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The Reluctant Hero (RWBY SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by JBukharin, Feb 8, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Road to NOT end the world!
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    The wonderful aspect of a reluctant hero is that he or she doesn't have to adhere to any stereotype, such as being incredibly strong or a trained kung-fu master. These can be average guys off the street; indeed, it's often their simple, homespun down-to-earth thinking that saves the day. This ordinariness is an important factor in allowing the audience to understand and bond with the hero.

    - Quote from The Art of Game Characters, by Leo Artas.





    Prologue: Memento Auctoris

    I need to ask out of morbid curiosity and intrigue:

    Do you know about those stories where people get sent to other worlds; these places that you think are fiction and well-contained within ink, bytes or even spoken words but eventually turns out that those are actually true, just for the sake of some cosmic mission ‘only you’ can deal with?

    That is something that always hits people with a sense of reluctant interest but genuine crave: escapism in its sweetest form, the kind of drug that no matter how addictive it is, you have to make use of it for the sake of having some peace in life..

    But sometimes escapism isn't as good as we hope, the bleach we ingest the moment we realize that reality will still find a way to make us all miserable is there to keep us from floating too far from the land and right into the scorching sun.

    Sometimes the very journey is what makes us feel the worst as we could be detained from our world, kidnapped merely on the whim of some lazy deity with no compassion.

    Just give empty words of encouragement, sprinkle in some super-power, and the meat-puppets start to dance like demented madmen.

    Am I making sense with these words?

    Obviously no one cares about the protagonist, they care about the actions they take, the words that are provided to make them realistic to the naked eye and... I am incredibly tired.

    Sometimes no one wants the isekai, either because the genre turns stale once in a while or because people build up on some emotionless shield for this kind of stuff, dulled by the over-saturation of the stories of freedom and undeniable friendship. A need to preserve what is past, what was good and worth of cherish.

    Am I making sense with these words?

    ...Maybe I am. But in the moment of agony that follows the sense of crude realization, the dread that ever-consumes the sanity of someone that merely doesn't care... words stop making sense.





    Chapter 1: Road to NOT end the world!

    That is why when I woke up in some shady alley in Mistral, Remnant (The world of RWBY for Pete's sake!), I was quite demoralized by what was going on.

    I was quick to remember the things I left undone back home and the lack of a need to escape from the real world eventually caught up with the childish awe and wonder of being somewhere far from my daily troubles.

    Imagine my discomfort when I learned I was now going to eventually die.

    The kind of death that is not bestowed upon those who had their bodies destroyed, obliterated, or butchered by battles or anything even so closely mundane, but the one of the mind, of the ever-so-frail soul.

    When I quickly noticed the whispering in my head, I recognized Ozpin questioning my current whereabouts.

    I felt nauseated at the mere idea of what I was supposed to face if things were as dreadful as I thought them to be.

    The Wizard lived, he survived cycles of life while the previous host's soul wouldn’t because of some Godly curse.

    When would it happen, when would the bitter and cruel toll come to pass?

    I didn't know, I wasn’t sure of it, but at least I found minor relief it wasn't an innocent fifteen years old Oscar Pine that was going to face the tribulations of this sickening predicament at hand.

    The numbness create by the absurd situation vanished the very moment I felt the first drops of the rain starting to fall calmly around me, droplets reaching my skin and ‘waking’ me up from my quiet turmoil.

    My body was getting cold as I was wearing light clothing and it was easy to get the chills already from just staying in that very place.

    I also blamed my introverted lifestyle as I was used to some kind of warmth normal of living in a modest house but...

    I was fine.

    The three words that made the world go ‘round.

    We are all fine.

    ...

    And I can’t stop here.

    I bet whoever left me in this predicament expects me to merrily go on the jolly path to Canon, to face the great threats placed by Salem along the way, maybe even clash with the two idiotic deities waiting by the end.

    Or even let those Gods kill everyone by rekindling humanity’s cycle once more.

    When the discovery over what was by the end reached my ears, that the protagonists were hellbent to reunite the relics despite the underline threat composed by the divine beings so greedily waiting to return, I couldn’t help but be disgusted by how hopeless a journey of that kind would be.

    Yet, among the disappointment and the dread, I was so sure of a very little detail, something that many could see as a panicked thought or a terrible realization of the world.

    But I will not commit a genocide.

    I will not partake in any mass-murdering for the sake of someone being unable to face their ex-wife with normal procedures, because he failed to intervene when needed.

    A spineless coward that used humanity by manipulating them all to rush and die in front of an enemy that could easily be contained.

    We don’t need to kill her. Just… keep her from hurting anyone.

    That is why a new resolve started to build up as I walked out from the darkness of the alley where I woke up into, my mind set to walk away from Haven and out of Mistral.

    I could feel something lashing furiously within my core, trying to push me out and steal the control over my body and... failing in this miser process.

    I was surprised and… flattered that I could see something as horrifying as possession failing with me of all people.

    I didn’t need a centuries-old mastermind taking over the very things I had left to use in this world, my body and soul.

    I was defenseless, no weapons nor anything that could be used to fend off against any of the threats lurking in this kingdom.

    Grimm and bandits, of monsters and men.

    Still I couldn’t help but consider why Ozpin was failing against my resilience, maybe it was because Oscar and other previous hosts had been unaware of the Wizard’s slow grip into their defenses, in an attempt to fully takeover their bodies one step at the time, but I was fully aware, conscious and quite opposed to it.

    So when I felt him still trying to get a grip over my soul... I just shook him off.

    It was abstract, it was like something pull at myself but slowly being yanked away from conceiving more unnerving emotions with his effort.

    While this might sound overly-simple and particularly little-described, I was surprised a bit myself over the easy process too as I certainly didn’t expect to brush him off this easily.

    His voice turned into a whisper, possibly because this first attempt may have been a drain on his already-limited reserves.

    I smiled at the small victory and my mind sounding clearer than before as I finally walked out of the city, my eyes glancing at the small signpost few meters away from the path I was walking through.

    I blinked, surprise lifting once more from my core.

    Oniyuri - 10km

    Oh joy, I was going to have quite the march in front of me considering that there was so much to do in that distinct section of the world.

    From this point onward, I decided to tune out my usual negativity for the sake of survival, just to give myself an advantage of not getting stalked by any Grimm wandering the lands.

    How did I manage this immense issue, considering how slightly nervous I felt over the sudden shift to Remnant?

    When I start to sing calmly something that is as good as it is positive, my mind switches to a more cheerful mood and I wasn’t certainly settling for something casual.

    So, picking up the pace and smiling tentatively, I started to hum the marching song and then...

    I was singing loudly while increasing my pace to a jogging one, completely whisking away my sense of self-preservation and my worries, just to have something to break the nerve-wracking development.

    What a strange day to be alive.




    After half an hour of exhausting my knowledge of marching songs into this little experience, I finally reached my destination.

    Soon I found myself staring at a distant settlement in the horizon and I started to analyze the predicament before me.

    If I had to be honest, Oniyuri wasn't certainly a place I was particularly acknowledged about, my limited info being that it was used as the battleground for the little skirmish of RNJR + Qrow versus Tyrian.

    Maybe I should have picked the known trail of villages ‘explored’ by the series and risked an encounter with RNJR... then maybe get shafted because Ozpin would be able to do something with that situation.

    The fear of getting caught, of being forced to follow through with their silly attempt against Salem, was unacceptable for my fervent sense of making things right by my own opinion.

    No Gods. No Ozpin and no Salem.

    I wanted things to be whole once more without any grand players ruining the immense potential that Remnant could achieve if left alone from external threats/helpers.

    I wanted to make humanity survive the incoming storm and...

    And I seriously wanted to destroy the silly mentality that those Dumbledore-lookalikes are the only ones capable of subverting the chess board to their advantage.

    No more chess for y’all.

    Play some fun checkers without using your tactics on real people.

    I had avoided all contact with the inhabitants of the small city I woke up in and I was thankful that I spared the smallest of glances to memorize their features.

    Just a reminder, I repeated within my mind as I continued to ignore the ranting of the manipulator within my skull, to remember that I was in the right, that I had a lone duty for those people.

    No one above my head or station telling me what to do.

    Just poor, little me and my idea of salvation.

    Was I being egocentric? Just a little, but who isn't in this story?

    Who is really the protagonist here? Ruby? Jaune? ZWEI?!

    Actually, speaking of protagonist-related issues, it was genuinely unnerving how the path I had taken had been lacking any sort of... monstrous obstacles.

    Maybe it was because I was walking in an open field, a place where ambushes were pretty much useless for simple-minded creatures like the Grimm or maybe...

    Maybe Salem was playing her strategies like chess too, giving a bare freedom to her ‘children’.

    It would explain how and why only a few zones were considered dangerous and why those were places with a high number of hunters. Like Huntsmen Academies.

    That would explain the Emerald Forest but... meh.

    There was too little to truly say what was the cause of the quite uneventful trip and frankly-speaking, I loved being this lucky once in a while at the beginning of this journey without jinxing myself out of boredom.

    Speaking of deserted places and desolate ruins, Oniyuri looked every bit like a real ghost town from Earth… if said ghost town was mostly modern to look at.

    No Grimm, no humans and I hardly doubt there were any bandits hanging around for some looting of the supplies left around by the citizens here.

    As I entered the place, I could feel the absurdity of my current predicament slam onto my brain once more as I was faced with such silence and lack of life.

    I could try to raid this settlement and get something from the place, being that I was quite alone and far too weak compared to a large majority of battle-hardened criminals roaming Mistral and I wouldn’t be incorrect to think of myself as ‘irrelevant’ in the current table of things.

    I was quite sure that the only reason Salem knew about Ozzie’s whereabouts was all because of her connection (and abuse) with Lionheart(‘s coward sense of self-preservation).

    Without that element, my current situation was effectively unknown to the Witch and her clique, thus denying her the means to give me any issues for the time being.

    The only bad thing was that I was effectively deprived of any means of communicating with people without having to deal with the chance getting noticed by her.

    So I was pretty much stuck in forced isolation for the sake of survival for the time being.

    What a good way to die...

    Yet my overly-positive thoughts were instantly crushed the moment I reached a large, warehouse-like building and opened its tall doors.

    The metal groaned, some of the debris were trying to stop its opening but it was already… done.



    Oh… Oh my...

    ...

    I walked inside and then close to one of the seemingly infinite crates filling the storage space of this place, blinking numbly at the words written on the visible tag: "7.62mm."

    The following two minutes were spent looking left and right at the various tags visible by the wooden boxes.

    There were Dust crystals, ammunition, some standard guns, several assault rifles and two snipers, and several crates with food, clothes and medical equipment.

    Did I just stumble into heaven?

    I mean, I couldn't see any junkfood around but... I could live with the steaks preserved in simple plastic bags and some water bottles inside some of the open boxes.

    Part of me questioned the possibility of ditching my mission to 'save the world' and just settle there until I had the resources to survive.

    I could live off of what was here, even start some small plantation of tomatoes and apples with the more than enough seeds in the warehouse.

    But then I would be too entrenched to escape a surprise assault from Salem, which would be a terrible idea whatsoever.

    While the woman was currently unaware of my whereabouts, she was still capable of launching a full scouting operation with Nevermores and land-type Grimm to search the entirety of the world.

    Considering that it was her ditching husband we were talking about, I could see her take some dangerous steps for the sake of finding where I was.

    It was best for me to leave the place as fast as possible... but I would have to also ditch most of the delightful things there.

    It was in that moment that I felt an annoying sparkle blinding me.

    It was coming from the window reach my eyes and, just as I turned to see the cause of this unholy and unneeded light I found quite the novelty waiting outside the warehouse.

    It was a truck, nothing particularly recognizable from one from back home but it had the big frame only a truck could have considering its cargo section.

    Some bits looked to have rusted over the time spent there but it seemed to be still in working order.

    Wasting no time in ogling this old beauty, I walked outside to check if it still had some fuel and-

    Yep, it was ready to go.

    The fuel tank was surprisingly full and it seemed that nothing from the long-time spent idle there had ruined the highly-flammable liquid.

    Before trying to do anything else over the matter, I decided to give a quick look around the proximity of the building as the sudden suspicion that someone could still be around and could be waiting to ambush me.

    An ugly theory born from my genuine Stalin-like paranoia.

    I sighed in relief when my brief patrol found no one around, thus confirming that the area lacked any dangerous ‘owners’ living nearby.

    The cool engine was further evidence that the vehicle had been unused for God(s) knows how much time.

    My mood improved even more as I found the trailer empty and ready to be filled with what I needed to load it with for my little trip to escape Mistral.

    Rolling up my sleeves, I went back inside the warehouse and started to push the first crate outside, huffing a little as the workout was something that I wasn’t accustomed to.

    My new plan was to get the heck away from that place with most of the crates in tow.

    It took me around four hours of tiring moving to get every single wooden box inside the cargo, taking a few breaks along the way as my body was not prepared for the little labor it had to go through.

    Lazy and introverted, what can I say other than this?

    Taking a seat by the driver’s seat, I started the vehicle by using the key already plugged in and I was delighted by sound of the engine showing life at the powering up.

    A smile finally crept out of my depression-induced scowly mask as the engine didn't fuss too much over the renewed activity.

    Actually, it started to purr eagerly at being awakened once more.

    It would seem that today was my lucky day!

    As I moved out the truck from the small alley beside the warehouse, I steered it towards the main road that led right to the southern entrance of the settlement, ready to properly start my bizarre trip across Mistral and into Vale.

    I was seriously hoping that things would continue this smoothly, that I wouldn’t find anyone in my path out of the ‘danger zone’ and right into a proper danger zone, thus instead of keeping silence, I tuned in the radio and was blasted with some… Atlesian dubstep music?!

    Still, I was certainly delighted by the lack of unnerving quiet and...

    But seriously, how should I have known that I had two intruders aboard at the time!?




    AN

    This is important as it will underline the tones of this story. While Ozpin is lurking within my mind and I woke up in Mistral...the 'when' is NOT the one everyone thinks it is. Expect some early angst, an incredible show of camping skills and life-long path for a different story.

    Still! The bets for who is hiding in the truck are on! Who will make the right guess?

    Diary of a Straight Dude is going to be continued but... this story will serve to show something else. The reason that story was created was because of my inner need to explain the crappiness of a story with quick pairings, lacking explanations about their existence.

    This one? This is going to be the real deal: crude and pretty!

    Lastly, this protagonist is ME! Finally the author is thrown in the fray to deal with the madness of true SI. Reasons behind my attitude will be given along the way and.. I will not answer any question about it. It's already planned to be given in the form of chapter so... meh.

    P.S. I admit there is somekind of inspiration from Coeur Al'aran 'Relic of the Future', but I am not copying from it. Quite the opposite if I have to be honest and... next chapter will shed some light around my mysterious tones. (I know, cliffhangers are bad and I hate leaving cliffhangers, but it will be a fun ride!)
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
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  2. Threadmarks: Live and Let Live (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Every day above ground is a good day.– Tony Montana





    Chapter 2: Live and Let Live (1)

    It's been several hours since I left Oniyuri and the muddy trail I was driving through was starting to get annoying-

    *Bump*

    I scowled as the truck found another hole in the ground, my nerves unwilling to let go of that forebonding sense of dread that was starting to be noticeably influencing my features.

    The sky had started to darken up and the lack of a proper illumination along the path was adding up with my already rusty driving skills.

    Sure, I knew how to properly drive old stuff with manual gearboxes but my capacity lied only on normal cars as I have never needed to use a truck in my life.

    Uneasiness about possible major differences between the two kinds of vehicles slowly unraveled the moment I found no particular issue with my current disposition.

    Now that I was driving straight lines and not trying to turn crazy corners I was fine, but I was starting to get annoyed the barely visible track.

    The headlights gave me a limited glimpse of the road ahead but I was worried of ending up to attract Grimm with my ever-growing distress.

    *Bump*

    I scowled again, this time barely caring for the umpteenth hole trying to bruise the tires but thankfully failing to accomplish that. My attention moved to the small radio device built-in the truck.

    It was curiosity that urged me to see what kind of programs were in Remnant and to see how the world was faring with Beacon's fall.

    So I turned it on and-

    "Mistral Grand Museum opens a new gallery for the 'Kestrel Renaissance' this Tuesday-"

    I sighed as I could barely digest art-related news of this kind, but much to my chagrin the following five channels were still about the Musem's gallery or some interviews with some artist.

    I had thought that Mistral would have been more concerned about Vale having fallen to the Grimm-

    "General Feldgrau has finally announced that the Vytal Festival will be held in Atlas just like the Vytal Commission had requested early this year. The Atlesian Council-"

    ...Wasn't Atlas supposedly going have locked down everything because of what had just happened in Vale?! What is going on?

    There is something wrong with those news.

    I tried to ignore Ozpin's voice but... there was something wrong indeed.

    No shit.

    I remember the event as I had pressed it to happen but-

    Right in that exact moment, I switched to another channel, trying to get more clues on what was going on and... I found my answer.

    "After winning yesterday's Grand Capital Tournament for the thirteenth time, Peleus Nikos has announced his wish of retiring from competitions to focus more on his family in Argus. Is this the end of the Nikos' golden age or are we going to see a continuation thanks to his seven years old daughter, Pyrrha? There had been some inclinations from the child to follow her father's footsteps in previous interviews-"

    Oh my God, we are in the past!

    That means that every single plan I had prepared for the whole Volume 4 to 6 was scrapped forever... man, it truly sucks to have efforts thrown in the trashcan.

    Oh, do tell me about it.

    But yours suck from the very beginning, when you are merely forming the idea behind them. Actually, why you sound so calm at the situation?

    While this is indeed an unique predicament, I do think that having experience with Magic and Godly beings has made my capacity to be shellshocked quite... abysmal.

    Oh my, I almost felt bad for that.

    *Bump*

    My attention returned back to the real world, panic surging as I saw it. Black fur, lanky and inhuman limbs and a snarling skull-like face.

    I had just the time to yelp as the creature jumped right by the closest door to my seat and thrusted its claw through the small window deep inside the driving cabin.

    Now you would expect me to dodge this without any itch and... you would be wrong.

    I barely managed to move away from the bone-like, sharp claws, just enough to avoid any killing blow but still getting some damage.

    I flinched and started to tremble, a noticeably gash on the side of my head forming at the contact and my left hand was pressing on the injury, trying to stop the blood from pouring too fast out of it.

    Its growl and snarling muzzle was enough to keep me from fainting as my hand started to search and pick what I had placed for this kind of predicaments.

    The short-muzzled shotgun was something I had never used in my life- scratch that, I have never used a gun ever.

    I would have said FPSs matter as experience but- It wasn't the moment. I grasped the pellet-loaded gun and cocked its hole at the Beowulf, its maws open and ready to take a bite at my body.

    *Blam*

    The dust-powered pellet pierced throught its head, dark matter forcibly removed from the exposed weakpoint as the monster died instantly at the shot.

    My back slammed on the other end of the cabin, the kick of the gun being something new as I had forgotten to put some better hold over it.

    Dropping the shotgun, I didn't wait for the Grimm to fully dematerialise as I returned to the wheel and pressed my feet as hard as I could on the gas pedal. Beowulves hunted in packs and I was going slow enough for any other monster to jump in and finish the job.

    The truck's pace doubled and I saw from the small mirrors that showed the trailer, several other creatures trying to jump and latch at the white, smooth texture but ending up to fail because of the sturdy material of the trailer and the friction of the high speed the vehicle was going.

    The rapid pace continued for a while, adrenaline being the only thing keeping me from collapsing on the wheel.

    This- This is bad. The hand on the wound was wet, red and starting to pale a little. I felt some form of tiredness slowly taking over and-

    I needed to find some refuge. A place where to stay for the night and get enough peace to apply the medicines in the trailer.

    I felt relief the moment the truck's headlights illuminated the signpost that showed a proper place to rest.

    Gekkeiju - 2KM

    Not a location known to my limited RWBY lore but good enough to see if I could get some proper hospitalisation. Sure, I hate hospitals but I needed some serious look over the wound.

    I was no expert on the matter, but the injury hardly seemed like a flesh wound and my thoughts were starting to sound scrambled the more time passed.

    At least Ozpin had decided to tune out from the situation, I don't know if for respect or more plotting on his part.




    Gekkeiju was another abandoned settlement and this development was met with mixed emotions.

    I was left to deal with my injuries alone and with my rudimental medical skills, but I didn't have to explain to any authority why I had a truck without proper documentation filled with guns and bullets.

    I didn't look around the deserted city, my attention brought by a large building I had spotted from afar as I approached the town. It looked like a factory... but there was nothing inside from what I could see from the open gates.

    Groaning a little, I started to slowly manouver the vehicle to enter inside the building.

    The moment I was sure the full length of the truck was inside, I turned it off and went to close the gates, the task becoming quite tiring because of having one arm available for the job.

    Speaking of the injury, as I started to walk toward the vehicle, my legs gave up and I fell on my knees.

    I was tired, incredibly tired and yet I needed to g-get up and get some medicines.

    Limping towards the trailer, I slowly opened its doors and I blinked.

    The pink-eyed child with black hair blinked back.

    Oh. "H-Hello?"

    Lie Ren merely stared, not a word uttered in reply to my greeting as his eyes wandered back to the hand clutching my wound, surprise building up the moment he realised I was injured.

    "I-I have to get some medicines- I am not going to hurt you but-" I paused the instant I spotted another head appearing from behind the boxes. "Oh, you have a f-friend."

    Seeing that the conversation was going nowhere, I slowly stepped inside and went to the small box with the red cross symbol on it and picked the objects I needed.

    A bottle of rubbing alcohol, few bandages, some cotton wool and a healing cream and a pair of trauma shears.

    While I never experienced this kind of cuts before, I knew the procedures of dealing with head's injuries after... that unpleasant 'accident'.

    First thing first, cutting the hair around the wound. I would have tried to find a mirror to help me in the step, I decided to not waste that kind of time.

    Slowly but steadily, I managed to remove most of the black hair around the spot, giving me the opportunity to go forward with the procedure.

    Grabbing some of the cotton, I applied some alcohol to it and gave it a short glance, gulping nervously as I started to tampon the area of the wound.

    Some pained hisses left my throat but... I couldn't skip this step as I needed to make sure the wound wasn't getting infected during the recovery.

    Finally I grabbed the healing cream and started to softly apply it on the gash, the cool sensation it was giving now sending shivers to my spine. It was quite the interesting feeling.

    Lastly, I unraveled some of the medical bandage and applied it around my head, the rest of the cotton placed right between the bandage and the skin where the wound was.

    Having completed the procedure, I let a tired sigh loudly out of my mouth and turned my attention back to the two children.

    Nora's blue eyes were fixed at the bandages around my head, childish wonder hidden in her orbs.

    Ren was still staring at me. His pink eyes trained at my face, waiting for me to do something, anything that would be remotely considered dangerous for him and his friend.

    "I suppose that you have been told to not talk to strangers..." I mused out-loud, the children still silent but I could see some minor reaction at my words. "Then I will introduce myself."

    "My name is John Bukharin and my current destination is Vale." I said calmly.

    The boy frowned at my faux name, seeing that it didn't match the standard color/element naming system.

    I bet my real one would have brought even more confusion, considering that it is quite hard to pronounce and memorise.

    Nora blinked and her lips moved silently, repeating my name before nodding to herself. "I am Nora." Then she pointed at her friend, Ren now staring at her. "And this is Renny."

    I nodded, keeping just a small smile in my face as I fought off the need to squeal of a chibi Nora. While she looked a shadow of her future self, she had that kind of adorable, squeaky voice only a monster wouldn't love to hear.

    "Nora-" The introvert child whispered, trying to chide the girl but failing as he kept glancing my way.

    "So, Nora and Ren." I hummed quietly before nodding again. "Nice to meet you both."

    The Valkyrie smiled a little while the boy merely sighed in defeat at the circumstance.

    Before I could further ask more questions, my stomach gave a loud rumble.

    A small blush spread in my cheeks at the embarrassing noise but much to my surprise, the loud rumble was followed by two smaller ones. I looked at the two children, Nora patting her belly while Ren looked away in embarrassment.

    "Well, I suppose I will start to make something for dinner." I moved to leave the trailer but paused just a moment. "Any preferences?"

    The girl shook her head in negative while Ren looked pensive for a while. "I... I would like something with vegetables."

    "Then I will make some nice salad for you, Ren, I think I saw some ingredients to make a very delicious one." I replied with a smile, the child merely nodding at my comment but letting the ghost of a smile appear in his visage.

    While Nora seemed to trust people a lot easier than her friend, Ren's inherent paranoia wasn't truly wrong. If I had taken the brunt of his traumatic experience, I would hardly let anyone sweet-talk me out to backstab me.

    As I started to prepare the cooking instrument on the cold floor of the factory, my mind returned to trace the lines of my future plans.

    Staying in Vale for too long would be a bad choice, especially with Past!Ozpin (Still I had to understand how there were two Ozpins) still ruling from his high tower.

    I hear that Atlas is a nice place nowadays.




    AN

    I am in the Past! And there are two Ozpins to face off (The fun has been doubled!)...

    Ren and Nora, two adorbs kids to spoil and take care of!

    And before asks yes, this happens prior to Summer's dead so... she might die like she might survive for some random shenanigans.

    Lastly I would like to point out two things in the story:

    1) The 'Accident' is something that has really happened when I was a little kid. Let's just say that I had to have an emergency surgery and I remember the particulars of that day because... pain;

    2) My name is really hard to pronounce and it has little reference to colors or fables so yes, faux name for now but I will see if it will be revealed off-camera or not.
     
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  3. Threadmarks: Live and Let Live (2)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

    Joined:
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    A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions--as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all..” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    Chapter 3: Live and Let Live (2)

    I am incredibly glad that I had pestered my parents to teach me how to cook simple cousine.

    The delicious spaghetti with tomato sauce ended up with a positive success, the children loving the dish and almost ending up eating their own plates.

    Obviously I know that this wasn't exactly caused from the quality of my cooking, but from the fact their last meal had been almost fourteen hours prior to the dinner.

    After cleaning the dishes, Ren and Nora decided to return inside the trailer, opting to sleep there as it was a tad bit warmer compared to the cold temperature of the large building. I was pleased when the boy accepted my offer for some pillows and covers to further keep themselves warm.

    This meant that, while there was still some distrust from the minor reluctance to accept my small help, there was still a tiny space for dialogue, although it had to be acceptable to the pink-eyed child.

    Nora gave a quiet 'thank you' before entering inside and returning to her previous spot.

    It was this brief interaction that reminded me that I was dealing with two traumatized children.

    A grimace tried to form in my face, my thoughts focusing on what I should do with them once I reached the closest, working civilization point in Mistral.

    While I was going to take care of them for the entire duration of the trip, I was inclined to not bring them with me in Vale.

    But this uncertainity wasn't casual or maliciously-crafted, as I knew that once in Vale, things would turn incredibly difficult as I tried to dodge the younger Ozpin while keeping the older one under my strict surveillance. Plus avoiding Salem and her minions.

    Man, this is so annoyingly complicated.

    I had long thought that the nuisances back home were a mess to deal but... okay, I admit that I actually expected that Remnant wouldn't be any sort of easy walk anyway.

    I was stuck in a precarious situation. Deprived of means of comunicating with other people, more capable people, planning of going through a dangerous path that was festered by Grimm and bandits-

    Oh. I just remembered that, timeline-wise, Raven has to have already taken the leadership of her tribe and... she patrolled near where I was supposed to pass through.

    Now that is a new level of 'being screwed by fate itself' in my circumstances.

    But you will surely ask now why am I having this little inner monologue when I am supposed to be resting to be ready for the following morning... and I would reply to you that I am not planning to sleep.

    Not with the burning sensation of the medications applied to my wound were giving me, forcing me stark awake for the rest of the night.

    Instead of merely procrastinating and dumbly spend the time there merely waiting around for 7 hours, I decided to give a proper look of the factory, the staff-reserved rooms where I hoped to find something in particular that would ease up my not-so-smooth journey.

    Getting a flashlight out of the crate containing this kind of stuff, I started to wanted around the complex.

    I stared cautiously at the broken doors of a malfunctioned elevator before walking up the metal stairs that led to the floor above, the place being set in two levels and I knew from past experience in job-finding that the staff rooms were set in the highest one.

    Most of the doors on the level had been left open, none of the previous occupants thinking about protecting the content of their rooms for the sake of trying to outrun the Grimm.

    I glanced briefly through the entrances of each room but my attention was quickly taken by the damaged plaque attached in one of those.

    It was the room previously owned by the director of the facility. My hopes increased as I entered inside to find the place well-preserved, just few cabinets having fallen in the mass stampede that was caused by the workers of the factory and the damage caused by some Nevermores slamming on the sides of the building.

    At least I think those were caused by several Nevermores as I find unlikely that Salem had yet to give wings to Berials... or maybe there was some type of Grimm I was unaware of that could seriously compromise the predicament even more.

    At this point, I was quite paranoid over the many things that could go wrong right now that I hardly found much of a hope to have the 'jolly' trip I had wanted for myself.

    I poked softly at the bandages, flinching at the contact was enough to spark a quick, sharp pain through my head. I should seriously stop doing that.

    My eyes, half-closed by the tiredness, darted to the immaculate computer-like device attached to the single desk of the room.

    Sitting on the creaking chair in front of it, I looked around to find the switch to turn it on and-Ah!

    The device blinked alive, the screen illuminating and showing some unknown companies' logos as it booted up to the desktop.

    My smile froze and died grimly as I found myself staring at one obstacle I hoped to not find in this world.

    Input the Password:

    I swore loudly, the room far enough to allow me some vocal reaction to this nuisance, but nonetheless I started to input several combinations.

    1234

    Wrong Password!

    4321

    Wrong Password!

    Wrong

    Wrong Password!

    I groaned in my hands as I felt my stress increasing the more those two words appeared on the monitor.

    Yet after my third attempt, something else appeared in the screen.

    Helpful question: The day we officialised our love.

    ...Seriously?

    I mean, Remnant has yet to experience massive hacking issues but to leave this kind of hints around was kind of dumb.

    Why not leave it '1234' and bother that approach?

    The small photo with a newly-wed couple was still intact in the desk and I gave a quick glance at the date written over it.

    "March 18th 1976."

    180376

    Once I pressed the 'Enter' key the desktop loaded before my eyes and... I smiled widely as I found just what I needed there.

    CCT Emergency Connection

    I double-clicked the tower-like Icon and a small window opened... waiting for further commands. Blinking at this, I paused a moment to consider what I was supposed to do there.

    Was I supposed to digit a simple query? Or maybe should I write a specific command?

    My musing came to a close the moment words appeared in the window.

    Inquisitive-12: Admin G-41, who is currently using the post?

    Oh, was someone monitoring the connections? That would make some sense just to verify the situations of the various settlements... especially with Mistral being so decentralised and disinterested in dealing with the bandits.

    Admin G-41: John Bukharin, sir. I request a small evacuation setup for me and two children by the proximities of Gekkeiju.

    Inquisitive-12: Is someone there injured?

    Admin G-41: Just a flesh wound from a Beowolf, sir. But everyone else is fine and well.

    A brief pause followed and I waited for further instructions. If I managed to get a safe passage through this part of Mistral, it would make life much more easier for me.

    Inquisitive-12: Due to several sights of a flock of Nevermores in the area, sending a Bullhead directly to the settlement is unlikely.

    No. This is- This is unfair!

    I slammed my fist on the desk, avoiding to damage the keyboard in the process of stress-relieving.

    Inquisitive-12: But it is possible that a Bullhead could be sent to The Claw's Bay.

    Claw's Bay? I pulled out from my small backpack the folded map and stared at the Mistrali section of the map and- oh, it is this point.

    I think it is an hour or two from Gekkeiju if my basic geographic estimations are correct.

    Admin G-41: We should be able to reach it in a few hours.

    Inquisitive-12: Good. A Bullhead has been ordered to reach the zone, should arrive in four hours from now.

    That left me two hours to sit and wait for the transport to arrive.

    Admin G-41: Understood, Sir.

    Inquisitive-12: 452-682, use this number to call with your Scroll if there are issue in the way. I hope you will reach Paragon's Reach safely, Mr. Bukharin.

    The user logged out and so did I.

    Turning off the computer, I started to walk back to the truck and, as soon as I reached the stairs, I froze in a panicked expression.

    From the small opening in the gates I could see shadows walking around the entrance and, walking slowly towards the vehicle, my sight over the unknown figure got clear and... fuck.

    Those were bandits and... OH NO!

    Pacing quickly but silently across the space between the stairs and the vehicle, I glimpsed inside the trailer and saw both children still sleeping peacefully. Without thinking too much about it, I moved inside the trailer and tugged at Ren's sleeve.

    The boy groggily opened his eyes, his initial look being an irritated one but it quickly collapsed in a wide-eyed one as I had my finger on my lips, asking silently from his silence.

    "We got a bandit issue." His eyes widened even more at my whispered explanation. "I want you to be quiet and keep Nora silent too. I am going to get us out of here, do you understand?"

    He gave a quick nod.

    "Good."

    Leaving the trailer, I crouch-walked towards the driver's cabin and slipped inside the damaged door and stared at the key already plugged in.

    Once I turned it, the sound will surely alert the bandits and draw their attention on the inside of the factory. So the moment I did so and felt the engine roaring to life, I was already pressing my feet on the gas pedal and moving towards the gates.

    Wide-eyed criminals stared in shock as the massive form of a truck came through the gates and slammed into them. I didn't see blood but even I knew that a truck in the face was something that killed people. And thus I finally drawed first blood.

    Without thinking much about it, my mind forced to focus on the illuminated path, I proceeded through the bandits-filled road and managed to get some more roadkills before I got some replies to my actions.

    Several guns of different calibers started to concentrate their firepower onto the driver's cabin, forcing me to duck and pray to not slam anywhere as I moved the vehicle away from the hostile area.

    Surprisingly enough, none of the bandits had any vehicles that could help in somekind of pursuit of Truck-kun and I was glad that after few moments of doom I was able to leave Gekkeiju mostly unharmed.

    Relief slowly started to soothe the pressure I was exercising on the gas pedal and I slowly felt my eyes half-close the moment adrenaline started to leave my body-

    Wait, how did the bandits get there without vehicles?

    Dread surged through my veins as I found the answer in the most horrifying of sights.

    It was a small raven, eyes blood red, approaching the truck from the opposite direction. Her form changed into my worst nightmare, under the pale light of the shattered moon.

    MOVE!

    Ozpin's voice brought me out of that panic-induced daze, my body tilting to pick the shotgun I had previously used but-GAHHHHHHHHHH!

    The glass making up the front window shattered instantly as she thrusted forward and-

    The arm that was going for the gun twitched in a pause as my other one was almost cleaved off by Raven Branwen's katana. The blade pierced deep but it was few inches away from severing the bone.

    Still the agony was there to keep me awake as I reached rabidly for the shotgun, aiming it as rapidly as my adrenaline-induced reactivity could afford.

    I could see her eyes widening at my reaction through her Grimm-like mask.

    "B-BEGONE THOT!"

    The point-blank blast was effective in sending her flying out of the driver's cabin... but she had left the blade sticking deep in my arm- I-It didn't matter!

    Slamming once more the gas pedal as much as I could, the truck reached an high pace while I tried to manouver the vehicle with a single arm and the atrocious pain surging from my injured arm.

    Twice in two days. This wasn't a lucky week for me, that's for sure.

    My little adrenaline rush deflated as soon as I noticed that the speed was starting to decrease. A terrible realisation was given solid proof when I stared at the fuel's current level and it was... empty.

    NononononononononononoNO!

    Then the truck came to an halt, a very unpleasant one as I felt my hopes of at least surviving this place crushing the quickest ever.

    My head lowered on the wheel, defeat painted on my face as I stared blankly at the floor. The blood dripping from my wounds, the one in the head opening the moment Raven slammed on my chest to cushion her entrance, were forming a red lake.

    My eyes closed when I felt rustling coming from the foliage by the sides of the mud path. Either Grimm or Raven, I was screwed anyway.

    So this is the end of the line? And I had imagined some long adventure. Life do sucks double time in Remnant.

    But as my mind continued to lose itself in my dark thinking, I failed to notice that the ones currently approaching the silent truck were neither of those.

    Just a voice, muffled by my ears as pain drowned me further away from reality, managed to make way to my mind. First with a gasp and then with a loud exclamation.

    "He is still alive! WE NEED A MEDIC HERE!"




    AN

    Oh look... another flesh wound.
    On a serious note, the reason why 'I' am this unlucky is... because I am like that in real life. Generally, many bad things happen when I hope those don't and... yep, I don't need a semblance to be this unlucky.
    Plans fail when faced with reality, Murphy has stated it and now the live experiment that I am proved him right.
     
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  4. OperatorOnyx

    OperatorOnyx Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Very good so far, Keep It up!
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Live and Let Live (3)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    My centre is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking.” – Marshal Ferdinand Foch, WW1.

    Chapter 4: Live and Let Live (3)

    Oh sweet numbness, how much I had (NOT) missed you.

    But I guess that is the best outcome from what had happened before I lost consciousness, especially since getting my arm almost chopped off would have easily ended up with me die by bloodloss.

    That wouldn't have been funny, especially since I kind of want to have a long life and die by old age. Is it wrong for me to be worried of losing things up because of some ill-fortunate encounter.

    I mean, I bet my current Karma has to have reached some cosmic balance the moment I denied Raven's stabby attitude with my pellet policy. Now that was a really funny thought that will make me gloat over that predicament.

    Yet I don't think that it has been a worthwhile exchange, knowing that the woman was resilient and had Aura to protect herself from the blast and the resulting flight throught the forest.

    Speaking of Big Bird, I was quite sure that she actually didn't get hold over my numbed body after I passed out.

    How do I know that? Well, when my touch perceived the smooth texture of good bed covers and when my thinking proves that I was far from dead, I think I would be right by saying that I wasn't being held hostage by the Branwen tribe.

    My eyelids opened slowly, it felt like I was trying to open some massive doors and... I stared at the confusing ceiling. I was inside a tent, a very clean one if the lack of stains were to be taken into account.

    The first thing I turned my attention to was my left arm. The limb was still attached to my body but it was also heavily bandaged and still numb from Gods know how many painkillers.

    But I counted myself lucky as I knew it could have ended far worse and-

    Footsteps approached and soon a short figure entered inside the tent.

    Blue eyes widening in surprise, a twitching mouth and pancakes falling on the ground, I barely had enough time to brace myself as the small missile known as ‘Nora Valkyrie’ jumped onto my chest.

    Air forcibly leaving my poor lungs, the ribs having yet to recover from the previous impact with Raven’s legs, I managed just a shaky smile as she looked up in surprise and mortification, remembering that I was injured.

    She was about to jump off when my sluggish arm reached for her head and I patted it. The effect was immediate as the girl froze at the contact, eyes wide open in shock at the situation before starting to slowly melt as I caressed her hair.

    B-But doesn’t it hurt?” Her question was legitimate as I was unaware of the full extent of my inner injuries.

    Still, I couldn’t help but manage a small smile. “It doesn’t.”

    You are flinching.” She stated with utter certainity and I truly was. There was a small pain coming from the spot the girl had chosen but I was capable of enduring it all for a while.

    I am, yes.” She hummed quietly, her mind trying to find a comeback to my cool attitude but she ended up with a simple shrug.

    So what happened while I was sleeping?” Her smile returned full-force as she straddled on the covers.

    Nice people took us in their camp and gave us food and water. They are all friendly and- they have cute ears.”

    … “You mean like animal ears?” At her nodding at my query, I started to think about this development. This camp was owned by a Faunus comunity but… what kind of comunity are we talking about?

    World of Remnant never mentioned Faunus-only settlements outside of Menagerie and I was quite sure that this wasn’t even a permanent one. The tents were the same kind people used for temporary camps and I was slowly getting convinced that this was the case.

    And they are here because they were going back home after a…” Nora scrunched her face as she couldn’t voice out the last word.

    Do you need-” “N-No, I got this! It was something about… a streak?” I admit I had an amused smile as she tried and failed to get the right word out.

    Do you mean ‘strike’?” She blinked and nodded, making me sigh and pause once more.

    It was at this moment that Bukharin knew, he was half-screwed.

    As if on cue, another sets of footsteps reached the entrance of the tent and… Ren stopped to stare at me and Nora.

    Good morning?” He whispered, his voice almost lost before reaching my ears.

    I smiled. “Good morning.”

    As soon as I returned the greeting I saw a shadow approaching. “Ren, is everything al-right.” The young woman proceeded to repeat the same pause the pink-eyed child took, amber eyes fixed on my form.

    Kali Belladonna was holding a little sleeping girl, one that sported a pair of cat ears like hers. Blake, as a kid, was adorable.

    Good morning?” This time I tried to start the approach, feeling like there was much more than I was completely unaware of.




    I was brought by a Dog Faunus in the Chieftain’s tent, much larger than the one I had woken up into and with piles of books lying around.

    Ghira Belladonna was a very intimidating individual to sit in front of.

    Mind you, it wasn’t the fact he was a Panther Faunus with claws and enchanted senses that scared me the most.

    It was his height and size.

    I would consider myself to be an average young man, tall 5’8, with a mediocre physicial state (No muscles, but not fat either). Being brought face to face with someone this massive, no matter the circumstances, was kind of distressful for someone that has survived two near-death experiences.

    But my worries vanished the moment he started to spoke.

    It’s good to see you recovering, Mr. Bukharin.” I felt a tense note as he said my ‘name’ and I kind of felt sweating for a moment. I was stuck in a wheelchair made of wood because of how heavy the casting around my wounded arm was, ‘crippling’ any chances of moving as quick as I wanted to.

    Thank you and I want to express my gratitude for having helped me and the kids-” “Nonsense. It was what any good individual would have done.”

    He nodded in my direction to emphasize that he mean it. Now that I looked at him, skipping the whole ‘younger’ skit, Ghira looked less stressed than how he was showed in the series.

    Could it be because there was no Sienna and Adam stirring extremism within the White Fang?

    It was a strong possibility, especially since it would make things a little less difficult. I didn’t have to worry about getting attacked by White Fang grunts… yet.

    Mr. Bukharin, I hope you understand that I need to ask you a couple of questions.” Concern present in his tone, I merely sighed in defeat.

    While I was known with the name ‘John Bukharin’ to those who asked, I was certainly not registered anywhere as such. But the very thing that screwed my cover was possibly the content of my wallets, having placed there my ID Card with my real name. “Okay.”

    He nodded, picking a pair of reading glasses as he controlled right the card I had just mentioned.

    Right here it gives several unknown names, some might be places of birth and your hometown but I can see here that your name is...” He paused, staring up at me with a serious look.

    I blinked. “Salvatore.” I decided to keep quiet over my last name, feeling that it would be way too unnecessary, and thankfully Ghira understood, passing on the following question.

    What is this ‘Repubblica Italiana’?” I was surprised he actually got the pronunciation right, wondering if this was something to do with certain part of Remnant having some resemblances of Italy or Italian.

    It is the nation from which I hail from, sir.” He glanced once more, this time to double-check if I was lying or something similar.

    His eyes returned back on the paper again, this time confusion hinted in his features.

    What about ‘Comune di Palermo’?” Another query…

    It’s the city where I lived, sir.” ...and another answer.

    He finally moved to the other side of the card and smirked. “Interesting signature.”

    I scowled at the burning weakness on the paper. “I have issue with writing by hand, sir.

    Finally the interrogation came to a close the moment I saw Kali entering the tent, little Blake walking close behind while hiding behind her legs. With a quick glance, I knew that she was staring at me with childish curiosity.

    I suppose we can stop here.” Ghira said ultimately, smiling as his wife approached him across the small table. “You don’t seem a dangerous fellow, ‘Mr. Bukharin’.”

    I think that would be hardly possible in my conditions, Mr. Belladonna.” He was giving a peck on his wife’s lips when his eyes shot wide open, his attention brought back to me.

    I am an utter moron. Like, why did I even bother surviving in dangerous situations if I was so adept in complicating my life with my blabbering mouth.

    I don’t recall having presented myself-” “But I did, hun.” Kali interrupted her lover with another kiss on his lips.

    ...Oh right! Kali did introduce herself after I greeted her!

    Okay about last few comments about myself? I am still an utter moron, but for different reasons.

    The taller man seemed to relax at the explanation, embracing his wife and I was left pretty much forgotten.

    Wanting to not end up envisioning this scene, I turned my sight away and my eyes fell right on the other individual that wanted out of that particular situation.

    Little Blake noticed my stare and she turned to stare back, approaching me slowly.

    Hello.”

    She didn’t reply and I was getting some Dejavu from her silence.

    My name is John Bukharin, may I have your name?” I asked with a curt smile

    She returned it with a small one. “No.”

    I fake-pouted at that. “No?” Then I tilted my head childishly. “Then how will I ever be able to address you?”

    She hummed, her cat ears twitching at the entertaining spectacle I was giving her.

    I will tell you… if you join the White Fang!”



    I have seen so many political ads about joining different parties and movements, but never I had been taken by just a single statement like in that moment.

    I proceeded to stretch my free hands toward her. “Deal.”

    Blake blinked in surprise but her smile widened. “Really?”

    I nodded at her and turned to the couple. “Mr. Belladonna. I want to join the White Fang.”

    The two lovers stopped whatever they were doing to stare in shock at me as if I had grown a second head.

    I mean, why it would be weird for a human to join an organisation meant to bring equal rights between Faunus and Mankind?



    I admit that this new development had been spurned out of tiredness of being turned into a prey by everything between me and Vale, but I am quite flattered to have become the first and only human to ever join the White Fang.

    When this was announced to the camp, everyone dropped their work to look at me as if I was a crazy man, but after some hours had passed and the shock had settled, I was now officially set to go to Menagerie.

    So while I was waiting for lunch to be prepared and served, I was calmly watching over some bonfire with Ghira.

    The man had given me permission to address him by his first name, fully introducing myself. Blake had done the same but she had also started to ask more about the reasons why I had almost died back then.

    I decided to give her an abridged, gore-less version of the tale, managing to avoid any questions from her that could bring up more of the unpleasant experience I had suffered quite recently.

    But just as Kali took Blake, Nora and Ren to play away from us, I felt the need to ask something I had long wanted to know.

    If I may ask, Ghira, what happened to the sword that almost killed me?”

    The somber question took the man by surprise, his eyes widening once more before settling with a grimace. “We decided to keep it, why do you ask?”

    I was thinking about… taking a ‘minor’ revenge over my assailant.”

    I thought you didn’t know who she was.” I had indeed left out the fact I knew the identity of my attacker while narrating my ‘K-Rated Story’ but… I had the perfect reason for it.

    Raven Branwen is kind of a dangerous individual to not know about.” He flinched at the name but nodded in agreement. I was sure that Raven had to have already left some impression over Mistral with her ruthlessness and thus have left some infamous reputation to linger around the world.

    The woman is quite the horrible one… but may I inquire what you want to do about her? What kind of revenge you have planned?”

    You may.” I replied immediately, giddiness as my plan repeated multiple time in my head and the face Raven was going to have once she learned about what was going to happen. “Let’s just say that I wish to mail this sword to someone.”

    Ghira frowned. “Mail the sword? That sounds… tame.”

    It might sound like that without a context, but I do have the proper receiver for this ‘gift’.”

    And where do you planned to send it?”

    I paused, staring at the limpid, blue sky as I smiled madly. “Have you ever heard of Patch?”



    AN
    For those who have yet to understand yes, I am a vindicative son of a gun when I am put through hell and boy, I am out for Raven's blood now. Next chapter I will put the full content of the letter associated to the package, to reassure them that Big Bird is still alive and that she ‘lost’ her blade while stabbing me.


    Also White Fang: Yay, I am the only human in a supposedly Faunus-Only group!

    Bet no one saw this one coming. XD



     
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  6. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    If it is going with the European order for the password, why was the full date written in the American standard?
     
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  7. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Uhm... Remnant standard?
     
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  8. Gargant

    Gargant Getting out there.

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    Remnant standard you say...
     
  9. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    Which one is Remnant standard? You went with both, one for the date written on the wedding photo, and the other for the password.
     
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  10. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    ... *Nods his head* Yes.
     
  11. Threadmarks: Live and Let Live (4)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul. ” – Dave Pelzer, A Child called ‘It’.

    Chapter 5: Live and Let Live (4)

    After finishing lunch, the final preparation before moving back to Craw’s Bay commenced and soon we marched towards the city-port, reaching it two hours later.

    I think some were surprised when behind the column of Faunus walking towards the port, there was a truck moving slowly.

    Yay, Truck-kun was safe and sound with its content and… the shotgun. My little friend, the one thing that actually wasn’t being used to compensate for something… and the reason behind the diplomatic envoy being forced to camp outside the city was given the moment I stared at the glances the locals gave to the Faunus.

    It wasn’t hatred that caused this behavior, but I could see distrust and lack of willingness to approach and treat the group as equals. You know, walk normally by the sides of the road without giving too much weight about their appearances.

    Maybe I was too much pampered to the idea that those kind of differences shouldn’t matter by the end of the day, because both groups shared red blood and equal thinking capacities. And souls.

    I had expected that the means to reach Menagerie would have been a large naval ship but… it was an airship. Like a smaller, wooden version of the Hindenburg.

    The mere reminder of the blimp that caught fire and crashed down was a good reminder of why they hadn’t used it for the rest of the trip. It’s difficult to survive from high altitudes even with Aura and sabotages were excluded from the life of being part of the White Fang.

    Ghira had been quite blunt and graphic in narrating some morbid episodes of losses happening during some of the rallies and strikes, deaths caused by ‘mistakes’ committed by the very individuals in charge of defending the peaceful protesting group.

    I don’t think I need to return back to my previous monologues about this world and how it is worse than ours but… yeah, it sucks twice as usual.

    I think the reason why the man had told me this kind of tales was mostly to deter me from officially joining the organisation but… this kind of stuff just makes me even more eager to join.

    Also after suffering two deadly experiences during my attempts to reach Vale, I think I wouldn’t be totally wrong in saying that my luck disagrees with my previous plans.

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it was the Gods’ intervention as I knew that would be far too much farfetched to be true, especially with the world still existing and having not been purged.

    Boarding the airship, I was given a large room that I was going to share with Nora and Ren which sadly had only a queen-sized bed inside, but my solution to this problem was quick and simple.

    Since I had to get stuck in the wheelchair until the cast was removed, and that meant for at least a full week it was going to be the case, I might as well sleep on it during night time and leave the bed to the children.

    I think the girl, having started to grow attached to me, might have been doubtful of my decision, hesitant even, but I was thankfully helped around by Ren.

    The boy might have eased around me, but he hardly perceived me as someone worth of being considered some kind of family.

    Nora was an orphan from the very beginning and she would easily trust someone that had shown to her nothing more than selfless kindness. Plus I think my rudimental cooking skill seemed to have hit a soft spot in her heart as she had asked few moments before lunch if I could be the one cooking for her.

    I gained a compromise by promising her that I would be the one cooking once we reached our newest home.

    Ren saw his parents died, he could remember his time with his family before the Grimm sieged Kuroyuri and he certainly wouldn’t be as quick to trust someone with some simple, friendly acts.

    Obviously I wasn’t surprised by the minor distrust but this impasse left me in quite the pickle to deal with.

    When I had said that Nora had opened up to me, it was more like she had started to calmly sit near me, walk beside me and sometimes ask for some fairy tales when she wanted to go for a nap (While it was unusual for a child her age, I found out that she had been having recurring nightmares during the night and so she needed to rest once in a while).

    I was… family? Maybe I was going a little far off the mark, but she trusted me just like a child would trust a close relative.

    This situation, coupled with Kali’s not-so-subtle hints to adopt both children, left me to plan how to get the boy to warm up to the idea of being officially taken care by me as a guardian.

    And it wasn’t because I wanted to keep some canon going, knowing far too well that my mere presence in Remnant was already causing some changes in the timeline.

    The boy was traumatised and he needed to have Nora around. The girl had taken the least from the Kuroyuri’s destruction and she seemed to be the only now as of now Ren could trust completely.

    But while I was thinking about this situation and the possible solutions, I decided to address an issue that I could now fix before it would spark some unpleasant situations.

    I am glad to hear that you received aid in the end, Mr. Bukharin. Still, I wish to apologise for having asked such a drastic solution-

    The man on the other side of the call sounded nervous, possibly because I had been able to contact him hours after the planned time for the extraction. Maybe he had thought that he had just heard my last word and… yet I am alive.

    There is no need for apologies, sir. I know that it had to have been quite difficult to pick the closest place that the Bullheads could reach.”

    I got hold of one of the Emergency Scrolls in the Airship by asking the Captain of the vessel, explaining the extent of my predicament and all.

    The call was quick, some nervousness from the other side, but giving more details over the reasons that led to our survival seemed to placate the man enough to not warrant more questions.

    I decided to omit the fact that the kind group of people that had saved me was Faunus, just as a precaution to avoid unneeded panic and distrust over the legitimacy of the call.

    The day ended with the dinner prepared by the ship’s cooks, some seafood with veggies and other green stuff I actually didn't look too much unfamiliar…

    Or at least that was what I thought until I saw some purple dots on some of this stuff.




    Returning back to my cabin I went quickly to the single bathroom to freshen up, clean my teeth, before leaving the place for the children to use for their own needs.

    By the time the two had finished with their routine and had gone inside the covers of the bed, I had moved the wheelchair close enough to be ready to intervene in case one of them, or both, needed my help during their slumber.

    Nightmares were surely going to happen, their mind still unprepared with the horror they had faced just some days ago... and even more recently with the bandits' attack.

    I slouched my head on my hand, the elbow of my healthy arm standing on the armchair of the wheelchair as I tried to get some rest from this uncomfortable position.

    It wasn’t the first time I would try to achieve some relaxation like this… but it was certainly the first time I slept in this particular position during nighttime.

    A few hours passed and midnight struck uneventfully, my mind keeping me busy with thoughts as the darkness and the general stress rendered any chance of catching some sleep slim if not impossible.

    I used this time alone and in silence to call out Ozpin, to try and understand why he had been this quiet until now. Sure, I wasn’t going to listen to him over any 'mission' or important tasks, but I was feeling quite nervous as of why he was this silent now.

    The headmaster refused to answer any of the probes, limiting himself with just a sigh once in a while.

    At least I knew he was here, but I was ignoring why he would be this limited in his talking.

    Did he finally see the bright light of being in the wrong?

    My musing ended right as my ears caught the distinct noise of someone shuffling in the bed nearby, praising my light sleeping habits for having noticed this situation as… Ren continued to tremble in his sleep, whispering names and broken sentences.

    I felt tensing up at the scene, part of me contemplating if he was having a seizure or not, if it was just a nightmare or something far worse.

    Still, I didn’t pause a moment as I moved the wheelchair to the other side of the bed and started to tug at the boy’s sleeve, trying to wake him up.

    His eyes snapped open suddenly, pink orbs meet brown ones and his scared/panicky expression fixed on my face as it slowly melted away in one of guarded relief as soon as he remembered where he was.

    Away from Grimm and any sort of dangers.

    You were having a nightmare,” I stated calmly, Ren nodding slowly as he stood up from the bed. Looking at the sheets in silence, trying to calm himself even more but… I decided to meddle now just a little.

    You know that keeping everything bottled up isn’t healthy.”

    My words managed to pierce through the melanchonic bubble forming around the boy, his eyes glancing my direction.

    Look Ren, I know that I should be asking this from you as you would prefer to keep it all away from people, especially someone that is still a stranger to you," I tried to sound as cautious as possible. "But you need to open up to someone, let this unpleasant weight leave and... maybe ask for some advice about your own queries.”

    Why?”

    His voice sounded so tired, like someone that had been repeated over and over something preachy without a proper explanation.

    His reaction was way more tame than any kids his age, more than enough to increase my already-growing worries.

    Because you may be surprised to learn what others keep in their heart.” I stated quietly, sighing as I started to think about back home. I did leave the real world in a rather disappointing state… I wonder what mom is thinking now that I'm not here.

    She probably thinks I somehow decided to run away at this point and...

    She was surely worried for my disappearance but there wasn’t much I could do about it with how I was right now.

    Do you… want to hear about my childhood?” The question, albeit dumb and devoid of major thinking, was whispered and the boy looked confused at the words, but this nonethelss caught his attention. “Would you believe if I said that I was ‘worse’ than Nora in terms of... being quirky?”

    He blinked, then frowned at my face and tilted his head a little. “Really?”

    I cracked a smile. It was somehow working.

    “I sure was," I continued with a calm voice. "Why, there was one time where I tried to ‘clean’ some flowers and…let’s just say I discovered that bleach isn’t a good product to clean plants.” His lips twitched and I continued without a pause. “There was also that time when I tried to-”

    An hour or two passed and I managed to get Ren smiling and giggling a little as I continued to narrate my disadventures as a young child. Which were, by far, the most interesting bits of my early life.

    I was a pest in my childhood, the complete opposite of what one would expect from my current introvert attitude, and I am sure that I was the general cause that got my father to start having grey hair at 37.

    Yes, I was that bad.




    The following day, Patch.

    Summer Rose was smiling as she finished preparing another batch of delicious chocolate cookies, pulling them out from the steamy oven.

    Yang giggled at the sight of the delicious treat being placed on the single table of the Kitchen while her younger sibling drooled at the scene, her silver eyes glowing in hunger as her tummy demanded nourishment.

    And that is the last one.”

    The little blonde let another giggle out as pulled lil’ Ruby in a baby hold and walked towards the plates filled with snacks, making the mother’s smile widen at the adorable scene.

    It had been few days since she had been conceded another stay at home from her work as Huntress and she had been enjoying it with Taiyang, Qrow and her daughters by doing simple things, like cooking and telling the children some brave tales about her job.

    The day had started quite simple, her eyes opening at the sight of her dunderhead of a husband tiredly trying to catch some rest after some tiring day at Signal.

    Summer had long thought about switching to a desk job, as a teacher, because of her inclination as a mother to properly educate little kids. That desire was easily forgotten the moment she returned to think about her missions, about the lives she was saving, of the contribution she was giving to the world.

    It might sound selfish but… she liked helping people for the sake of it.

    As the older Xiao Long woke up and got his morning peck, he was off to the bathroom and then to work, leaving the woman to deal with their beloved daughters.

    It has been just like every single morning since she took the stay and, despite it was a repetitive routine, she found it refreshing. She was resting and nothing interesting was meant to happen while relaxing away from job.

    At least that was what she had long thought before Qrow appeared out of the entrance’s lounge.

    S-Summer, we have an issue.”

    The Rose raised a brow at the panic in her former teammates’ tone but decided to merely nod at him as he prepared to explain whatever had happened to have him this nervous.

    Her silver eyes glanced briefly at the long package in his arm and the small letter he was holding on his free hand.

    Do you remember how Tai got… married with Rae?”

    The mere reminder of that interesting situation sparked some initial concern on her visage, knowing that if it was something about that, it had to be quite serious.

    I do.”

    He gulped nervously, handing over the letter to her.

    To the Xiao Long Household (Taiyang Xiao Long, Summer Rose and Qrow Branwen),
    I want to start this merry message with an apology if this reaches you in time of trouble or maybe in a moment where you are busy but… I needed to send this letter together with the package.
    Inside the box, there is Raven Branwen’s sword that she had kindly decided to leave in my dying body before being promptly sent to hug several trees via shotgun pellets.
    Before causing any ruckus no, she is not dead (or at least I think so) and I am sending you this ‘gift’ as a mean to try to bargain something out of Big Bird (Yeah, I am calling her that because she isn’t worthy of being called Mama Bird) to try and visit once in a while.
    P.S. Once again, I wish to apologize if I had caused any unnecessary worry and I bid you a good day.

    John Bukharin.


    Summer re-read the short message again, then she blinked in a perplexed frown.

    He ‘took’ her sword. And he sent it to us.”

    Her mind’s gears rolled furiously as she connected the dots of Qrow’s concern with the content of the letter.

    He doesn’t know about… the tribe’s rules,” She asked while turning to the male Branwen, the black-haired man giving her a flat ‘Nope’ as her frown deepened a little at the situation.

    Does Tai know about this?” Her question was met with a sigh.

    He was the one receiving the package first, he didn’t even bother to check if there was the real deal inside the box and went to search for this ‘Bukharin’.”

    She hummed quietly while folding the paper in her hands. “And do you know why he is doing that?”

    Tai was rather emotional when one of his team was hurt, but he was also very aware of the aggressive nature of his former lover. So it was curious to understand what kind of reactions drove him to sought this curious individual.

    'John Bukharin', what an odd name.

    I think he is doing it for the poor bastard,” Qrow commented lightly, the children far enough from their proximity to not hear him swear a little. “I mean, after having known her for so long I do understand his logic.”

    Then I guess I shall join him soon… after I tell Ozpin that I need to extend my current stay.”

    He will accept, Sum, especially with the longer hours you pulled last time,” The Branwen agreed and soon the two started to talk about other topics.

    Like why was Qrow not in Signal doing his job as a teacher, to which the man decided to reply with a single but interestingly hasty retreat via his bird form.




    AN
    Next chapter there will be Menagerie and… Yeah, Raven will make another cameo quite soon. It will be super-duper crazy!
    Also yes, I was a pest as a child but… who wasn’t?!
     
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  12. AllyDoodle

    AllyDoodle Lewd Cthulhu

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    The SI yeeting Raven was fucking hilarious. And I approve of him being a vindictive motherfucker.
     
  13. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

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    If I am remembering the definition right, he didn't yeet her. No throwing was done :p

    Edit:
    -_-
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
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  14. AllyDoodle

    AllyDoodle Lewd Cthulhu

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    The shotgun did the job for him. :D
     
  15. Masterjaxx

    Masterjaxx Just hanging around

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    I have a hunch, a horrible horrible hunch, that you are turning Raven into a Shampoo expy who must kill or marry anyone who defeats her in combat.

    Yandere stalker get?
     
  16. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Kinda, somehow and perhaps but indeed... Yeah, I'm just blurting/writing the first thing that comes from my mind. Like, it's gonna be fun, that's what I can say.
     
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  17. Threadmarks: Settling In (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway

    Chapter 6: Settling in (1)

    Kuo Kuana was the very representation of what one would imagine by thinking of a penal colony. An incredibly large settlement with so many people and buildings, while a good 75% of the rest of the island was conceded to the Grimm.

    As we reached the capital of Menagerie, I was quickly briefed by Ghira with details regarding the city.

    A homely settlement with so many people cramped all together. It wasn’t that much of a ill thought to compare the real meaning of the sub-nation to the current predicament, especially with how crazy some laws here were.

    The judicial system was a joke compared to modern nations, some issues legally settled by brawls in the local arena and the government was highly-centered in the hands of the Chieftain.

    Speaking of leaders, I almost forgot to remind everyone that… it wasn’t Ghira this time around. The man was still leading the White Fang, but the reason behind his sudden ascension to ruler of the island came in the form of blatant nepotism.

    Zardula Lavana, Kali’s father, was the benevolent leader of the Menagerie and one of the co-founders of the White Fang. Slightly taller than his daughter, the elder was still a bit shorter than Ghira. His face was a little wrinkled, signs of tiredness from having done so much in a lifetime permanently plastered on it.

    When we all reached the large mansion owned by the Belladonna-Lavana family, I was kind of surprised to see Blake skipping in a moment of childish glee towards her grandfather.

    She jumped as soon she was close enough to him and the old man picked her with a careful hold. “Grandpa!”

    He chuckled and raised the child up for a moment before bring her close to his chest. “Little Blake.” She giggled and I cracked a smile at the scene.


    It was interesting to see that the girl had been this much cheerful in her childhood… but I was also reminded that the man wasn’t mentioned in the Canon and he looks very old now. Man, my mind can be such a bummer once in a while…

    As Zardula finished greeting Ghira and Kali, his stare turned towards me… and the kids.

    Actually, I think I need to make a small step back in the narration as… my current situation was complicated in that moment. I was still making use of the wheelchair as my Aura-less ass was quite slow to heal up and my body was still strained from the previous predicaments, while the children were… doing something odd.

    I had expected Nora to actually pick a free seat on my legs to keep the closest possible- but to see Ren not only join but also lead to some misadventures was quite the shocker.

    You see, when you are given a wheelchair, your hands are supposed to move the wheels (at least this model required this kind of action). When the two incredibly curious kids took hold over the wheels, I was still ‘sluggish’ with my reaction time and-

    B-BOTH OF YOU STOP!!” Leaving the airship had been the scariest thing as I had to move the chair through the various obstacles in the attempt of limiting the collateral damage. A true nightmare…

    Anyway, as the elder took us to his office, I bowed my head respectfully at him once he had reached for his desk. “Chieftain Lavana.” I waited for a reply and… nothing came back. Blinking at the lack of a response, I raised my stare up back to the man and I found him narrowing his eyes at… Nora?

    The orange-haired child was staring back with a challenging stare. I blinked again, this time trying to hide the sudden pain erupting from my knee as Nora’s nails were pressing onto my skin.

    While I would comment how funny a situation I was looking at, a child and an old man engaging in a staring challenge, I think everyone could forgive me if I found the big picture bleak as this continued. We were the only three humans in Menagerie and… wasn’t the Faunus Rights War supposed to have ended few decades ago?

    WW2 wasn’t something I was trying to achieve in this war- oh right, context. If a human dies in Menagerie, no matter what kind of nationality (or lacking one in my case), and the other Kingdoms caught news of that… then there would have been some War for ‘Honor’ or ‘Duty’.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if Atlas used the Casus Belli to literally enforce another, more humiliating peace.

    So I went for the peaceful approach and placed my hand on Nora’s head. The girl reacted to the sudden interaction with a blink, then her eyelids closed a little as I proceeded to caress carefully her hair.

    Finally Zardula took notice of me (and just me), his stare softening a little. “Your child looks fiery.” My smile widened a little at the words of the elder and I nodded.

    She is also very silly once in a while.”

    Cue the Valkyrie glancing back with a small, mock-pout, continuing to accept my ministrations.

    The Chieftain nodded, sparing just a passing glance at Ren as the boy avoided to have eye-contact with him, either because he didn’t trust the Faunus or because he was just conscious of what I was trying to do.

    He was a smart cookie, I wouldn’t pass up that possibility.

    I suppose they would feel quite intimidated by the circumstances.” I had to force myself to not flinch at what he was referring to, forming up some response that would dissuade the man from that kind of theory.

    They don’t know about that aspect of life, Chieftain,” I started, my attention taken by Ren as his inquisitive pink eyes looked at me. If the show was 100% to believe from, then Ren and Nora were unaware of Faunus until before we encountered the community two days ago.

    Just two kids and… a very unlucky man?” A snort left the elder’s mouth as I pointed at the cast around my arm.

    I can see that… but I also find you quite the unusual human, Mr. Bukharin,” He paused just a brief moment, then nodded. “I hope you understand that I find your interest in joining Menagerie and the White Fang… surprising.”

    I nodded and he sighed.

    “Then I am sure you will also understand why I find it difficult to find this notion truthful and genuine.” His words were expected. A punch in the guts, but expected.

    Distrust was still a bitter, common thing in this world and I was sure that mere words wouldn’t be enough to prove my honesty.

    Acta, no verba.

    I blinked, my lips sealed in a thin line. “What do you wish for me to do then, Chieftain?”

    The question reached a partly-surprised Zardula, the man possibly expecting that I was going to call some non-existing bluff for the sake of surviving in this situation but…

    I was genuinely interested in joining the White Fang.

    I would want you to leave Menagerie and never bother us ever again.” Shit. “-But I wouldn’t forgive myself if I threw two children back in Mistral.”

    So… I was literally not getting kicked out of the island… because of Nora and Ren being with me?

    Part of me was completely embarrassed by the fact that my plans were being possible because the elder had a soft spot for kids, being a grandpa and all, but it was also true that this wasn’t something I had planned.

    It was a predicament that literally slammed on myself and… I shouldn’t be feeling guilty about it.

    My daughter said that you are good with Economics,” The leader spoke once more, drawing my attention back to him. “I think I will put you on probation about a job as an assistant for the bank. Nothing too much important and I would know if you… are honest about your intentions.”

    I nodded, putting some effort to not scowl at the job proposal.

    I don’t have anything against bankers, or anything bank-related… but the administrative duties were not something to scoff at.

    After all, I did spend some time with some former bankers while studying Economics and I did hear some unpleasant experience during while they worked there.

    Biting down any protests, I merely nodded. “I humbly accept your kind offer, Chieftain-” “Call me Zardula.”

    I blinked and frowned at the interruption. “Wouldn’t that be disrespec-”

    He sighed. “I gave you the permission to call me as such, young man.”

    My mouth closed instinctively and I barely glanced back as the elder looked at… one of the guards by the doors.

    Wait, did I seriously forget about the guards? As I facepalmed myself within my mind, I found myself freezing up as I ended up noticing whom was guarding the entrance.

    While the young man by the door was a silver-haired dog Faunus which I knew nothing about, the one on the other side was incredibly familiar.

    Two orange eyes stared back, scorn barely hidden as her tiger-like cat ears twitched in frustration at the situation. Her brown hair was longer than the few moments she was seen in canon, but I could easily recognize-

    “Sienna, you will be the Mr. Bukharin’s minder for the time being. Please… don’t fail me again.”

    ...Are you kidding?!




    The bustling streets of Menagerie, which had been used in RWBY to induce some relief out to replace some difficult and dramatic scene, were hardly calming my nerves down.

    Moving just what was needed to get the wheelchair going, I continued to keep a constant eye on the young woman I was following, knowing well-enough that she was doing the same about me.

    While Sienna Khan was a very little developed character because Adam went full Stalin on her in Volume 5, the way she was mentioned, the way she had turned an entire peaceful organization in a full-fledged ‘Red Army’ was something that said much about her resourcefulness and her ambitious zeal.

    In a direct fight I would be turned into mincemeat the moment I tried to reach out for my shotgun, but her death in canon pointed out her greatest weakness in an indirect fight.

    She was too proud and too much paranoid to genuinely create a decentralized system to administer the White Fang and that caused the almost bloodless coup that saw her forcibly removed from power.

    Hotheaded, she was supposedly easy to lead in a fight… but that was a silly edge to have, especially since I was pretty much useless in any confrontations as of now.

    We are here.” Her tone was tightly restrained and I was half-convinced that she was studying how to get away with my possible murder, maybe even get praised for it in the process. If that was the case then I would be more than happy to say that we were sharing something in common.

    Moving my attention away from planning her death, I glanced curiously at the small household that was supposed to be ‘owned’ by me.

    It had just one floor and it was incredibly cramped inside. A single bathroom, two bedrooms and a medium-sized living room with kitchen mixed in.

    My expectations were a little higher than this but… I could work around it.

    As I had stated just now, the place was just one floor now, but given time and money, I could easily expand it and get it two or three floors taller.

    I smiled a little and ignored the frown coming from Sienna. Maybe she was expecting me to actually whine about the size of the little flat but… I had much worse than this.

    So you are going to join us for lunch?” Her frown deepened but she entered inside the house without saying nothing. I took it as a ‘yes’ and, after sending Ren and Nora to wash their hands, I was checking what was inside the fridge.

    Some veggies and fruits, some fishes and… is that a salami?

    Picking the piece of meat out from the cold, I stared at it with some hunger. It’s been a while…

    Picking a small knife and some bread, I started to make eight sandwiches with the delicious meat, two for each individuals and… paused as I found Sienna giving me a long look.

    It wasn’t a hateful one, something quite surprising, but one of confusion and… hunger?

    I shrugged at it, hoping that it wasn’t going to kill me anytime soon and waited for the children to arrive.

    Nora was the first one to rush out of the bathroom, her blue eyes quickly locking onto her waiting plate and she eagerly blitzed through the room for it.

    She gave a quick look my direction, a thankful one, before munching at her sandwiches. Ren appeared slowly after, his pink eyes staring first at me, then at Sienna and finally at his own plate.

    With a small smile, the young boy started to take the first bites out of the bread, smiling just a little as the taste was more than acceptable. I wonder if his family had been vegan but… I think it was too late now to discover that.

    My eyes were set on the only one person that wasn’t eating, the Faunus refusing to satisfy her need for food and I sighed, picking my own sandwich and getting a bite out of it.

    Moments passed and I could see her hesitantly reach out for the treats offered, pausing a moment to contemplate whenever or not I had ‘poisoned’ her food, then she took it in her hands and… here is the first bite.

    Munching it a little, she gulped it down and… slowly started to eat the rest of it. Then she moved to the second and finally… she stared at me.

    It was right in that moment that I noticed that the stare wasn’t for me but for my second sandwich. I narrowed my eyes at the silent request and was about to vocally deny her-

    And for some reason I still offered it to her. I frowned, Nora giggled in her hands and Ren tried to appear clueless about what had just happened.

    I looked at my hands, then as the smug-looking Faunus as she consumed my second treat slowly and cockily.

    What the heck has just happened?




    AN
    This chapter was actually difficult to write a while ago, as I had just returned from a minor break for some Uni's exam. Results? I did poorly and I had to get used to (once more) to my usual pattern.
    Also quick note: For those who wish to know how the sandwiches looks like (Here)
     
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  18. Par Tzu

    Par Tzu The Indecisive Procrastinator

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    this looks familiar... is this a repost?
    Because I'm sure I have read this exact story before...


    ehh whatever, watched!
     
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  19. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    It's already present in FF, SB and SV. Still, each update here I'm giving it a polish over the grammar mistakes.
     
  20. Threadmarks: Settling In (2)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” – Walt Disney



    Chapter 7: Settling in (2)



    I feel like my stupidity was starting to get redundant ever since I got yanked into Remnant.

    Generally I would have been a little less naive in analyzing certain situations falling on my lap, but boy I had been completely clueless when I stepped inside the small building that was owned by the Menagerie Local Bank with the hopes of having a simple desk job.

    Yes, I was aspiring to a boring workplace as first move in the social staircase of this world- but why?

    Why would I be this much interested in having a stable income source that wasn’t remotely related to slaying nightmareish creatures?



    Oh? You actually want a clear answer? I thought my rhetorical musing would have been… easy to pick up.

    I guess I should give something easy to understand: I am bound to a wheelchair and, excluding insane pimping with dual gatling guns and turbo to the sweet whip, I was kind of worse than the my normal self.

    I was worse than… useless? Maybe I could try something, being a white-belt of Jujitsu (a very rust one at that), something like faking my death to creatures that could perceive negativeness.

    Actually that sound like the worst idea, let us forget about this… brain-fart?

    Yes, brain-fart sound legitimately correct.

    Anyway, I think I am skipping some ‘essential’ details of the early morning as… I think there are few steps between waking up and literally being inside my new workplace.
    My eyes snapped open at the unholy sun rays entering from the ill-covered window of the room, almost cooking part of my face at the scorching heat of the focused beam of light.


    Usually’ I wouldn’t mind waking up early, something that was kind of forced upon my body by the hellish school hours ever since good ol’ Elementary school.
    Imagine waking up 5 in the morning at the age of 9, fighting back the sleepiness by watching for fifteen minute straight the same thing playing in the TV.


    The same cartoons, sometime quite boring and repetitive, but good enough to ‘punch’ me out of my post-sleep state.

    But I am digressing here and… (Sadly) I wasn’t a kid anymore.

    The first thing my mind eagerly reminded me was that I had to prepare things not only for myself but also for the children.

    Trying to pull a world record for getting prepared after just ten minutes inside the only bathroom, I was already rolling my chair toward the kitchen area.

    Milk, check.

    Chocolate, check.

    Pancakes, check.

    A cup of Macchiato coffee to further kick me up awake, check.

    Sienna staring at me with a deadly expression, che- “GAH!”

    I almost fell on the floor at the closeup of the woman, my heart rate picking up an uneasy pace at the scare so early in the day.

    Good morning to you.” She sneered quietly, further aggravating my picture of her. While she wasn’t as bloodthirsty (yet), her pettiness made up for that negative connotation of her personality.

    It didn’t help that she would ‘forget’ the simple peace branches I had been so cautious to extend to her, the Faunus only keen to accept temporary truces for the sake of… something.

    Not even I could fully understand the inner workings of her brain but I was not shy to point out how annoyingly childish she would get for so little things.

    I know, I just spent a single day knowing the ‘real character’ and I shouldn’t be this much crass in addressing the issue that was her opposition to my… existence.

    But there was something surprising that I had noticed in the little time I know her and that was… she didn’t seem to give the same treatment to Nora and Ren.

    She would address them quite calmly, almost as if she was talking to another Faunus or maybe a child one.

    That meant that, while I was going to suffer her bias against humanity, Sienna was willing to spare the children this kind of ill behavior.

    Something to be happy to know, but also something that sparked no little curiosity within my brain as I was now unconsciously trying to figure out why she was like this?

    Trauma? Death? So many theories and little clue to genuinely build from.

    What an infuriating woman, both in a common situation and in a simple analytical stance.

    After recovering from the attempted ‘assassination attempt’, I decided to literally return the favor in the only way that I knew she wouldn’t have been able to avoid.
    I made her breakfast.


    So when a giggling Nora entered the living room followed by a groaning Ren to enjoy the most important meal of the day, my attention was solely directed to the other adult there.

    Sienna’s animal ears twitched in annoyance, her eyes narrowing first on the plate of delicious pancakes that I had prepared for her. Whatever protest was forming within her throat, it died instantly because of two minor events:

    1) Her stomach grumbling and whining for food, loudly enough for everyone to hear;

    2) The steamy cup of chocolate milk I was eager to place right near her;

    Her eyes widened, feeling that her own body was conspiring against her because of the terribly delicious ambush I had set for her.

    Sienna started to munch slowly at the first pancake with a sour look, defeat painted in her face as I was genuinely holding back some cackles at that delightful victory.
    What does it taste like? It tasted like pancakes.





    Bye Papa!”

    See you soon, Uncle!”

    No matter how much I tried to understand how I was now the caretaker of two kids, the mere way they addressed me was… utterly adorable.

    My heart risked to melt more than once and Sienna decided to help me move the wheelchair away from the gates of the local school.

    While it wasn’t a legitimate school as it didn’t have a proper curriculum, the teachers there were genuinely good if not competent. At the end, if they wanted to become Huntsmen, the requirement of basic education was were low compared to what I had thought it to be.

    Ozpin had confirmed in one of his rare quips and I found this whole development… dumb.

    But what if a huntsman wants to retire?

    Their record of service generally help them landing some job in preparatory schools, like Mr. Xiao Long and Mr. Branwen.

    I tensed at the examples and the Wizard merely sighed.

    You know, for being such an insufferable young man, you have a good understanding of the period we are currently working with.

    And that means?

    While you are foolish in your ways, I admit that your knowledge does help a lot in planning something regarding ‘our’ survival in this… unfortunate jump back in time.

    Or is it a different universe? I decided to not pass through this idea as… I think that would be a terrible development indeed.

    While I was cautious enough to not give too much of myself to Ozma, I was smart enough to know that some advice was essential in this ‘new’, brave world.

    Plus it was helping me cope with the boring predicament of being a… vice-assistant to some clerk.

    While anger stirred at this reveal when I reached for the receptionist for some indications, mostly because of Sienna’s snickering at my initial shocked reaction, I quickly understood why I was stuck with this petty job.

    I was still a stranger and, no matter how much Ghira and Kali could have vouched for me, the chieftain had to fully test my genuine interest of joining not only Menagerie, but also the White Fang.

    It was a legitimate concern, especially since I was the only human trying to reach out for the previously Faunus-only organization.

    It was a punch in the stomach, but I had to bear it if I truly wanted to not be further questioned in the future.

    So… I followed every single task I was given, showing little to no reaction while keeping an amiable mask to try and build some professional relationship with the simple clerk.

    Trying to approach the assistant, my direct superior, would have been useless. Why? Well, who would befriend someone that could replace you if you do some wrong step while working?

    The silent competition between men in a place like a bank wasn’t something dissimilar to mere politics.

    And boy, did I make quite the backbone with my brief political career in my hometown.

    The only way I would be able to survive getting mauled by the more experienced, senior worker was to exploit a good weakness the Dog Faunus had.

    He didn’t have an acceptable relationship with our mutual boss, giving me the chance to not only get quickly cozy with the older Faunus, but also start to worm a small place in his heart to bring even more ‘legitimacy’ to any idea I could propose.

    Social-evolution to its finest and I kind of cringed how I was literally climbing the social ladder that was mostly made by different kind of humans around me.

    I am not racist, but I kind of feel guilty of being the one literally exploiting the overly-simplistic work system.

    Remnant had a single currency, the Lien, and its entire economy was still making use of the Gold Standard.

    Quick economic lesson: Gold Standard is when the value of a coin is dictated by the gold reserves available to a nation. So that meant that, while Dust was the most mined material, it was still outclassed for ‘worth’ by Precious Metals (Gold, Silver and Diamonds).

    I could only wonder what would happen if someone (cough, someone very sneaky, cough) was to pay for the creation of an electric engine or the creation of proper gunpowder…

    I was already envisioning the SDC’s stocks crashing harder than a poor guy getting RKO’d by Randy Orton, going bankrupt and that whole thing that happens to stagnant companies.

    They could be developing something to replace Dust, something that could be easy to spread around the world and to monopolize too but…

    They are so lazy.

    It would have taken just an ambitious man with some mad mind born from that family to pull a full world domination without sparking some war.

    This last thought left my mouth dry and I wondered if there was some coffee machine around.

    At least we share a rightful need.

    I am not addicted to it, tho.

    Indeed, you are addicted to soda drinks. I am still surprised how you didn’t develop some serious illness with that attachment to sweet beverages-

    Luck, badassery and being Italian.

    I don’t even want to know what is an ‘Italian’ at this point.

    As he shouldn’t, because that would open a can of worms that this world doesn’t need to feel.

    But yeah, the brief reminder that I had been unable to taste some good stuff was enough to bring out the bitterness that came with the sense of withdrawal.

    I sure would have killed for some Pep-si? I blinked mid-thought as I felt my previously empty hand filling up with something cool to the touch. It felt metallic too.

    I glanced down and saw the brilliant blue color on the tin can held by my hand.

    Turning it around, I saw its name. Pepsi.

    I blinked, dumbfounded at the tin can, bringing it close to my eyes as this was unbelievable.

    Before anyone asks no, Pepsi and other franchises from the ‘Real World’ don’t exist in Remnant… and yet I was holding the tin can.

    I didn’t waste time in carefully opening the small lids and- sip the dark-colored liquid. My eyes widened once more at the familiar taste and I felt my tongue twitch happily at the frizzy sensation.

    This was Pepsi.

    But how? How did it appear in my hand?

    No one around me but cabinets, no ‘portals’ that could have dropped it and yet…

    It would seem like you are truly the most unique host, Mr. Bukharin.

    Uh?

    What you are trying to understand here doesn’t abide to the laws of science. This is a simple case of Conjuration.



    SAY WHAT?!




    AN

    I am a weezard?! Is this the beginning of the Era of the Soda Fiend Archmage?!
    Little short chapter but… meh, I felt a little tired today.
    Also left a small fun reference in the last section which I suspect only the readers in SV will catch easily because… ‘Secret’!
     
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  21. Threadmarks: Settling In (3)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Fat men take a cushion with them wherever they go.” – George R.R. Martin

    Is that a fat joke?” – Behzinga (Ethan), Sidemen Yoga Challenge

    Chapter 8: Settling in (3)

    Imagine being bestowed with the gift of being able of defying the rules of reality, to bend the world to your will with a mere thought. The power to be a step above everyone else, the fantasy turning reality at your simple command.

    The thing that tingled within your chest was an emotion close to wonder with a sprinkle of childish giddiness at the quick thought of being able to do so many interesting things that long were thought to be impossible to you as a human being.

    Now that you have thought about this all and have been properly painted with this amazing sensation, you may now imagine my reaction when Ozzie decided to power-slam my plans back to reality by mentioning few factual points that… I knew were genuinely infuriating as those were reasonably true:

    1) My newfound magic was… different from the standard knowledge. My first case, the conjuration of a simple tin can with the right content inside, was something that Ozpin, once one of the strongest sorcerers in his first life, would have not been able to accomplish even in his prime. Conjuration was considered a ‘myth’ back in that era, the one before Faunus, Semblances and the Grimm;

    2) While quite unique just because of the first revelation, this ‘Magic’ still had to abide to some rules of the world to be available to someone. Something that limits it either because of the external environment or because of the user’s own ability to use it. The reason why the conjuration had been successful was because I had managed to conceptualize something that I was quite familiar with and I had managed to muster enough intent to commit the spell;

    3) The precise limitations of Conjurations was something that worried me a little as the possible drawbacks and draining effect were nothing to scoff at. Was my magic closer to the Harry Potter’s one, one that could easily recharge without issue? Or was it something nearer to the Nasuverse’s Magecraft, which wasn’t actual magic but a mere imitation of the True Form?

    This very last point was actually something utterly serious in the immediate, having drunk a beverage I had conjured I was dreading the worst if there was indeed something akin to degradation willed by the world itself.

    Yet the former Headmaster seemed to keep a very optimistic mindset, saying that never in his life he had seen spells collapse without an external, magical manipulation that forced this phenomenon to happen.

    Now that the expected surprise started to dilute away in my mind, Ozzie decided to spend the rest of my work hours to lecture me about the responsible use of this dangerous and formidable power.

    I had to keep myself from using it again until I got better at conjuring things, I had to not try and experiment new abilities without being in a place where I could safely train myself in using magic without endangering anyone.

    Of course the old wizard tried to express his desire to ‘teach me’ about the mysterious ways of his own magic and obviously to do so he would require that I fully relinquished the control over my body for him to ‘perfectly harmonize the process’.

    And thus I cut down the connection the moment he mentioned such a dumb plan, feeling quite disappointed he was still going at it. While I was fine with listening to some of his sound advice once in a while, the same couldn’t be said about his antics of me letting him take over my body for the ‘sake of his duty’.

    Returning back to work, I finished the rest of the shift with just a quarter of my mind still entertained by the idea of Magic. The ways that this new development opened were nothing to scoff at, especially since it created a new advantage I could use against Mami Salami and her clique.

    While I was still the useless potato couch stuck in a wheelchair, I had the ‘power’ to keep up some distractions if I was ever going to deal with some spooky business during my period in Menagerie. Letting the boss pat my shoulder and praising my first day at work was something interesting, especially since the Dog Faunus, that had previously flaunted his good relations with the chief in charge of the bank, was now glaring daggers in my direction.

    Silly pup, I ain’t made of pillows and if push was ever going to come, I will merely shove him off.

    As I was slowly leaving through the open entrance of the building, I found myself jumped by a cloaked figure. The frame was familiar, but my mind was mostly sent to panic the moment I saw the horrifying mask the figure was wearing. I am not someone easily scared of zombies, but when you find yourself staring at a closeup of a very well-made mask of an undead creature, your instincts tend to kick in with some Horror Game/Movie PTSD at the sudden scene.

    A shrill yell and I was on the ground – AND I CAN’T GET UP! - as I saw the being going still for a brief moment before finally having her arms around her stomach, the mask dropping and revealing one of the worst being in the world.

    You may have feline features and I might be a cat-loving (animal-loving in general) man, but when you threaten my inner masculinity with those jumpscares… you are going to get a reaction out of me.

    Said reaction was actually my leg moving right out of the chair and slamming hardly on her left shin. The effect was almost instantaneous as her surprise at the action was able to make her ignore the pain for a brief moment, before Sienna fell on her knees as she started to massage tenderly the pained leg. Mirthfully glancing turned into deadly glaring, but I was more than happy to return the staring with a growl.

    I had expected her to finally react, to finally snap and pick a piece of me with the downfall of her career… but she merely sighed, limping right above me and helping me up.

    “P-Paint me confused, but I was expecting-” “Some violent reaction?” She interrupted with a miffed tone and I sighed tiredly.

    “You do seem like you are ready to maul me up, like from day one.” I retorted at the implicit racist labeling. “It’s only that, nothing about the fact you are-”

    Words failed to address my distress as the tiger Faunus started to chuckle in her closed hand, her eyes closed as she started to push my chair towards home. She finally noticed that I was glancing at her with a weirded out expression and she sighed with a slight hint of amusement.

    “You are just… so easy to pick apart, I guess.” She paused briefly slowly taking on the challenging mini-ramp in front of me. “It’s not because you are a human. It’s because you are quite chatty with your… predicament.”

    She tapped at the wheelchair and I frowned. “I will have you know that from tomorrow morning I will be out of this ‘predicament’ and then-”

    “You will have to deal with -that.” Now her finger was poking at my upper thigh and I flushed red at the idea she had taken notice of my chubbiness. I wasn’t outright fat, but I would be lying if I said I was something slim to look at.

    As I said, potato couch.

    “G-Give me some time and I will not be this rusty-ehi!” She continued to poke a little more, a small smile twitching at my uncomfortable reaction and… she knew I wasn’t completely offended by the whole situation.

    Maybe it was because I could hardly feel any malice in her tone right now or because I feared what kind of action she might take if I replied negatively at her playing around my poor body. Of course, that wasn’t a free opening to openly grope me but… she was hardly doing that.

    We finally reached home and- “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-”

    Thud

    “-AD!”

    My chest! Nora was giggling a little as she adjusted herself to stare right in my face, her blue eyes glowing a mad brightness. “School is so awesome!”

    “R-Really, sweetie?” She turned around and I saw Ren peeking from his spot near the door with a sympathetic look at my current plight, nodding to agree at the girl’s statement. Seems like he had taken a quick understanding in treating the overly-cheerful Valkyrie and made way as we all entered inside.

    “Miss Cake was super-nice! She gave me a cookie when I helped clean up the classroom and I made some friends too!”

    As the pain dissipated, I managed a wide smile at her description of her day. “I am really happy that you enjoyed it, Nora.” She giggled as she continued to tell more about the school, the classroom and her friends, but only two details jumped to attention.

    The first one was… Blake. The Belladonna child was a happy one, very open in this stage of her life and yet she was seen by both children quite alone back at school. Hardly interacting with her fellow classmates, the girl spent most of the time there to either study during lessons or reading some books.

    Those were the telling signs that she was starting to grow into the outcast mentality- but of course people will ask ‘how do you even think about this?’ and I would gravely reply that I had been there.

    Sitting alone, enjoying either a comic or a book and then ending up adopting the isolation as something ‘normal’ for me, labeling the rare interactions with others as something unique and… unneeded in the long-term.

    Man, my childhood was that messy…

    Returning back to reality I made some quick plans about this as I asked both Nora and Ren to keep to be there for the Cat Faunus and… I was then taken back from the second surprise of today.

    Among the mass of Faunus children, one in particular managed to stood out from the rest of the class. Short, slightly scrawny and incredibly shy to the point of whimper at the mere approaching, Ilia Amitola was still in Menagerie in this point and time.

    The girl was… still living in poor conditions, maybe her parents decided to then move to Atlas because of the lack of small jobs in the island as they tried to give their daughters some… better life.

    I was supposed to feel merely sad by this development (or better, reminder) of this situation, but I wasn’t. The only thing that was there was a familiar metaphorical hole aching in my chest, returning some unpleasant memories of my early life.

    The crisis back years ago hit my family’s income a lot. My father found his wage incredibly reduced, almost half from before the cuts were implemented, and we were all forced to move out from town.

    Too much expensive living in a modest neighborhood and countryside was the best affordable at the time. School was different, the church was different and… it all felt like a cage.

    A cage my parents had fought for years to either break or mold for the sake of necessity of fitting with my growth. Time passed and… things stabilized to a certain point.

    Life was still uneasy for a long period of years, but I still managed to find some happiness in the little victories I could get out from the unfair system.

    Sigh

    I was glad that both children had gone to befriend the child and… that only Ren had managed a small success with his efforts. The girl had refused the overly-loud attempts but had been slowly coaxed out of the dark corner with some patience from the pink-eyed boy.

    It wasn’t a full-fledged friendship yet, but I suspected from the few words the boy relayed during dinner that he was still going to give his best to pull the Chameleon Faunus out of that sad place she was thrown into.

    Speaking of dinner, as soon as I reached the kitchen I decided it was high time to return the favor to Sienna about her musings over my rusty form. The fridge had been filled with some food I had managed to buy before going to the bank, salad being something I had initially wanted to buy as something to merely look at and nothing else.

    Now the simple food was going to become part of something great! As I prepared some meatballs with tomato sauce for the kids, I finished… ‘cooking’ the ever-green piece of diet.

    Sienna’s face fell the moment she glanced at the ‘piece of grass’ I had offered her, ready to swear a mountain if it wasn’t that the children were there to listen to any ‘bad words’. Trying to put up some resistance at her inherent hunger, the Tiger Faunus tried to not eat anything that day. Her stomach rumbled madly, eliciting some giggles from Nora and small smiles from Ren at the whole predicament.

    But while the woman was uselessly trying to fend off her demanding belly, my hardship mostly went unheard. Munching at the unpleasant garba-delicious diet food, I found myself contemplating about why I had accepted this ‘self-roast’ for the sake of taking the woman out of commission for a while.

    And even through I was ready to concede a moral defeat in front of this insane plate, I still managed to get a joke out of this as I offered Sienna ‘some scrapes’ off my plate. She glared at me for daring to add insult to the injury and the day concluded with her deciding to stay over.

    Her sleeping quarter? My bed.

    My new sleeping quarter? The couch.

    ...Seriously how did I end up like this? We aren’t in any shape or form engaging in that kind of relationship and yet she deemed right to enforce this kind of situations. But in that contemplation I found out a very curious thing about this couch.

    Compared to the bed, the furniture was oddly more comfortable than my own bed.

    Was this a victory or a loss for me?

    --------dd-d-d-d-------------------d-d-d-dd--------------d-d-d-d-d-----------------dd--dd-d------------

    AN

    I bet someone is asking when is Raven going to make an appearance and… it will be once MC and Sienna will receive a strange ‘oversea’ job.

    So… we got chibi Ilia, before she lost her parents and went full-hate on humans. Can it be changed? That is a yes, how much will it take? A long time.
     
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  22. AllyDoodle

    AllyDoodle Lewd Cthulhu

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    So Sienna just decided to make herself at home at the SI's place?

    Typical cat.
     
  23. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

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    Sweet!
    SI has magic, survivability may or may not go up now.
    Sienna being a cat? Eh, could be worse.
    The children being children? Better prep the child proofing soon...
    Butterflies that can be formed? Well, don't hold back now!

    Overall, sweet~!
     
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  24. Threadmarks: Settling In (4)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Thinking about you. Lovely dirty thoughts.” – Unknown
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 9: Settling in (4)
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Getting out of that blasted wheelchair was the best thing after so much spent moving around with some annoying impediments. Kuo Kuana had some uneven sections of the road between my house and the bank, making it a tiring walk every time I had to go to work.

    But this time? I was enjoying a silent, slightly wobbly walk to work and… Sienna was for some reason biting down some chuckles the moments I would turn to look at her.

    It was annoying at first, it was unnerving a few instants after as she seemed to do this through the whole walk and… I suck at psychological warfare. At least this kind of it as I felt it was something so unpredictable of her that my mind found it difficult to elaborate something out of that smug appearance.

    I reached the bank and bid a polite goodbye to the Tiger Faunus, the woman nodding as she started to go wherever she went after leaving me at work.

    It was something I had yet to ask to her but, knowing that she was working for Kuo Kuana’s City Guard, I suspected she was going to the local barracks to get some rest and refreshment. I mean, I had never seen her going to the bathroom early in the morning and I strongly suspected it was a matter of trust.

    Bed-stealing was fine, but the possibility of walking on her as she used the only bathroom was… a dreadful thought morally-speaking. She was after all extending some special trust my way, mostly because I had children on me and, if I have to be honest, I hardly think that her amusement is made out by the fact we were opening to each other.

    It was a truce of two opposite minds: Mine sought the peaceful coexistence between people but also drifted away from dangerous elements; hers was centered around the idea of ‘strong is good’ and seemed to have a strong resentment towards humans even now.

    I don’t think asking about her background would be useful, actually I was sure that it would have distanced her instantly the moment those words left my mouth. If I was stretching my hand towards her, the woman was extending just a finger in return. Hopefully she wasn’t flipping a bird but… everything can happen.

    My paranoia, albeit very controlled nowadays, still kept a silent hold in certain situations. Like when I was cornered by the Dog Faunus I was ‘fighting’ for the praise of the clerk we shared as a boss.

    His face gave a murderous look and I merely blinked as he made the threats I had expected. “Now that you are out of that damn chair, you will better watch out as I will not-”

    “Look.” I interrupted with a calm sigh. “I know that there is some ultimatum you have planned along the lines of wasting nights about it and, if I have to be honest with you, I am not in the mood to deal with those antics. Please keep a professional and civil tone in my regards as a fellow clerk.”

    He snarled and was about to retort this with some rant or threat but… he had forgotten an essential detail that made his spiel the most idiotic thing one could pull in a workplace like this one. While competitiveness was tacitly promoted, there were rules established by the Bank Director that ‘forbid’ the escalation of said challenges to this kind of situations or worse.

    So when you try to threaten someone for this kind of silly predicaments right in front of the door that led to the Director’s office, you know that your job is forfeit the moment said door opens loudly and the revered elder stares daggers at you.

    “Otis, in my office now!” The Dog Faunus blinked in surprise, eyes going wide as he realized that… he had messed up big time. All in all I tried to keep myself to show my inner smug, knowing that I might get sanctioned even with the slight suspect that I had planned for this to happen.

    And that was the case but… meh.

    Reaching for the Master Clerk, I was relieved by the fact he seemed genuinely mortified by what had just happened and glad that he gave me a lesser amount of paperwork as an attempt to compensate me for what had happened.

    Grabbing the files, I was starting to understand several important things of Menagerie’s economic system. While limited to an ‘antiquate’ model compared to the modern standards of Macro-economics I knew about, there were elements that were ‘beyond’ simple Micro-economics.

    Maybe I should explain myself a little there: Macro-economics started to be a thing when the Great Depression happened back in 1929 and… Micro-economics failed to perceive it. Quite a strange way to develop a new subject, but the disaster opened the eyes on the very important system that was until then left untouched. The State itself.

    So while the papers were mostly centered around inner affairs, those within Menagerie, there were still some documents that led to some international transactions. Some of those transactions actually… sounding fishy now that I checked on those…

    “Boss?” The Fox Faunus looked up from his newspaper and frowned at my voice.

    “Yes, Mr. Bukharin?”

    I stood up from my seat and took the papers to him, pointing right at the curious numbers I had found regarding a mysterious company that seemed to lack a place of origin and its current whereabouts.

    It wasn’t that much difficult to understand that some exploit was being pulled here, especially with the precise number of Lien that were deposited and then withdrawn from the bank… a single digit from reaching the maximum limit required for such transactions.

    The Master Clerk’s eyes widened a little as he picked the papers on his hand and started to double-check himself, his face paling more and more as he continued to realize how bad it was.

    “This… this will have to be brought to the Director himself and-” He turned to glance at me. “John, please avoid talking about this until this matter is further investigated.”

    I nodded. “Understood, boss.”

    “Good...” He trailed off as he went right to the Director’s office, leaving me to deal with the current workload alone and… bored. After finishing most of the job for today, I started to consider what I should do in case Raven managed to find out where I was now.

    The woman was dangerous, unpredictable and very stabby if the previous interaction had to be taken into account. Hopefully she had yet to find a replacement for her blade, or maybe decided to face the nag of dealing with the ‘weak team’ he had left behind.

    Speaking of Team STRQ… what should I seriously do with them?

    Nothing?

    That would be easy but… we both know that they are essential.

    Ms. Rose was able to become a brighter huntress thanks to her mother’s sacrifice-

    Woah, you just didn’t pull that!

    I am just saying that time shouldn’t be altered beyond some minor aspects as it would change the future.

    ...But what if I am changing the past to change the future willingly?

    Then you would be a fool. You wouldn’t be considering the consequences this level of alterations could led into.

    Actually I do know that stuff could get crazy but, if I have to be honest, nothing would be worse than losing a well-trained team as STRQ. So… should we sent a letter to Summer Rose?

    Mrs. Rose would hardly accept the word of a stranger that ‘raves’ about her possible death. There are so many flaws in whatever plans you are preparing and-

    I know what I am doing.

    Then do what you want.

    I blinked in surprise at the defeated tone but… there was some merits in his warning and…

    I have a plan.

    -----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-d-----------d-d-dd-d--------------d-d-d-dd----------d-d-d-d-d-------

    Taiyang Xiao Long finished correcting the last drafts of the recent test his class had gone through. While he was happy that most of them had reached a particularly high grade, as someone that wished to enjoy some time with his family the task was incredibly tiring and annoying on itself.

    Still it was his job, he motivated as he took a moment to rest on his chair, eyes closing as he let a few moments of silence pass. A knock by the door brought him out from a pleasant daydream of a picnic with Ruby and Yang giving chase to each other as he enjoyed a good talk with his new wife.

    The headmaster’s secretary, a young woman that was thankfully already married and away from ask him out… like the rest of his female colleagues, entered the room with a small white envelope in her hands.

    “Mr. Xiao Long, there is a letter from you. It’s from Menagerie.”

    The man blinked in surprise at the place, his mind failing to grasp anyone from the Faunus-led island that could have sent him something. Still he accepted that the young lady placed it on his desk, letting her go with a curt nod as he slowly approached the paper.

    Opening the envelope, Taiyang started to scan the letter, his eyes widening in realization the more he read:

    To the Xiao Long Household (Taiyang Xiao Long, Summer Rose and Qrow Branwen),

    Once more I apologize for the non-existent notice for this letter, but I wish to address some other information that I had managed to uncover through my stay in Menagerie, where I will remain undisturbed for personal reasons (that means no sudden visits, I beg of you to not bring attention on me and my family).

    Differently from the first letter, the topic is no more about Raven Branwen. But it is about your current wife (please correct me if the title is wrong or has yet to be updated) and her peculiar… eyes. As of now I will advise you all to not take this up to Ozpin, as the Wizard would surely try to twist my words one way or another.

    The Queen is always moving and she has human followers to obey her orders and whims. Maintain a close eye on Summer Rose, her eyes making her a dangerous obstacle for ‘Her’ plans. Have Qrow trail her during missions and… that’s it.

    I guess I will pack a possible future letter with more content, but as of now I am relegated to some good ol’ paperwork and my brain is already fried enough to produce some quality stuff.

    Expecting some reply,
    John Bukharin


    Taiyang re-read the letter more than once, trying to grasp fully what was being told there.

    While he had been suspecting that something was aloof with Ozpin, the fact this mysterious individual knew not only about the Beacon Headmaster’s secret and the fact that Salem existed, gave the teacher further interest to concede some credibility to the mysterious individual sited on Menagerie.

    His wording was also noteworthy.

    He didn’t address any specific things Summer herself should do to avoid being tracked down, but interestingly enough brought in Qrow to keep watch over the woman. While he knew that the male Branwen had accepted with much difficulty that Summer decided to go for his close friend, the man was… trustworthy. He would keep a true guard over Summer and avoid unpleasant accidents.

    Still, it was worth to consider that the very explicit request of not reaching out for this ‘Bukharin’ couldn’t be accepted for the mere fact Raven was surely raising hell to find out where his aggressor and ‘suitable companion’ would be. He still shuddered at the memory of how things had unfolded back then, when Raven had voiced out her interest to have a ‘serious spar’ with him.

    He had been particularly busy with some nasty paperwork back then and had been forced to refuse her demands, angering her and- Summer cheerfully replace him as the woman’s sparring partner.

    The Branwen had appeared quite hesitant there but the Rose showed once more how convinced in her commitment was by sitting patiently in the middle of the arena, waiting for her partner to appear and fight.

    Imagine passing near the arena to see how things were going and see a red-faced Raven Branwen trying to tackle down a panicking caped girl. Murder? There was any ill intention evident on the red-eyed beauty.

    Only desire for- He jumped in action the moment the realization finished to sink in his brain, engaging in a brief skirmish with the sword-wielding woman and… winning. He had expected her to calm down that exact moment but…

    He woke up a few hours later, his clothes sparsely dropped on the floor just like Raven’s. The Mistralian female straddling on his sweaty body as they both enjoyed the afterglow of the pleasant activities that made them… adults.

    They married two months later, she gave birth to Yang seven months after the wedding and... she left them and went back to her tribe to rule them to… criminal activities.

    While the proud woman had stated more than once that it was a law in the tribes, something that Qrow felt doubtful about when he heard about it, it was easy to understand what truly motivated this ‘personal’ rule of hers:
    1) The one that defeats her needs to keep some respect for her regarding her fighting prowess;
    2) She has to be impressed by his strength and capacity to win;
    3) Tenacity and Determination to survive in bad situations;
    4) She felt particularly ‘intrigued’ by her opponent, enough to ponder a proper relationship;

    And while there hadn’t been a genuine fight between this ‘Bukharin’ and his former wife, Raven would quickly consider his survival an outstanding win.

    Especially since this individual lacked in terms of training.

    Without wasting further time in rummaging through his thoughts, Taiyang made a call back home, with Summer quickly picking up as the Xiao Long started to explain her the new letter's content and his own considerations over the subject.

    After a few minutes of chatting on the matter, a small trip was planned in two days from now.

    ------d-d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-d------

    Raven Branwen was so close… and yet so far.

    Tracking down the pesky young man that had managed to land a lucky shot on her was an easy task for someone of her capacity, but the place and the situation she had to deal with were not something her knowledge and experience could help much with.

    Menagerie was the only place she had never visited in her career as a professional huntress and the tight security over the capital was surprisingly stronger than even the one she had found in Atlas years ago.

    Trying to keep a low profile while also keeping her sight on this ‘John Bukharin’ proved to be an interestingly difficult mission.

    Constantly monitored, stuck to the wheelchair and never going for places that would make it possible for her to take him away with one of her portals, the survivor was proving to be a good prey.

    It was his overall attitude that made him difficult to predict.

    She would have expected him to appear scared, paranoid- and yet he looked… fine. There was no hint of fear in his features, at least not one she could associate with the brief exchange in the truck.

    Her lower torso still stung at the powerful shotgun blast she had to tank in after landing the first, deadly blow.

    His words rung infuriatingly in her ears and the following crash on several trees didn’t help in build up a proper inner image of this individual.

    Hours passed again that day as she continued to monitor the Bank John had entered, his new work that, in her opinion, sounded incredibly dull and hardly-satisfying for someone with her mindset.

    Fighting doesn’t mix well with paperwork, something that her foolish former husband had failed to understand in his first years at work as teacher in Signal Academy.

    Stupid Taiyang and his stupid abs.

    Anyway the opportunity happened right that day, the very day that the curious man had ditched his wheelchair and was walking calmly on his own. Trembling steps, his legs had yet to recover and he still showed a calm and composed face to this situation-

    She had to drag down the mental smile that appeared at this intriguing development, a minor proof that he was somehow prideful on himself. A little pride was well-accepted in her opinion, especially when it failed to clash well with her own.

    Following the classing routine, Bukharin left the bank while being led by the Tiger Faunus, Sienna Khan, back to the small house he had claimed as his home.

    His children, having returned a little earlier from their school day, were quick to come and greet their surrogate father.

    For some reason, this very notion of closeness confused her.

    Having let go of her former family after realizing how dangerously attached to Ozpin her life had been, Raven preferred to rule her old tribe to that kind of predicament.

    To see someone willingly accept orphaned children as his own… brought some foul taste in her mouth.

    Memories of how the previous leader had taken both her and her brother in the tribe as her children, how she had been the one to push them to seek training at Beacon Academy and then… decided to spar her for the control of the tribe.

    The fight was surprisingly more difficult than she had imagined, the older female proving that experience can and will surpass any complex move one developed from theory and lone practicing.

    Yet she still won and… got a new responsibility. One that was simpler to rule as ruthlessly as her personality demanded.

    After staring through the window as the usual dinner unfolded, her eyes widened the moment she saw the Faunus guard finally leave earlier than usual.

    Peeking at the retreating woman, Raven started to prepare her mind for the grand plan she had elaborated during her careful waiting.

    Once night started to fall over the capital of Menagerie, the woman entered through the open window that led to the living room in her avian form, her eyes darting between the closed doors as she remembered where the young man had gone last.

    Flying quietly, she managed to pass through the small opening left by the semi-open door, her sight fixed on her prize.

    Sheets were covering his full form, even his face was hardly visible in that bundle of cloth and… she jumped in action.

    Transforming back to human, she went to close the door as quietly as she could afford, tip-toeing back to the bed as she slowly moved away the cover from his face-

    Only to be greeted by the familiar barrel of a very, very familiar shotgun.

    His eyes were already open, an irritated glint burning in those orbs as she was now certain that he had known that she was coming and… he had set up an ambush for the occasion.

    And she had forgotten to bring a blade with her because she didn't expect this much paranoia.

    “Raven Branwen.”

    Even through facing insane odds and an unknown face, a small smile twitched on her face.

    At least he knew who she was.

    ---------d-d-d-dd-------------d-d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d-d------

    AN

    Dun, Dun, DUUUUUUN!

    Raven is here! But now here is the big question: What will be her… personality in this particular case?

    We saw her super-strict, strength-centered and very unfazed by family-related issues. But what about people she founds interesting as in ‘interesting’?

    And before anyone ask no, it’s not love that drive Raven here. It’s something more… sinful. And non-attached to relationships.
     
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  25. Threadmarks: The Lady in Red (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” – Stephen King

    Chapter 10: The Lady In Red (1)

    Today was going to be one of the worst days of my life and I AM considering this statement through before saying this.

    After getting Raven tied up and kept her in the living room couch for the rest of the night, breakfast turned out to be quite the unusual affair as expected. The children were confused, Raven eyeing cautiously the dark-haired beauty with red eyes, knowing full well that the empty holster she was still donning could have held the very blade that had hurt me.

    This reached me when he tugged my sleeve and asked if she was the ‘bandit woman’ that had attacked me, which I, with incredibly, answered with a ‘yes’. Pink eyes drilled on the unfazed Branwen and Nora merely narrowed her eyes, blue orbs contemplating some retribution and…

    Whip

    It came in the most unexpected way. As I went to open the door to Sienna as per usual habit, I heard the distinct sound of something quick hitting something else. I then heard the sound of Raven falling with her chair on the ground thankfully still tied-up and a snarl directed at the smug-looking Valkyrie.

    The orange-haired girl was holding a small wet towel and the trembling on the bandit’s left leg suggested that the suffering party was her shin. I was almost pitying her at this point, a ‘proud warrior’ being belittled by a child no older than 7 and unable to retaliate because of situations.

    The tiger faunus joined us in the living room, stared at the fallen woman and then she looked at me with a quizzical look. I sighed and moved to carefully pick Raven off the floor and back up.

    “Thank you, husband.”

    I grimaced at the nickname I’ve been suffering for a whole night, having to keep guard over the non-sleeping Raven as she continued to talk during the whole time. We were both tired by that ‘clash’ and I wouldn’t be shy to get some hours of sleep after she is safely taken away by the rest of team STRQ.

    What would happen to her after that wasn’t my concern as for now I preferred to keep away from the ‘main plot’ until I got enough resources and the possibility of going nuclear on Salem and whoever could be considered dangerous for the world. Much Punisher? Frank Castle got things done well and quickly back in the Marvelverse.

    Maybe I will not pull a One-Man Army with how I suck in most of combat-related things, but I sure was going to go full Vietnam when the fortuitous case would arrive. It was a ‘when’, not an ‘if’.

    Anyway, after getting the two kids going for school, Sienna and I faced the surprisingly calm-looking Branwen.

    The woman was still sporting the dark bags under her eyes after the small all nighter she had wanted to pull on both of us and no, I know the innuendos coming from some of my sentences, she was tied on the couch and my brain was dying as I kept sitting on a very sturdy chair of wood.

    “So she thinks you are… married?” I nodded at the Faunus’ attempt to summarize the reasoning of the dangerous woman. “After she literally stabbed you in the arm, almost sawing it off?”

    “That is correct-”

    “We are married by the tribe’s rules.” She rebuked with a serious tone.

    “Rules that are enacted within the tribe, not outside of it.” I snapped back as my mind was connecting this situation to a very curious group of stories I had read in the past.

    The shotgun-wedding, I didn’t dislike them. At least I didn’t until things just escalated quickly and they stopped without updating and… my brain hurt. Like seriously why would someone forsake me to this!?

    “If this is about the children, I can assure you that I will treat them as my heirs and train them personally-”

    “Wait, what?!” Okay, timeout! What was that? Raven Branwen ready to ‘sacrifice’ her freedom for the sake of respecting some tribal rules? This was an AU or a divergence, wasn’t it?

    I mean, aren’t we meant to NOT be in RWBY to start with?

    “The girl seems to have more potential, but I think the boy was holding back and-”

    “The answer is still no and- Seriously, you aren’t going to be near my kids, Branwen.”

    My tone turned fiery and my logic was fading a little. As someone that love my family to the utmost, to know that someone that had ditched her own daughter and her family for the sake of not dealing with Ozpin wanted to speak of ‘treating children’ well in front of me was something that didn’t sit well in my chest.

    Sienna gave me a confused look and I decided to explain. “So how long since you have seen your little daughter, Raven. Bet she doesn’t even call you ‘mother’ at this point.”

    Surprising me even more she snarled at the baiting, as if she truly ‘cared’ for her child.

    She did care at some extent for Ms. Xiao Long, but I guess my proximity to her rendered contacting my student quite difficult, if not impossible.

    Always at fault here and there, shouldn’t that be telling something?

    I think it means I would murder for some coffee.

    Goddammit, Ozpin!

    “You don’t know-” “OH, I DO!” I shouted louder than her, bringing the shotgun mere inches from her face. “I know what you did and why you did that, but the fact you left you own blood behind is disgusting! You are her mother and the girl will always think that she could be the real fault from your departure-”

    “But I am not!-”

    “And how do you think she would know that? Even if Summer and Taiyang tell her that, she will always have that doubt until she finds you and gets the truth out of you, the easy way or the painful one.”

    Raven grew quiet for a moment, then she tried to fight back. “She will be too soft-”

    “With the need of protecting her family, she will be a powerful huntress by the time she leaves Beacon, certainly stronger than you.”

    Through the shocked expression I could spot a glint of pride at the words, knowing that part of her motherly feelings were there. A very small bit around the prideful character she had built on herself. “And I suggest one last thing, Branwen.” I decided to conclude this altogether. “I will make sure your team will reach Menagerie the quickest possible and get you off my hands.”

    She squirmed in the ropes but those were too many and too tight for her to break through, aura-enchanted strength or not.

    “Sienna.” The woman turned to look at me, looking quite taken by my brief moment of anger. “Could you contact Chieftain Lavana? I don’t wish this development to be learned out as a personal surprise than one of his trusted guards reporting in.”

    She nodded quickly and went for her radio to call out her superior but as she did so I remember another thing. “Also if you could get two extra guards. I need someone to keep her monitored while I am work-”

    “I am not going to hurt you!” The Branwen tried and failed to impress that notion, her blush failing to take into notice what ‘hurt’ was and was not. Seriously, could this get any better?

    Yep, I was trying to jinx some good situation now as this was certainly grating on my poor mind and I needed to go and do what I liked the most. Die from boredom on some paperwork and do my effing job at the Bank.

    Normality, I needed some good normality in my life.

    ----------d-d-dd-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-------------

    The school in Kuo Kuana was a large complex of territory and a single large building housing the institution that educated the local children of Menagerie. Subjects were mostly practical, to address the need of manpower to have a workforce available to keep the small nation going and scientific subjects like Math, Science and Technical Drawing were not worth much in the overall grade system.

    Yet small little girl that was Ilia Amitola was not deterred from pursuing her happy hobby. Drawing was something that sent her away from the unpleasant situation back home and gave her a world to create.

    Sure, her parents were mostly out in trying to get some stable job at Menagerie, the situation regarding job hiring was a complicated thing altogether, but that didn’t deprive her from the cold that would reach her little boy once she returned home and… found no one waiting for her.

    It was the usual, but it still left her bitter. But to what in particular? Bitter at life, or at something more concrete and closer? Her simple mind could grasp this and… she ‘escaped’ from Menagerie with her own stories and characters, getting best endings that let her float in the sky for more than just a moment.

    Yet school restricted this as she had to study and learn to become… smarter and… capable of getting a proper future prepared by herself and for herself only.

    It was… cynical. Yes, that was the word she had read from her current vocabulary, the one she was using to write down her newest story. Stories of fantasy, stories of reality, stories of wrong and right.

    Writing and drawing were her tools to color her bleak day and… things changed when she met Lie Ren. The boy was human, something rare in the reality she had lived filled by only faunus children, and he was someone that she could talk with without getting all flustered and confused about.

    A good individual to speak to but… he seemed to be always sad. Not terribly sad, he showed some happiness here and there but he would stop a moment during pauses from lessons to stare at his desk, contemplating about something she knew nothing about.

    He had a cousin, Nora, which was a female human completely the opposite of Ren. Overly-friendly, spending most of her time socializing and ‘driving’ the class to her. It was amusing, just like some of the protagonists she had drafted from her unrealistic concepts and yet… she was there and existed.

    A curious development that led Ilia to ask from the boy more about them and why they were in Menagerie, ending up to get some answers and more. The two ‘siblings’ were from Mistral, from a settlement that had been attacked by the Grimm and forced them to flee.

    Their current caretaker and legal guardian, John Bukharin, took them in and managed to get them to where the White Fang had settled for few days before returning from a mass protest campaign. Fast-forward, they were enrolled to the school and started to study in her classroom.

    Their story was impressive, something that seemed to have come out from a book and… she liked it. To think that someone that lived the rare tale of uncommon was… awe-inducing.

    Then she learned that their ‘parent’ was also good with writing. It was something that Ren muttered when the girl had told him about her drawings and written stories, alluding to the fact this Mr. Bukharin had indeed gone and made a hobby about it before settling in Kuo Kuana.

    This little discovery meant a lot for the young chameleon faunus and soon she planned a way to help her parents. She was sure her drawings and stories were worth of something and, if she managed to get an expert to the case… maybe she could help her family.

    It was a complex plan that required some timing and proper study of her ‘target’. The man worked for the local bank and went to work just after the beginning of school, leaving it only two-to-three hours after the end of the school. This gave her a window of opportunity of few hours to truly act and…

    It happened. Another day at school passed, enjoying the chats with Ren and staring as Nora went to make some funny jokes and plays with fellow classmates. Writing notes, listening to the lessons and… the bell rang.

    Her smile widened as she took her old school bag and almost skipped through the hallway to leave the classroom. Without wasting much time, Ilia ventured through the streets of the capital she had explored very little, but still managed to recognize after so long she went in those places.

    The walk was uneventful and she paused few times when there were large crowds blocking the passage. Soon she found herself staring at the building where John Bukharin worked in. Several men wearing suits went in and out, looking professional and formal with their stances and walking.

    Her minuscule frame and her simple dress a sore spot in the sea of gray, black and dark-blue. She moved decisively, going forward and toward the large counted deep in the room, the cartel above hit with ‘Receptionist’ written on it suggesting that the person assigned there could help her.

    She reached it and stared up as a young woman with lynx ears turned at her with a small smile. “Hello there, little one. Are you there with your parents?”

    Ilia was tempted to not reply to the stranger but… she had to ask questions to someone. “No.”

    “Oh? Then are you here for some ‘work’?”

    The girl frowned at the strange tone at the end of the question and she decided to speak about her business. “I-I am here to speak with Mr. Bukharin.”

    The older faunus blinked in surprise. “You mean John Bukharin?”

    A nod and the woman frowned. “Can you tell me how do you know him?”

    Ilia nodded. “I am friend with Ren.”

    The receptionist seemed to hum in, her eyes half-closed in concentration before she realized what the girl was talking about. “You mean his adoptive...son?"

    Another nod. “And why would you need his help? Something happened to Ren?”

    “No.” She replied quickly, her patience thinning dangerously at this point. She needed to talk to him, nothing else, and yet the woman was annoying her with so many questions. “I need to show him my writing.”

    The lynx faunus nodded slowly. “Your… writing?”

    “I need to talk to him.” She finally pressed and the older female sighed.

    “I will see to find him and… hopefully he will have some good explanation for this.” She reached for her phone and called a number Ilia couldn’t she from where she was. The woman waited a moment before the caller picked up.

    “Bukharin, there is a classmate of your child, Ren, here that wishes to speak with you.”



    “No, she said nothing had happened to him and that she wanted to show you her writing and- Yes, understood.”

    The call ended and the girl looked hopefully at the woman- “He said he is coming soon.”

    Her eyes glowed in glee at this. That meant that she was one step closer to help her family!

    A few moments later a slightly tall human paced out of one of the various hallways and walked towards the receptionist’s counter. His eyes fell on her and widened in surprise and recognition.

    “I think you are… Ilia, right?”

    She nodded surprised.

    “Ren spoke well of you. Said that you like to draw and-” “A-And write.” She blinked before looking down, her outburst caused by her excitement. “S-Sorry.”

    “No problem, kid. Just tell me what you needed to tell me.”

    The girl didn’t spoke back. Instead she pulled several papers out of her school bag and extended those at the curious man.

    “I- I want to publish this.”



    “Uh?”

    ---------d-d-dd----------------d-d-d-d---------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-

    While Ilia Amitola had been one of the most recent character integrated to the Volumes, her backstory wasn’t completely evolved.

    Only some points were mentioned, like the fact her parents would have to work in Atlas’ mines for years to get their girl to study well in the upper citadel, that they would die because of a cave-in and this event would then usher the girl in the aggressive faction within the White Fang.

    Not much was expanded on the fact that, even through money mattered a 50% of the tuition, Atlas’ schools wanted intelligent children in their classroom.

    Intelligent enough to study quickly topics and ace exams without problems.

    Considering this simple notion, I don’t think it would be difficult to explain that, this little two-years old ‘book’ was by far the best thing I had read from someone her age… ever.

    While the grammar was still lacking and some punctuation needed some changing, the massive story she created there was…

    Incredibly good.

    I wouldn’t call it a grand masterpiece, but I would be an utter moron to not see the good deal of descriptions and characterizations used in there. Childish in some aspect, but never too much ‘on the face’ and… I liked it.

    The story of Fantasy, which surprisingly was nothing like the ones from the ‘real world’, was something that could seriously sell big-time with the proper editor and… I closed the book as I glanced at the patiently waiting child.

    The fact that she had also drawn her own illustrations of some of the scenes of the story further showed the powerful potential hiding in her. An interesting detail of her character that the authors could have been kind enough to add to the plot.

    The surprise was pleasant sure, but the delivery was a little too shocking to be good. Still I nodded at her and she smiled widely at my reaction.

    “This work will require some corrections but… I think it could sell… a lot.”

    “R-Really?” I nodded again and placed it on the table, pushing it on the opposite side, where the child was sitting.

    “I know that it might sound incredible but… what you did here is possibly the… craziest thing I have ever seen. The attention to the details and the loyalty to keep some characters keep their personalities without any major change-inducing events is truly great.”

    Her eyes watered and I groaned as I was going to see another child cry in front of me.

    “Still this is going to take a lot of time as I need to find the editor willing and free to produce this, without any scamming contract between the lines.”

    “T-That is… good for me.”

    “And I will also have to tell your parents.”

    She stiffened a little, surely trying to not bring her father and mother on this situation but… I bet they will be proud at what their daughter had achieved.

    Ready or not, Remnant, you are getting your own version of… Stephen King. Only she is a child and incredibly shy.

    ------------d-d-d-d-------------d-dd-d-------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d----

    AN

    Ilia the daring, Ilia the super-chibi and Ilia the adorkable girl. Yes, I know that it might be sound strange… until Blake Character Show is taken into account. Atlas is a no-nonsense kind of nation and I bet their education had some of the strictest rules, even regarding enrolling people.

    Knowing that Ilia had to have been incredibly smart to not only enter one of the schools but also keep up with the standards imposed there, I wouldn’t be that much wrong in thinking she… is very smart. A prodigy even.

    Why she doesn’t show this in the series? Well I think I can use one of Jojo (No, it’s not a meme) character: Fugo Pannacotta. The character is hailed as a genius in his background but, after facing some bad hands from fate, he is forced to deal with real life without the chance of refining his intelligence. It is still there, but Ilia didn’t have the means nor the will to go and improve on that.

    Also trying to humanize Raven after the series failed that. Why do I say that? Well, do you realize that Volume 3 was going to have more Raven after Volume 2? It’s not much of a theory, but a well-known thing that Monty was the one that put Raven at the end of Volume 2 as he had planned a large part of Volume 3 to expand upon her relationship with Yang. Would it have fitted then with Volume 4? Yep. Without that it literally left little development, much confusion and lots of anger.

    I don’t think anymore that bringing up Monty’s name will create some proper image to what is right. He is resting peacefully, let him rest. If change has to happen, it will be from those who are alive and working on the series.

    Do I expect them to pull some miracles on the next Volume? The story was ruined by Volume 3 by cutting so much details and adding too much shipping to this. Ships could have been explained by those scenes they had removed but they did like a funny non-copyrighted song on YT:
    Money, money, money, give it all to me. Money, money, money, give it all to me. (I think it was in one of Fitz's Fortnite videos, but I took it out of the... 'context' as it isn't implying that in this case.)


    P.S. Ranting a lot but after a while I needed to express the reasons that fuel this fandom to produce good stories in an attempt to ‘escape’ from the real deal. I love RWBY 1-2, but they screwed up so much with too much shipping.
     
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  26. AllyDoodle

    AllyDoodle Lewd Cthulhu

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    Was the receptionist asking Ilia if she was there for 'work' mean what I think it means or am I just jumping to the wrong conclusion?
     
  27. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    To summarize the context of the scene: The receptionist had to deal with a young girl that had little to no correlation to one of the newest worker there, someone that is a human (that works in a Faunus bank) and has a minder. The suspect is a must, she was just making sure if the situation was that disgusting scenario and I wished to uphold to a certain degree of rationality over the predicament itself.
     
  28. Threadmarks: The Lady in Red (2)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you.” – Randy Pausch

    Chapter 11: The Lady In Red (2)

    Summer Rose hummed as the ship finished to dock to the tropical-like island of Menagerie, little Ruby sleeping blissfully in her arms as Yang enjoyed her own napping with her father. Qrow was staring as the workers from the ship and the dock started to finish the preparations for the people to finally leave.

    It has been an interesting trip the one that took her and what was left of her team from Patch to the small semi-nation ruled by Faunus. Lots of fun around as the kids were enjoying their first time away from home and their first moments with a swimming pool.

    While the local beaches of their hometown were incredibly beautiful and they had been given the chance of visiting those more than once, trying the swimming pool was a different experience altogether.

    Her little Rose was so happy to play with water without the ‘itchy’ sand around and Yang was finally given by her father the first lesson to swimming. The blonde was skeptical at first, but almost turned in a fish with how eager she was with the whole concept of racing with her old man and her mother-

    A sigh left her mouth as her silver eyes looked at the medium-sized capital with a sliver of concern. What if Raven had already hit? What if she was long gone and their efforts were all in vain?

    Eyes closing as she craved for some little rest, her wishes were partly crushed by Qrow poking at her forehead, smiling as he was met with a pout from her.

    “Sorry, Sums, but you need to be up and ready when we will catch my dumb sister.”

    Her lips curled in a small, tired smile as a yawn flied out of her. “Sure, but you are holding her. Last time… was kind of weird.”

    Raven had always been aggressive when being hold down by any member of her team, but Summer was a special case as the female Branwen found that there were simple ways to bother a fellow woman.

    Things that for now were better kept silent and away from the public, her mind wandering back to the workers, now making way for the first wave of tourists to leave.

    “It’s time to go and face our little ‘friend’.” Taiyang muttered as he got up, Yang still sleeping in his arms as he led the way to the main entrance of the ship and through the docks of Kuo Kuana, the city being the major center of the entire community of Faunus in Remnant.

    People with cat-, dog-, fox-, etch- ears and other curious appendages that were normally spotted in animals, but looked completely human… as those were humans in her eyes, with logic, heart and soul.

    Their first stop was the postal office in the city, the place where it was the easiest to find people that have made use of letters and packages. A state-owned company, the receptionist was kind enough to sign down an appointment with one of the consultants available for this little search, bringing proof that they ‘knew’ the sender.

    Few minutes later they were swooped inside the office of a young woman with antelope ears twitching in her ears once in a while, looking very formal but friendly at first impressions and Summer was glad that her assumption was correct when she was given quite quickly a chronology of the packages sent to her, with all the details on it.

    She looked at the address of the sender, Taiyang giving glances at the small map of the city he had brought from a tourist standpoint they had found along the way and signed down the interested house.

    Thanking the helpful woman, their next stop was their most important as they didn’t waste time to alert the individual that had repelled Raven the first time of the possible repercussions of this situation.

    Reaching a small-sized house, compared to their own back at Patch, Qrow decided to be the one knocking at the door as his teammates were busy with the children. Someone from within said ‘Here, a moment’ as footsteps reached for the entrance and the door was opened to reveal-

    A wide-eyed young man. Short, dark-brown hair, black glasses and quite the unshaven beard that reminded them of Qrow. He was wearing a single sleeveless shirt and baggy gym pants as he seemed to have woken up just now from the tired look on his face.

    “Oh.” His lips turned in a thin line as he seemed out of words for their sudden appearance and Summer couldn’t but snort amused at his confused reaction. This simple act warranted him frowning at her and the woman couldn’t but look away from his accusatory glance.

    “John Bukharin?” The Branwen finally asked, the shock about the age of their mysterious friend subsiding.

    “T-That is me.” He made way. “P-Please enter?”

    Taiyang nodded and entered first, ignoring the skeptical look from his brother-in-law, and the older Rose followed closely as they were met with a surprisingly spacious living room with kitchen incorporated.

    Yet there was one element that wasn’t usual for a simple house like the one they had just entered into. Staring wide-eyed as her eyes were fixed on them, Raven Branwen looked like a deer caught in headlights.

    She was tied down with some rope on a chair, in front of her sitting on a couch a tiger-faunus woman, keeping a partial stare over their former teammate while also studying the new arrivals.

    “It… would seem like he didn’t need any warning at all.” Taiyang commented with some cheek, but while they expected to have some introduction and explanation now that they were in, their little peace was broken by the sudden loud cry of a little child.

    Ruby Rose had just woken up and her first sight? The scary-looking Raven Branwen.

    --------d-d-d-d----------d-d-dd------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d----------d-d-dd----------

    As Ruby continued to cry in her mother’s hold, I finally managed to ‘wake up’ from my shock at seeing STQ of team STRQ knocking at my door in a Saturday morning.

    I was pretty tired, the chat with Ilia’s parents ending in a positive tone as they accepted that I took her as an apprentice and kind of babysat her while they did their best to find jobs, kind of surprised at their daughter’s innate capacity to write good stories.

    It was going to be a long process and I had to state multiple times that it wasn’t something that required some salary for my case as I was doing it for the sake of ‘writing’. Seriously, I wasn’t that greedy to force poor people to pay for something that should be genuinely explored and refined to create a precious diamond out of the rough piece.

    Returning back to the current situation, I invited the three to take a seat on the large couch as I went to prepare some breakfast. Taiyang and Sienna asked for simple coffees while I was kind of surprised when the rest asked for some chocolate-milkshake.

    Little Yang, still with her twin-tailed comb, seemed surprise at the unknown house she just woke up into but her attention shifted away from the initial confusion when the sweet desert was mentioned, her hand lifting quite fast as the words sunk in her brain.

    I blinked at the full predicament and just realized something very interesting and amusing. This was STRQ trying to work as a family and showing still some inability for those new duties. It was not glaring, but still visible and Raven was still doing nothing, so I cannot say for sure she would do well with Yang or not.

    As I prepared the massive amount of cups for the task of satisfying the bellies of everyone present and the two kids still sleeping in their room, I yawned as I finished the first batch and handed the results of my handiwork to Qrow, Summer and the two children.

    Ruby had the most amusing of reactions, her cry long subdued but her eyes shining brightly at the familiar smell of chocolate and milk, her mouth latching on the straw connected with the cup and starting to drink the content almost instantly.

    Yang followed by humming as she drank the content of her own cup.

    Summer and Qrow were surprised at the delicious taste of the beverage, even the Branwen had been shocked by how good it was and, since this compliment came from a known drunkard, I think I can say that it had to be dang good!

    Much to the surprise of the present ones, I had also brought the cup for Raven to drink from the straw, my shotgun being held in my free hand as I prepared for any funny business with the tribe’s leader.

    She behaved well, showing no weird attitude in drinking the content of the cup just like she had done in the past two days. What kind of weird? The ‘not-for-kids’ kind of weird.

    Offering the two cup of coffee to Taiyang and Sienna I returned to the two remaining cups and turned at the huntsmen. “I am going to wake up the kids and… I will be back soon”.

    I ignored the confused looks as I went to knock softly at one of the door and entered the room quietly. Nora shifted in her bed while Ren slowly opened his pink eyes at him, staring at the cups and nodding as he sat on his bed, ready to accept his chocolate-milk.

    Giving him the cup and some tissue to clean his mouth, I moved towards the still slumbering girl and let out a soft whistle. It was something mom would do to wake me and- my sister down.

    My little sibling would groan and try to sleep the entire morning, failing against mom’s stubborn determination of having us wake up in a ‘healthy hour’.

    “Dad?”

    I blinked as blue eyes turned at me, holding now an empty cup in her hands.

    I chuckled nervously. “O-Only a day-dream, sweetie.”

    She nodded slowly, her worried look didn’t vanish as I moved to pick Ren’s cup and returned by the door and turned at them.

    “We have some guests. I wish to see some good behavior from both of you, okay?”

    A collective nod, I was glad they understood the situation and went to open the door and bring the two cups to the dishwasher, then went to collect the others and did the same.

    “So you are alone with this… all?” I glanced at Summer, her head peeking from the couch and nodded. “Really? No one else?”

    “Having learned to do this stuff just last year. Mom wanted me to be ready before letting me go.”

    “Oh.” She grew a little quiet at that, possibly because she had some issues with her own parents, but Taiyang took it as a chance to continue the discussion.

    “So you learned pretty recently. Had to be rough.”

    I nodded. “Quite, I was atrocious in doing laundry for two months, then I got things right.”

    “I remember trying to fix my own laundry back at Beacon. That machine was cursed-”

    “Or maybe you just can’t work around devices, Tai.” Qrow joked at the expenses of his friend but the blond man smiled even more.

    “You weren’t much better. Am I right, Sums?” The woman smiled innocently, but I could see the teasing forming up in her mind.

    So she opened her mouth-

    “Qrow was incredibly dumb with the washing machine. I remember him getting his entire wardrobe pink once because he couldn’t understand why colored clothes had to not be mixed with white ones.”

    Raven’s little tale was met with a giggle with Summer and the surprised look from Taiyang and Qrow. The moment of silence that followed was briefly interrupted as a yawning Nora walked out of her room, followed by Ren.

    Silver eyes shifted to the two children and the older Rose squealed in glee at the two unsuspecting kids. “They look so cute!”

    The Valkyrie smiled widely. “Thank you, pretty lady.”

    Yang slowly moved off the couch and stood in front of the two new individuals and tilted her head on the side. “I am Yang.”

    The orangette smiled widely. “I am Nora annnnd!” She pulled the boy close. “This is Ren!”

    He waved at the blonde and she nodded with a small smile.

    “Do you want to play?” The young Xiao Long opened her mouth to reply but she stopped to look at Ruby. Her young sibling blinked at her and clapped her hands at her, spitting out her pacifier while repeating the same word.

    “’Ang! ‘Ang!”

    Summer giggled as she slowly set the five-years old Rose on the ground and let her slowly walk towards her sibling. Taking the smaller hand on her, Yang slowly led the smiling child to the room Nora and Ren shared, half-closing the door.

    Just as I finished washing off the last cups, I turned around to see Raven sigh in relief as the children went in another room, causing me to mutter quietly. “Of course you would be relieved of that..”

    Maybe it wasn’t soft as a whisper, as red eyes quickly snapped my direction with a surprised glint I knew she had heard me and, seeing her turn so suddenly at me, the rest of the group had their attention on me.

    “So… I guess this isn’t a mere visit of courtesy.” They nodded as I took a seat near Sienna, the woman assuming a little more her role of guard than the one of minder seeing the situation required more of the former than the latter.

    “You seemed to know a lot about us and… Ozpin.” I nodded at Qrow’s words, glancing at my legs as I waited for the question.

    “Why did you help us?” Summer’s question pierced beyond my initial preparation for the interrogation as it went quite off-board right at the beginning.

    “Uh… What?” Silver eyes softened and she smiled at my confusion, maybe already knowing about it.

    “You have this knowledge but, seeing that you have already settled away from Vale in general, you didn’t keep things to yourself. Why did you want to help us?”

    “Because it was the right thing, I guess?” I advanced quickly, stopping just a moment to elaborate. “I know Ozpin is mixed with some crazy stuff about the Grimm and- I don’t know how far I can go about it-”

    “Grimm have a Queen.” Raven blurted without hesitation, drawing the shocked looks from the rest of her team.

    I nodded. “Salem and her clique, yes.” And their shock was now directed at me.

    “Y-You know about that?” Taiyang asked with a light stutter, it had to be surprising that someone out of the chessboard knew this much of the ‘game’.

    “I know about the Maidens and the real connection between the Headmaster and Salem.”

    “That sounds quite interesting and- real connection?”

    I sighed at Summer’s noticing my little word-play, but decided to see if I could garner their trust. “Ozpin was once married with Salem.”

    “That sounds far-fetched-” “Like magic, dear brother?”

    Qrow scowled at Raven’s mocking tone but I was already explaining the ‘relationship’ between the two individuals.

    “We are currently on the second or third wave of humanity. In the previous ones there were other Kingdoms and Grimm were less than now. Why they started to get more and aggressive? Salem tried to bring her beloved back to life and got the Gods going ham at each other.”

    “Gods? You mean The Brothers?” I nodded at Taiyang but Qrow sighed skeptical at the whole situation.

    “This is ridiculous. Gods? What proof do you have of their existence?”

    “The relics.” Silence ruled for a while as the cocky front the Branwen had tried to put on collapsed at the mere mentioning of the very objects Ozpin had to have mentioned more than once to them.

    “But why would she be angry at humanity?” The Rose questioned with some confusion, the story incomplete and long thus.. I decided to deliver an abridged version of it.

    “Well, Ozzie got resurrected, they ruled humanity for a while and had four kids, then when Salem discovered their kids had magic she had some fit as she felt threatened about this.”

    “So she attacked the kids?” There was a protective note in Taiyang’s voice but he frowned as I shook my head negatively.

    “Quite the opposite. Ozpin tried to pull a Raven with his kids.” A groan left the mentioned woman’s mouth. “Sadly he got caught and died for the second time to give times for the children to run away from Salem.”

    “So it’s literally a badly-handled divorce situation?” Qrow cracked with some amusement and I nodded with a chuckle. “Seriously? Maybe that is why Oz is that embarrassed of talking about it.”

    Summer giggled and smiled widely. “Now that makes Rae looks good when comparing the two situations.”

    I am still here, Summer.”

    Ignoring the groaning from the tied down woman, I decided to pipe in with my own teasing.

    “I mean, Raven at least didn’t cause the end of the world… but I think she is still hunted down from those she is trying to avoid.”

    “Damn right you are, mister!” Summer replied so eagerly and everyone took a chuckle… minus Raven.

    I could see her face reddening in fury, the woman shaking the more teasing was added to the previous ones and then I realized why one shouldn’t anger Raven Branwen.

    I was in the middle of another fun comeback when – SNAP – The sound was quick, but the paranoia had urged me to keep an eye over the captive rogue huntress and I barely turned in time as-

    CHU!

    I blinked once, then twice, finally my brain rebooted as I felt her legs crossing and bringing out chests close and-

    I could feel the chocolate and milk… dangit-

    Summer ‘eeped’ as Taiyang and Qrow moved together to try and wrestle the woman away from me. The kiss was a desperate one, but the emotion was there, the passion was there.

    Sienna joined the struggle, helping the two men and slowly pulling Raven away from me and then-

    She smiled as she was pulled away completely, licking her lips and saying just one word as she was tied once more in that chair. One word that sent some heavy shivers on my back.

    Mine~.”

    ---------------d-d-dd-----------------d-d-d-dd---------------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d----------d-d-d-d---

    AN

    So it would seem like Raven got her first victory. I had not portrayed Sienna’s reaction because… next chapter some girl-fighting? Something similar.

    Also I wonder if I should bring this up buuuuuuut-

    Some people have told me that without the chub I might look like some relative to Summer so imagine their initial surprise at my appearance. I don’t have silver eyes, but from my understanding of the lore, it isn’t something truly generational in a family.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2020
    brt99, Dayume, AM014 and 19 others like this.
  29. Threadmarks: The Lady in Red (3)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn't mercy..” – Timothy Keller

    Chapter 12: The Lady In Red (3)

    If someone asked to Sienna Khan what was the one thing that had shocked her the most in her career as part of the Menagerie’s militia and rising official of the White Fang, her blunt reply would be two simple words.

    John Bukharin.

    A young man, just a little younger to her if she had to be honest, that seemed to hold secrets about everything and everyone. A human that defied the concept of humans she had long been having ever since that particular year of her life.

    It has been so long and the tiger faunus had expected to have learned everything to know about humans. Monster in civil disguise, ready to pull the pettiest but also most pragmatic of attitudes for the sake of flaunting their innate ‘intelligence’ compared to Faunus.

    When she first saw the terrified, glass-wearing idiot with two children behind him, she had expected some case of trickery, an attempt to slowly coax her to drop the guard and exploit any information he could garner, for the survival of his wards and his own.

    Her initial assumptions… proved to be partly correct. Actually she had to admit that what the young man lacked in muscles and brawn was redeemed by his keen mind and careful planning, his boss actually praising the determination of the lone human in that island of Faunus in dealing with the paperwork, ending up to ask for overtimes just to increase a little his wage.

    The small house might be small and the current prospect of expanding weren’t truly positive in this first few months, but under some heavy questioning John admitted to his grand plan during his stay. Make the house something modest and acceptable to live in with so many people around.

    She knew that, albeit still young and naive, the two children would have to get some proper rooms for each other, as to preserve the need of privacy that would rise when they reached an older age.

    It was a long-term and ambitious plan she could go around and understand, while also she could see why he would point out the curious economic issue he found during his first days of work.

    His reasoning wasn’t one of patriotism, which she would have abhorred for the fact he wasn’t born from Menagerie and that he had little time spent there, but one relative to the integrity of his job.

    He wasn’t doing out of passion, but out of duty and, while Sienna would have preferred to have a Faunus point it out for the first motivations, she was still glad this anomaly was caught before harm could truly have been done.

    Yet Sienna has to be honest about a very small detail she wouldn’t never tell to anyone, not even to her most trusted aide or ally.

    While their personalities tended to clash once in a while and their overall mentalities diverged from each other, she couldn’t but be glad to have ended up dealing with a human like him.

    The relationship wasn’t one of friendship, or at least she hoped it wasn’t, but if she had to pick a single individual in a group of humans that included John, she would quickly pick him and have around.

    A place where to crash? He would offer it to her without demanding anything.

    A plate of delicious food even through she would try and fail to politely decline? He would go out of his way to prepare an extra portion.

    She was there to keep an eye on him by orders of the Chieftain of Menagerie, and yet John would treat her like part of some family group.

    He didn’t treat her like he did with the children, but he wouldn’t shy away from ask if she was okay or not. It was a behavior which wasn’t normal for someone meant to be in some pseudo house-arrests.

    It was that peculiar day that brought up the true meaning of their relationship, as he decided to confide what he knew about the world and the ‘future’ to a group of Hunstmen that were supposed to take in the woman, Raven Branwen, back to Vale to be prosecuted there.

    It was odd to know that the dangerous bandit leader had been part of Vale’s Hunter Corps, and yet the two men and woman that were there in the living room proved the truthfulness of that fact.

    The shocking revelation that he knew about the future of those around him? She was glad the children, both his and the ones that came with the group of hunters, were stuck away from this discussion.

    Dumbfounded at this discovery, she didn’t reply at first, contemplating if the young man would give some insight about her future. Will she become the leader of the Fang just like she wanted? Will she see Faunus obtain their long-deserved freedom?

    There was so much storming within her mind and yet she couldn’t formulate anything, not even a small query as the talk diverted to a more teasing and provoking situation regarding the predicament that Raven Branwen was experiencing.

    A terrible act that ended up bringing quite the dreadful sight in the form of the criminal latching on John and stealing a kiss out of him.

    Now Sienna would have merely scoffed at the scene if she hadn’t been around the young human for so long, yet the moment she watched this whole sight unfold, something twisted painfully in her chest as she joined the intervention of the two men to separate the woman from young man, his face forming a shocked expression at the act.

    Sudden anger flared at this deceitful act and then, if the injury wasn’t enough, the Branwen smugly added the insult to it all. “Mine~.”

    A low guttural sound started to make way through her throat as Sienna mustered every single particle of killing intent present in her body. It was a claim, one over she was slowly getting soft around, which he wasn’t appreciating.

    He didn’t want it, he didn’t ask it and yet she still went ahead with her greedy demands.

    It was burned in her head, how this reminded way too much what happened to her back then and-

    Red bore into golden slit-eyes.

    The smug was vanished, replaced by a challenging glare that was slowly increasing her inner fury, barely held back by her own logical side.

    Then she felt her hand taken in a soft hold, a squeeze ceasing her thinking as it comfortably tried to bring her back to reality. The noise in her throat stopped and she looked back to find John staring at her with a confused look, a worried glint visible to her now highly-attentive sight.

    The tiger faunus gulped quickly and crouched, starting to help the young man up as he blinked in surprise at what was going on.

    “A-Are you alright?”

    The question felt hypocritical, especially since the one asking should be her and the one answering should be him!

    “I am.” She conceded as she knew that bickering over such situation would only get her some headache. “How are you?” Her tone assumed a more demanding note but he still nodded, seemingly ignoring the edge on her words and accepting the helping arm to get him near the kitchen area.

    The woman, Summer, walked up to them and asked politely for a glass of water and they shared a moment of quiet recovery, the caped woman glancing first at John and back at her, confusion painted in her face.

    Sienna looked away, not for any embarrassment, but for the sake of not giving wrong hints at the quiet human woman that was Summer Rose.

    As the three finished, the young man picked two other glasses with water and walked to the two men, Taiyang Xiao Long and Qrow Branwen, offering them the drink.

    The blond accepted while the brother of the Bandit declined with a simple ‘No’.

    Few moments later, they were once more sitting in the living room, the tiger faunus deciding to stick closer to John to avoid… any unnecessary issue once more.

    She sighed as she relaxed on the soft back-space of the couch, listening once more as the Bukharin spoke once more.

    -d-d-d-d-d-d-d-dd--------------dd-d-d--dd--d-dd--d-d-----------------------------------

    That was… unexpected.

    Ms. Branwen has always been that much brazen with everyone. I guess you have turned out to be her newest victim.

    I think I could have gone without it. I mean, I can still taste chocolate and Alcohol- HOW DID SHE EVEN GOT HOLD OF BEER!

    The fridge?

    I don’t have beer in my fridge.

    Then the security assigned to her is lacking.

    B-but I- You know what? Nope, I’m not dealing with this.

    Having trouble, Mr. Bukharin? Or do you prefer your real name-

    Can it, Ozma! I don’t need empty talks about morals you don’t have yourself.

    “So… that was-”

    “Very awkward.” My attention snapped at Taiyang, the man giving an understanding look. “I feel you.”

    Qrow merely nodded as he continued to slouch on his couch.

    “But I have to ask now, what do you want to do with Raven?” Insensible? A little, but I think the funny moments were long gone now and now some seriousness was needed.

    The man blinked, humming as he thought about it as the aforementioned woman glanced raptly at him, waiting for him to show any ‘weakness’ even through, in that little play of his, it was easy to see he was through.

    I don’t think so. Mr. Xiao Long is still the romantic man that chased after her.

    I am certain that your point is missing a very crucial detail that makes him strong enough to break off with her.

    Truly? Will you explain-

    “I want to have an official divorce and I want her to give up her legal connection to Yang.” He nodded, gaining the surprise from both Summer and Qrow.

    “I think it’s time to be honest and… say that this isn’t right. I want Yang to grow with a mom that is here.” He looked at Summer. “I want you to be there for her, for them- I want Ruby and Yang to grow together, as sisters.”

    The older Rose was slowly captured in his arms and hid her head in the embrace, trying to not notice the reaction of her former partner and friend.

    Raven was fuming, eyes wide open trying to give the greatest of her hatred but… tears were flowing.

    It was an odd sight to see the Branwen crying at that declaration, but I could bring some reason about it. As much as she denied it, she still cared and the searing pain of having someone like her husband finally bringing down the farce she had built upon her ‘change of mind’.

    If you break a toy, you have to pay it, soon or later and one way or another.

    She didn’t spoke, there was nothing to say and even Qrow decided to take some distance from her as she continued to sob. Summer was shifting in Taiyang’s hold, but the man kept her stuck as he himself had his eyes directed at the caped woman.

    Head slowly arching to stare at the ground, Raven tried and failed to bring an end to the reaction she was having over that news and, to be honest, I was being put in a metaphorical dilemma which I wanted to have nothing to do about.

    And yet you are fidgeting seeing Raven like this.

    Not the moment-

    Ladies shouldn’t cry, isn’t that what this is all about?



    I might be a ‘moron’ about saving the world, Mr. Bukharin, but I can recognize the fact you are not liking having someone put in that state, even through you know they warranted it all.

    Does that mean we are alike because of that then, Ozma?

    That is sadly correct.

    I huffed, Sienna being the one noticing that I was certainly not finding this whole situation easy to bear through, eyes narrowing as she poked at me, right on my torso.

    Eyes snapping at her, she rolled hers and turned at Raven and I connected the dots. “I-It’s not like that.” I whispered furiously.

    She isn’t worth it.” She whispered back.

    I sighed and closed my eyes in deep thought. What to do? What to do?

    Nothing?

    Funny! But we both know that is not what I feel to do!

    You are an idiot-

    I didn’t let my Grimm wife take over the world for a while!

    Nevermind, deal with it yourself then.

    This wasn’t helpful and my conscience was getting pushy. Seriously, help a murderer to recover some familial break up? One that I supported to the fullest for Pete’s sake!

    But maybe the issue wasn’t trying to bring comfort to the one that should have made her mind before dealing with this kind of situations, maybe it was something about the last remains of the conduct she was regretting.

    “I am going to regret this but-” I sighed, adjusting myself in my spot in the couch. “Raven.”

    She ignored my voice, continuing with her sobbing and I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy but… it had to be done.

    Thus I stood up and walked to her and then proceeded to lift her face. Fingers under her chin, she blinked in surprise as she was slowly pulled to stare at my face as I gave her a bored look.

    “Why?”

    She blinked again, confusion working very well in making me almost flinch with the puffy eyes and the tear-stricken face. “W-What?” Her voice losing the signs of strength that once made it stern, now a broken note left her lips.

    “Why did you leave?” I pressed my argument softly. “What did Ozpin do?”

    She twitched in her seat. “I-I can’t-”

    “Raven, I know that Ozpin is a goddamn bastard.” I stated calmly, ignoring the shock and surprise still coming off from the other three members of STRQ. “I don’t think I need to prove anything to you after my little explanation about ‘Why he is a frigging moron’, but I need you to tell me-no, us what forced you to make a run for it.”

    She fidgeted once more, then nodded. “F-Fine- but t-they wouldn’t-”

    “I swear to God almighty, I will drop hot fury if you don’t answer that stupid question!”

    Now I had the entire room’s attention on me but I was too focused in what I was trying to pull here.

    As much as I disliked Raven, I think that the best choice of action to avoid suicide – Yes, I do believe she would pursue that route without someone giving attention to this – having her face the past to the fullest. It was required because it would deal once for all to any lingering regrets.

    “I-It was b-because he wanted- he wanted to send us all to the Grimmlands-”

    “When-”

    “A-A month after Yang was born!”

    … “You mean to tell me-”

    “H-He said that I didn’t have a-a choice and- and that I would have been branded as a rogue a-and-”

    “Ohi, stop-”

    “N-No, I-” My hands pinched at her cheeks. “Ahi- wanna twalk!”

    “You lost the privilege by hyperventilating this much.” I stated quickly. “But I accept your reasoning, while still condemning the fact you should have trusted them more.”

    “Yeah, you fucked up-”

    I snapped a glare at the drunkard. “Not the moment, Qrow.”

    He shrugged and I returned back to Raven, now turning into… the most docile face I have ever held in my hands- Actually this was the first time I did something like this that wasn’t my sist-

    Okay, let us not digress unto painful homesickness.

    “Look, I don’t accept what you pulled by running away, nor how you decided to not face up the fact your team would have covered your back-” She looked down. “BUT!” Red eyes once more lifted up at me. “You haven’t lost everything.” I turned to Taiyang. “Or at least I hope so as… I have a plan.”

    The Xiao Long frowned. “Explain.”

    “Divorce yes but-”

    “I’m sorry, I can’t just forgive her for that-”

    “But that isn’t what I am asking you!” I countered his interruption. “My plan is about dealing with Ozpin’s manipulation and keeping the whole family safe.”

    “Sounds complicated.” The male Branwen muttered. “But do go ahead, mastermind.”

    “It’s actually very simple, especially since it requires only one thing from Raven that I know she will do after I will say a little detail of the future she will find a good reason to go along with my idea.”

    The aforementioned woman frowned and I sighed, prepared to deal with the worst outcome I could get with that revelation.

    Thus, I started with a brief premise. “Summer, you know that… you are a target to the Queen, right?”

    She emerged from the hug she was still involved into with her lover and bobbed a nod. “Silver eyes, yes.”

    “And you still go in solo missions too, correct?”

    She nodded again, this time I noticed the rest of the team connecting dots about my subtle-not-so-subtle questions.

    “When.” Taiyang demanded, not moving yet as he didn’t want Summer to understand what was going on as the woman looked still clueless.

    “This year… or the next one.”

    “Whom?” Qrow pressed on and I felt nervous and worried for my current health.

    “Hazel Rainart and I don’t know if Tyrian Callows was implied too.”

    “W-What is going on?” The leader of the former team asked, sweating a little at this.

    “It means you are quitting being a huntress and pursuing a career as a teacher.” I stated with a tone that left no space for protests. “Raven will be visiting frequently and by ‘frequently’ I mean daily and for long times.”

    The bandit leader looked conflicted and I sighed.

    “Look, I am trying to get you a chance to redeem yourself and get something back from your past life.” I continued. “You may say that this isn’t the way of the ‘strong’ but I think we both know that you don’t believe it yourself.”

    The Branwen twitched and Summer finally recovered from that confusing and odd order. “What do you mean?”

    “While she paints herself as a bloodthirsty bandit, that isn’t the case.” Raven was looking rather crossed at the fact I was ruining her image with this but, it was free points to recover some credibility. “How much did you sell the people you captured?”

    She blinked, trying to keep quiet but luckily she caught my idea and spoke. “Several thousands of Lien each person.”

    “No deaths during your reign?” She nodded. “And no violence of ‘that’ kind?” She nodded again, this time vigorously.

    “Well, she isn’t murder, but you are still a thief-” I stated quietly.

    “Not breaking news, pal.” Qrow interrupted with a small smile, getting Raven to renew a glare at him.

    “Well then… what do you all think of the plan?”

    The four exchanged some glances, Raven finding little attention much to her dismay.

    Taiyang coughed and nodded. “It could be done but...” He turned at his former wife. “I will not accept you back home.”

    Then he turned at me once more, a smile forming on his face as I dreaded what he was going to say.

    “I guess, our good friend John will have to house you somewhere when you need it and-”

    “You could’ve kept screwing the people in your team rather than target the first easy prey outside of it, Mr. Xiao Long.

    JOHN!

    I smiled smugly, seeing both women blush at that inconvenient detail about their team, then I turned to Qrow with the same expression and he frowned.

    “Don’t you dare.”

    “I will not...” I conceded smoothly, making him groan at my silent accusation.

    “Still, I will… try to get some space for you, I guess?” I said to Raven. “The house is small already. I can’t offer anything-”

    “I-I understand.”

    She nodded and I sighed. “Then we are cool?” I looked around before nodding myself. “We cool, okay and...”

    The door that led to the room the kids had been playing until now opened to show Yang peeking from it. “Uh.. mom?”

    Summer moved to look at the little blonde. “Yes, sweetie.”

    “Ehr, Ruby is sleeping and...” She adopted a very familiar expression to me, the one a child would put on their face when they wanted to go home and catch some sleep.

    “I guess we could go to our room in the hotel?” The woman asked to her lover, Taiyang letting out a yawn pretty much everyone followed with their own.

    “It would be good...” He turned at me. “I guess we will continue this tomorrow?”

    I hummed. “Could be done by the afternoon? Home is pretty much empty early on and...” I turned at the child, looking quite sleepy. “Yang, right?”

    She frowned and nodded, lilac eyes showing curiosity at being called by a stranger like me. “You are Nora’s dad?”

    I nodded and smiled. “Could you come a little closer? I want you to meet someone.”

    Eyes were drilling holes on me at what I was trying to do but I still continued as the little girl walked closer, her sight drawn to the woman sitting tied to the chair. “W-Who is she?”

    “That is a former teammate to your parents’ team-”

    “Liar.” I froze at her soft voice and frowned.

    “What?”

    She smiled a little and nodded. “Mama said that I had another mom and...” She moved closer to the red-eyed lady. “She is familiar.”

    I hummed. “Yep. That is your mom alright.” She blinked my direction before giving her full attention to Raven, the woman looking quite unprepared for this situation and then… Yang crawled onto her lap, looking curiously and closer to her newfound parent before smiling.

    “Cool!”

    ...What?

    That is a child. She is meant to ignore the complexities of a situation this big, especially since there isn’t any heavy situation ongoing for her to perceive. It feels more like an easygoing situation that doesn’t require her to ask unnecessary questions.

    I feel like I should be worried you are this much interested in children’s psychology.

    I was the teacher and then the headmaster to a school-

    Which students where teenagers, thus making your argument an epic fail.

    Well, you are quite childish-

    Oh, shut up, Ozma!

    -----------------d-d-dd--------------d-d-d-d-----------------d-d-d-d----------------

    AN

    I think I discovered the worst thing to do while writing is doing it while following an 8-hours long political discourse. I will not say what it is about, nor what I believe into as this is not important to… everything in my writing career.

    Just that my brain is hurting as I am following everything and everyone in that session.
     
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  30. Akuma-Heika

    Akuma-Heika The Devil Exists Within

    Joined:
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    You completely skipped what was probably several centuries of events, starting with Ozma's resurrection/death/resurrection/death cycle when she first tricked GoD, Salem being cursed with immortality, GoD wiping out mankind (at least a large percentage), her being consumed by grief and loneliness, and her attempt at suicide via the Pool of Darkness, failing and being reborn a Grimm. Now her hatred of mankind is more than likely programmed into her body and soul via Grimm transformation.

    FTFY

    Thanks for the updates :D
     
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