busy and would explain everything. Well… explain."
"You haven't told anyone else yet, right?"
"No… why… are you in trouble?" Instantly, Jaune's older sister was on high alert.
"Yes and no." Qrow answered calmly. He was going to let Jaune decide how much of the truth they were going to reveal. Qrow was not going to do it for him. The kid was an adult and needed to act like it.
"Er, my combat skills aren't nearly as good as the others," The boy answered. "Ruby here? She's way better than I am. Every Grimm I kill, she kills like eight." Ruby tried not to look happy at the praise, but even as she sunk down on the couch under Terra and Saphron's gaze, she couldn't keep the smile off her face. "My combat teacher was really harsh on me. Then after some problems with my partner…" Jaune took a deep breath. "Some big problems. A lot of it was my fault, if not all of it. Well, Ozpin decided that this apprenticeship was the best way to get the experience I needed."
"What kind of problems?" Terra frowned. "You were never the kind of person to really fight with people."
Ruby and Qrow shared a look.
"I was only able to get into Beacon because I forged my transcripts." Jaune answered. "It's how I got in with literally no combat experience."
"Jaune, you didn't!" Terra gasped.
Saphron stood up, walked over to Jaune, and proceeded to slap him in the back of the head.
"Are you insane!" Saphron gasped. "You could have been arrested for that!"
"Or killed!" Terra added, finding her words. "How did you kill a Death Stalker with no combat skills!"
"Mostly due to my really strong teammates…" The boy repeated.
Jaune explained the entire situation to Spahron and Terra, while Ruby and Qrow listened in silence. It was actually easier after telling the story to multiple people already. Ren and Nora, Ruby, Ozpin, Qrow, and now those two. Plus, after several weeks of traveling, he started to accept the situation. Especially since he wasn't expelled. He still felt pretty horrible thinking about everything he did wrong, especially when his stomach sank at the sternness in his sister and sister-in-law's expressions. They were clearly disappointed.
"Jaune…" Saphron sighed and rubbed her forehead. "You're an idiot."
"You need to apologize to your partner."
"You can do it now."
"I can't. This has to be done face to face."
"He's right," Terra agreed, putting a hand on Saphron's shoulder. "It's something those two need to talk directly to each other. For good or bad."
"Ugh… I'm still upset you lied," Saphron muttered, glaring at Jaune. "I was under the impression you would learn how to fight at Beacon, not be expected to already know how to."
"Honestly, that's what I thought too." Jaune admitted. "Even after I talked with the guy who forged my transcripts." He leaned back on the couch thinking of that well dressed, smooth talking man. "The entire situation sucks, but I need to focus on my training right now."
"He's doing great!" Ruby continued. "He's learning really fast. He can kill Grimm on his own, and even learned how to use his Semblance in record time to save my life from a wanted criminal."
"Ruby…" Jaune groaned.
He really wished she didn't mention that to his overprotective sister. Saphron's expression hardened as she glanced between the two. Ruby realized she did something wrong and tried to look small as she sank back into the couch again.
"He actually is coming along nicely," Qrow interceded, saving them both. "Kid has the brains and drive to be a Huntsman. All he needs is experience. I've been training him personally. Both of these brats. They pick up things quickly. I don't doubt they will become famous Huntsmen in the future. Try not to be too hard on the kid. He did what he had to do for his future. Many people do a lot worse."
"I…" Saphron pursed her lips. "Fine. Jaune!" She pointed at him. "You better make this all worth it. If you drop out halfway through Beacon, I'm telling mom and dad everything."
"You won't tell them now?" Jaune asked softly.
"No, and I'll cover for you if they decide to actually try to meet up with you," Saphron admitted. "So far, dad is still pissed you went. Mom's worried, but since I sent her progress reports from what you tell me, she's not too paranoid yet."
"Thanks, Saph." Jaune got up and hugged her. "And thanks for supporting me. Through everything."
"If you had died, I would have found a way to bring you back and kill you myself." His sister whispered into his ear, fingers digging into his back.
"I like her," Qrow commented. "She's like a more down to earth Yang."
"But she doesn't embarrass him as much as Yang does me." Ruby replied.
Saphron perked up at this, while Jaune paled.
"Oh, Ruby." Terra shook her head. "You have no idea what you just did."
"I'll be right back!" Saphron let go of Jaune and rushed off.
"We're going to be leaving!" Jaune yelled after her.
"Not until I show Ruby the pictures!"
"Oh, this should be good." Qrow snickered as he eyed Jaune glaring at him. "Deal with it kid. Tai makes me see all the ones with Ruby and Yang. I like the strawberry outfit Ruby had when she was four."
Ruby never got a chance to protest this, as Saphron returned with a thick photo album. Each section was marked by names, with Saphron and Terra up top. Jaune had his own section as Saphron opened it up, laying it out on the table. Ruby got distracted and zipped over next to her to peek inside. There were so many pictures from when Jaune was a baby and the girl squealed with delight at so many.
"Is that a pink bunny suit! Awwww!"
"He was three and mom got him that." Saphron giggled. "This one is one of my favorites. He was a flower girl at mom's friend's wedding. We were too old and our younger sisters were too small."
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE." Ruby could not contain her excitement. "I have to send a picture to Yang!"
Jaune immediately sensed the danger as his friend pulled out her Scroll.
"Ruby, no!" Jaune lunged across the table and knocked the Scroll from her hand.
"Nooo!" Ruby denied, jumping for it. "It's too good to pass up! She has to see this!"
"Over my dead body!" There was no way Jaune could let Yang get her hands on any of those pictures. It was one thing for his family, another for that blonde. "She'll never let me live it down!" He dove after her, knocking it further away.
"She'll never forgive me if I don't send it!" Ruby protested, scrambling to get past the boy.
"Just don't tell her!"
"Can I tell Weiss!?"
"Blake can keep a secret!"
"Blake had no reason to know!"
"She needs a laugh!"
"Then tickle her!"
The two of them were rolling around on the floor, as they both were trying to grab Ruby's Scroll. Jaune was physically stronger, but Ruby was more agile, squirming so Jaune never got a firm hold. Yet, because they were so focused on the device that could cause Jaune no end of teasing, they couldn't utilize their full abilities, especially as guests in someone's house.
"This brings back memories." Terra remarked. "Your house was crazy."
"Isn't that why we moved?" Saphron's smile couldn't hide her fondness.
"While the kids there play," Qrow spoke up. "Can i ask a question, Saphron?"
"If it's about why dad didn't want Jaune to be a Huntsman…"
"Nah, not that." The man shook his head. "No, I wanted to ask about your grandfather."
"What about him?" Saphron looked a little surprised.
"How close were he and Jaune?"
"Umm, pretty close actually." Saphron shared a look with Terra who shrugged. "He would go camping, hang out and meet some of his old Huntsman companions… dad actually hated that, but if it was just talking… oh, they played a lot of chess. Gramps was a grandmaster or something and Jaune had a knack for it. I never liked the game myself."
"I played Jaune a couple times before we moved out," Terra added. "He's really good. I didn't stand a chance."
"Why do you ask?" Saphron asked curiously.
"Oh, he's mentioned him a couple times, so I was just wondering what kind of guy he was." Qrow shrugged.
"He was rather rowdy," The woman put a finger on her cheek. "Full of energy and always had time to come visit. Most of the time was spent with Jaune, which mom said was more for guy bonding. They went camping a bunch of time, usually just with those two, but sometimes took one of our sisters since she liked the outdoors. Dad was away at work a lot, so Jaune really was the only male in the house."
"Bet that was hell." Qrow snickered.
"It was." Terra winked.
"Traitor!" Saphron accused.
"Saph… I love you, but even I saw all the stuff he put up with from you and your sisters because he loves you."
"Well, sometimes I guess we were a bit much."
"Ah hah!" Ruby cried out triumphantly, standing up with her Scroll.
"Not so fast, Crater Girl." Jaune wrapped his arms under her shoulders and lifted her up. Ruby kicked her feet in the air as she was trapped. "It's over."
"Jaaaauuuunnneeeee!" The girl wailed, struggling to no avail. "Let me goooo!"
"See, that is why we've been giving you basic strength training." Qrow held out his hand to gesture to her position. "Can't even escape noodle arms there."
"Promise you won't take pictures. You can look, but don't send them." Jaune was firm about this.
"But they are adorable!"
"... fine, you win. I promise not to send them."
Jaune let her down and Ruby crossed her arms, pouting at him. Yet, her pouting face was always adorable and even Saphron and Terra had to resist falling for it. It was like a puppy trying to be scary. They had a good laugh as Ruby sat down and began to thumb through the book, not trying to take any pictures.
"They are adorable together." Saphron cooed softly.
"Anymore and I get the hose." Qrow muttered.
After their roughhousing, things calmed down and Jaune talked to Saphron and Terra about school, while Ruby was browsing the photo album. It was amazing how much fun this was when it wasn't her own pictures. No wonder Yang liked showing Ruby's baby pictures, but not her own. Next time Yang tried that, she was going to send Weiss and Blake some of Yang during her 'awkward years,' or so she called them. Qrow, meanwhile, got a glass of wine. While not his preferred drink, it was better than no booze at all. Things were going well for about an hour, with the semblance of a normal family life sinking in.
Everyone jumped as a shelf fell down from the wall, causing a potted plant to crash onto the ground. The pot shattered and dirt flew everywhere. It was pretty close to where Terra was standing. The woman jumped back as everyone else leaped to their feet.
"Saphron!" Terra shouted. "I told you that the shelf wasn't hooked up securely!"
"I swear I set it up right!" Saphron protested.
Qrow went silent, but his eyebrows narrowed ever slightly.
"We can help," Jaune offered, going over and picking up the plant.
"No, no." Terra assured him. "We can clean this up. Besides, don't you three need to get going anyways."
"She's got a point." Qrow stretched as he jumped on the opportunity. "Hate to break up the family reunion, but we do have to get moving. The Grimm aren't going to kill themselves."
Ruby closed the book and passed it over to Saphron.
"Thanks for letting me look through it. Your family is so cute. Especially Jaune."
"Please don't tell the others about them." Jaune begged.
"Nope!" Ruby shook her head definitely. "You wouldn't let me take pictures, but I'm totally telling them. They can come and visit if they want to see it."
"How bad are your friends?" Terra asked with a small smile. "Will we have to move?"
"Nah, not unless you refuse to show Nora." Jaune sighed. "She's going to be the one who will be upset about missing it. Speaking of, I got to find her a souvenir at some point."
"These probably won't make it back with you, but Terra and I do have a gift for you two." Saphron rushed into the kitchen and came back with two small bags. "Jaune said you loved cookies."
"Oh my god!" Ruby dove at her and hugged her. "You're the best big sister ever!"
"I am, aren't I." Saphron puffed out her chest and winked at Terra. "Can we keep her? I'll take care of her. I can't wait to make her join the family. " Her words had a double meaning and her wife picked up on it.
"What have I told you about kidnapping kids off the streets?" Terra sighed, ignoring the second part. Qrow smirked, but Jaune missed the meaning, as he just ignored Saphron's teasing most of the time. It completely went over Ruby's head.
"I never thought I would have had to tell you."
Jaune and Ruby laughed as they accepted the gift. No one was going to turn down free snacks. Qrow didn't stop them. It was free so their resources weren't strained and the kids would carry their own supplies. Of course, Ruby's bag would probably be empty by the time they left the city.
"Thanks for having us." Qrow nodded as he followed the kids outside.
"Ruby!" Saphron called out. "Don't let random girls smooze up to Jaune! He can't say no to a pretty face!"
"Saph!" The boy whined.
"I won't!" Ruby waved back and giggled. "It's just me!"
If it was anyone else, those words would have meant something different. With that young girl, she really was just innocently saying it would only be them traveling together. Qrow snickered a bit under his breath. When they were finally down the street, Saphron closed the door.
"I hope he's okay, I tried not to show it…" The blonde woman muttered, her arm shaking. "I didn't realize he went and threw himself off the deep end."
"He'll be fine, dear." Terra wrapped her arm around her shoulders. "You can tell how much he's changed already. The way he holds himself, how he talks to Qrow? He really has started to come into his own."
"Except when he talks about his partner. But that's to be expected. I hope they can reconcile."
"You know, he named Ren and Nora on his team, but I don't think he ever told us his partner's name." Terra pointed out.
Saphron's eyebrows scrunched as she thought about it.
"Huh, yeah, I don't think he did. I was too busy focusing on Ruby's reaction around him."
"How she likes him and doesn't realize it?" Terra asked.
"Yeah, you can tell she does by the way she jumps to defend him. It's cute. I wonder how long it will take for Jaune to notice." Saphron couldn't resist chuckling. "Or for her to notice."
It was almost unnerving to Jaune how easy he got back into their old routine. Walking along the roads with Ruby snacking on her quickly deflating bag of cookies, Qrow had his hands in his pocket and was looking up at the sky. It all just felt so…normal.
"How long before we reach the next town?" Ruby asked.
"Couple days," Qrow answered. "Depends how fast you walk."
"What kind of Grimm should we be prepared for?" Jaune asked. "You mentioned they would be different than in Vale."
"Ugh, Mistral has a huge variety of Grimm," Qrow growled. "From the shores, to the swamps, to the one's flying among the hills. There is a huge variety, especially insect type Grimm. Some you probably never heard of in Beacon yet. We'll have to learn as we go, as I don't have time to go through every one. Just be glad we aren't going west to the swamps. Now that place would be training grounds."
"Eww, swamps." Ruby shuddered. "Would we at least get a boat?'
"Hah, dream on kid. You have to find the dry paths as best you can. Avoiding the Lagartodiles who sneak up on you in the water. Large alligator Grimm, yet completely stealthy. Nasty things."
"Great, and I was just getting used to the Grimm in Vale." Jaune groaned.
"Which is one of the many reasons I accepted this task," Qrow countered, looking over his shoulder at the boy. "Familiarity breeds complacency. The more Grimm you fight, the more experience you get. New species of Grimm pop up all the time, and if you're the first one to encounter them, you have to think on your feet. Recognize the danger and react accordingly. You won't train that awareness fighting the same things over and over. It's like in a video game. You only get so much experience fighting low level mobs."
"Just think of all the new stuff we get to see!" Ruby beamed, walking faster. "Sure, new Grimm to kill, but I heard Mistral has some amazing sights to visit."
"You'll see a few," Qrow assured her. "But we won't stop to check them out. Not enough time."
"It's okay, Jaune got to see his sister, and she's really cool." Ruby beamed.
"No, no she isn't," Jaune rubbed her hair, making her hands flail wildly. "Never tell her that."
The first two days were pretty calm. They would hike with all their supplies, stopping only for meals and short breaks. In the mornings and before bed, Qrow would spar with them. Mornings were lighter as it was a way to warm up and teach technical skills without making them exhausted for possible Grimm attacks, while the evening spars would be dependent on how tough the day was. Because they hadn't been attacked by Grimm, the man didn't go easy on them. They never got a rest from the basics, even as Qrow continued to teach them new styles and techniques.
The only major differences during this time was Semblance training.
Of course, this was centered on Jaune. After morning and evening sparring, Jaune was made to amplify himself to recharge his Aura faster. This worked a little, even if it didn't save that much time. Jaune could regenerate his Aura five percent faster than just resting. He would then use some of the additional Aura he regenerated to activate his Semblance again and boost Ruby's Aura. Qrow encouraged this to not only get Jaune practice both amplifying himself and others, but to allow them to spar longer and more aggressively. Beforehand, he had to make sure they weren't too beaten down to defend against Grimm.
The additional bruises made Jaune question himself many times if this was a good thing.
Ruby was getting her own specially designed training too. Speed Semblances could not be trained in the same way as Amplification ones. Mistral terrain actually provided an ample training ground for her, which Qrow was quick to take advantage of. The kingdom of Mistral was a mountainous region with plenty of forests. Lumber was a big export, which is why Atlas created the joint expeditions with them. In order to help Ruby combine her Semblance with alternating her attack patterns, Qrow made some makeshift obstacle courses using natural terrain and features. Ruby had to zip through some dense woods, along with turning corners into rocks and ledges that she had to adjust instantly or risk smashing herself against the obstacles.
Jaune never laughed once at her, something Ruby deeply appreciated. Yang would have.
The third day, they finally ran into a group of Grimm. Large, hornet shaped Grimm known as Lancers. Lancers have a three-segmented black body with three sets of legs, along with a white armored mask and armor along their back. On the back of their abdomen, the armor is in four overlapping plates. They have jagged pincers, antennae, four red transparent wings and a stinger. That had been quite a fight for Jaune and Ruby, who were not used to small fast flying Grimm. The only warning they originally heard was the sound of buzzing.
"Watch out for their stingers!" Qrow yelled, as Jaune held up his shield. "They can fire-..."
One of the Grimm wasps fired the white stinger tip at Jaune. It sounded like an arrow flying through the air with a black cord attached to the backside of the bug. It glanced off Jaune's shield with a loud clang, before shooting off into a tree. The force embedded the stinger deep into the trunk. Jaune brought his sword down in reflex and cut the black tendril cord with a single slice as the Lancer tried to back track. It flew back and buzzed around, before charging down. The ability to shoot the stinger was its only main attack. Without it, it could only bite. They weren't very strong though, preferring to attack in swarms.
"We need to get out of the open!" Jaune yelled.
"Take refuge behind the tree line and strike them when they get close." Qrow ordered. A couple rounds of gunfire dropped a few of the Grimm. "Ruby, that means you!"
"I'm falling back!" Ruby wasn't going to argue or fight back against a command. Not after last time. She was just thinning the numbers a bit. "Right behind you!"
"I'll cover you!" Jaune shouted back, reflecting another stinger. "You flank them."
Jaune backed up into the trees as the Lancers swarmed at them. There were still about six or seven left buzzing around. The thick forest was preventing them from being able to attack from every direction. At the same time, it was narrowing Ruby and Jaune's field of vision. Yet, since Jaune was the only one visible at the moment, with Ruby and Qrow vanishing, all the Grimm made a beeline for him. Realizing he was going to die if he stood out here much longer, he rushed backwards, keeping his shield up and deflecting two more stinger spears.
Every hit against the metal sent a ripple up his arm.
'Thank god for Aura and Qrow's training.'
The thought passed through Jaune's mind as he raced into the trees with the Lancers flying after him. He couldn't turn completely around or they would have free shots at his back. Keeping an eye on his enemy and surroundings was something Qrow had been drilling into them. Right now, Jaune was avoiding running into a tree and keeping an eye on the Lancers. There was a small clearing with enough room for him to swing, so he skidded to a stop and held his shield up.
The first lancer shot out, gashing its mandibles at him.
"Hyaaaaah!" Jaune yelled, swinging his sword and cutting it in half. It was fast, sure, but Jaune had been sparring against Ruby. The speed was manageable. Deadly, but manageable. Movement caught his eye on his left and he braced himself behind his shield.
Another spear hit the metal with enough force that Jaune dreaded how easily it would have gone through flesh and bone.
"Any time guys!" Jaune yelled, backing up. He was about to dart back into the trees.
The rest of the Lancers flew out in a semicircle in front of him. For a brief moment, the boy thought he was done for, only to find a grin tug on his lips. A red and gray blur shot out from the trees. Qrow sliced through two of the Lancers with one swing, while Ruby unleashed a series of circular slashes that cut three into pieces. The last one turned around but Qrow was already sliding under it, jabbing his sword upwards into its abdomen.
"Good job at bringing them down," Qrow sheathed his sword. "It gets harder when they are high above us. The trees made them drop to our level."
"I was almost worried there." Jaune sighed in relief as he sheathed his blade too.
"If we attacked too early, they would have scattered around us," Ruby explained. "Plus, I had complete faith you would be fine. You've survived Uncle Qrow's training up to now."
"That makes one of us." Jaune let out a short laugh. "It looks like I really do need a range weapon. I won't have some tree cover all the time. Damn, should have asked Atlas for some help while we were there."
"I've been telling you that for aaaaagggeeesss!" Ruby exclaimed, exasperatedly.
"Eh, you wouldn't have had time to modify your weapon anyways," Qrow yawned. "You have to draw up schematics, forge it, verify it works, make changes, practice. We don't have time for that. The best you can hope for now is a side arm. Even then, you wouldn't be very good with it until you spend countless hours at a shooting range. You'll just miss any moving target. Not going to be useful to you right now. When you return to Beacon, have Ruby teach you to shoot."
"You have to call me, Professor." Ruby said strictly.
"Professor Crater Girl, got it." Jaune laughed.
"Quit flirting and let's keep moving." Qrow barked. "We can't just stand around."
"Do you think those Lancers were the problem?" Ruby asked, as the three of them headed back to the road.
"That small group?" Qrow shook his head. "Those things can easily be handled by a few guns. Lumber Yards are well protected. Nah, it's going to be something bigger or more numerous."
"Can we handle it?" Jaune was the one to ask the tough question.
"We'll find out more at our destination," The man answered. "Most likely, we'll investigate. If it turns out to be more than we can handle, we head back, let them know, and the military moves in. If we can handle it, we do. Simple."
"You make it sound so easy." Jaune's mouth was dry.
"It is easy, kid. The tough missions are when we can't afford to retreat and warn settlements."
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful and they arrived at the Lumber Yard early the following morning.
"Woah!" Ruby gasped and Jaune was in a similar state of awe.
Vale and Argus had a pretty standard layout to the two of them. Rows of buildings with roads between them. Best way to maximize space in the open, while allowing transportation. Mantle was like that too. Even Atlas, being high up in the sky, operated with a similar layout. This outpost was literally built into the side of a mountain. Sure, there was a wall erected around the base, but as they approached, they could see openings along the stone, where people were lowering or raising platforms.
"A lot of bases outside the couple main cities take advantage of previous settlements," Qrow explained. "Mistral towns used to be built into the mountains to help protect against Grimm. Flying Grimm could only attack from the openings and land-based Grimm couldn't climb easily. This was before we had the technology today, which allows us to operate out in the open."
"It's amazing what people can do to survive." Jaune replied, eyeing the structures.
"Hey, you know all about that, kid." Qrow smacked him on the back. "Now, when we enter, look confident. You're the healer. No one will mess with you."
"You're never going to let me live that down, are you?" Jaune sighed, as Ruby giggled.
"If I had it recorded, it would be sent to Yang by now."
"Now you're just being mean." Ruby admonished him, wagging her finger.
"Who was the one who wanted to send those pictures?" Jaune reminded her.
"But those were adorable!"
The gates opened as they approached and the guards saluted them. Qrow lazily waved at them as he led them into the camp. At the base of the mountain, trucks filled with fallen trees waiting to be processed were being unloaded by dozens of workers. As Jaune looked around, an idea came to him.
"With so much lumber, maybe Ruby can help them cut firewood."
The kick in the shins was totally worth the shock on his friend's face.
"Maybe," Qrow smirked, playing along. "If we have time."
"We won't!" Ruby huffed. "I'm strong enough."
"Noodle arms there beat you in wrestling." Qrow commented mildly.
"That's because he's heavier than me!"
"Are you calling me fat, Ruby?" Jaune gasped, pretending to be hurt.
Ruby spluttered an apology and tried to assure him that's not what she meant. Before she could fully explain herself or that Jaune and Qrow could tease her some more, a man with short gray hair walked up to them. He was wearing the Atlas military uniform and presented himself much like Winter. Qrow nodded toward him as they approached each other.
"You the Commander?"
"Specialist Ash Steele." The man replied. "I take it you're Qrow Branwen?"
"In the flesh."
"Good, I've been briefed by Atlas about your involvement, you couldn't have come at a better time." He turned around. "Follow me."
Qrow, Ruby, and Jaune were used to Atlas' strict military protocol and just followed in stride. They actually got to enter the mountain fortress and walked through a tunnel to enter a large room with multiple computers and desks.
"General Ironwood said you weren't an avid reader of reports, so I'll give you a rundown." Ash told them. "Since you left Atlas, we discovered the identity of the Grimm causing trouble with our crews."
"Great, makes our job easier." Qrow shrugged. "What are we dealing with?"
There was a pause before Qrow replied.
"Yes, it's not good news."
"Nope, I'm out." Qrow turned to leave. "Come on brats, we aren't paid enough to deal with this."
"W-wait!" Ruby tugged on his cloak. "You can't just bail on a mission with lives at stake!"
"What are Arachnas?" Jaune asked and Qrow stopped, rubbing his head.
"Big fucking spider Grimm."
Ruby and Jaune froze.
"Arachnas are Grimm resembling large spiders," Ash agreed, touching the console of his computer. A holographic version of it appeared on the table. "They live in groups and slowly spread out as their nest grows. The longer they are left alone, the more problematic they become. Entire sections of forest will be unapproachable. Unlike most Grimm, we know how these beasts reproduce. They come from eggs. The larger the nest, the more eggs that are being laid."
"What's the best way to fight them?" Ruby asked, looking between the two adults and the holographic image.
"They have two main weaknesses," Qrow answered. "The first is the Queen. Each nest has one. A giant ass spider that lays the eggs. Kill her and the others just lose purpose. They just go dormant and eventually dissolve."
"Sounds simple enough." Jaune pointed out.
"Fuck simple enough!" Qrow smacking him in the back of the head. "You fight through countless spiders that set traps, ambushes, and can come from all directions. Marching into a nest is difficult. Once it gets too big, the military usually just aerial bombs the center until the Queen is dead."
"Arachnas are weak against fire," Ash elaborated. "The hairs on their body are incredibly flammable. Discovering that was the only way our ancestors in Mistral could fight them. They would set the webbing on fire and just burn the entire nest down."
"Do that here, you don't need us." Qrow waved his hand dismissively.
"We actually want to prefer doing that if possible," Ash replied seriously. "For multiple reasons, but the main reason is that right now we're in the dry season. A large-scale forest fire would spread for miles uncontrollably. This would cause huge supply disruptions in lumber to Mistral and Atlas. Atlas especially desperately needs the wood for their cities. You know what happens when supply lines get disrupted."
"People get upset…" Jaune started to say.
"...and those negative emotions attract Grimm," Ruby finished. "Without supplies, they can't repair what the Grimm destroys, which only causes more negativity." She remembered how the wall around Mantle was constantly damaged and allowed Grimm to invade the city.
"Ugh… quit appealing to their sense of righteousness or morality." Qrow growned. "I'm in charge and what I say goes. We aren't equipped for this."
"I've been given the go ahead to fully outfit your party with whatever they need." Ash told him. "We also determined the nest isn't large enough to warrant an airstrike."
"You guys really hate moving your military if you can avoid it." Qrow muttered. "Unless it's just to show off, then you'll move it at the drop of a hat."
"How dangerous are Arachnas?" Jaune asked, thinking of how strong spiders were for their size.
"One on one? Maybe as dangerous as a Beowolf?" Qrow shrugged. "But these Grimm are tricky. They ambush you, can leap large distances, and have numbers." He rubbed his chin. "If we had some incendiary explosives, we could get close enough to the central nest and light it. The entire thing will go up in flames and the spread should be minimal. Webs and Grimm burn out quickly."
"Just tell me what you need and I'll have it within the hour." Ash assured him.
"High caliber fire Dust rounds for the kid, I need some fire Dust shotgun buck shots, and then some remote incendiary explosives." Qrow rattled off. "Might need a few other things, but I'll have to see what other fire stuff you got. I'm not going near that nest without gear."
"Easy, we keep a lot of ammunition here to protect the workers." Ash started inputting the order into his Scroll. "Everything so far we have. It won't be a problem. We can even provide transportation immediately."
"Understand that if we get there and it's too much, we're pulling back," Qrow warned. "You can order the air strike, but I'm not doing a suicide mission."
"Understood!" The man saluted and escorted them out of the base and back outside.
"We have a little time before they come back with our supplies," Qrow sat down on a log and looked at them. "You two have to be ready as this isn't a simple, kill Beowolves mission."
"It's going to be dangerous, isn't it." Jaune muttered. "Do you think we're ready?"
"If we stick together, it should be doable." Qrow nodded. "Things can go wrong, so we might need to retreat if they do. I will only give you all orders once. We won't have time for me to repeat things. If I tell you to run and come back here, even without me, do it. I have ways to escape on my own easily, but you two need some distance."
"I won't disobey you." Ruby promised, clutching Crescent Rose in its rifle form tightly. "I learned my lesson."
"I'm not trying to scare you, kiddo. Just giving you the facts."
"So the plan is just to retreat if it's too much?" Jaune asked. "Or set everything on fire."
Ruby and Jaune both waited for Qrow to elaborate or say it was a joke, but the man did neither. Ash eventually returned with two soldiers carrying a crate of supplies. Ruby immediately forgot her worries as she saw the top quality ammunition available to them and rushed to grab it. Instantly, Crescent Rose was fully loaded and the girl was cradling it excitedly.
"Those Grimm won't know what hit them… hehe."
This was completely normal to Jaune, who didn't even bat an eye at his friend's antics.
"Here, hold onto these." Qrow handed a couple boxes to Jaune.
"What are these?"
Jaune almost dropped them right there.
"Why are you giving it to me?" The boy squeaked out.
"Because I'll be carrying a few. Don't worry, I'll teach you how to detonate them. These won't go off without the remote detonator. Just break the box here and arm the switch like this." Qrow spent a few minutes going over how to use it. "I would give you some incendiary grenades… but I don't know how good you are at baseball."
"Fair assessment." Jaune conceded, packing the devices carefully into his backpack and pocketing the remote. "I guess I'm ready then."
"Same!" Ruby had to resist kissing her weapon now. "The Arachnas are in trouble now!"
"Avoid firing unless you really need it," Qrow told her. "Gunfire echoes in the mountains and will alert all nearby Grimm."
"Awwwww, but we got all these fire rounds. We should blast them!"
"You'll get your chance, squirt."
"Transportation can take you most of the way into the hills," Ash stated, as an armored truck pulled up with two armed troopers. "Too dangerous to get any closer."
"But not for us." Qrow muttered under his breath. "Okay, have them lead the way."
The three of them boarded the truck and took off. A short distance away from the camp, they turned off the actual road onto a more dirt road that was obviously just made from repeated use. Ruby and Jaune were looking out the window at the scenery, while Qrow sat in the back, deep in thought. The sun was rising into the sky and everything seemed peaceful. As they went up the mountain range on the dirt path, Jaune was secretly glad they weren't hiking all the way up. Walking on a flat service for a long period of time was tiring, but doable. Going up a mountain? That would be torture.
"We're here." The driver said, slowly breaking and stopping with a small lurch. "As far as I can go. Anything past here we risk being attacked by Grimm. We don't have enough vehicles as is, so we can't risk losing this one."
"Thanks for the ride, we'll radio to base camp when we need a pick up." Qrow yawned, getting out with Ruby and Jaune falling behind him. "If you don't hear from us by sunset, assume the worst."
"Yes, sir." The driver took off with the second guard nodding. They should get back without issue. Qrow then turned to the kids.
"Okay, we're officially on a mission," The man told them. "Follow me, stick close, and keep an eye out. Last thing we want is something to sneak up on us. We should be approaching a ravine with a river not far ahead. There's an old stone bridge we'll cross over into the main area. This is where we expect most of the Arachna's to be. Careful not to fall. The river is fast moving and a couple miles downstream, there's a large waterfall."
"Yeah… I'm not in the mood to go swimming." Jaune assured him.
"That's the spirit." Qrow laughed.
"How big do you think these Grimm spiders will be?" Ruby asked. "I never liked spiders, at any size."
"Probably the size of a large dog or small horse." Qrow replied. "The Queen is usually bigger, but it's slow and not really made for combat. It just lays eggs."
"Omelets for breakfast?" Jaune joked and then got punched in the shoulder by Ruby. "Ow… okay, bad joke."
"Eggs are filled with poison, so I wouldn't suggest that," Qrow rolled his eyes. "Oh, that reminds me. Many sub species of Arachnas are poisonous. Don't let them bite you."
"Subspecies?" Ruby blinked. "Like how some Beowolves look different than others?"
"Yeah, depending on territory, climate, Grimm can have some differences. Arachnas are known for having some of the most differences. Some shoot poison, some can camo, others like to set traps. It's just a good time all around."
"I can see why you hate them." Jaune commented dryly.
"You'll learn to hate them as much as me shortly." Qrow assured the kids. They didn't talk much after that as Ruby and Jaune ran over everything they learned, as well as keeping an eye out on their surroundings. Talking was just going to distract them. All of a sudden, Qrow held out his arm, nearly causing Jaune to run into it. "Look up ahead and tell me what you see."
"Umm, an empty pathway?" Jaune blinked and peered. "There's only a few trees and rocks up here. Nowhere to hide."
"I don't see anything either." Ruby admitted.
"Look at the ground." Their mentor ordered. The dirt path looked pretty normal to the Beacon students, but then they noticed what Qrow was pointing out at almost the same time.
"It looks like fresh dirt." Ruby frowned.
"In a circle." Jaune added. "That can't be a pit trap like in video games, right?"
"Sort of." Qrow picked up a decent size rock and tossed it ahead of them. Aura propelled strength was great for mundane tasks like this. The rock hit the earth with a thud and rolled onto the fresh dirt.
Six large black hairy legs shot out from the ground and pulled down on the rock.
Instantly, Qrow charged forward while simultaneously drawing Harbinger. The steel sliced neatly through three legs, causing black blood to soak the ground. There was a high pitch whistling sound followed by clicking as the rest of the Grimm emerged.
It honestly looked like a large tarantula, with the legs as thick as a human. Covered in black hair, the body was divided into two sections. The torso with the legs attached to the back abdomen. The torso had a white bone covering like a helmet with multiple holes for the red eyes. Its mouth had two large fangs that were clicking together angrily as it fell onto one side, unable to balance. Qrow buried his sword in the face, silencing the spider as it began to dissolve into black smoke.
"A Trapper subspecies," Qrow explained. "They tend to wait on pathways for unsuspecting travelers. Keep an eye out. Once they grab you, it can be tough to escape." He turned to see both kids staring. "What?"
"I think I understand what nightmares are made of now." Ruby muttered.
"I'd rather go fight a couple Death Stalkers again." Jaune agreed. "Maybe a couple hundred more Lancers."
"Good, you both understand how awful today is going to be." Qrow shook the blood of his blade and resheathed it. "Let's get moving. I am not spending the night around here."
They continued on, with the kids trying to get used to the sight of giant spiders. The path moved toward a cliff edge with a rut carved out by a river over countless years. It was way too wide to jump, so a stone bridge had been built to allow access to the other side. Stone instead of wood, as wood would break and wear out too quickly. It was dangerous and time consuming to build up in the mountains after all. People only wanted to do it once.
"There's the bridge!" Ruby pointed out. "We're close and no signs of more spiders."
"Don't relax until the Queen is dead and we're safely back in town," Qrow warned sharply. "Overconfidence or focusing on one thing causes you to miss signs in your surroundings." He paused and looked around slowly.. "Weird for one to be so far out though."
There weren't really any places to hide, so Jaune was more focused on the ground, looking for more of the Trapper Arachnas. The dirt was undisturbed and it looked like nothing had been there for ages. If there was a trap, it would have to come from the otherside. Jaune took a few steps toward the ledge and looked across. Nothing stood out except a tree line in the distance. Untouched by man for now, until Atlas and Mistral start cutting down trees.
"It's really a beautiful kingdom, shame the Grimm are everywhere." The boy muttered, kicking a rock off the ledge. He watched it fall before hitting the water with a soft splash that echoed up the ravine. As he looked down, he thought he saw something and leaned over a little more.
His eyes widened in horror as he scurried backwards.
"Qrow, Ruby! Arachnas hanging on the wall!"
One of the spiders already reached the ledge and started to climb up, its large hairy legs gripping the ground as it pulled itself up. The red soulless eyes staring into Jaune's while its pincers clicked. In a panic, without thinking, Jaune brought his sword down. The blade cut into the Archnas' face, causing the Grimm to fall into the river once it lost its grip. Jaune would have liked to say he planned it, but it was all in the spur of the moment.
"Shit!" Qrow rushed forward. "Cut their legs before they get up!"
Ruby zipped over and cut the legs of two Arachnas, causing them to fall, but more were climbing up the wall every second. Jaune slashed another one, while Qrow sliced one in half that climbed all the way up. Without the spider Grimm getting their footing up top, it was pretty simple to take them out. The legs weren't armored so they were cut easily.
Yet more were coming up the ledge further down the path, where they couldn't get to in time.
"This isn't a small nest!" Qrow shouted. "We're falling back and regrouping!"
"They are behind us too!" Ruby shouted.
"Damn it!" Qrow looked around. "Ruby, you have permission to fire!"
Ruby had swapped her scythe to its rifle mode and fired one of the Dust rounds. The moment the Fire Round hit the Arachna, the creature burst into flames. Qrow had mentioned they were flammable, but it was like the beast was doused in oil. A shrieking sound sent shivers down the girl's spine as the spider staggered and crashed into another one. The spider then caught on fire and ran around in a panic before hitting a third. The same thing happened.
One shot took out three of them.
"Dang…" Jaune glanced over his shield as he saw the scene before him. It would have been hilarious if there weren't more nightmares climbing up the side of the cliff. They were slowing down, so it was becoming more manageable. Jaune swung his arm and buried his sword into the side of an Arachna to his right.
"Jaune, behind you!"
Ruby's warning came too late as legs wrapped around Jaune's chest and pulled him back. Eyes widening, Jaune tried to cut at the leg with his sword, but he couldn't get a clean strike at an awkward angle. Fangs clicked and he felt some drool fall on his shoulder. Qrow and Ruby were making their way towards him to help when a sound was heard.
The ground beneath Jaune's feet was breaking apart. He was near the ledge, but not so close he should have risked it. Did the Arachna's weakened the side of the wall by digging into it? He didn't really have time to consider it in detail as the ground shook and slanted. The only good news was the spider loosened it sgrip on him and his blade sunk into the torso. Yet the weight kept him from running forward and jumping on solid ground.
Things began to move in slow motion as the break slid off the side of the cliff with Jaune on it.
Ruby darted forward, panic etched on her face, and she reached out to grab his hand.
Jaune reached out too, their fingers almost touching.
Yet gravity prevented them from grabbing each other as Jaune fell down to the river below.
"JAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEE!" Ruby's anguish cry rang out.
Feel free to leave a review, comment, suggestions, or ideas, I love reading them. If you have a question you wish to ask and would like a quick answer, feel free to message me directly. I try to respond to those within a day or two. Comments, I tend to respond to in the next chapter.
Well, Jaune's dead. Time to decide on the next main character. There's no way he can survive, right?