There were many words in the languages man had spoken, and many concepts they had created to describe my point:
That although everything has an opposite, those can only be labeled in the sense that you could relate and contrast them by some means.
Left and Right are opposites, yet they both remain directions.
Good and Evil are opposites, yet either could be applied to a situation. That's all a matter of perspective.
Now, what makes a person the opposite of who they are?
Do they even remain as themselves when their lives have been altered?
Or are they just pale reflections of the originals, hideously distorted by a wonderfully twisted glass mirror?
Ruby Rose looked out one of the many windows that ran along the large cabin wall of the aircraft she found herself in. It was still parked at the moment, but in just a few minutes it would be up in the air and on its way to Bastion Academy, a place that trained Hunters to fight against Grimm. It would be taking her to a place she never thought she would attend.
Not only was she a full two years younger than the normal age of a first-year student, seventeen, but she didn't care for fighting Grimm. Not how Hunters did it at least. The idea of storming into the continent of Abbadon and throwing away her life didn't exactly appeal to her. She preferred a passive role, like defending. Though that was mostly because those jobs paid the most, and on occasion she did accept high paying hunting jobs.
However, there wasn't much she could do about her current circumstance. They had given her the choice to attend Bastion or suffer the death penalty. There wasn't even room for further negotiations. High definition security cameras recorded her crime, and a street full of people witnessed it.
She absently massaged her left temple as last night replayed in her mind.
Ruby had been wandering through Valland City, the capital of the Kingdom of Vallis, without a real purpose, just wasting away her time until her uncle finished up his business. A set of red headphones had been blaring some death metal song about a day of reckoning into her ears, so she didn't hear anyone sneak up on her. And then she was suddenly standing over a chopped up corpse with her bloody weapon in her hand.
Her own scattered memories eventually got sorted out. Someone had fired off some kind of high caliber gun aimed directly at her skull. A large gaping hole appeared in Ruby's head and something dark-red exploded out of her wound, causing her body to stumble. Then, her rose petals twisted in the air and were drawn back into her skull. Unfortunately, her prefrontal cortex was a little more difficult to reform than a broken bone or some torn flesh.
And when everything clicked back into place, she realized that she had indeed killed someone. Which wasn't too troubling for her. The occasional casualty from fighting happened now and then, and they had fired first, or so she believed. So when the authorities came, she willingly went with hoping to clear everything up fast.
Then she was shown a video recording of two people walking near her, and then she killed one of them unprovoked. No one who had been on the street or sidewalk even heard a gunshot.
Confined in a holding cell, one she could've easily escaped from, confusion was circulating in her mind. She had definitely felt like someone had shot her in the head, and her scattered memories had felt real, but reality was contradicting her mind, and that didn't make any sense.
And then Glynda Goodwitch, unofficial headmistress of Bastion Academy for Hunters, appeared. "Ruby Rose?" She asked with a chipper smile.
Ruby recognized the woman and a small part of her mind was realizing what was happening. "Yes, ma'am?" The young rose replied calmly, careful to not give away her suspicions.
"You've done quite the job tonight. Just what could have driven you to murder the wife of a councilman? Did you snap from the pressure of fighting? Or did you deliberately kill her in an act of treason against our kingdom?" The woman cheerfully asked. "This is quite a troubling matter. Whatever your reason, to go so far as to chop her into seventeen pieces in front of her daughter is truly brutal." Glynda cheerfully read off that information from a small black book in her hand, which contained some sort of record of the events.
"It was self-defense." She uselessly tried to claim, not a single person had believed her so far.
"Ah yes, self-defense. It's a shame not a single person had believed your claim so far." She said gleefully, her emerald eyes gleaming as she continued to look at her book. "They will hold your trial in two days, and then execute you four days later."
"Ms. Goodwitch, my uncle has informed me on just how well the laws don't work around here, and who is really in charge, so with all due respect, get to the fucking point already; I'd rather not spend the night here."
"Do you want to attend Bastion Academy?"
Ruby's dull silver eyes blinked when she caught sight of her own reflection in the window. The bags under her eyes had gotten more pronounced. There was no way she could get through this whole thing without some help.
She reached into her faded red tattered cloak and pulled out a small white flask. After unscrewing the cap, she held it up to her lips and took a swig or two. A rough vodka rolled down her throat, which wasn't the best available, but it did the job adequately. She didn't mind that her mouth was slightly stinging as a warm buzz traveled through her body.
"Ruby!" Someone yelped. "What are you doing!?" They hissed in a low voice as their eyes darted around. "You're going to get in trouble."
Yang Branwen nervously looked around the large cabin of the aircraft she was in. She desperately hoped that no one would spot her half sister, Ruby, drinking what was probably alcohol from a flask even though she was underage. "Ruby." She huffed sadly. "Please stop. I understand that you don't care about the effects of drinking has on your development, but please at least care about where you drink."
She honestly hated the fact that her younger sister was something of an alcoholic. It meant that even on the rare occasions that they were in the same area, she couldn't hold a steady conversation with her. And as time passed, she knew the distance between them grew more and more.
"Relax." Ruby turned her head to look at her sister as she rolled her dull silver eyes and then she placed her white flask away. "Don't be such a buzzkill, and besides, what's a little alcohol compared to a Grimm? It doesn't make sense that we're allowed to die for our kingdoms before we're allowed to drink."
Yang sighed. She already knew going further on this topic was a pointless endeavor; Ruby had been raised by their uncle, a man who didn't even trust his own shadow. She had picked up his behavior to reject common sense and instead developed a self-reality where information that didn't align with already formed beliefs was considered false.
Rules and laws, customs and traditions, none of those mattered to them, the only thing they cared about was what they personally believed. There was nothing that could be done about her behavior at this point, and any attempt would likely result in her being pushed away. It was painful enough that they weren't close, and she didn't believe she would be able to handle rejection from her sister.
"Ruby, I'm glad you're coming to Bastion with me." Yang changed the topic, her sister had already put away her drink so she wouldn't linger on that subject any further.
'I won't be alone.' A passing thought went through her mind.
"Yeah, well, it's a big school. We might not even see each other." Ruby said as she looked back outside the window.
"No! We have to stick together! Uh, I mean, it's a family rule to stay near someone you trust when you're in unfamiliar territory." Yang's shoulders slumped down as she glanced at the floor and then she mumbled a question. "Y-you trust me, right?"
A moment of silence passed. Yang felt her awareness of the world fading away. Her breathing grew unsteady and heart rate spiked up. Faint golden ember danced before her vision.
"Huh? Yeah, sure." Ruby said after she gulped loudly and then she screwed her flask shut again. She had taken another drink already. "Anyway, what's up with you nowadays? Why are you here?" She nonchalantly changed the topic.
Yang blinked as the world returned to normal. "Uh, well, Mom stopped giving me lessons and said that it was up to me to get stronger, so I decided to come here. Oh! And look at this," she said as she unclipped something from her waist, "it's called an odachi." She held up a plain sword in a lacquered wooden sheath. The only distinguishable feature at first glance was the length of the blade, at four feet long. "Mom gave it to me a few months ago."
"How's that any different from your old sword? Aside from being longer."
"Oh, uh, I… don't know." She glanced down at her weapon. "But, it's a symbol of my strength. It's something I earned." As she held the sword, she felt her worries melt away. 'I'm not weak anymore.' Yang Branwen wasn't weak anymore. Her mother had made sure of that.
"Well, it looks cool at least. Wanna spar later?" Ruby complimented her sister's sword and then challenged her in the same breath.
"Sure. I know my sword isn't as glamorous as your weapons, but I'm pretty skilled, so don't expect an easy fight." She could prove to her younger sister that she wasn't the same as she had been all those years ago. She was strong now.
"Hey now, Qrow might be lacking in skill compared to Raven, but he isn't any less strict in his teachings, so I'm fairly skilled myself."
A burning rage almost engulfed Yang, a molten desire to kill her uncle almost filled her mind, but then she realized that Ruby didn't know. 'She doesn't know. Mom always went easy on her. She never took training Ruby seriously. She doesn't know the extreme difference in their methods.'
Raven, her mother, had always called Qrow, her uncle, stubbornly soft hearted despite everything they've been through. He was a flawed idealist who denied reality and was utterly incapable of getting his own hands dirty. 'There was no way he would hurt Ruby.' She calmed herself down.
Jaune Arc gazed out one of the many windows that littered the interior of the large aircraft he found himself in. Although currently immobile, it wouldn't be long before its thrusters were activated and the large hunk of metal would be flying through the sky with Bastion Academy as its destination for the day. That place was something he had never thought about outside of passing, and he had definitely never considered that one day he would be attending there.
Standing amongst the rest of the competi- no - amongst his peers, he was ignoring the whispers his presence always brought with him. He was - as a previously employed handmaid had said he did from time to time - brooding. He never quite understood why she had said that. Sometimes he was just lost in thought, and in company he was only to speak if spoken to.
Additionally, it wasn't his fault that his resting face came off as unwelcoming. Not that it was important; there weren't many that would willingly talk to him for pleasure.
He had been trained by the best Vallis had to offer for combat since before he could talk. They trained him to follow orders, and he never complained or disobeyed, and he always excelled at every task given to him. He won every match that they told him to win, be it an exhibition or tournament match. And yet here he was, on an airship, armed with a relic of the past, and enrolled in Bastion Academy for Hunters. No, not enrolled, sold.
His father had fallen ill as of late, and the rest of his family had sought to rid themselves of Jaune, so they unofficially sold him off to the Vallis Council as a disposable pawn. And then Bastion commandeered him for their Abbadon Subjugation Campaign and their Grimm Extermination Crusade. On paper, he had volunteered to protect the Vallis kingdom, but in reality his family sold him and expected to throw his life away.
Uphold The Arc Honor. Respect The Name. Preserve The Legacy.
That was the creed he grew up with, everything he has he owes to his Name, so it was his duty to be worthy of it.
War Heroes, that's what their Name was built upon. Violence. Murder. Death. Destruction.
And what has his family done since their legacy was made? They've fought. Knights, that's what the Arcs were, and they obeyed the Vallis Council. When told to fight, they fought. When told to kill, they killed. When told to love, they loved. When told to die, they died.
Even Jaune was included in that behavior.
When he was fourteen, he was assigned a wife, and then she was killed, so he killed her assassin. All of it was orchestrated by the Vallis Council, except for the last part since he was also supposed to have died, or so he believed, since he hadn't been informed beforehand. And it made sense to him.
For being the child of an affair, his 'mother' hated him from before his birth. For being the only son of the family, most of his sisters hated him since their father wanted a male to inherit his legacy. In public and on papers everything was perfect. He was the latest pride of Arc Knights, but in private and behind closed doors, he was the disgrace.
And what better way was there to get rid of a disgrace than a tragedy?
That wouldn't have been the first time they tried, and it wasn't the last. Each time he got stronger, each time they trained him to not disappoint them, but he did, by living. And by learning the smells of poisons, the faces and backgrounds of all their servants, and most importantly, when an 'accident' could occur.
It was no secret that the Kingdom of Vallis was currently the worst place for any faun to live. The royal families and the council that ruled had held an intense antipathy for their kind since a group of fauns took control of Vastas, the sandy kingdom rich in resources on the northeastern end of Convallis continent. Of course, the Faun Revolution only happened because they were never exactly treated fairly in the first place.
Unfortunately, for Vallis, they had been rendered unable to declare war against them, since a few decades ago they had been forced to sign a peace treaty to end a global conflict that they had started. Additionally, they were pressured by Mannus from the south and Fortis from the west to accept the legitimacy of the new rule over Vasta in the northeast. Outnumbered and surrounded, It wasn't hard to imagine what would happen if they refused.
Their natural disdain had morphed into an active hatred. It wasn't uncommon for fauns to face discrimination in all walks of life. Large manufacturers wouldn't sell to small companies that served fauns, so those companies refused to serve them. Misinformation was disseminated throughout the education system, and any report of a faun acting out of order was plastered over the front page of every newspaper.
Government officials didn't give them any leeway when conducting investigations or trials, often arriving at a verdict before anything had even happened. Most of the time a faun was suspected of a crime, they ended up incarcerated.
All in all, the kingdom basically spat in the face of the peace treaty and ceasefire they had signed. However, this wasn't enough for another war or revolution. Fauns weren't tied down by the ruling class with any laws or customs, abiding with the treaty at a bare minimum, so they were free to leave the kingdom if they wished. At least that was the justification to dismiss any criticism of their treatment.
Therefore, it wasn't surprising that Vallis was a prime target for the Red Fang. The extremist remnants of the peaceful White Fang who were the organization of fauns who seized the throne of Vasta and gained equality everywhere else with the promise of peace. The Red Fang didn't want peace, they wanted vengeance.
So of course on Jaune's sixteenth birthday when he was told to celebrate near Ochres, where suspected Red Fang members were constantly reported, he wasn't surprised that his ride got shot down by them. He didn't bother putting up a fight when he was kidnapped and taken to a base, and he didn't even feel guilty when he slaughtered them all on his way out. He had attempted a peaceful negotiation, but that failed.
'I'm only thinking about politics, family, war, discrimination, terrorism, death, and how every moment of my life I've been looking over my shoulder, searching for the next person who'll try to put the knife in my back. That's not brooding, just... contemplating my life.' He thought, his eyes never leaving the window, his guard open yet never dropping. Throughout all his thoughts, he watched a faun with a feline feature glare at him in the reflection of the glass.
It was a girl with silky black hair and pale skin. She had bright amber eyes and was dressed in a flowing dress made of some dark black material. And on her head were large black furred catlike ears that started where human ears were located and ended right after the crown of her skull. Of course, the tip of her ears went a few inches above her head.
He recognized her. It would be hard not to; their families had clashed plenty of times during the Faun Revolution. And then his great grandfather had killed her grandfather on the battlefield before being swarmed and torn to shreds. The fact that the Arcs hadn't yet avenged him when the ceasefire was called had been a major reason they were in the anti-faun camp.
As for why foreign faun royalty was attending Bastion, he had no idea, but he wasn't going to attempt to find out, since preferred to not involve himself with potentially troublesome matters.
Blake Belladonna was literally gonna be sick. She had wanted to get on the flight quick enough to find a spot away from the filthy humans, but they were fucking everywhere. It was absolutely humiliating to be in the same aircraft cabin as the rest of the rabble and human trash, and an Arc was standing over there like he owned this piece of shit aircraft.
'If my parents didn't insist I go with the human garbage, I would've demanded my personal ship to take me, but no, I'm the fucking Princess of Kemet, and yet here I am mingling with the peasants and scumbags.'
It honestly felt like her parents didn't care what happened to her. She was aware of what humans did to stray fauns. They would capture and hang them upside down before they skinned them alive, or since she was so beautiful, they would lock her in a dark dungeon and use her as a toy until she died. She has also heard some humans preserve dead fauns and mount their corpses. Some even did that for their toys. She felt hot disgust flush her face.
She heard what the Arcs have done since before they even made a name for themselves in the human world. They were fanatics who slaughtered faun tribes for generations. There's even more than one tale of them cooking and devouring the fauns they hunted. Just recalling the stories that her grandmother told her made a shiver travel down her body. "Ah~" A fearful groan escaped her lips.
'Faunus and Fauna, you'll have to protect me.' Her prayer to the God and Goddess of all fauns didn't have any intense emotions behind it. It was more like she was ordering around her servants than invoking protection from some deities.
Perhaps that was to be expected of her; The Belladonna Family were Godsends after all. They were crafted by Fauna and their birth was foretold by Faunus, it was their divine duty to rule over all fauns. And according to the prophecy, when Blake died she would rule over all of the afterlife as a Goddess.
'I bet that Arc isn't even that strong. One second, that's all it would take to kill him, just one second. Or maybe I should enact some karmic vengeance and toy with him for a while, hang him up and slowly peel off his skin, inch by inch.' She thought as she stared at the Arc boy. An image formed in her mind of the boy hanging upside down, and since she was working on his skin, he wasn't wearing clothes in her imagination.
Revulsion boiled her brain and made her flesh itch.
'Or maybe I could lock him up and-' Blake didn't finish her thought as her entire body trembled, her eyes struggled to stay open as her vision flickered. And when she regained control over herself, she sped off, away from the Arc boy and his gross contamination of her mind.
Weiss Schnee was scared. No, not scared, just nervous, really really really nervous. She had applied for Bastion on a whim. Her mother would have never allowed her to attend the Academy within their borders, so she took a chance with one in a different kingdom on a different continent.
And she got accepted.
Right now she was pacing around in the restroom on the aircraft destined for Bastion. She ran away, okay technically she didn't; the legal age for being an adult was seventeen, so it shouldn't be a problem for her. But still, she had left home without permission.
Weiss stopped pacing near the sinks and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her blood-red eyes gazed deeply into their reflection. "It's not a problem. We just decided to leave home, to fulfill our dreams. Without any previous combat training. With a stabby-sword-thingy that we have no training with. We bribed a pilot to fly us across the ocean to go to a school that teaches you to fight the monsters we could only see in our nightmares. We didn't do anything wrong, right?" She asked her reflection, which didn't provide a response in return.
Weiss' vision became fuzzy as her heartbeat sped up. 'Maybe I should've taken up Winter's offer to train me?' She wondered before remembering the last few times she had asked her older sister for help.
"Winter, can you get the cereal on the top? I can't reach it."
"Sure thing Weiss." Winter said as she grabbed the box and then she walked away with it.
"Winter, have you seen my hoodie?"
Weiss opened the hallway closet, and she found her hoodie, right next to a flock of angry looking doves.
"Winter! Help! I tied my shoelaces together and fell down the stairs! I'm in a crippling amount of pain!"
"I know! I'm recording!"
"Winter! I think I'm allergic to this!"
"Shut up and keep drinking."
'Nah, I'm good.' Weiss thought. Then she took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She clenched her hands into fists and then relaxed them. She repeated these actions nine more times to calm down.
She stood up tall, straightened her big fluffy white jacket, threw her dull gray-white hair back, flipped up the hood on her black hoodie, fixed her hair down the back of it and pulled up her loose-fitting pants.
"Everything is going to be okay, Weiss. Nobody aboard knows anything about you. It's time to be someone new. No more mistakes, no more random accidents." Weiss pointed her finger at her reflection. "So, Weiss." She jabbed her thumb behind her, towards the door. "Go out there and make a friend."
With her newfound resolve, she turned around to walk out of the restroom, and noticed something odd. 'What's up with those wall toilets? I've never seen those before.' When she was three feet away from the door, it flew open and four boys walked in talking amongst themselves. Weiss - like any other moment she's caught off guard, or wasn't and just couldn't handle reality - froze.
And through the still ajar door she saw a girl with cat ears and wearing a black dress rush into another restroom across the hall. Then, like a hundred piece puzzle with one piece left, the final piece fell into place and the image of a white cat lying in snow was clear, only this time she didn't get a cute kitty.
No. She got the image that she went into the wrong restroom. She ran out, grateful for the fact that she was wearing her hood, which obscured her face fiercely flushed with embarrassment.
Thanks for reading! I'm always open to feedback, so please leave a review, or reply in my forum, about what you liked or hated about this chapter or the entire story. If anyone wants to be a Beta Reader, then PM me and we'll talk in detail.
I've rewritten this chapter, I'm pretty sure it's lost some charm but I hope it's more coherent than before.