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The Reluctant Hero (RWBY SI)

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

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  1. Drake D Zero

    Drake D Zero The one with nothing better to do

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    If anything, it is summer. Ruby is still a child at the time(if my memory serves me right). Anyway, this sounds like an Ozpin move IF it is Summer.
     
  2. Drake D Zero

    Drake D Zero The one with nothing better to do

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    Not to disrespect the guy’s sister, but this was a little satyisfying. If I had to rate it, Hazel is my third most hated character, either because of his hypocrisy or his plain stupidity.

    I recall this version of Ozpin tried to blackmail Raven into doing his bidding, which makes him more of an asshole. My point is, wouldn’t he try to lie or manipulate his way out with words when Ironwood confronts him?

    great chapters btw.
     
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  3. anirocks

    anirocks good man inside dirty pervert outside

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    remember that he met summer at mantle.also ozpin said that gun-loving quirk is apart the rose family. so it is safe to say that it is not summer.perhaps it can be amber
     
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  4. Drake D Zero

    Drake D Zero The one with nothing better to do

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    I said Summer because nobody in the teams knows each other's identities, but you are right.

    Amber? Can't argue about it since her canon counterpart's only words were "No please" and getting an arrow on the back. so I can't say if being a gun-loving enthusiast is on character.
     
  5. Drake D Zero

    Drake D Zero The one with nothing better to do

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    The only person I can think of judging ONLY by the height comment is Cordovin, but I feel the difference in age between this and canon doesn't add up.
     
  6. Threadmarks: Party Hardy (4)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    A friend of mine told me to shoot first and ask questions later. I was going to ask him why, but I had to shoot him.” – John Wayne


    Chapter 25: Party Hardy (4)


    The world was pure chaos. And I liked it now better than before.


    Everything was just simpler. It made sense in an easier way. I had a gun, I had to shoot bad things. Humans good, Grimm bad. Kill the Grimm, win the day. I could almost chuckle at how quickly I had zoned out from my nervous state and dipped deep within my ‘murderous’ instincts.


    It was all a mechanism that strayed from when I used to play competitively with various FPS that had the action, the blood-pumping sensation of adrenaline, as the main core of their titles. Call of Duty, Battlefield- Doom was the ‘newest’ title that got me giddy at the opportunity of delving in the lore of that world while shattering through the Infernal Wave of Demons.


    And while this excitement in brutally butchering the attackers of Mantle should’ve warranted confusion to any humane onlookers over my brazen rush through the horde of Grimm, a mix of Beowolves and Ursas, before I started to obliterate group in a couple of shots from my laser shotgun, the fact that I was channeling my inner frustrations out by exterminating Grimm made it more like a much-needed quality from my part.


    Ironwood didn’t look fazed by my behavior, but I saw 03 appearing quite tense over my swift assaults. 04 was still humming happily while she continued to snipe down the various Ravagers that were trying to swarm onto the column of soldiers and huntsmen. I had to take a shot at those bat-like fiends more than once, shredding through entire groups with a single blast thanks to the scattering effect of the laser.


    The eager sniper was offering as much support as possible, but there were way too many of those to target those all out without causing any distractions to the main column. The run to reach the warehouse section was incredibly slow, and it would be outright stopped by the presence of large numbers of Grimm blocking our way.


    But with the large quantity of armed people deployed within the humongous military force, there wasn’t even a single casualty in that operation. Various people were brought to the rear lines and to the area assigned to medical works, but none looked to have been hurt beyond repair. Ironwood was keeping his voice loud and clear, ordering both at the battalion and at our task force regarding the threats reaching for us all.


    The path was sure a ‘muddy’ and bloody one, but the it didn’t take much for us to finally reach where the few possible warehouses which Tyrian and Hazel were using as hideouts. I was among those that was spearheading the lengthy line of armored soldiers. The first line that was facing the brunt of the Grimm’s resistance.


    With her saber burning in preparation, 03 kept a steady pace, her helmet scanning around and regarding any spots where sneaky fiends might’ve prepared an ambush. 04 had jumped closer, running by the roofs of the buildings nearby, the young woman was still shooting flawlessly through her movements. Which was absurd considering the power her sniper was packing.


    Adrenaline had long seeped in my bones and muscles. I was starting to feel the drain on my body after twenty intense minutes of dodging, running and retaliating against the monstrous horde lurking about.


    The intensity just made things even more close to what I could compare to the quintessential Doom-guy experience, which in turn made my mind mirthfully push my tiring body even further than what I could do at the moment.


    It certainly helped that somehow Sally had found about my ‘repertoire’ of half-songs within my head and she was giddily playing the gruesome game’s soundtrack non-stop. Ozpin had taken ‘refuge’ a couple of meters away from the incredibly loud ‘noises’ coming from the orb his former wife was playing with. The blonde was just lulling herself with imagery and music, making me worry a little bit that she was getting too much… happy about the slaughtering happening on the ‘real world’.


    But then again, she had mentioned how killing Grimm now sounded like the best idea of get back at her darker self. I wasn’t really tempted to take a moment to inquire about her current state of mind, especially with how vehement she was with her encouraging words and how creative she was over with her advices.


    I made a couple of ‘glory kills’ during the blitz to reach the warehouses, with a couple being ‘improved’ by the woman’s suggestions over ‘making things funnier’. Admittedly, while I was delving in my own murderous side, I still had some uneasiness while listening to the blonde’s ruthless thoughts over the situation.


    Still, Ozpin didn’t sound particularly shocked by this tone from his wife, and in fact, he was mirroring a few of the advises with a more moderate tone. Perhaps it was the fact it was the Grimm that was getting to receive the combined homicidal tendencies born from within my spacious mind.


    The resulting aftermath of that madness was that I was slightly winded after thirty more minutes had passed. My current killstreak was increasing each second, with 39 Beowolves, 12 Ursa Majors, 3 Geists, a fuck-ton of Ravagers and… I think I killed two Beringels. The bloody daze shrouding my brain from making complicated thoughts had deprived me of the chance of spotting a couple of those monsters as I slayed them down.


    I was pretty sure that our eyes from afar was second with her own list, and that was quite impressive since she was supposedly focusing mostly on the ‘distractions’ trying to attack us than the howling bastards those on the first few rows were facing against.


    03 and Ironwood were tying much to my inner shock. While I had seen the saber-wielding lady cutting through all of her attackers, I had failed to notice how the General wasn’t slacking off by taking charge of large groups himself.


    A second revolver had occupied the leader’s free hand, doubling his capacity of decimating through his own assailants. The dark-colored short gun looked to be focused on shooting only Gravity Dust bullets. The sight I had about a few Beowolves being lifted off from the ground only to explode moments after by good-aimed sniper-shots was enough to crack a wider smile on my face.


    Humming quietly, we finally stopped by a small crossroad with two streets that led to the epicenter of what looked to be dark smoke covering quite the suspicious building. The very sign was a good and bad omen. It was good because we knew where both scumbags were… but also bad because I had a clue about whom had infiltrated Mantle during the chaos.


    I thought she would’ve strong-armed an invasion. Why is she even here?!


    Because she sensed you- or better- your current magical capacity.


    [And with two of her minions and an opportunity to snatch a magic-user, the Queen will make use of this chances of getting a full victory.]


    That ain’t happening on my watch!


    But still, I couldn’t really tell Ironwood that the Queen of Grimm was lurking inside that building without getting some more questions… and attention from Ozpin 2. Still, I could see that the General was looking legitimately tense at the sight.





    Enough for me to elaborate a ploy to offer a fair warning over the situation and perhaps avoid utter demolition by Queen of all Grimm.


    “General,” I called quietly, drawing the man attention shortly after as he concluded a discussion with other officers. “I don’t think I need to point out that whatever is inside that… it might be way beyond our current capacities.”


    He stared at me intensely for a little while, but then he glanced back at the building much longer than he did with me. Finally, James nodded quietly as he recognized that this was ‘beyond’ a high-threat level monster within the place and returned to the officers, relaying new orders about setting up a perimeter around the warehouse.


    I waited patiently as my stance eased at the lack of imminent problems. The Grimm had retreated away from the area and back within the building, making the place a dangerous big trap that was just waiting to be sprung. 03 stared silently at the building, while 04 descended from her spot and right back to the street, walking up to us.


    “What… could be causing this much smoke?” The saber-wielding woman inquired calmly, glancing both at me and the fellow girl. “There’s no smell of fire… nor something that can be caused by Dust.”


    “Something worth a fright or two, and probably worse than standard Grimm,” I suggested, getting a nod from 04.


    “I bet my baby girl can tear it apart,” The girl commented confidently, starting to hug her rifle close and lovingly. “She can do it and much more~.”


    I frowned. “I think this is the first time I’m in the presence of an armaphile.”


    “That sounds incredibly wrong. She is just… affectionate to it,” 03 rebuked politely before bestowing me with a ‘long look’. I couldn’t exactly tell from her helmet. “By the way, aren’t you hugging your gun too?”


    “I’m… carrying it.”


    You’re giving it a hug.


    [The kind of hug that you would only give to a close friend.]


    ...I didn’t know that I was harboring Brutus and Cassius inside my brain.


    What?


    [Is that a reference to… wait, I found it. You’re a jerk, I hope you know that.]


    Et tu, Sally.


    [...Shut up.]


    “With the battalion forming a perimeter around the building, we shall enter inside and retrieve both fugitives on our own,” Ironwood briefed with an orderly tone. A small hologram of the building appeared by some device by his palm and two yellow dots on the blue map highlighted the entrance points. “Misfit-04 and I shall enter through the main gates, while Misfit-03 and -02 will make their way inside by the rear entrance.”


    Nodding at the order, we soon split in the two planned groups. 03 took the lead, slightly walking faster than me as we rushed around the building and towards the ruined staircase that led inside it. The place looked fairly haunted, but the complexity of the area made it stand out compared to older warehouses. It wasn’t the classic ‘big central room with smaller rooms on the sides’ kind of building.


    It was… It looked like an office. An abandoned office that was infested with numerous dangerous monsters trying to get an easy kill by hiding around and waiting for some preys to jump.


    My stance hardened again as our pace slowed down the moment we stepped inside. We started to look around, knowing that there wasn’t going to be any reprieve now that we were back in the danger zone. The light of the woman’s saber glowed brightly. The shining beacon of doom cleared some of the shadows away, and leaving just the ‘truth’ for us to judge.


    The first critter that decided to attack was a Sabyr, or just like I’ve started to call it from the first time I saw it: A big-ass saber-tooth tiger!


    Imagine my surprise when I saw the dark-furred bastard rushing like a blur towards us and jumping in an effort to pounce. The shotgun blast tore it down without much issue, but the problem came when the following few Sabyrs decided to become martyrs for their queen. This entire situation that smaller Grimm were patrolling around was actually bringing me to a state of uneasiness over the place.


    The halls were good enough to accommodate two to four people, but the capacity to move away from large problems was limited by the very space available for us. Our respective reaction-times were put to a test as Grimm started to rush at us through our stroll, and we were pretty aimless as to where to go and search for the two criminals.


    “Should we try and get to the next floor or should we just keep walking around until we get some hints where they might be hiding?” 03 inquired as we found ourselves stopping by a staircase that led above.


    I blinked, thinking about if it would be convenient to proceed to the upper grounds already. But then again, I wasn’t expecting the two to hide by the first floor and… Salem was one that would enjoy a ‘higher’ seat to monitor the entire situation.


    “We go up and… keep your guard up for any jumps.”


    She nodded, but just as I took the first step forward, I heard something creaking… above. I stopped, instantly realizing that something was indeed wrong with the seemingly-untouched staircase.


    While the Warehouse seemed to be fairly odd, the structure was made with solid cement, and to make anything in there creak with that sound… there had to be some hefty weight pressing onto it.


    I didn’t linger any further on that pause, taking a few more steps to avoid any suspicions from our ambusher. 03 seemed to notice my current state of tension as we proceeded up, but she didn’t speak even though I carefully ‘eased up’ my guard by settling the shotgun by my shoulder and aimed up.


    “I swear, this place is haunted. And I’m not referring about the Grimm,” I quickly mentioned, faking my tone and voice as to lull our watcher in a false state of victory and eagerness.


    Just as the woman regarded me with a confused tilt of head, I saw something purple starting to appear by… the back of her helmet. I didn’t hesitate, my index finger pressing the trigger of my gun as I aimed it just up enough to where I predicted the bastard to be.


    The neon-like purple disappeared instantly, and the noise of someone coming falling down behind us forced us to turn around. Tyrian howled in agony as he stared at his legs- or what was left of the mangled mess created by the blast of my shotgun. Aura had failed to keep up with the power of the scattershot, and now the Scorpion Faunus was incapacitated from moving away from us.


    “That’s...”


    “Joker. Restrain him before he can react.”


    03 didn’t hesitate for more than just a second, rushing quickly at the distracted crazy man and slamming on his arm what looked to be a needle. So that’s what Ironwood had prepared for the occasion, some anesthetic.


    With his aura gone, Tyrian went down without much of a fight. But before he was completely unconscious, his lips let out a content half-chuckle and… a muffled word. I frowned at the strange reaction, and the sudden lack of fear at getting captured.


    We need to go.


    I didn’t even inquire about the quick comment from Ozpin as I knew that we were screwed the very moment I felt a chill trailing down my spine. I heard a soft footstep take my entire attention away from the unconscious Tyrian and right at a couple of steps up by the stairs.


    She was there, staring down at me with an impassive stare. Looking as calm and confident as she had back when she was first introduced. Her pale skin almost matching with her lighter shade of white that was her hairs. A dark half-sleeved robe with red decorations… it fit well with the dark scleras and the daunting red eyes that were now fixed at my frame.


    Despite my early silence, I couldn’t keep this standoff going for so long. Especially since we needed to get Tyrian out of the building with the extent of his injuries. If he was left like this, he was going to bleed out and… the chances of helping Sienna would be nullified. Our efforts rendered vain.


    So I sighed, tiredness swelling behind my mask.


    “03,” I muttered, having some trouble keeping down my panic in my tone. The woman glanced up, freezing in surprise at the demonic appearance that was still looking at me. “Pick up Joker, get to Ironwood and… get reinforcements.”


    The agent hesitated for a moment, but I was completely attentive of Salem’s silent glance.


    “Now.” The stern word seemed to finally get the masked specialist to move with the captured Tyrian on her hold. Once we were alone, I sighed. “You’re not going to win.”


    “I will catch up to her once I’m done with you,” Salem hummed quietly, her voice filled with confidence and certainty. “You should just accept the offer. And perhaps I can see for your friend to be healed without much conflict needed.”


    “You were the one that ordered Tyrian to harm Sienna and the members of the Schnee family,” I rebuked, my calm easily disrupted by the eerie atmosphere created by the Queen’s presence. “You’re a monster, Salem.”


    “A monster? But why? Because I look like this? Because I lead a horde of creatures that seek destruction of everything that lives?” She inquired swiftly and without hesitation. “Or could it be because my mere existence is symbol of grief and dishonesty? I’m an example of… true evilness.”


    “You tried to kill someone I care for. You aimed to do the same with others too,” I replied, gritting my teeth at her attempt to deflect my hatred away. “You seriously hope to paint yourself as a misunderstood woman? Do you really think that I would genuinely believe this degree of bullshittery?”


    The woman frowned at the foul word, but didn’t seem willing to rebuke from that secondary point.


    “Reasonably speaking, you’re far from the simple-minded individual that can be bought with the realization of some material wish. Yet threats can lead you around for so long, I suppose,” Salem commented. “But… I still think that my real offer can perhaps garner your interest.”


    “There’s hardly anything you can offer.”


    “Truly? How about peace for you and humanity as a whole?” She offered lightly, appearing incredibly genuine about it. “What about the chance of killing me, the opportunity to slay the head to the Grimm horde? What if… I can end this ruthless war that consumes young lives on a daily basis?”


    ...What?


    She has to be lying.


    […]


    She has to, there’s no way that-


    [She is telling the truth.]


    Are you sure-


    There’s no way that she is being honest! It has to be a trick. A ploy to lower your guard and-


    “What’s the price?”


    Her smile widened a little more.


    “Your children’s and Sienna Khan’s lives-”


    I didn’t let her finish that sentence. The shotgun swiftly aimed at her as I let out a quick blast. The conflagration tore through Salem, and the woman’s upper body was obliterated without resistance from the distracted Queen.


    I stared at her corpse recoil and stumble backwards. Dark mud had replaced her blood, but the thing that got me to flinch was the messy amount of tendrils carefully reconstructing the woman up to her former state of self.


    It was a slow process. Slow enough to allow me to leave the premises of this area without getting attacked by the recovering Grimm leader. Tension erupted from within my chest as my heartbeat picked up at the realization of what had just happened mere moments ago.


    What was that.


    It wasn’t a question, it was a demand. I wasn’t in the mood for deflecting or convoluted answers and it was Ozpin that decided to speak up first.


    She wasn’t asking for servitude. It was a genuine partnership from her part. But to see how devoted you’re about your ideals, she put you through a simple test to… to gauge your willingness to embrace the same monstrous personality that led her to this current state.


    You mean that… she literally gave me the capacity to end this madness… but only if I killed my family?!


    [I think it’s more… complicated than that. I can’t be sure about it but I feel like there is a logical sense to her request.]


    Indeed. She needs someone that is capable, loyal, but, most of it all, willing to move around to prevent any issues from that possible peace scenario. She needs someone that can ‘understand’ her about the pain she is going through even now.


    She… she thinks that Sienna and I are a couple?!


    Yes. And the Atlesian Gossip is surely going far and wide with theories with how things had gone in the last few days.


    That’s… that’s not possible.


    Didn’t you keep to Sienna’s hospital room for several hours? Didn’t Sienna go out of her way to ‘buy you something’?


    Yes- I mean, she did buy me that blasted watch and… I had to be there. She put her life on the line to protect me and-


    [Stop it.]


    What?


    I find myself agreeing with her. You’re being incredibly foolish by considering yourself the sole responsible for Ms. Khan’s conditions.


    It’s not-


    [If you truly care for her, even as a friend, then you shouldn’t be even think that Tyrian attacked with the intentions of harming you. So please… stop this. Do it for her.]


    Before I had the chance of continuing this conversation, I found myself finally reaching to the other side of the building, right near to where the other entrance was. I wandered a little more, hoping to quickly find out where Ironwood, 03 and 04 were.


    The stroll lasted a little while longer than I had expected, with me stopping and dealing with some Grimm still patrolling the area I had run into. The growling of the Sabyrs hardly messing with my mind now that I had a case of impending doom currently coming close to regain her full body back through resurrection magic BS.


    I finally found the trio (five if I considered the two criminals) by the central work-room. Ironwood was holstering his gun as he continued to stare at Hazel’s unmoving corpse. 04 noticed that I had arrived, the girl gasping and drawing everyone’s attention at me.


    “You survived the scary ghost lady!”


    ...What the fuck?


    In a general situation, I would’ve inquired a little more about this situation, but then again, time wasn’t something I could afford to lose like that. So I turned to the General, ignoring the odd exclamation from the gun-loving girl.


    “Sir, we need to leave the area quickly.”


    “Provide an explanation, Misfit-04,” He rebuked quickly, which meant more time wasted there.


    “Grimm, black scleras, red eyes. Someone we mutually despise.”


    The last bit seemed to finally break into James’ mind as the officer realized what the heck was wrong with the entire situation.


    He turned to 03 and nodded. “Bring Joker to the nearby helipad. We need to-”


    “Plan a way to deal with me?”


    The tense silence became a deadly one as Salem emerged from the upper floors, slowly descending thanks to the use of a pair of wings appearing behind her back.


    “As expected from an excellent military mind, James Ironwood, but sadly enough...there’s no way to deal with me,” The woman muttered before turning back at me. “That was quite the rude way to deliver a farewell.”


    I blinked. “Really?”


    At my sudden query, she raised a confused eyebrow. Her confusion persisted through I had my shotgun aimed at her and-


    BLAM!


    Differently from before, something odd happened with the blast I had aimed at her. In a normal situation, the laser pellets should’ve erased her body right where the shot was aimed at… but instead of continuing to soar mid-air towards Salem, the pellets were actually stopped by a shield.


    I blinked, surprise swelling at first at such a development. Then I heard the warning.


    Move!!


    I blinked again, this time rolling away as the blast was returned to the sender. And while the pellets slammed well-away from where I was, the following conflagrations still found me engulfed in fire and pain.


    I saw the helmet’s visor flickering at the powerful explosion blast teared down some of its connectors. My chest felt sore while my arms were burning a little bit as I fell on the ground. The pushback had been strong enough to trip me back, and I expected some more retaliation from the woman… except there wasn’t any as someone else moved in.


    “Trying to protect him? You’re throwing your life away so that he can life?”


    The mocking set of fake questions got a snort out of… 04? I couldn’t see anything clear with the kind of visor I was bestowed with at the moment. I would’ve removed the headpiece if I hadn’t to deal with the limitation of keeping my identity a secret and actually protection to attacks aimed at my head.


    “I think that’s enough. You’ve… harmed way beyond you should’ve allowed to, Salem.”


    I felt shock renewed at that revelation, especially since that name wasn’t meant to be known by anyone outside of Ozpin’s and Salem’s respective circles.


    But just as I digested this discovery, I soon learned that 04 wasn’t done with the surprises. Her helmet slowly came off, revealing her face from behind as she was facing the opposite direction as mine. Still, I could recognize something familiar in that semi-spiky style used to comb her short brown-red hair.


    The sight was momentary as the world was soon coated in a white light, and the silence was shattered by the Queen’s loud screeches as whatever was happening, it was really working on her.


    But for me? I was… tired. Maybe it was my body finally feeling the need to rest, or maybe it was the fall had left me with an annoying concussion that was… slowly driving me to… unconsciousness.


    My brain shut down moments later, depriving me to know whenever or not Salem was pushed back or not, if Sienna was alright or not. And why 04’s hair looked so familiar… just like that blinding light actually damaging the Queen of Grimm.


    But for now, I slumbered. And in that silent orchestra, I braced for what was going to be a tumultuous wake up.


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


    AN


    I’m tired- Gonna go to bed~!


    P.S. Yes, the staircase scene is a JoJo Reference;


    P.P.S. Yes, I really shouldn’t take so many hours to write this much.
     
  7. Threadmarks: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe


    Chapter 26: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (1)


    You know, I think we really need to make contingencies wherever we go. I’m not superstitious, but I’m starting to believe you’ve been cursed in incurring in dangerous situations.


    I mean, this… this isn’t the worst that has ever happened to me, isn’t it? Didn’t I risk to lose my arm with Raven?


    [Looking back at how things were before you wounded up in Remnant, I would say that the situations where you find yourself suffering mortal injuries have increased exponentially. I would also say that just because you had ‘worse’, that doesn’t mean you’re free to rush to get new scars.]


    How was I supposed to know that your other self was able of deflecting that stuff back!?


    Magic is unpredictable. Especially the one deriving from the Gods’ meddling. The Queen’s power is… not only tainted. It’s augmented by the corruption, by the sin, by the negativity within humans’ souls.


    [Rules of Nature don’t limit her abilities. Ozma knows this well considering his first attempts at trying to take her down.]


    Which is why trying a direct assault proved to be a stupid mistake to do early on. I lost some ‘lives’ before realizing how foolish that endeavor was. Truly frustrating, but oddly educative.


    I grunted at this comment, leaning back on my pillow. With my eyes fixed at the gray ceiling of my room in this military hospital, I had yet to see anyone else visiting. No doctor, no nurse- Heck, I would’ve liked to see even some patient wandering around but I was confined in that boring place.


    The sheets of the bed were incredibly rigid, very sturdy. Which was a distinct contrast to the soft pillows and the mattress. I hadn’t much to complain about, and my early issues weren’t about the ‘questionable’ state of the room and bed.


    The first thing that I saw was the thick cast that had been applied on my right arm. The thing was quite heavy, forcing me to rest the damaged limb on the mattress, and forcing me against trying to lift it up.


    I was surprised by the sight, but then again the explosion that ignited right as I dodged that unexpected counter from Salem had easily broken through my armor. I had some bandaids on my face, but the worst aching came from the part of my body that had been closest to that blast.


    The pain wasn’t that terrible, and I slowly started to realize that thanks to it I knew that my limb was still there and working. Just incredibly hurt and in a bad shape.


    My fingers were still there, but moving those also caused my poor nerves to flare in sudden pain. I was ‘mostly’ fine, which was good and dandy for me as I really didn’t want to lose a limb because of Mami Salami deciding to return my ‘kindness’ back to me.


    Maybe I should’ve shot her a sneaky blast instead of trying with a lucky shot.


    Still, it was pretty silly to whine over past things. What’s done is done and… I was really having some trouble in getting a clear understanding how much time had passed since I had collapsed. There was no sign of the armor I had been wearing, plus I was pretty sure that Dark Salem had been pushed back considering that this had to be Atlas.


    Way too many cool-looking devices with the Kingdom’s insigna plastered on the surfaces. I sighed, quickly engaging in a conversation with Ozpin and Sally about the overall situation.


    While the blonde was more worried about my wounds, my attention was legitimately stolen by the former headmaster’s comments over the last sight I was bestowed before falling unconscious.


    Silver eyes. In Atlas.





    How?


    The show had never mentioned someone else other than Ruby and Summer. Heck, I would’ve expected Ironwood to make use of such valuable asset for the Vytal Festival, but then again Ozpin himself was confused about this sudden situation.


    That young woman, the one that had the hair color that many members of the Rose family were known for… she wasn’t Summer.


    I was certain of this by the very fact that the mysterious lady’s hair style was… punkier than Summer’s. While the white-caped huntress had a soft, mellow style with her curly hair, this individual had a spiky complex that just threw me off completely.


    The more I thought about that sight, the more I found myself inclined to bash my head at the lack of lore-related stuff I could connect to this individual.


    I knew that Ozma was genuinely stomped at this discovery. The sudden desire to discover the identity of a possible new ally against his ‘wife’ was more than enough for me to accept it as a truthful reaction.


    Sally’s own words on the matter over her companion’s interest merely confirmed what I had just realized on that very situation.


    Still, I had nothing to truly establish even theories. I would need more clues, but that would also mean talking with Ironwood. I really wanted to have Jimmy around so I could get some proper answers about this strange situation, but the General had yet to make an appearance and I was stuck in that hideous limbo of gray, soreness and dreadful loneliness.


    I was really desperate to have someone to talk to.


    We’re still here-


    And no, ‘voices’ in my head weren’t going to cut out considering how one-sided that would get in the real world.


    [He has a point.]


    Humming quietly, and trying to get distracted by staring at some minuscule text on the side of the lamp by the bedside, I soon found my prayers answered in the form of a recently-acquainted individual entering the room.


    Misfit-03 looked… incredibly bright. Her armor was reflecting a lot of the light coming from the main illumination source which was the large-sized light panel shining over the bed. The worst bit was the helmet as its visor was reflecting whiteness back onto my face.


    My eyes widened through that unpleasant light-show, and with serious reasons. Ironwood had been quite adamant that none of the members of this ‘only mission’ was supposed to learn about each other identities. I was more than happy to respect that decision considering the can of worms that learning of new characters implied, but it would seem like the promise had busted if the young woman was here and staring at my unmasked self.


    “John,” She curtly greeted, nodding towards me before walking up to the only chair present near to my bed. She sat down and then sighed. “I see that… your conditions are stable.”


    “I’ve a small itch on my upper back, but I’ve this big cast limiting my chances of comfiness. But could be worse,” I muttered with a small smile. “But hello to you too… 03.”


    The helmeted woman nodded. “I suppose it’s quite awkward to be exposed like this. With your identity revealed and-”


    “I’ve dealt with worse,” I half-shrugged, interrupting her in that pseudo-apology. “Still, I bet Ironwood offered you a chance to talk to me if you’re here.”





    “Right?”


    Her visor shifted away from staring at me and I frowned.


    “I… I wished to be here on the presumption that we could’ve a proper discussion. One beyond the line of work we had just entertained this once.”


    My frown deepened as this little addition hardly offered an answer to my growing confusion.


    “What?”


    She sighed again, but instead of talking once more with her hyper-formal and elegant words, 03 slowly reached for her helmet and… lifted it off from herself.


    I blinked, my entire frame freezing up at the sight of a familiar face… with pretty blue eyes and long white hair.


    “John, I… I suppose this is really awkward,” Willow Schnee commented quietly.


    “It kind of is. But… I guess I should’ve expected this from the familiar fighting style.”


    A fascinated glint shone from her eyes. “You know about my… style?”


    “Regal, very strict over specific steps, and focused mostly on rapiers and sabers,” I said while tilting my head to the side. “Raven.”


    The lie seemed to gain a nod out of Willow, and I knew that mentioning her past friend’s name as the reason behind my knowledge was a sure-win for me. No distrust in this moment of weakness!


    “I can see her… remembering me from that,” She muttered with a small, but tired smile. “It sounds like she’s truly trying to settle down with her family.”


    “With occasional visits to her… workplace,” I bit my lips at the chance of blurting out about her tribe. Not now that the situation was fairly fragile.


    ...Oh? You wish to know why I was restraining my mindless need to drop truth bombs after truth bombs?


    It took me a while since Willow unmasked herself to realize that she was still coping with what was happening with her family. It wasn’t like she was shocked by Jacques’ betrayal… but she was still facing some troublesome ramifications with what was happening.


    Starting from the fact that her children were surely confused, terrified, and probably angry at the fact that their father had been taken away. I could see little Weiss whining about seeing her Papa, while Winter would restrain herself out of the fact that she was slightly aware of the man’s unpleasant personality. The only one that was hopefully spared by this separation was possibly little Whitley. Truly ironic.


    Still, the weight of the horrible ordeal wasn’t just the cheating- but the fact that Jacques had been implied over his commitment with the men responsible for the assassination attempt. Not only a sore loser, but also a traitor to the Kingdom.


    That was surely going to damage the SDC, no matter who is the current leader now. Even Nicholas was going to have a hard time stabilizing the situation as of now.


    I blinked. “You know, I could call her now.”


    The woman tensed up at the offer, her eyes narrowing at me with a mix of interest and nervousness.


    “Wouldn’t that be too… sudden? What if she’s busy with something else?”


    “I mean, I can see your point but...” I half-shrugged. “Portals. Those are truly fancy things, you know?”


    She seemed confused at first, ready to inquire more about it but… then her eyes widened in remembrance.


    “Her Semblance.” A groan, and I felt highly-amused at seeing the ‘Ice Queen’ facepalming at her own forgetfulness. “Of course she could open a portal here and…”


    I reached to my phone with my undamaged hand, kind of surprised that the device hadn’t been taken away from Ironwood for further studies. It wasn’t a Scroll, and that should’ve been enough to interest the General in further studying the little thing.


    Then again, I had the odd sensation that Jimmy was a little more trusting on me for multiple reasons. Especially for my polite approach in addressing Atlas’ problems without ridiculing too much the current state of things in the kingdom.


    The number was still saved in there and I called the woman. The wait was short as the other side quickly responded to the call.


    Bukharin.


    Simple, direct, and slightly annoyed. I had now some worries that I might have called in the worst of times.


    “Hello, I’m calling in a busy moment or-”


    No, you’re disturbing at the best of times actually,” Raven interjected with a sigh. “By the way, ravens or crows?


    She’s having a debate with Qrow.


    [I understand that siblings can be quite competitive with one another but… are they really headbutting over their respective forms?]


    That’s the beauty of sibling rivalry. It’s dumb, sometimes the resolution is stupidly easy to find, but it’s also quite frustrating to deal with when you’re one of the siblings.


    “I’m not a bird-lover, but I reckon that eagles sounds amazing,” I replied with faux-innocence, getting a snort in return.


    Prick. What do you want?


    I sighed. “I was talking with someone that knows you and-”


    I owe nothing to anyone. If they told you otherwise then they’re lying.


    Now, that was quite the… quick answer to a question I hadn’t asked.


    “I’m quite sure you don’t have any debt with this individual in particular,” I muttered calmly, glancing at Willow with a questioning look. She looked at me with a confused frown, which I quickly saw as a lack of knowledge over this matter.


    Oh, then… what’s the problem?


    “Well, I wanted to know if you and Summer could pass by. It would be nice if-”


    I didn’t have time to pause that I saw a portal open right in front of the door and… Raven’s head poking through it.


    Red eyes glanced around the room, stopping only to see the white-haired woman there. Surprise swelled for both, with Raven taking a couple of steps in as she looked shocked at the unexpected reunion.


    “R-Raven-”


    “You’re Willow,” The Branwen bluntly commented. “I remember you when you visited Beacon.”


    The Schnee’s face displayed a small blush at the quick remembrance, and she nodded at the statement.


    “That’s… correct. And you don’t seem to have changed much from...”


    “She is still the dense woman that acts first and regrets later.”


    The bandit leader snorted. “It works.”


    I frowned and she sighed at my stare.


    “Most of the time.”


    I sighed, shaking my head out from that silly argument and back to the main topic of the situation.


    “Is Summer free or-”


    “I-It’s not necessary,” Willow quipped nervously, before looking nervous at her own outburst. “I-I mean, I don’t wish to sound imposing or-”


    “Call her,” I said with a tired tone, nodding at Raven before I turned my attention back at Willow. “And you really need someone trustworthy to talk to. Don’t think I can’t notice signs of distress.”


    She almost flinched at the calm chiding, but I guess the reason why my words were being fairly effective was correlated to the topic and the suddenness of the recent developments.


    Raven disappeared back through the portal and some moments of silence passed as we waited for her return. Much to my surprise, the Branwen returned with a huff leaving her lips and… a confused Summer stepping through the portal while wearing a cooking apron over her usual clothes.


    She blinked in surprise as her silver eyes took a quick look around the room and she noticed two distinct situations unfolding.


    “Willow?”


    The Schnee matriarch offered an awkward wave of hand, but soon the white-haired woman found herself glomped by a giddy-looking Summer. “It’s been so many years. How are you doing? Is everything alright here in Atlas or-”


    “It’s… it’s mostly alright.”


    Liar. But then again, that unexpected hug had to have fried some brain cells and… I wasn’t spared of the Rose Fun Train as the brunette graced me with a quick greeting.


    “John, good to see you and-” Summer froze, her eyes going wide in confusion as she noticed that I was in a bed and… I had a cast over my right arm. “Nice… Cast?”


    The comment wasn’t missed by Raven, and the red-eyed woman moved closer to the right-side of the bed to study the thick construct. “How-”


    “I tripped down a staircase or two- Mhm!!”


    I flinched in pain as she tried to lift the cast up, swiftly letting go at the first note of my distress.


    “That sounds a little more than ‘a staircase or two’,” Summer commented with a hint of curiosity in her tone. “By the way, where’s Sienna?”


    I tensed up at the avalanche of questions I couldn’t answer via simple responses. Raven looked even more confused, and frustrated, but mostly confused.


    Just as I tried to deflect the attention elsewhere and away from me, the only door of the room opened again and this time… the situation was just turning more and more intense.


    Ironwood was the first one to enter inside, pushing the wheelchair that was being currently used by…


    I blinked, and I found myself mesmerized by a pair of worried but oddly calm amber eyes.


    There was silence, and I felt the world shattering like glass as two sole elements existed within that moment.


    I gulped nervously, having some trouble keeping up with that quiet stare aiming at my own eyes. Seriously, why did she look so fierce despite her weakened state? How did she manage to look quite strong even though she looked to be recovering from the poison?


    “Sienna.”


    Her animal ears twitched at my voice, but her eyes continued to look at me while she kept quiet.


    I thought it being just a moment of surprise at the reunion, but then… I saw her offering a confused frown back.


    “W-Who are you?”





    No.


    John-


    NononononononoNONONONONONO! WHY!? WHY THE FUCK- WHY-


    My brain went blank at the horrid situation hitting me in my core. My thoughts erased in that very moment as I felt squashed by one of the worst sensations I could’ve imagined.


    A hollow victory. I won, but I failed. I succeeded, but it wasn’t what I had thought of it for.


    My chest tightened, and I felt my face growing pale at the nauseating notion that the one before me, the one person that I had went through hell and back… was now mostly gone.





    Or so I thought.


    Her confusion melted in an awkward look. “I mean, with those bandages, that cast-”


    “It’s a nice one to that,” 04 chirped while leaning to the side, still behind James. “Hello, partner~.”





    I was silent, my eyes still wide open as my brain wasn’t just allowing that stupid prank to be real. It was… so stupid. So needless… so fucking infantile.


    “I was kidding, John.”


    My lips twitched, my stare lowering to the sheets as I felt something darker bubble from within my chest.


    “A cruel trick at that,” Willow commented. “Why did you do that, Ms. Khan?”


    The Tiger Faunus flinched at the question. “I was just… General Ironwood told me what he did and… I’m…. I don’t know how-”


    I sighed, staring at James with an impassive look. I felt a storm by my throat, but I managed to throw out the words I wanted to offer in that dreadful development.


    “I… I want to be left alone.”


    “John-”


    “I’m tired. I think I will go back to rest soon,” I interrupted the General without hesitation. “I think I’ve the right to decide whatever I should’ve visitors or not.”


    “You can’t just-” Sienna paused, her tone dying out as I glanced at her with a terribly calm look.


    “I can’t?” I inquired back with some irritation. “I don’t think you understand that you came so close to die because you had to cover my back.”


    My words drew a tense and strained undertone to the silence.


    “You almost died,” I continued with a frail tone. “You were there, unresponsive in your bed, and the more I stared, the more I had to see the results of my own weakness, the more I felt guilty of this all.”


    “It wasn’t-”


    “I could have pushed you away. I could’ve stopped Tyrian when I first saw hints that… that you were coming so close to be hurt,” I rebuked without hesitation. “I could’ve tanked that hit, I could-”


    Sienna was shaking in her wheelchair. I was too distracted in my own self-disappointment to see if it was panic or anger. “Stop-”


    “I-I can’t stop!” I almost yelled, my lungs burning a little at that stress. The world descended in a quieter silence. A paradoxical oddity that just… felt absurd. “I can’t just pretend that nothing serious had happened. I can’t just stop thinking that you were coming to die and...”


    I stopped there, my strength faltering as I felt a pair of arms wrap around my waist. Sienna had somehow lifted herself from the chair and… thrown herself onto the bed. The result was that her face slammed determinedly on my chest as she started to rise up to reach my face.


    The situation was awkward, and the audience made things incredibly… embarrassing.


    Raven seemed to notice, giving a quick nod at me as she stared at Ironwood. “Can we move outside? I don’t think we should be there to see this.”


    The General looked skeptical at first, but soon his reluctance deflated at the sight of the other women moving towards the sole entrance. James sighed, offering us a single nod before leaving the room to just me and Sienna.


    The Tiger Faunus was trembling as she climbed up my chest, her hands taking a tight grasp at my medical garb by the shoulders-side.


    “Why?” I muttered softly and the tanned woman looked up at me.


    I froze for a moment at the sight of the woman now sporting tears trailing down her eyes.


    “Stupid,” She muttered. “I-It was stupid. I’m- I didn’t mean to- I- I’m trying to.”


    It was a mess of words. Apologies intermixing in that strange conglomerate of a sentence.


    “Why?”


    She tensed, her chin resting on my chest and close to my own face.


    “I- Ironwood said that… that you hurt yourself again. I thought that… that it was my fault. Again,”





    “Why?”


    A sob, then her eyes burned because of the crying.


    “I’m sorry.”


    I stared at her, sticking with that sole word question as I tried to make sense out of that immense confusion before me.


    “Why?”


    “I’m… I don’t want you to hurt yourself for me,” Sienna muttered. “You- You’re my ward. You’re the silly, weak human that should be protected. Not the other way around.”





    “No.”


    She blinked, staring up at me with confusion.


    “I was that. And you were my warden,” I agreed quietly. “But now? Do you… do you really think so little about yourself?”


    I leaned my forehead into hers. “You’re Sienna Khan and… I can’t help but worry when you get hurt too,” I continued, a sad smile finally appearing on my face. “It wasn’t just the failure that scared me. It wasn’t actually the failure that truly frightened me into acting.”


    “Then… what was it?” She sounded quite desperate at that point and… I couldn’t fault her for that. I guess it was long overdue.


    [YES!]


    Shut it.


    “What I feared the most… was that I was going to lose one of the most important people in this world,” I confessed without hesitation. “The one… I love.”





    “You mean that-”


    “Yep,” I interrupted her. “You heard me right.”





    “That’s… quite ironic,” She muttered with a small smile. “Do you want why?”


    I frowned. “Why-Mhhf!?”


    Before I could finish that sentence, I found my lips stolen in what could be considered a powerful kiss. It wasn’t the classic ‘firework’ kind of smooch. No, it was… uplifting.


    I felt any soreness vanish in that moment and I felt only one thing.


    Good warmth, the warmth of someone I trusted a lot and that was opening her own heart to me. What a strange thought. One that seemed so freeing and so correct to enjoy.


    The kiss lasted for a full minute and I felt my breath taken away as we ended that connection. It was a minor reprieve.


    A second, then a third kiss ensued. By the fifth time, I was starting to gain an ‘understanding’ of what kind of desperation was hidden in her previous question. But I wasn’t complaining. Not at all.


    In fact, the giddy smile matching hers just made it clear that the kissing was just becoming quite the entertaining thing to do.


    “T-This is-”


    “Incredibly amusing?” She guessed with a happy tone. I nodded and she rested on my chest as we both recovered from that brief make out session.


    [While this is quite tame compared to how Ozma and I would’ve spent our evenings, I suppose it’s just right that you start from very little.]


    Some more context to the words!


    [What’s wrong with bringing up memories about kisses, dear? Are you perhaps flustered?]


    As if kisses ever bothered me that much-


    [If you want, I can bring up some old memories of how you would turn after a single kiss. All tense, all shy… so innocent~.]


    Weren’t you the one stuck in a tower in the middle of nowhere?


    [You shouldn’t underestimate the power of books… and experimenting. I really liked to play around with Ozma when we were younger-]


    Stop. It.


    [Fine~.]


    As we both enjoyed that very moment of rest, I couldn’t help but ponder over something I had noticed during the kisses.


    “Did you have breakfast already?” I inquired calmly, getting a soft snort from the young woman.


    “I might have been offered some cookies,” Sienna admitted, licking her lips. “Delicious cookies at that.”


    I frowned. “I thought the hospital didn’t offer that kind of treatment. Who did you bribe~?”


    She playfully swatted at my good arm, sighing as she thought back about this circumstance.


    “Nobody. And the thing is… I’m still unsure how that girl, Ironwood called her ‘04’ or something like that, managed to bring in so many cookies without a bag with her...”


    “Yeah, she was one of the members of the team sent to recover Tyrian,” I muttered calmly, getting a little distracted at the strangely fascinating detail. “Quite quirky, I assume she didn’t do anything too odd.”


    “Only some childish statements. Like… she was complaining about Ironwood chiding her for preferring milk over coffee,” The Tiger Faunus advanced this curious example. “She brought up the fact that ‘milk helped with growth’… which is quite ironic since she’s quite short and… you’re distracted.”


    I would’ve flinched at the deadpanned bit at the end of that retelling, but my mind had completely derailed away from that very explanation and right onto some past occurrences over the mysterious silver-eyed young woman.



    No!



    Fucking!



    WAY!


    It’s Ruby. It’s Ruby ‘Fricking’ Rose!


    This shouldn’t be possible.


    Yet it is! Look at the proof. She loves gun, Ironwood trusts her enough to not talk Ozpin 2 about her, and… she is a brat!


    [But how?]


    I really don’t know. But considering my current situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this dimension is wackier than I thought it to be early on.


    It would be absurd for- for this to even happen. Think about it for a moment: you’re asking me to believe to the fact that a Ruby Rose from the future managed to get sent in the past… right in this era. It’s impossible for me to-


    What about me? Think for a moment what you’re trying to deny. I am an anomaly too.


    But your presence could be seen as something dictated by the Gods. We’re still unsure who is the one behind your presence, and the situation which sees me and ‘her’ stuck in your mind.


    [‘Her’ has a name and- I’m not sure who I should support right now. While it sounds the easy answer, I don’t think we can be 100% sure that she is indeed Ruby Rose.]


    Which means…


    I will have to adopt an aggressive approach to determine if she’s or not Ruby Ro-OW!


    I felt dragged away from my mindscape as Sienna was… biting at my finger.


    “S-Stop it- It’s not fun-”


    “Good,” She remarked with a fiery grin. “I wasn’t trying to be funny- especially when you decided to ignore me like that.”


    Soon, her face leaned back onto mine and she let out a brief giggle. “Still, I think it’s time we resume our little session, dear~.”


    John, you know better than me that losing time here means losing opportunities to-


    [Oh, be quiet! Let him have some reprieve after that maddening mission. Just like I let you enjoy the ‘spoil’ of rescuing me from the tower.]


    S-Stop it!


    Sally giggled, ready to tease some more while I happily ignored the couple’s silly antics for the sake of offering attention to the needy Tiger Faunus purring on my chest.


    The vibration, the kissing, the lovin’!


    What else could be said? The ‘distraction’ was unexpected but eagerly welcomed!


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


    AN


    School Reunion, Love in the air and… Ruby Rose? What the frick is going on?!


    So much madness, so much glorious chaos!


    But for those that felt like it had to be Summer, there’s actually an element in last chapter that ‘openly dismissed’ Summer as a candidate. It’s a single adjective (quite the dick move from my part to include in that last segment as it literally showed the only possible individual to be Misfit-02).
     
  8. Sleeping Moon

    Sleeping Moon Not too sore, are you?

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    My boner is confused... with the lack of details. And I wanted for Willow and Rae to jump the bandwagon too for my shiping hobby~ hehehehe.
     
    ArcaneReader likes this.
  9. ArcaneReader

    ArcaneReader Master Of The Arcane (Not)

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    Cat girls be best girls~!
     
  10. Drake D Zero

    Drake D Zero The one with nothing better to do

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    Everyone discarded her because of her current age, I feel a little deceived about it because I actually gave a lot of thought and there were no hints to consider time travel besides the current events taking place in the past(unless I missed something).

    Loved the chapter regardless, funny thought, I imagined it was maria for a second simply because of her the mention of silver eyes.

    So, Ironwood has his own aces under his sleeves, does Ozpin(Headmaster at that time) knows of this? My guess would be no.
     
    Zentari2238 likes this.
  11. Threadmarks: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (2)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    It's like a movie, but there's not a happy ending. Every scene fades black and there's no pretending. This little fairytale doesn't seem to end well. There's no knight in shining armor who will wake me from the spell” – Red Like Roses, Part 2


    Chapter 27: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (2)


    “You know that this just sounds… so stupid. And insane?”


    I stared at Sienna with a dry look.


    Some nurses had come by to check on us and put us both in wheelchairs. Staying by the hall outside my hospital room, we were waiting for the rest of the group to finally return.


    Once we were done cuddling and kissing, the first thing I did was to inform her of my suspicions. Surprise greeted me, and I kind of expected her to be… skeptical over my theory.


    The young woman returned my stare with a calm frown.


    “You want me to believe that the tall, overly-cheerful young woman that was with Ironwood, the one that seems to have an eidetic memory for guns, and a passion for cookies...” She groaned, her face lowering to her hands as she tried to make sense of my previous affirmations.


    “Why?”


    I blinked. “Why I think that’s possible?”


    A single nod from the tanned woman made her intentions clear.


    “To be fair, I’m skeptical myself about it- but I have some means to discern if this is just a massive mess of coincidences or not.”


    “How is it possible that Summer’s kid is… her!” She snapped, hand settling by her lap. “I can understand the whole shenanigans about you being from out of Remnant- and that you know things… but can we agree that what you said was pretty stupid?”


    [To be fair-]


    No. We all know that has to be Ruby.


    I agree with you, John. But maybe, just maybe, this could also be… another individual. Could it be someone from your dimension that ended up in your same situation.


    Let me put it in a simple statement, I’m completely sure that the shade of brown-red of her hair and silver eyes match up is just plainly impossible. For it to be someone from my world like that to end up here? Even more absurd.


    Are you sure?


    Yes. And… I know that has to be Ruby!


    I sighed. “It’s- I feel really sure about it,” I pointed out. “It’s not that I’m throwing comments like this without any basis- I’ve seen plenty of proof to know that it’s the only viable possibility.”


    “I will bite- what gave that off?” Sienna inquired calmly. “At this point, I feel rather clueless over how you got that theory in your mind.”


    “She is a sniper, her fondness of cookies, she loves killing Grimm and… she used her Silver Eyes.”


    The Tiger Faunus tensed up at this, her face leaving her protective facepalm. “What? Why would she need to use that if you just needed to captur Tyrian?”


    It was at these words that I understood that Sienna hadn’t been told the full story. I blinked, tensing up myself at her eyes narrowing at me.


    “What did Ironwood ‘failed’ to tell me?”


    I hummed, thinking whenever telling her the truth or not.





    Sighing, I glanced back at her with a serious look. Surprise appeared on her face at that reaction, but I quickly spoke before she had the chance of inquiring once again.


    “Salem was there too.”





    “You mean that-”


    “Pasty-white skin, dark sclera, and a hair comb that would make many people go insane at understanding the logic behind it.”


    By the way, why did she pick that style when-


    [I don’t know.]


    I thought that was a stylish choice.


    [While I’m not much into fashion, I do prefer to keep things simple. I really don’t know why she decided on that monstrosity of a comb.]


    “The Queen of Grimm was-”


    “There to try to rescue her minions and recruit me in her jolly little trip for world’s destruction,” I interceded, concluding that sentence for her. She didn’t look happy for that helpful act.


    “And I suppose you answered her no.”


    I nodded, a cheeky smile sprouting at that fun memory.


    “Classic manner. I thought she understood at first but...” I paused for a moment, still thinking back at the fact that Salem can actually regenerate from that kind of injuries.


    I wonder if I can literally destroy her body, vaporizing it, and kill her like that. Or maybe there’s some backup I was unaware about the reincarnation/regeneration spell both her and Ozpin were subjected to.


    “But she kind of knew how to dodge pellets and send them back to the sender the second time around.”


    Sienna highlighted the aftermath by poking at the cast and, while the thing was pretty thick and far from getting her to touch the damaged skin, the pressure exerted was enough to get a flinch out of me.


    “Next time you should switch tactics. If the first time didn’t work, then you should use something else instead of quick shooting,” The Tiger Faunus reminded, her lips twitching in minor amusement at my small pout. “When we get back home… I will have to teach you.”


    I glanced at her, keeping quiet.


    Thoroughly.


    Shivering at that, I still managed a smile at that teasing remark.


    [This brings so many fond memories about when you wanted to be taught more about magic, dear.]


    I don’t think it’s necessary-


    [Oh, but you were so eager to know! And I remember the kind of rewards I used to give you when you succeeded~.]


    I think I should leave you two alone-


    [Why so? Don’t you want to know how to spice up things with your lover-]


    And I’m out of here.


    Just as I silenced my connection with the two, I noticed that the group was finally making their way back and… Summer was rushing towards me. With her silver eyes narrowed at me in what I oculd only describe as the glare a mother would offer to her naughty children, I felt some flashback from my childhood rewind in my brain.


    I-I swear, momma, I didn’t mean to break the cookie jar!


    “John Bukharin, you put yourself in danger- and you fought Salem.”


    “Be quiet about-”


    “And don’t try to shush me!” The brunette exclaimed fiercely. “What you did was outright stupid, dangerous, and incredibly suicidal.”


    Flinching a little, I kind of cowered as I found her face quite close to me. And it wasn’t the ‘romantic’ kind of closeness, but the one ‘I am about to punch you in the face, twice’ closeness.


    Fuck.


    “To be fair, I didn’t thought that-”


    “I still remind you that you were the one chiding me for being incredibly reckless,” The Rose continued mercilessly. “You said that I was being so stupid to put myself in danger now that I’ve a family and… what do you have to say for yourself?”





    “I’m sorry?”


    “Damn right you are,” Summer said while nodding. “And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I know that you got hurt even more before that. I’m so- so-”


    “Worried?” I guessed, staring at her fuming self for a while.


    She actually tensed up at that suggestion, before sighing and sporting an awkward look.


    “It’s just… you remind me so much of how Qrow once behaved. And Raven… and Taiyang,” The woman groaned the more she thought about it. “Oh Gods, is it going to be an occurrence just like how it was with my team?”


    “I feel hurt you compared me to Qrow-”


    “You’re terribly unlucky. And my brother can blame his Semblance on it,” Raven quipped curtly. “Still, good to see that an encounter with her didn’t kill you.”


    “I’m made of sturdy material.”


    The bandit leader scoffed, coming closer and… poking at my chest. I blinked, surprised by the forwardness… and embarrassed by the sudden blunt approach.


    “Can you not, Ms. Branwen?” Sienna calmly asked, getting the woman to actually stop.


    “Have you never heard of ‘sharing is caring’.”


    I snorted, and I found myself matched with a snort from Summer.


    Raven took notice, a confused look on her face. Then she realized what she had just said and the irony of such a rebuttal.


    “Very funny,” She muttered with some irritation.


    I took a moment to glance at Willow, and the woman nodded back at me.


    “I hope things are a little better now.”


    “You can say that,” The Schnee matriarch admitted. “Summer, Raven and I decided to set up some… tentative play dates. I’m still unsure if Weiss and Winter would like to-”


    “I think they will love Yang and Ruby,” Summer interrupted with a bright smile. “And imagine little Whitley and Ruby play together.”


    The brunette almost squealed, while Willow merely smiled at the possible future scene.


    [I really want to see that.]


    Sadly, we’ve other things to look at.


    And in fact, my attention was quickly taken by a sudden tense posture from 04. The young woman looked rather unnerved by the mere mentioning of her younger self being parried with littlest of the Schnees.


    I wonder if she is genuinely from the original timeline.


    Either that or worse. Something has to have forced her in this time travel.


    “-And I hope you and Ms. Khan managed to sort out the… tangled situation.”


    I blinked at Willow continuing with the discussion, my attention slightly lacking, but I was saved by a certain Tiger Faunus that was now smiling smugly.


    “You can say that,” The Tiger Faunus replied for me. I smiled happily at her and, instead of wasting further time on the matter, I turned my sight right onto… Ironwood.


    “General, if it’s not asking too much, can I ask a relatively small favor?” I asked quietly, drawing the eyes of the Atlesian officer right on me.


    “Depends on how ‘relatively small’ we’re talking about?”


    “I need to speak with Misfit-04 in private,” I replied back with a sigh, getting an ‘oh’ from the aforementioned girl. “It’s quite urgent matters and-”


    “I’m right there. Didn’t you see that, Mr. Bukharin?” The masked woman commented with a huff. “You could’ve asked me.”


    That sounds strikingly like Ms. Rose…


    “And you would’ve mentioned some ‘classified’ motivations to get out of that instance,” I pointed out dryly. “I’m not born yesterday, brat. Remember that.”


    She snarled. “I’m- I’m not a brat!”


    “Aren’t you? I guess one could get that impression when you have a passion for cookies and milk,” I commented back with a smirk. “And one would never be wrong in saying this, especially since I know who you’re, crater face.”


    [Oh, you’re starting pretty heavy already. Are you sure it will work?]


    I know Ruby. Or better, I know her main mindset is and I know that it’s not something prone to change… for anything.


    The woman almost jumped at the aggravation, but then paused in shock as she realized what did I just say.


    “That’s… that’s a rude thing to say to someone you clearly don’t know,” She said that, but instead of offering a blank tone, she offered a weak one.


    And now you’ve got me sold over your theory. It’s Ruby Rose.


    [You sure know your students, Ozma.]


    You can say that Ruby is just… unforgettable.


    “I mean, technically you didn’t deserve that one. One would say that it was more of your partner’s fault at the time by waving around vials of fire dust and letting some get you to sneeze- Kaboom!”


    I almost chuckled at the comical reaction I was getting from the masked girl, but I restrained myself on the simple fact that the others were giving me odd looks.


    “You… you-”


    “Come on, I’m not asking too much, am I?” I asked with faux annoyance. “I swear, you can be such a dolt when you want to.”


    I can’t help, but imagine Ms. Schnee nodding approvingly at your acting. But I don’t thing she would be that much happy that you’re stealing her mannerism for the occasion.


    We’ve something of an old saying where I come from: ‘Eye doesn’t see, heart doesn’t bleed’.


    That was the final straw, and the girl was now waving around in shock.


    Yes, this was the quintessential Ruby Rose.


    Ladies and Gentlemen, we got her.


    “HOW?!”


    I smiled happily at that childish exclamation. I was so going to have fun with that development.


    “It’s complicated. But I guess you can offer me a hand as we check the cafeteria. I’ve heard that there are plenty of good cookies there.”


    She huffed, but nodded. “Fine, but… you tell me everything.”


    “Only if the same is applied to you,” I muttered back with a frown, then I turned to look at Summer. “While it might sound abrupt, I really need to have this talk.”


    “You make it… sound as if it’s something I should be worried about,” The woman pointed out with a confused look and I shrugged.


    “Just covering myself a little bit from any resurfacing from your ‘concerned mom’ moment.”


    “I-It wasn’t that bad,” She looked around at the other mothers for help. Raven was pretty much staring away, while Willow was the only one offering attention… but she was shaking her head at her.


    I hummed happily at the amusing scene, but I knew that the situation was far from over as I now had to deal with a certain temporally-displaced Rose.


    And I really don’t know how I’m supposed to deal with it without laughing thorough the interaction.


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


    “You’re not from Remnant,” Ruby muttered surprised. “And you know about… my team?”


    [I suppose you’re just running away from slow approaches.]


    It’s just… so exciting. Little Rubes is in front of me! Gah, I wonder how much she has grown since-


    It’s quite creepy what you’re doing right now. Please stop.


    We had decided to pick a small reserved section of the hospital’s cafeteria. Some doctors and nurses still passed around to get something to eat or drink, but none actually came close to our current table.


    We both picked cookies to eat, but the girl decided for plain milk while I took some chocolate milk to enchant my delicious snacks.


    She was almost confused, saying that she would’ve expected me to go for some coffee.


    I replied with a flat answer. “I don’t wish to become an eldritch creature.”


    It was even more confusing to think about it, but perhaps I wasn’t just going to turn in someone beyond the human comprehension.


    What are you even talking about?


    [Shh, Shade might be listening!]


    “Kind of. You know the TV shows about young heroes fighting for justice and heroic reasons in some strange and dangerous world?” I suggested while munching at my third cookie. “You were the main characters in there, you and your team. It wasn’t like a full show that displayed everything you did with them, but I know the main events that transpired for a couple of years.”


    “Which main events?”


    You might need to be a little more specific.


    “I know about Vytal, I know you went to Mistral to get the Relic of Knowledge and… I think you went to Atlas?”


    “You think? You mean you don’t know?” She pressed on with some irritation, and I huffed in response.


    “I’m not in command of what appears in the shiny box, little Red,” I remarked tightly. “Still, I don’t see why you’re keeping that helmet.”


    “It sounds like a bunch of lies- and I don’t see why I should reveal my pretty face,” She crossed her arms close to her chest as she proclaimed this.


    I merely smiled at her with a smug look. “Perhaps I’ve to remind you that I know a lot about embarrassing bits?”


    “And who are you going to tell those to?” She rebuked smugly and I shrugged.


    “Oh you know… I think I can talk it to Sienna. She knows who you are after all-”


    “Wait, what?!”


    “I’m telling her everything whenever I got the chance,” I explained calmly. “Trust is the basis of a healthy relationship.”


    [Never heard truer words.]


    I reckon you said that ‘blondes are actually smart’ was the truest words.


    [I can have no limits about truest words!]


    “But- but what if she’s…”


    “Evil?” I guessed with a sigh. “She’s not. I mean, she was pretty anti-human when I met her but… you can say that we care fondly about each other.”


    “You were smooching each other before we left,” The girl agreed and just as I opened my mouth to comment on that, I noticed what she had just said.


    “I recall the smooching happening way after you had left,” I brought up with a skeptical tone. “Were you spying on us?”


    “Do you call it spying if I was just checking by the doorstep?”


    “Yes. And that’s creepy,” I pointed out with a frown. “And you can’t be creepy, Ruby. You can’t be anything else but cute.”


    She tilted her head to the side, sporting an immense amount of confusion on her tense shoulders.


    “Whaaat?”


    “Is there even an instance where you can’t bring your adorableness out of any scenario?” I asked back with a small smile.


    “When people die?”


    “You know, you’re social dummy like you were at Beacon,” I answered with a huff. Still, bringing up her ‘childhood’ was enough to get a tired sigh out of her.


    “I guess habits are difficult to kill and… I’m not cute.”


    “I bet you still are- heck, you can’t be older than me.”


    Maybe she is.


    She can’t be! I refuse to imagine a Ruby older than me. By natural’s rule, she is either the cute little sister of the same-age gun dork everyone needs to love!


    [She is quite cute during her days at the school.]


    “I’m twenty.”


    While I merely smiled brightly at that comment, I almost exploded in glee at that confirmation.


    “I’m older.”


    “You seem oddly satisfied by that,” She remarked warily. “Why?”


    “It’s all about rules of space-time continuum,” I explained with a false reason. “But you may know that I’m just happy about it.”





    “Okay?”


    I nodded. “Let’s move on the next topic- can you remove your helmet?”


    “You’re making me regret accepting this whole private talking,” The Rose admitted dryly. “Like really, why are you being this cheerful about things?”


    “What… do you mean?”


    “You changed things,” The girl muttered irritated. “You changed so many things that now I can’t do much without getting myself in danger.”


    “You mean with-”


    “Everything!”





    “Do you know why I got here? Why am I in the past?”


    I could thrown in plenty of suggestions. I could go blindly and hope that my capacity in elaborating hypothetical reasons could work in this case too.


    But I was unsure about why she seemed so much tense. So much… frustrated.


    “No,” I replied truthfully and she nodded, her hands reaching for her helmet and… she finally revealed the cruel fate.


    Ruby’s face was mostly unscathed, yet her right eye was covered by what looked to be a hefty eye patch.


    “I messed things up. Badly,” She hummed quietly. “And I got everyone killed because of ‘this’.”


    She pointed at her patch and… I blinked in shock what this was actually referring to.


    We actually lost?


    [Doesn’t seem… to be the case. Something else is afoot about her.]


    But that was the kind of message this was actually giving. There was no reason to not believe that they had failed to kill Salem. Not something completely absurd since the Queen was a dangerous individual that couldn’t be killed by natural means.


    I had tried it and… the results had been less than pleasant.


    “Ruby-”


    “I got them killed,” She commented quietly. “I made a single mistake. Just one, and I fucked everything up.”





    “You… are not at fault,” I tried to reason, only to be met with a shrug.


    “I was a moron. I still am right now, but at least I learned to not trust anyone that just comes in with the sweetest of words,” Ruby sternly confessed. “So who are you John Bukharin, and what do you gain from killing Salem?”


    Gritty reality Ruby was starting to get in my nerves with how pushy she was getting. While I was trying to sympathize to her plight, here she was throwing mud back at me for trying to be kind.


    It’s difficult to trust someone after many betrayals. You shouldn’t… be this hard on her.


    [You just told her that her adventures were a kids’ show. I think you can see clearly how her darker reality wasn’t the same as you imagine.]


    This is indeed a case of AU that I really was unsure how to tackle. Still, I wasn’t letting the girl get a free shot at me. Not while I’m this frail and crippled.


    “World peace, relative calm?” I started to throw reasons left and right. “Maybe I want to kill her because I want?”


    That sounds rather crude.


    [But not wrong. John doesn’t actually have a fixed reason to go after Salem. He’s… just doing it because she is a threat.]


    “That sounds vague.”


    “Just like it sounds vague the motivation you didn’t give me about you traveling back in time,” I rebuked swiftly. “And don’t think I will just let go the fact you’re shifting blame of me for making things better.”


    “You changed things too much,” She half-hissed and I frowned.


    “I saved lives. Something you wouldn’t have done out of fear-”


    “I-It’s not this. She- Salem knows how to play the situations at her advantage,” The girl pointed out. “In fact you were almost killed when we were sent to capture her minions and-”


    “Why didn’t you leave me to die if I’m the problem?” I inquired. “Why not just let her get rid of your main issue?”


    “It doesn’t work- I’m not going to let anyone die-” She shook a little bit, a mix of anger and annoyance playing in her reaction. “I just… I just want-”








    There was silence, and I didn’t press her for a little while. I munched at my sixth cookie, and I sighed when I looked around, distractedly keeping myself from falling in the boredom.


    “How did you lost that eye?”


    The girl blinked in minor surprise at my sudden question, but I wasn’t looking at her.


    The real issue right now was that we both were talking of incredibly heavy topics… without having never established much of a genuine connection. There wasn’t much friendliness from her part, and what was palpable was just Ruby being… Ruby. Kind of.


    Still, the young woman stared at the table and… answered my query.


    “It was Neo. She wanted to take a final shot before we killed her and… she managed to slice at it.”


    Spiteful little thing. I could imagine that ice cream addict making one hell of a last stand before certain defeat. Truly a loyal minion, but one that didn’t have a genuine voice to her warped sense of reality.


    “How did you… travel back so far?” I had to know now. Maybe this was connected to my same situation and-


    “It was an old portal we found while searching in Vacuo. It was one of the last things from the first generation mankind,” She replied numbly. “I managed to destroy it once I had gone through. It can’t be used again.”


    Which means that this isn’t the way we all got stuck together.


    I wanted to groan in annoyance at the fact that there wasn’t much of a connection between her arrival and mine.


    Then why am I here? Why I feel like this isn’t just a coincidental circumstance?


    “Do you need both eyes to kill Salem?” Another question, this time I was picking up the pace a little bit.


    No need to rush but… I really needed to get her to relax. I didn’t want to bore her with disconnected inquiries.


    “Yes,” Ruby admitted softly. “Maria told me that the most powerful silver-eyed warriors are those capable of using both eyes. And Salem can be killed only by the strongest.”


    “It wasn’t your fault-”


    “I hesitated and I got punished for it- no, everyone got punished for my single mistake.”


    “It’s not your fault.”





    “Can you… not say that?” She asked with a terribly quiet tone. “It’s my fault and I can accept my burden about it-”


    “It’s not your. And you shouldn’t beat yourself about it,” I interjected sternly. “You’re far from flawless.”


    “I’m not like Weiss, Yang or Blake.”


    “I would be impressed if you managed to be the perfect copy of any of them,” I agreed with a nod. “Minus Yang. I think the world had plenty of raging blondes that would berserk around when their hair got touched.”


    The girl stifled a small giggle at that. “She was incredibly… attached to her hair.”


    “Attached sounds ‘incredibly’ reductive,” I pointed out with a smile. “Do you know how I met Raven?”


    The girl frowned, shaking her head and… I could see her eyes lit in visible curiosity.


    And so I started to tell her about my little truck adventure that ended prematurely because of a flying masked bird crashing on my window.


    I think Ruby got a proper fat laugh when I told her the words I had used when I ‘rebuked’ Raven’s efforts to get her sword to know better my arm.


    “You- Snrkt- You called her- You called her a t- a thot?”


    [I’ve the memory saved up in case of emergencies.]


    You can save memories? And why did you save that one specifically?


    [Because that’s a memory worth to remember forever.]


    I agree with Sally. That shit is still gold in my eyes.


    “Damn right I did. And she thought that meant me and her were destined to marriage by some bandit rule that wasn’t an actual rule at all,” I sighed at this part and turned at her. “Do you have any crazy pseudo-romantic story you can bring up to the table?”


    She hummed, seemingly reverting to her child-like happy self. “I guess there’s this… time I was training with Oscar and… he was trying to flirt with me.”


    I leaned a little bit, this introduction to the story already gaining my full interest as I gestured her to continue.


    “He was careful to not sound too pushy or clear with his intentions but… I had to politely ignore all of that session. And he somehow took it as a reason to get bolder with the flirting.”


    “Who kicked his ass?” I decided to ask, having a strong feeling about where this tale was ending up into.


    “Nobody. I think… he got a little frightened when I glared at him while I was busy with… wait, do you know who is my… you know.”


    I felt tense at that, and I narrowed my eyes at that allusion.


    Is she seriously trying to get me to know who her boyfriend or girlfriend were?


    Ms. Rose seemed rather close to Ms. Schnee, but I wouldn’t deny that she seemed to be in amiable relations with Mr. Arc.


    [Now, isn’t that a complicated mess to leave without getting bitten too hard?]


    “I actually don’t know,” I confessed slowly. “Why, are you going to tell me who-”


    “Nope~,” Ruby smugly interceded. “I think it’s best you don’t know about… that.”


    “You’re kidding right.”


    I didn’t receive an answer to that, only a bright smile from her as she intensified her cookie-munching. We were almost done with our plates, and I was feeling rather filled thanks to the delicious snacks.


    I sipped at my mug, letting the chocolate milk in and repelling any dark thoughts over the moment.


    Today I lost an important opportunity to learn which of the pairing was true for Ruby. But not everything was lost as I retreated to my Plan B.


    Smug shall be met with Smugger Smugness.


    “I will lie to myself that it was Crescent Rose all along,” I muttered mirthfully. “I think she got the most spotlight with you around after all.”


    To be fair, she was caught multiple times showering with her weapon. I guess she took the advice ‘a good hunter always keep their gun around’ a little too literally.


    [There is nothing wrong in loving something that generally caused doom and destruction around those. In fact, I can say that I’m experienced about this kind of circumstances.]


    Ah ah, very funny. I wonder how John will react when I tell him where your mole actually is-


    [Don’t you dare scare the kid!!]


    I decided to ignore the madness unfolding within my head and keep my attention onto the insanity unraveling before my eyes.


    Her jaws dropped at that comment, with her silver eyes going wide at what had just happened.


    “I- I like guns, just- just not that way.”


    “You were groping that poor sniper-”


    “Don’t- Don’t talk back about Singular Rose!” She fiercely interrupted and I almost facepalmed at that.


    “You gave that gun a name? Are you already replacing your former lover or is there some polyamorous situation I’m not aware about?”


    She huffed. “It’s not like that and you know it!”


    I shrugged, my smile widening the more her face steamed at the accusations.


    Truly a sweet development.


    A bizarre one considering that now I had to deal with this time-traveling one-eyed Ruby Rose.


    From dimensional hopping to time-traveling. What’s next? A visit from the Grimmverse?


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


    AN


    Be careful of what you wish for~.
     
  12. Exist Error

    Exist Error Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
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    Yes!, YES!!, YESSS!!!
    [​IMG]
     
    Relyt33 likes this.
  13. Sleeping Moon

    Sleeping Moon Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
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    YEEEEEESSSS~!!! THE HAARREMM SHIP MUST HAPPEN!
    THE WHOLESOMENESS WILL MULTIPLY MOAR!!!

    *radio noise*

    *Blares RvB theme*

    Yeah wish the RvB gang is here for more love and chaos... mostly Chaboose tho lol.
     
  14. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

    Joined:
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    I just had to laugh maniacally with that ending.
    YESSSSS~! YEEEEEEEESSSSS~!
     
  15. tronax

    tronax Getting sticky.

    Joined:
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    Way too much unconcealed wish fulfillment.

    This hero is so insanely lucky, that if you were to collect that luck he used, you could spend a month winning jackpots of grandest lotteries every day nonstop. And looks like he's either completely retarded, or he knows about it. A normal guy going against an armed assassin barehanded would get killed uselessly every single time, without as much as slowing the other guy down, no matter how many times he tries. This guy? It's like he knows the worst he'd get is some cosmetic temporary damage for a couple of days, and that he is fully guaranteed to make the baddie stop. Just like he was guaranteed to arrive there in the perfect time of perfect day of perfect year from the perfect direction to intervene. Just like in all of the other situations of this story. I wonder why he didn't take a gun and shoot bullets in random directions, to kill all the baddies in town. For some reason these super lucky heroes usually aren't clever enough for such trick.
     
  16. Threadmarks: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (3)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    You’ve got to put the past behind you, before you can move on.” – Forrest Gump


    Chapter 28: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (3)


    The next morning saw us making the final walk around Atlas as we prepared for what was going to be a safe return back to Menagerie.


    The visit had come to its conclusion now that the official purpose of this trip had been deal with. The council had finally delivered a proper judgment in regard of Jacques Schnee’s scandal, and had seen it fit to create a second, co-dependent trial to see for the infidelity charges the former businessman was now facing.


    It was surprising how some greater understanding of economics could put the ‘ambitious’ man in such a dreadful position. Maybe it was more the way he tried to handle things, when he tried and failed more than once to get me in trouble by harming his family.


    Karma was still a thing here in Remnant, and Murphy was happily cackling somewhere as grand evil was answered with a grand punishment.


    We weren’t staying around to hear the full judgment as we knew that such a trial would take months to end. While Jacques didn’t have the Schnee’s money to pay for his lawyers, I was surprised to hear that he still had a bank account filled with his past allowance as heir of the Gelé Family.


    A gruesome path waited Willow and Nicholas, but I was quite certain that both were going to successfully score a final victory over the man. The SDC will surely suffer some scrutiny from the Council’s own inspectors to verify the workers’ conditions in the company’s factories.


    Jacques will be in hell for a long time even though he wasn’t in proper prison just yet, with the reporters grilling the heck out of his tattered reputation.


    Still, what was mostly important was that nobody had died during this trip.


    Except Hazel. But I was partly glad he was gone, as I knew that the queen was now out of pawns to use for a long time.


    And she will be careful to pick those few people that don’t trust you.


    I- wait what?


    [What Ozma is trying to say is… that while you think that only Menagerie had seen a raise in reputation before the other Kingdoms, you’re also going to become a symbol. An individual that stands behind a better idea of understanding.]


    So I’m… becoming Adam, but gooder?


    Adam Taurus led his men through pain and suffering. While his heinous deeds became apparent only after Ms. Belladonna left the White Fang, there was a degree of control to not let his bloodlust known. Meanwhile, you’re someone that doesn’t need to hold back anything. People look at you, and see a change through reforms.


    [And it will keep growing from now on. People will seek you to find answers about laws now that you’ve braved such a complicated situation and left it with a massive victory on your side.]


    I mean, I can see why it’s a good thing that people noticed me like this but… wouldn’t that mean that I’m going to get harassed by some stalkers?


    You survived Ms. Branwen, and you have a professional guard as your lover. I don’t think that will turn in some legitimate trouble-


    [What if it’s the other Ozma that decides to check on him? I can see the point you’re raising, dear, but John is also correct in being concerned by this eventuality.]


    I can see that turning… problematic. You should perhaps check with the chieftain for that possibility.


    Ignoring the little digression, I still had plenty of things to think about as we arrived at the airport.


    Like how was I supposed to explain how I got this large cast around my arm when I was supposed to be safe and sound during the entire visit.


    I was glad that Sienna had decided against contacting back home to reveal this but… I really hope that the classic ‘I tripped down a flight of stairs’ will work even for this occasion.


    “You know, I really don’t miss the wheelchair,” I muttered dryly as Sienna walked beside me. “I mean, sure- it’s fun to be carried around without having to do much other than saying where to go… but-”


    “It’s a restricting experience,” The Tiger Faunus hummed as she carefully looked around, sighing as she noticed the large amount of reported occupying both sides of the path. “I’ve had the pleasure of trying it by myself years ago.”


    “Sounds like a big story,” I hummed back with some interest. “Would you mind if I asked for more when we’re in the airship?”


    “Not at all. After all… this is going to be a boring trip,” The tanned woman pointed out. “With Atlas having agreed to escort us, I don’t see anyone this much stupid to jump at the occasion.”


    “Yeah… but I really don’t like to jinx it. You know how I am with luck.”


    “Raven reminded me that her brother was quite unlucky,” She commented calmly. “Do you think that if we put you both in the same room we would get pure good luck?”


    I snorted. “Maybe a higher degree of bad luck. I think that’s not anything anyone would want.”


    She offered an agreeing nod, but soon we found ourselves stopping before an unexpected obstacle.


    Nicholas Schnee was smiling happily, beside him his oldest grandchild as both were waiting for our approach.


    “John, Sienna, I’m glad that you’re both here and...” The old man paused for just a moment to notice my cast. “I guess that you had some issues, John.”


    “Minor encounter with a flight of stairs,” I replied curtly. “Once again, the stairs won against me.”


    His confused look faltered in an amused one at my joke, while Winter seemed more surprised at the medical cloth than else.


    I decided to address her before we ended up ‘forgetting’ about her.


    “And hello to you too, Winter,” I said, with the girl’s eyes swiftly looking up to my face.


    “M-Mr. Bukharin,” She replied, bowing her head a little bit and showing a brief sad look before turning it in an uneasy one. “I’m… sorry for what father tried to do to you.”


    What?


    [Nooo, sweetie! You shouldn’t apologize for that moron’s faults…]


    Why would she want to do that? Sure, I know Winter was rigorous back when she visited for Vytal and that she covered for her sister a lot after the tournament… but why now and about him?


    Ms. Schnee was someone that I’ve known for little during my tenure as Beacon’s Headmaster, but I can say for certain that if there was a problem caused by her family, she would’ve taken the blame to herself. I suppose this is something that is part of her true self if it exists even now.


    I had a little grimace the moment I heard these words and I sighed.


    “You don’t have nothing to apologize for your father’s actions, Winter,” I replied softly, but she wasn’t having any of that.


    “Weiss thinks that you’re the reason why father is now not at home,” The girl explained. “But even when I told her that it wasn’t true she still think that you’re at fault.”


    Gah, that’s so bad.


    Young Ms. Schnee is still young. She will understand the truth when she gets older-


    The issue is that I now have to deal with the fact that if I ever decided to visit back, I would end up dealing with an angry, pouty Weiss in her cutest form! Do you know how much of a moral loss that is?


    [A tragic one. It will take time, wisdom and hopes to fix this.]


    For a small moment, I thought you two were being serious for once.


    “That’s… quite saddening,” I replied with a nod. “But still, I don’t blame your sister for thinking so.”


    Surprise filled her blue eyes. “And she said that I was lying to her. And… that was the first time she didn’t believe me.”


    Oh no, I knew very well what was happening.


    “She was just fussy, Winter. People say or do silly thing when they are driven to act by emotions,” I pointed out with a small smile. “And handling fussy siblings can be quite tedious when this is the first time you both disagreed. Which is why I would suggest you leave the job to calm her down to your mother.”


    Winter looked confused at this advice. “But- But why? I’m her older sister-”


    “And that is a title that doesn’t translate in absolute trust. Especially when your sister is just angry and needs a scapegoat to vent on,” I interjected quickly. “For now, let your mother calm her down.”


    “But I want to help.”


    I gave a slight shake of head and… I was reminded of when my sister and I-





    You had a sibling?


    I have one.


    [I’m sure she’s fine, John.]


    I really hope so…


    “And I didn’t tell you that you shouldn’t,” I rebuked with a wider smile. “It’s just that sometimes we need to leave this kind of work to people that are more experienced with that.”


    “But she would still hate you,” Winter reminded and I nodded.


    “She would. But at least she would hate just me and not her sister for not immediately siding with her,” I responded, getting a perplexed glance out of her.


    “What? Why would she hate me?”


    “People do silly things when they’re angry. I think I’ve told you that already,” I replied calmly. “If you headbutt with her about it, you will only get her angrier and aiming her entire fury at yourself.”


    A blink, then two… she looked particularly upset about the circumstances.


    “But it’s not fair to you.”


    I nodded, feeling my heart warming up at her unhappy reaction over this specific detail.


    [Maybe she just finds you a trustworthy person. I can see you becoming a better father candidate than her own.]


    Which is quite difficult to digest. It’s quite a big leap she’s making with this.


    But one that will repay her well considering who she is putting her trust into.


    “I guess that can be a problem too… which is why I’m asking you to be patient about it,” I continued with a sigh. “I can handle a little bit of hate thrown my way. And I know that your mother will do well with your sister.”


    I crouched on one knee and nodded.


    “Understand that I’m glad that you feel this way,” I praised happily. “It just confirms to me that you’re a good sister and that Weiss will have someone brave and goodhearted to led her away from any mistakes she could come close to make.”


    Her eyes widened at the compliments, ultimately bringing a tiny smile on her face.


    “So please, do let this one slide. And do learn how your sister thinks from this situation,” I suggested. “Try do to this and… your duties as a big sister will be easier from this point onward. It will still be a responsibility, and as such you will still have to put effort in your decisions, but I know you will manage.”


    As I finished saying this, Winter took a couple of steps forward and proceeded to wrap her small arms around my neck. I blinked in surprise at the unexpected action, but I was shocked enough to not react at all.


    I slowly had my unharmed had reach for her upper back and gave her two soft pats. Since I had one arm unable to work properly, my attempt to close the embrace was limited. But it was enough from the way she sighed and muttered four words.


    “I will miss you.”


    I closed my eyes, smiling even more at the reluctance in her tone and I sighed.


    “I will miss you too, sweetie.”


    Before I had the chance of properly end this hug, I realized that a large group of people around us was letting out a collective ‘awww’ at the scene.


    I completely forgot about the paparazzi.


    If only that was the only thing you usually forget.


    Quiet you!


    Giving another soft pat by her shoulders, I interrupted the hug to glance at left and then right.


    “I wish to make a statement. One that I wish for every journalist here to understand clearly and without creating any issues with the newspapers here in Atlas,” I said loudly and clearly. “I wish for the journalists here present to be wary that young Ms. Schnee’s situation is fragile considering the circumstances with her family. I know that the key factor of journalism is to seek the truth within predicaments that might shape or change society. But I also remind all those present here that children shouldn’t be subjected to any unneeded pressure. That they shouldn’t be subjected to any unpleasant development about the case.”


    I took a pause, glancing around as I realized that the photographers had stopped taking pictures and some of the anchormen here had gone silent to listen to what I was saying.


    “Which is why I wish to make it clear that I can promise you all here that if this simple understanding is shredded over amoral journalism, then I will find myself forced to not only condemn this offense, but to also denounce said offense by the laws set by the kingdoms over this specific kind of situation.”


    Silence followed my words, but I knew that it was more of a tacit agreement from the understanding glances I was getting and the lessening of the reporters’ insistence for an interview.


    Winter looked surprised, but she felt elated once she realized what I had just said. Her grandfather had a mirthful look, but I could also see some fascination over how I had handled the press in this instance.


    After exchanging farewells, Sienna and I proceeded to enter inside the airship with happy but slightly drained expressions. Dealing with the press was never an easy task, but now I had plenty of time to waste either talking with the Tiger Faunus over her interesting stories from her past.


    But just as I took a seat beside her and prepared for the airship to lift off, I noticed a perplexed look on the woman’s face.


    “Something’s troubling you?”


    She sighed. “Just… noticed something about your interaction with Winter,” Sienna replied, smiling a little bit. “You know how to handle kids.”


    “It’s… something that I took from my mother,” I explained with a hint of nervousness. “Really loving and caring. Her attitude in handling children just stuck on me.”


    She gave a distracted nod, seemingly lost in her own thoughts for a little while… before she managed to build up enough courage to finally ask what was getting her this much uneasy.


    “John, I know that it might sound sudden, but I feel the need of asking.”


    I blinked at that, giving her a slow nod as I tried to make sense of what she wanted to inquire about.


    Did you have a sibling before leaving your home?”


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


    ~Ruby’s POV~


    Today was indeed a good day.


    That was the principal thought that drove the young woman around the kitchens within Atlas Academy. The place was massive compared to what Beacon had for kitchens, and the space available for her little operation was enough in her opinion.


    Having stolen a small section of the room to start with her plans, Ruby was immersed in her stealth tasks to notice that a certain General had decided to visit and see why she had been spotted blitzing left and right in the few unoccupied aisles of the kitchen.


    Ironwood was quiet. Merely observing the scene unfolding as he tried to unravel what the mysterious time traveler that had decided to put her faith in him and his means of acting around Remnant was trying to do at this time of the day in here.


    Humming quietly, the one-eyed Rose eagerly crouched down to check on the small baked goods that she had just finished preparing and placing inside the oven.


    This was the first time she was making cookies.


    Or rather, this was the first time she tried making cookies.


    Either because Yang took care of cooking, or because Ren wanted to give them plenty of healthy food, or when they ultimately ended up eating what they could find on the run, there was never a chance for Ruby to actually try her hand at cooking.


    And the experience that she was giving at try to now was… actually exciting despite how precise and slow the overall process was.


    Patience had long turned into her best friend (a little before Crescent Rose, and just a bit after capes), and so handling the various tasks required for some cookie-making ended up being easier than she had expected those to be.


    Setting up a timer within the advanced oven, she happily waited for the cookies to be properly cooked. It was at that point that she looked around and stopped at the curious stare Ironwood was giving her.


    Instead of tensing up in utmost dread at getting caught in the deed, Ruby decided to exploit this opportunity to gain a proper… tester.


    “Ms. Rose, may I ask what you’re doing here in the kitchens at this hour of the day?”


    She merely smiled, gesturing him to come closer and… he complied. Maybe it was the curiosity, or maybe it was the fact that he trusted her well enough to allow this little silliness.


    “I’ve been thinking it’s about time we talk about the recent events,” The brunette lied giddily as she addressed the matter. “And I thought that making it seem like I was cooking while we chatted would throw off any listeners right now.”


    He frowned with some surprise at the explanation, but he looked a little bit hesitant to genuinely trust her about the matter.


    “What about?”


    “John Bukharin,” Ruby answered readily, knowing that she had yet to discuss about the man to the General. “I trust him.”


    The Atlesian officer looked surprised at the curt judgment. “Is that so? I recall you having some reservations from offering a proper comment about the individual.”


    She nodded. “That was before I had the chance of talking with him.”





    “And?”


    A sigh left the one-eyed girl’s lips as she checked again on her cookies.


    “And he’s someone I find trustworthy,” She repeated calmly. “At least, a little more than Ozpin.”


    “It’s not much considering how mysterious Ozpin is,” James rebuked politely. “Care to elaborate some more?”


    A huff, then two. Finally she looked at Ironwood with a serious look.


    “I can say that he has some knowledge of the future,” Ruby admitted with some hesitation, quickly catching on the uneasy look on the General’s face. “It’s limited to only after I started studying at Beacon Academy… and finish way before I end up traveling in the past.”


    “Are you sure that he’s not aware of the past events?”


    “I can tell that he was surprised when I mentioned to him that you went to Beacon too for a time,” The brunette mentioned calmly, ignoring James’ alarmed look over this unexpected revelation. “In fact, I would say that he has been winging a couple of things while he was here in Atlas.”


    “That’s sounds like a long stretch considering that he had quite the flawless visit,” The General pointed out and Ruby giggled at it.


    “I think it’s more of an unexpected surprise for both the world and John himself,” The Rose rebuked happily. “I would even go as far to say that he kind of reminds me of how I started dealing with how big the world is. Everything started to fall on my lap, both good things and bad ones.”





    “And?”


    She huffed again. “And you’re being awfully unnerving over the topic? It’s like you have some doubts about my words.”


    There was a tense silence after she pointed this detail out, with the General actually looking away for a moment to contemplate about this and… he sighed.


    “I feel like he’s trustworthy too,” He confessed with a nod. “But I’ve noticed that there are times where he sounds… just like Ozpin.”


    Ruby actually stopped thinking about cookies for a moment to give a serious look at the General.


    “What?”


    “It’s more of feeling. Nothing truly… I can feel as a relevant element,” He continued to say with an uneasy tone. “It’s just feel like he’s ‘older’ than me. That he is trying to take the world’s burden as his own and-”


    “James, do you forget that I’m literally doing the same?” She interjected with an annoyed voice. “I’ve seen what happens if we fail. And I know for certain that John is now aware of this too.”


    “So you trust him because-”


    “Because, despite the fact he isn’t part of the timeline I came from, he still wants Salem to lose since the alternative isn’t acceptable,” The young woman interrupted again. “My mere presence, albeit he will never say it publicly, frightened him at the prospect of losing everything.”


    “And you think that’s enough?”


    She actually smiled at that, having taken notice of something about John while she talked to him about the different timelines.


    “I think that’s more than enough actually,” Ruby confirmed without hesitation. “I think he was already sold to the cause when Tyrian struck Sienna. But the moment he discovered me and what happens ‘next’ if we don’t stop the queen? He has agreed to keep in contact with me on a monthly basis.”


    Ironwood looked surprised at this discovery. “Wouldn’t it be convenient if I just stationed you in Menagerie?”


    “No.”





    “What?”


    She sighed. “While that would be helpful, I’ve two strong reasons to keep myself away from John and his family.”


    Staring down back at her cookies as the timer came to an end with a loud ‘ding’, Ruby smiled and turned off the oven.


    “First thing first, I’ve things to do in Shade Academy. I need to set up a trap in case Salem tries to change direction and aim at the Relic of Destruction,” The young woman explained. “Then there is the fact that I don’t feel truly happy while around him.”





    “What was that?”


    “It’s more of an inner uneasiness I have. It’s not about him being mysterious or anything like that,” She elaborated. “It’s more of what he shows as a genuine attitude over everything around him.”


    “But isn’t he a good person?”


    “He is. And one that actually tries to save as many people as he can,” Ruby agreed wholeheartedly about it. But that was actually the issue for her. “Which is why it becomes difficult for me to feel at ease around him. He just reminds me of a time where I believed anyone could be helped.”


    “And I suppose that time is now long gone. When your friends all sacrificed to-”


    “Don’t!” She half-yelled almost quickly at that, tensing up at her brief outburst before sagging a little bit over the counter behind her. “I have my nightmares to remind me that. I don’t need this.”


    “You should take my offer to go to a therapist,” Ironwood pointed out firmly.


    “I don’t deserve that,” The young woman rebuked nervously. “The world was screwed the moment I thought that I could find peace in the middle of that war. And now that I can finally get some peace while working on a way to fix things? I know that I don’t deserve any of that. I made my mistakes, now I live with those.”





    “Did you tell him about that?”


    She blinked, holding back her tongue from actually answering that trap of a question.


    Still, she had to. It was more of a moral compliance than a willing one.


    “Yes.”


    “And what did he tell you in return?” James pressed on with some more interest.


    “That it’s not my fault, and that I’m not even close to flawless,” Ruby started to list up. “That I can’t take all the blame on myself, and that I’m a moron for retorting everything without hesitation while he was talking.”


    A small smile twitched on Ironwood’s face. “I can see him say all of that, but… I want to know what you think of it.”








    She sighed. “I feel like he is saying the truth. The way he is saying those words is just… right. He is genuine and he doesn’t seem to be saying those things out of pity or sympathy.”


    “He sounds like he is actively trying to save someone with this intervention,” The General pondered out loud with a rhetorical tone. “And I can see that it’s actually working on you.”


    “Don’t start again with this-”


    “I’m not ‘starting again’ anything, Ms. Rose. But I do find myself thinking that maybe he wouldn’t be wrong in helping you.”


    “You need me here to operate any attacks on Salem,” She tried to bluff. It was a big stretch, but considering the trust he had given to her, it wasn’t impossible for her to get away with it.


    Sadly, fate had other plans as Ironwood proved to be stubborn on the matter.


    “Your actions are indeed needed where I know those can make the largest impact,” James admitted with a nod. “But it wouldn’t be professional from my part if I allowed someone with survivor’s guilt to operate without getting properly taken care for.”


    “I still need to go to Shade-”


    “Which is why you will be reassigned once you’re done with that task,” He interjected quickly. “That will make up for plenty of time for you to think how to deal with the instance. Either you behave like an adult about it… or you pull a Bukharin.”


    She frowned at that, pausing just an instant to think about what was the last bit.


    “Pull a… Bukharin?”


    “John is known to despise getting helped, even though said help is of medical nature,” The General explained calmly. “I’ve noticed that you two have a similar set of personalities. And there is this very element that you two share to an interesting degree.”


    “I wouldn’t refuse medical help-”


    “You just did by saying no to a therapist,” Ironwood rebuked one last time as he scooped one of the steamy cookies up to his mouth. He gave it a swift bite and… smiled. “And this is quite the batch. I think this is one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.”


    Ruby’s jaws dropped at that random comment, but before she had the chance of recovering, the man was already gone back to his office.


    Left alone in the kitchens, the brunette groaned as she looked at her cookies, lifting one up to her lips and devouring it.


    At first she was still influenced by the disgruntled mood the conversation had left her into.


    Then she tensed up in awe at the delicious flavor of these chocolate cookies.


    A grin spread on her face as she scooped two at first, and then five.


    In her moment of gluttonous delight, the Rose couldn’t help but think how this very situation had been created by a suggestion given by John himself.


    ‘Since you aren’t restrained from trying your luck in the kitchens, why don’t you try to make some cookies for yourself?’


    And the effort had paid off brilliantly from the delicious cookies she just made.


    But it was in that bliss that she realized what her trail of thoughts had derailed into. She fumed for a moment, still munching at the cookies as she didn’t know how to handle that moment of happiness and annoyance.


    Goddammit John, why did you ruin my victory like this!?


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


    AN


    Ruby being Ruby, who would’ve thought that?
     
  17. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

    Joined:
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    I see an emotional roller coaster approaching.
    I don't know if it is a bad thing or a good thing...
     
    Relyt33 and Emiya Pendragon like this.
  18. Threadmarks: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (4)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway


    Chapter 29: The Love, the Hurt, the Wacky (4)


    Sometimes people end up making a tough decision in the form of being truthful or not toward those they care about.


    Truth is never an absolute positive, no matter how one tries to look at it or how much it’s immortalized as a sign of trust.


    Truth can hurt people. Either those that don’t know about it, or those that are unwilling to let it out to those unaware of it.


    I never spoke about my family to anyone in Remnant as I never saw a need to bring them up to a conversation. It’s just natural for me to shut myself out from dealing with the trouble, but it was mostly because the situation never pushed me to speak thoroughly about them. Or at least beyond the fact that there was I had a mother and a father.


    But my sister? Kind of a secret I wanted to keep from others.


    When a mysterious individual mention their parents, people tend to not give too much effort in digging any major details about this detail. One just doesn’t expect that there is anything worth of concerning about if said individual is chill and showing nothing that should warrant any investigation.


    But when a sibling is brought up to a conversation, especially a younger sibling… people need to ask.


    It’s curiosity. It’s odd to ask about a parent, but a brother or a sister are regarded as interesting topic for anyone close to said individual. It just adds more flavor to their understanding of the person… and I should’ve expected for someone as sharp-minded as Sienna to pick up this detail out of my interaction with Winter.


    Maybe I should’ve paid more attention to my words, knowing that I could’ve dodged this bullet by being a little less ‘lax’ over my secrecy over the situation.


    And now it was late for me to try and dissuade the Tiger Faunus from this legitimate inquiry. I promised her transparency, and albeit reluctant over this subject, I decided to offer her a proper answer to that.


    Sitting by the lone sofa in the small room that was assigned to us, I took a quiet sigh before starting to speak.


    “I have a sister, yes.”


    Sienna blinked at my curt response, her eyes locked onto my face as she calmly sat beside me. She looked composed, maybe her own curiosity whipping her interest to adopt a less childish posture.


    “You never said anything about it up until now,” She muttered with a frown directed at me. “Did something bad happen to her before you left?”


    A legitimate guess, but one that was quickly shot down with a simple shake of head.


    “She was fine when I left,” I remembered while nodding at her. “I think she was at school when I got here. I don’t recall exactly the timing or ‘how’ it happened, but I’m quite sure of that.”


    “It’s just… odd that you never said anything about it.”


    “I...” I paused for a moment, thinking how to best word out that situation. “I guess it’s because I never felt a need to bring that up.”


    “I thought siblings were supposed to be close to one another.”


    “Not always.”


    There were cases of people headbutting over everything and… that was half of the relationship with my sister.


    Stubborn, painfully so, it was difficult to entertain some proper activity with her. May it be watching a movie together, or even help her with her troublesome homework, things just were… difficult.


    We didn’t hate each other. Hate is a strong word that didn’t fit on the matter.


    Reluctance to work together at times? Maybe that best described the core of our connection.


    Complexity against simplicity. Draining knowledge against empowering ignorance.


    There were just a handful of cases where we would agree on things we shared a common like or dislike about.


    Not the best, but far from a toxic relationship. We still covered each other’s butts and… I really wonder how she’s doing right now.


    Struggling against another year of school, and this time without me around. Not that I was a monumental figure in her life, but I guess my disappearance had to have left some unpleasant development upon her mindset.


    “You really don’t… recall anything about how you ended up in Mistral?” Sienna inquired again, this time switching the topic to something close but far from the unpleasant one we just concluded talking about.


    I nodded, my throat tightening as my brain tried once more to understand how it all came to be.


    Was I sleeping? No, I hardly slept at the time. Five hours of rest and I was off for a full day.


    Maybe it was a simple case of truck-kun taking me away from my world? While that sounds like the standard isekai scenario, I was quite sure that I had been back at home when it happened.


    Did I trip on something and broke my neck? Or even, was I attacked by some burglar while alone in the house?


    No, no. Both just failed to… feel right.


    Things were just so complicated. And also not. In the end of this maddening trail of thought, I was still unsure, perplexed and uncertain about what left me on Remnant.


    We both crossed out the Gods. They have a flair to introduce themselves when bringing a ‘paladin’ to deal with something.


    And I didn’t have anything similar to your ‘resurrection’. Just a ‘blink’ and I was there with you.


    [And me.]


    And Sally, but there is also the fact of how you ended up in my head, lady.


    [That’s a mystery I can’t solve myself. It just happened so… suddenly.]


    Once again, this isn’t the work of the Brothers. Something else is driving this situation left and right.


    That is a can of worm I had contemplated opening in an eventual brainstorm, but the insane ramifications this very deviation of thought would lead to were something I was willing to ignore.


    Another deity? Or was this the sick play of some eldritch-grade being?


    It was all speculation without major proof that could prove anything. I was stuck with baseless thoughts and a lot of frustration even now that the situation was quite peaceful.


    Sienna noticed, her eyes gaining an interested glint over my mood.


    “Do you feel uncomfortable speaking about this?” She asked calmly, setting herself closer. “We can talk later about it, when we’re back home and-”


    “No, it’s… it’s alright,” I interjected quietly. “I know this might seem as if I don’t want to talk about it, but… it’s more of me being unsure how to tackle the entire matter.”


    “Tackle it?”


    “I ignored it for a good while when I first arrived here,” I admitted. “I wasn’t in a position where I could’ve just sit down and thought about what happened. I just winged it up until I felt genuinely safe.”


    “And… that was when you were found?”


    “When I was inside the Airship that took me to Menagerie,” I replied positively, adding some more details to the simple guess. “I just couldn’t do a proper brainstorming session with Nora and Ren around, so it was pretty much… limited.”


    “And now? Did you give it a proper thought before today?”


    “I did,” I answered after a thoughtful moment spent quietly. “I might appear as someone that sticks to the present rather than thinking too much about the future-”


    “But you’re the opposite of that,” The tanned woman interrupted mirthfully, catching me off-guard with that rebuttal. “Don’t think that I’ve not seen you pondering about whenever there’s something important coming up for you to deal.”


    I cracked a tiny smile. “I guess I’m not the ‘mysterious guy’ I’m trying to envision myself into.”


    “More like the ‘kind-hearted guy’ with many secrets, and a clumsy manner in dealing with those.”


    I frowned. “Clumsy?”


    “I’m trying to be merciful with my adjective.”


    “Wait, what’s worse than that?”


    “Pathetic?” She shot back calmly, allowing a brief giggle before giving a peck at my cheek. “And no, I don’t think you as pathetic. Just… that you can appear like that.”


    “I tend to cower a lot around you,” I pointed out. “But I can assure you it’s all before the moments you’re angry.”


    The Faunus snorted. “Not always. You also have your times when you have more bite than just complying,” Sienna retorted with utmost certainty. “Don’t paint yourself that low. It’s not correct to… me.”


    I frowned again. “You? What about me?”


    “I think you wouldn’t care, which is why I take offense at that,” She pressed on. “Don’t think I will just allow you to diminish what you really are, John.”


    “I don’t-” I paused as I noticed her face suddenly settling closer to mine. The woman pressed onto me as she snuggled right onto my surprised look.


    “I will not allow it. I refuse to see you beating yourself for doing what you managed to do with so little preparation and time to think,” Sienna continued with this strong momentum she got over me. “And… and don’t think that I will forgive you for thinking that you were at fault for my wounds.”


    Her hands swiftly cupped at my cheeks and I felt my eyes widen at that stubborn look that just promised a punishment. I braced for my cheeks to be pinched, being that she was just ready to do so if she wished… but then I felt my entire being going in shock as she pressed her lips onto mine.


    The contact was brief, but her stubborn look persisted. And now she had a devious smile on her face.


    “I can relate to your worry over my well-being. And I love it because I can understand it as I too feel the same,” The woman muttered softly. “Just as you felt hurt when I got attacked, so I feel the same when you’re the one suffering. I suppose that’s just proof of what we are now.”


    [I’m truly glad you both were honest to each other. It’s… refreshing to see how you two are handling things like a team.]


    They’re evenly matched, with both their flaws and qualities wrapping up.


    I eased down at Sienna’s final comment, my smile returning at the warmth coming from her genuine words.


    “I suppose that… I can be kind of a dummy from time to time.”


    More like ‘usually’.


    [Don’t kick him down like that. John is just… unlucky.]


    “Just like everyone can,” The Tiger Faunus added with a sigh. “Don’t think your ‘clumsiness’ is unique. It’s just… oddly-timed.”


    “Oddly-timed?”


    “It’s the best way I can describe when it usually strikes,” She admitted with a tiny pout now forming on her face.


    I chuckled, my arms finally wrapping around her waist, my casting being a little easier to manage now, so that I could properly pull her close enough.


    She hummed as she happily nestled her head onto my shoulder, nuzzling lovingly at my cheek as we both enjoyed each other’s warmth for a little while.


    It was a nice interruption from the conversation, just enough for both to charge up our batteries and keep on. While the Airship was going to take a while to reach Menagerie, I was quite certain that Sienna wasn’t planning to sleep this way.


    My back just wouldn’t forgive if that happened, and she hardly didn’t seem in the mood to sleep anyway.


    “Atlas was… my birthplace.”


    I blinked as I heard her whisper these words. I didn’t spoke, allowing her to continue.


    “I lived there just for… the first three to four years. I could barely remember anything about it,” The woman muttered calmly. “My father was… the only family I had. While he would end up spending most of his time working by the mines to try and offer a chance for the two of us to have a good life, he still tried to be there to give me a decent childhood.”





    “You don’t have to continue if… if it’s too much,” I pointed out. “I don’t wish to be a parrot, but you’ve already said that we can easily wait for us to be back in Menagerie before having this kind of sensible discussion.”


    She blinked, her lips flashing a brief smile as she ponder about this. Ultimately, she gave a solid refusal and I allowed her to keep up with the story.


    “Dad was incredibly kind. Always hard-working and helpful of those that were abused by the officers by the mines. He would always take the punishment with a smile and… that was enough to irk several administrators at once,” Sienna resumed with a softer voice. “He was the only Faunus that didn’t ‘dislike’ facing the punishment. They saw it as a threat and thus he was targeted more and more.”





    “He didn’t- I don’t really remember what happened to the mines, but he was… he was ordered to stay overnight one time, to fill up several posts at once,” Her voice quivered a little, it sounded like she was having trouble remembering those times. I squeezed at her, trying to poke her out of that unpleasant pause, but she merely snuggled back before continuing. “There was a sudden cave in. Not many were there when it happened but… my father was among the victims.”


    “Sienna-”


    “I-I don’t know much about the man that gave me some money and set in an Airship directed to Menagerie,” She continued, ignoring my concerned tone. “But from what I could tell from his sadness, I think he was someone that my father had helped back in the mines.”





    “When… When I arrived at the island, I was greeted with prejudice. Many children expected me to be a prude, someone that would outright refuse their own presence because of my ‘Atlesian’ arrogance,” The Tiger Faunus mentioned with a sad tone. “I was… distraught at first. But then I started to work from the nothing I had. I pushed where I could, aiming for the highest score and settling only when I felt I had done enough. And...”


    “Here you are,” I concluded for her, prompting a mirthful smile to temporarily appear on her beautiful visage.


    “And here I am.”


    We held together for some time, and I could feel her melting within our embrace as the worry disappeared slowly but steadily from her mind.


    “Thank you,” I muttered calmly, my undamaged hand reaching up for her scalp as I caressed her head there. She purred in return. “It’s not easy to talk about these topics. I can tell from how you’re trying to hold yourself from showing how much painful those memories are and.. I’ve just a little request about it.”


    She glanced up, a quizzical look flashing as I smiled at her. For a moment, I felt the table turning as I was the one offering help to her, just like she would do for me.


    “Don’t hold back. I will not judge you for being honest about it.”


    That was a signal. One that Sienna wasn’t expecting for sure, but one that she suddenly felt the need to have now.


    Her face dropped onto my chest, and she slowly but surely let go of her tough composure.


    Gone were restrictions that had restrained her from allowing a couple of tears to run freely, with her quiet sobs occupying my attention for a long time.


    I didn’t move much, nor did I try to speak as I knew she needed this. It was as much of a relief for her as it was a matter of trust. A test to cement our current step forward.


    From the way she started to smile more after that peaceful conversation, I had a subtle idea that things had indeed gone well for the two of us.


    In fact, I had a proper confirmation of this when, as the Airship finished its landing procedure by Kuo Kuana’s landing zone, we arrived at its entrance together, with Sienna tightly grasping at my hand as we made our first steps back home.


    And while we were expecting to be greeted by just a small welcoming party, we ended up staring in shock at the massive gathering made by the island’s entire population.


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


    DAAAAAAAA-


    Of course, the first one to approach us was a certain girl that had been missing her pops.


    Nora zeroed the distance in mere seconds, going for a swift pounce once she was close enough and prompting Sienna to help me stabilize the giggling bullet since I had just a ‘working’ hand.


    “-AADDY!!”


    “Sweetie, I’m back!” I exclaimed back, ruffling her hair as the child latched on me quite tightly and showing how much she had missed me.


    “Did you miss me? I think you did- No, I’m sure you did!” She quick-fired, her speaking pacing unsurprisingly pretty speedy.


    “Of course I did miss you. You and Ren to be precise,” I replied happily. “By the way, where is he?”


    I turned to glance in front of us, and I saw an awkward looking Ren slowly but surely walking up to us.


    He stared up at me, his pink eyes exuding a little bit of nervousness. As he finally got close enough, I allowed Nora back on the ground, crouching down to the boy’s level.


    Blinking in surprise, Ren’s own approach at a welcoming hug was slower but deeper. His arms wrapped tightly over my neck, and he nuzzled a little bit on my shoulder before some muffled words from him reached my ears.


    I missed you.


    My smile widened. “I missed you too, Ren.”


    “Is it true that you sent the bad man in jail, daddy?” Nora quickly as she hugged me from behind. “I mean, I couldn’t follow up what you were saying- but I could see how angry that bad man was getting. Is he now in Jail?”


    I sighed. “He is, but not because of something I did and-”


    “And what’s that?!”


    The little girl took notice of the cast over my other arm. She let out a loud ‘woah’, her eyes widening in minor awe as she studied the ‘mysterious artifact’ before her eyes.


    “Dad, is this something cool from Atlas? Is this a fun dress there?” She asked giddily. “Or maybe it’s a weapon? What is it?”


    I think it could be used as a weapon and a cloth. She’s not wrong.


    Speaking by experience?


    [Yes~.]


    I snorted. “Not truly, sweetie.”


    “I reckon that’s a medical cast, dear,” Someone else added, the sudden feminine voice getting me tense and worried for some reason. I turned to the origin of this response, and I stopped to see that Kali had gotten closer to the scene rather silently.


    She had a strange smile on her face, one that I felt like I had seen before but I couldn’t exactly understand at the moment.


    “By the way, John, I also remember you making a promise to call in case you got hurt somehow while you were in Atlas,” The cat-eared woman continued with that odd tone, this time some shivers trailing down my spine. “I suppose you were busy to call. Surely you wouldn’t have forgotten about this, you’re not the kind of person that would test my patience this badly.”


    ...I’m in danger.


    [And not just by a little.]


    You should’ve called during the trip back home. Less issues, and higher chances of surviving this encounter.


    “I-I didn’t felt the need to worry anyone,” I replied with incredible fear for my poor self. “I ended up being silly and tripped down a flight of stairs, hurting my arm a little bit in the process. Nothing to worry about.”


    Kali looked unconvinced, but it was Ghira that explained her unwillingness to trust my word about it.


    “John, there is a large tag saying that it’s a ‘Grade 1 Burn Cast’,” The leader of the White Fang mentioned blankly.


    Goddammit, I didn’t notice that!


    You really didn’t notice? I think Sienna did tell you already.


    [And you checked the cast yourself by a mirror when you were ‘freed’ from the wheelchair.]


    I feel dumb. Like, really dumb.


    “There was a shortage of the kind of casts meant for my specific situation, and they gave me-”


    “You’re not a good liar. I suggest you don’t speak for now or else you might end up digging a deeper hole,” Kali interrupted sharply, her hand reaching for my right ear to force me to stand up. I flinched at the sharp pull, but I complied quickly at her ‘kind effort’. “We will speak about this once you both will have to visit father for your report over this little experience and… I see that you two are now closer than before~.”


    Her voice suddenly switched as soon as she noticed that Sienna standing just a breeze away from grabbing my arm. Maybe going for the hinting of this new development wasn’t truly a good idea if Kali was preparing for a serious teasing sessions.


    The comment swiftly got us to tense up, further fueling the giggles of the Cat Faunus as she studied us together with a mirthful and endeared look.


    “I’m glad that you two finally spoke to each other, but I’m quite saddened that I wasn’t there to see it all unfold before my eyes...” Kali looked slightly unhappy about this small detail, but then she smiled again as she turned towards Ghira and her father. Both men looked surprisingly nervous at the stare they were subjected to. “But I think I will find consolation from the fact I was right.”


    And by ‘consolation’, she seemingly meant the noticeable amount of Lien she was getting from both men. Blake blinked as her mother gestured her to walk closer, handing out to the confused child half of the gaining.


    The girl’s eyes widened, confusion swiftly replaced with fascination over this sudden income, but I could tell that it was all going to be wasted in more books for her to read.


    I frowned at this unexpected development, but Sienna frowned deeper at the sight as she tried to digest the fact that they had bet on us getting together.


    The scene wasn’t a singular occurrence considering that other inhabitants of the island were exchanging money left and right.


    Quite the humiliating sight considering that it broadened the list containing the people that had ‘thought’ about this becoming a reality and, for some reason, I felt incredibly dumber than before.


    The Tiger Faunus’ face, plus her jaws dropping by the second, also told me that I wasn’t the only one in this boat, and that she was indeed having some immense trouble tanking in how expanded this case actually was.


    “Wait!” Nora stated loudly, tugging at my shirt. “Papa, does this mean that you and Sienna-”


    I nodded, and her eyes widened as endless thoughts irrupted into her mind.


    “Does that mean that-” She didn’t finish that sentence, a massive grin spreading on her face as she detached from me and suddenly jumped at Sienna.


    “MAMA!”


    And in that moment, I felt my heart picking up an unnatural pace at the scene unfolding before my eyes. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react as Nora hugged tightly at the surprised Sienna while also ignoring the absolute cuteness crystallized in that very instance.


    My blank mind was restarted right as Ren turned at me with a confused look. “You married Sienna?”


    “Ah- no- I mean, we just… decided to start dating, nothing more.”


    His eyes glinted realization, and he nodded before turning to the giggling girl.


    “Nora, they are not married.”


    The happy girl tensed up and stopped, freezing up in time as her brain quickly sponged up the news.


    ...Wait-


    Did you forget that Ms. Valkyrie is someone that jumps the gun quite easily?


    [Aww, that’s cute! But also kind of saddening since she will be devastated by this.]


    “R-Really?” Her happiness melted away instantly, a sad look on her face as I regarded her with a slow nod.


    “We’re just dating for now, sweetie.”


    She seemed to think for a while to it, then her glance turned back at Sienna and she blinked at the woman.


    “Does that mean that I can’t call you ‘Mom’?”


    The Tiger Faunus blinked, her eyes showing incredible stress under that kind of pressure. And I couldn’t exactly blame her for being reluctant about it considering who she was speaking to.


    But just as I expected her to politely decline the offer, maybe by promising that it would become a reality, I was provided with a capitulation.


    “I- I wouldn’t mind.”


    A perplexed look adorned my face as a victorious Nora resumed her hugging with Sienna, ignoring the defeated look on the woman’s visage.


    Sienna glanced at me, displaying hints of shock at what had just happened as she herself seemed surprised by that sudden desire to comply to the child’s request.


    I merely offered her a sympathetic nod as I knew well enough about the phenomenon she was just subjected to. And I knew that this was going to be the first of many losses from her part towards Nora.


    Just as this amusing situation come to an end, I noticed that Zardula was now approaching us. The Chieftain of Menagerie had a pleased look on his face, and he seemed particularly amused by the ‘comedic’ scene that preceded our current interaction.


    Nora finally released Sienna from her hold, allowing the woman to stand beside me as we both greeted the leader of the island.


    “Chieftain Zardula,” The Tiger Faunus stated with a dutiful tone, drawing a similar greeting out of me.


    “Sienna, John,” The elder regarded us peacefully. “I’m glad to see you safely back to Menagerie.”


    He took a moment to nod at us both. “Your task proved to be most fruitful, all thanks to your shared achievements during this endeavor for Atlas. You both behaved impeccably before the public eye while also scoring some lasting victories for a true peace between Faunus and Humans.”


    “We- We are honored, Chieftain Zardula,” Sienna replied quickly, while I merely nodded.


    “I will share a longer conversation with you both tomorrow morning,” He continued calmly. “After some hours of proper thought, I decided to regal you both a full day to recover from your journey, so that you can assess your reports with clear minds and rested bodies.”


    Now, that was quite… unexpected. Not that I was going to decline the nice development, and I could see the Tiger Faunus shared my own view on the matter.


    “Despite that, I think I can already give three important news,” The old Faunus added with a nod. “First… John Bukharin is now recognized as a full citizen of Kuo Kuana and Menagerie.”


    The crowd exploded in cheers directed at me. I glanced around, nodding left and right, but restraining myself to just that as to not be disrespectful with the leader.


    “Second, I wish to inform Sienna Khan that her rank has increased to the grade of High Lieutenant of the White Fang.” More cheers followed, but those didn’t have the time to fully spread as the third news was dropped. “And finally, I wish to inform John Bukharin that his rank has increased to Deputy of the High Lieutenant.”





    Oh?


    This can only end up poorly.


    [Maybe for John, but I see a brighter future for Sienna.]


    I didn’t respond to that, merely taking in the fact that this was now happening and… why was Sienna giving me a smug look? And why did I feel close to get mauled by the playful tiger now that I was her direct second-in-command?


    Gods, the day had just ‘started’, and I already feel like this is just the beginning of a long one…


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


    AN


    Next chapter we will have ‘who was not here’. Expects a lot of misunderstandings too, maybe some shocking discoveries and… the prelude of something oddly amusing to witness.


    Also, I’ve been asked if I have Discord and yes, I do. It’s JBukharin#5366. I don’t need to explain that I will be unable to answer to everyone. Just don’t spam me for Pete’s sake!
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  19. Sleeping Moon

    Sleeping Moon Not too sore, are you?

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    Awwww~ Don't worry Nora~ you might get moar MAMA after this~!! ^w^
     
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  20. AldariSiradla

    AldariSiradla Spirit Boy, Police Girl

    Joined:
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    I just had to laugh in an evil manner at the end.
    Oh, this is great.
    Extremely so...
     
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  21. Threadmarks: Home Sweet Home
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox


    Chapter 30: Home Sweet Home


    The way to reach home proved to be quite uneventful considering how ‘big’ the welcome ‘party’ had been.


    Sure, people would stop to greet and ask for autographs, mostly from Sienna’ side much to the woman’s growing irritation and embarrassment, but nobody had genuinely tried to stop us any longer but for just these two occurrences.


    And I was kind of glad since I was half-tempted to drop unconscious any moment now. A wave of drowsiness just happened to coat my body in a state of sleepiness, and my craving to hit a soft surface and rest for a couple of hours continued to increase with each step.


    Tired and slightly sleep, I opened the front door of our house before spearheading the small group made by Nora, Ren, and Sienna.


    The first thing I noticed was the thin layer of dust that had formed over the furniture, the floor and the walls. I stole just a look at the couch and I was swiftly dissuaded from trying to dive-bomb at it with how much dust was there for everyone to see.


    But that was just what we could ‘see’ and not what was ‘actually’ there.


    At this point, I had really hoped to be blessed with a few hours of resting by the couch instead of dealing with some unplanned cleaning session.


    I wasn’t expecting to find sleep now that I had the kids around, and I really didn’t want to skip these precious few hours of being back with them either snoring or dreaming some foul nightmare.


    Nora giggled as she rushed inside, glancing around and stopping only as she noticed how ‘abandoned’ the place looked to be. Maybe it was a little exaggeration, but her confused expression over the state of things just gave off that impression.


    Ren was a little less expressive about it. Frowning with a hint of perplexity, the boy remained close to both Tiger Faunus and me as he took a proper look over the conditions of the living room.


    “Wasn’t Kali meant to pass by once in a while to avoid… this?” Sienna inquired with a tiny grimace, and I let out a tired sigh as I walked toward the kitchen.


    “She has her own businesses to go through in her life, and she did say that she had to skip the task in the last few days,” I calmly replied, finding some annoyance over this complication. “And it’s not that bad.”


    As to disprove my final comment, Nora gave a sudden punch at one of the pillows on the couch and the effect was instantaneous much to my surprise. The thing swiftly released a tiny cloud of dust that almost reached out for the young girl, but Nora retreated before the dreadful situation could’ve happened to her.


    [I remember when a certain someone would go missing during cleaning days.]


    It’s more complicated than you make it sound like. I remind you how atrociously things went when I tried to lend you a hand.


    [Fire, smoke, and a terrible realization that you and cleaning weren’t made for each other.]


    It couldn’t have been that bad.


    John, there is a reason why I had just a tiny room where to rest beside my office.


    Grimacing at that rebuttal, I finally decided to give some order of actions to the rest of the… group.


    “I will start cleaning the kids’ room, the bedroom, and the bathroom,” I said as I laid out my plans for this part of the day, getting a nod from Sienna and some curious look from the children as they followed up with my words. “Then I will go for the kitchen and the living room.”


    “Do you need help with that?” The woman asked and I shrugged, part of me having forgotten about them about this specific predicament.


    It wasn’t like I was planning to do this all alone, but it’s still… odd that I’ve to share that kind of chore with someone else. I really missed the fact I wasn’t the only one taking onto this kind of burden...


    “You can clean Nora and Ren’s room with them,” I offered quietly, giving them the ‘easiest’ of the options. “I will pick the bathroom and then we will clean the bedroom together.”


    Instead of finding both children reluctant to go through with that assignment, since the chore was usually seen as a punishment by many, I saw them both somewhat interested on the matter. Which got me confused at first… and then I was enlightened by the more extrovert of the two.


    “If we finish quick, can we pick what to eat for lunch?” Nora questioned with a mirthful smile, and I could see why these two were being this ‘eager’ for the task.


    “If you both clean well and thoroughly, then… yes, why not?” I said before giving a shrug, finding that logic as helpful as amusing. “But I hope you understand that it is all dependent to what there is in the fridge.”


    But Nora had already left the living room for her shared room with a slightly surprised Ren being dragged along for the situation before they both had the chance of hearing the tiny issue presented by the possible… lack of resources.


    It’s been a while since we were there, and there was a good chance part of the fridge had to be left on the trash can. I wasn’t going to ignore the issue presented by expired food after last time.


    I also noticed that they left without even picking up the tools they would need to go through with this tedious task at hand.


    It wasn’t an easy job for kids, which is why Sienna was supposedly going to take a large portion of their work on herself and leave just the things we knew they will be able to go through without any issues.


    Sighing, I turned to one of the cupboards and retrieved a couple of dusters and two mops.


    Sienna blinked, but still accepted the mop I offered for her to use while handing on her free hand two dusters.


    “You really mean it that it has to be a thorough cleaning,” She muttered with some surprise.


    I nodded back at her. “Yeah, and it’s best we get this going as quickly as possible.”


    “We could’ve just dealt with the dust today and then cleaned the floor tomorrow morning, while the children are sleeping,” The tanned woman pointed out and I sighed.


    “Just… I don’t want to deal with anything that tiresome early in the morning for tomorrow,” I rebuked calmly, showing more of how drained I was. “We would’ve to be fresh and well-rested when Zardula will receive us for our reports.”


    Sienna nodded, keeping quiet for a while as we both started to walk toward the main hallway. Just as we made the first step towards our respective ‘objectives’, she decided to speak up once more.


    “So… how do you feel right now?” The woman probed with some concern. “Are you sure you don’t need some rest?”


    “I’m a little tired, sure,” I offered as a curt response. “But I can tell you’re not far from falling asleep yourself, and I’m not planning to leave you to deal with the chores alone.”


    She tried to sober up and display a ‘more awake’ look, but a yawn betrayed her efforts and she groaned at the annoying noise.


    “Seriously, I would’ve thought that spending most of our time resting and sleeping would’ve avoided this much of an issue,” The Tiger Faunus remarked. “And yet I really want to catch some sleep right now...”


    It’s pretty common for people to get sudden tiredness when they return home after a business trip. It’s… odd but-


    [It’s mostly impossible to explain. I could remember times where I would’ve trouble keeping awake during my travels despite the fact my body was fine and my mind was far from drained.]


    Travels?


    [I moved a lot around what was once Terra when Ozma first died. You should know that I didn’t linger by my former domains when I first sought the support of all human civilizations…]


    It was in that moment that I realized how that topic was bringing up unpleasant memories. Thus I moved to divert the attention elsewhere.


    I bet you got some interesting stories to tell.


    [A couple. But I can’t say if those will genuinely entertain you.]


    I’m sure they will.


    [...Heh. You should know better than try to appear overly-sweet to lift up a lady’s mood.]


    It’s only natural for anyone to be genuinely intrigued by tales of the past. Don’t try to coat any act of interest as a lie just yet.


    [Only if you offer your own stories. I… I want to hear more of what happened after… when you died again.]


    I tuned out before hearing Ozpin’s response, my attention being stolen away as Sienna moved and stopped right in front of me.


    “And now you’re thinking of something else.”


    “My brain is kind of messy right now. I’m sorry if I wasn’t listening,” I apologized instinctively. She sighed, giving me a slightly annoyed look.


    “I can forgive you just this once because I can relate to the… drowsiness,” The woman accepted, but her stare was still on me. “But I guess I will also leave what I was saying as a surprise.”





    “What?”


    “I mean, I’m feeling quite tired myself and I don’t want to repeat myself,” She continued with a half-mocking tone. Frowning at that response, I stared down at her smug smirk and I sighed.


    “Are we really doing this?”


    “I mean, do you want to do this?” The Faunus remarked, almost parroting what I had just said.


    I sighed in faux sadness. “I guess we’re not.”


    Her eyes narrowed on me and she took a step closer to me, clashing her chest onto mine and boring me a serious look straight onto my eyes.


    “So you don’t want to snuggle with me after lunch?”


    How did this turn in me not wanting to spend time with her?


    [You ignored her. What did you expect her to do?]


    Weren’t you two the ones that distracted me to begin with?!


    Maybe, but now you’ve to solve this. So keep up with the focus.


    “Of course I do,” I rebuked fiercely. “Why wouldn’t I?”


    “Then what was that ‘I guess we are not’ thing there?”


    “Me reacting to your poor attempt to trick me?” I retorted tiredly. “And don’t give me that look- How about we just keep up with that plan and forget about this?”





    “Only if you prepare some snacks for us to eat.”


    I sighed. “Deal.”


    She offered a quick peck on my lips, swiftly retreating to the kids’ room as I ventured inside the bathroom.


    As I entered inside, I paused at the noticeable black spot forming near to the shower. My nostrils flared in disgust as I recognized the stench originating from it.


    “Mold? Are you kidding?”


    I stared at the unpleasant spot for a couple of seconds, recollecting my thoughts as I started to pray that I had bought some stuff that could work on this kind of problem.


    This was going to be quite the tedious task alright...


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


    Luckily for me, I had bought some products that were meant to fight back a case of mold of that severity. It took me much longer to get it all cleaned, but I ended up just in time to join the rest of the group inside the bedroom and… it turned way easier than the previous task.


    Maybe it was because there was no mold to fix, nor I did need to go through the effort on my own, but still it felt good to be spared anything too draining as I was partly expecting.


    Once we were done with that, I allowed the kids back to their room while Sienna and I finished with the cleaning operation by going through the kitchen and the living room.


    We finished by the time I had to start preparing something for lunch, and so I waited for everyone to come at the table and see what the kids wanted-


    “Pizza!” Nora demanded with the hungriest of tones.


    And I didn’t feel surprised at all considering how the girl had taken a liking for the dish. Pancakes might still be her number one food, but Pizza was easily her second favorite.


    Still, I felt quite sheepish as to prepare a proper pizza it would take a full morning to get the bread dough, and I didn’t have anything ready for that.


    “Sweetie, you know that I can’t prepare Pizza if-”


    “Carbonara?” Ren quipped quietly, gaining Nora’s attention as the girl gave him a confused look. “He can’t do Pizza for today… but maybe he can do it-”


    “The day after tomorrow,” I offered and the boy nodded.


    “Yes, that.”


    The orange-haired kid continued to stare intensely at her partner and… she smiled.


    “Okay.”


    “Are you sure you’re-”


    “You just got back, Papa,” She interrupted happily. “And I… I forgot that it takes a while to get the ingredients ready.”


    That was… surprisingly tame.


    She is still a child. While some of her ‘known’ hyperactivity is here, she is a far cry of what I remember Ms. Valkyrie being.


    With that situation solved, I shifted my attention to the kitchen. Preparing everything took me less than half an hour, but the result was a delightful meal to share with the family-





    [Is everything alright, John?]


    It’s… fine I guess. I’m happy with how things are going but-


    You still miss your family.


    I… I know they’re doing fine. Maybe they are worried, maybe they are afraid for me but… I know they’re not going to hurt themselves over it and… and maybe they will forget about me.


    [That’s sounds so sudden. Why would they need to-]


    Hoping for him to return would just increase the pain each time they remember him. The chances of him going back are null and… that leaves him with just that fickle prayer.


    [But what if there was a way?]


    Then I would’ve to ponder if I want to lose the family I have now to return back to… them.


    The inner discussion didn’t continue after that, and I managed to mask my uneasiness away from the other occupants of the table.


    Soon we started to eat and enjoy some pleasant chatting as we went through a simple lunch together. It was genuinely the happiest and ‘lightest’ moment I could’ve asked for and, in that moment, I was reminded that despite them not being there with us, I still was going to find people to rely on.


    I spared a couple of glances to Sienna, and from the smiles she would return I could tell that she took notice of those quicker than expected.


    Twenty minutes went by in the most peaceful of scenes, and then I found myself alone in the kitchen to clean up the used plates.


    I had to remove my cast and put on some gloves to properly handle the dish-washing, but I quickly realized how the damage was mostly gone. Only a barely-noticeable aching remaining from the previously stinging sensation.


    Humming quietly, and looking to the side to see the Tiger Faunus playing around with both children.


    Nora was giggling madly as she dodged with her tiny and nimble self the taller woman. Sienna was trying to catch her while Ren stared at the scene from behind the ‘safe wall’ created by the couch, an unusual but endearing eager smile on his face.


    Soon the giggling doubled as the girl was caught by the chuckling Faunus, with the woman’s hands reaching for her sides and tickle there. My smile widened at the sight, and I went through my chores as quickly as I could without breaking anything in the process.


    But just as I handled the last plates, my attention was stolen by the familiar sound of the doorbell reaching my ears.


    The little playtime between Tiger and children was stopped as Sienna went to personally check on the door to see who it was at this curious hour.


    There was silence at first, and I kept looking to try and see who was at the door. Yet the quiet was interrupted when a pair of quick footsteps reached the living room before Nora realize who they were and rushed to greet the closest of the two.


    “ILIA!”


    The young chameleon Faunus tried to match with her own smile the rambunctious reaction from her friend, the two girls sharing a quick hug while Ren preferred to greet her with a smile, a nod, and a curt greeting.


    My attention moved a little bit away from her as I took notice of the second newcomer as he waved at me.


    “Mr. Bukharin!”


    The red-haired Bull Faunus greeted loudly and I nodded back at him while giving a kind smile.


    “Hello Adam.”


    Vibrant blue eyes glinted a happy reaction to my reply, and for a moment I forgot the kind of person the boy could’ve turned into if I had left his mother to die.


    He still can become that monster.


    [I think his mother will teach him more about morality. And don’t act as if people can change from this ‘little’. A parent can still do the difference.]


    It took me a brief moment to realize that he looked ‘cleaner’ than the last time I saw him. The boy’s life had clearly improved from how happy and properly-dressed he looked to be.


    Maybe his mother did find a good job the moment they both arrived at Menagerie, and maybe they were indeed living a better life than the one they had in Atlas.


    It’s not much of an improvement considering how squalid the standards of life are for Faunus right now.


    Before I had the chance to keep up with Ozpin’s comment, I saw a certain girl finally taking notice of me and rush to greet me.


    Wrapping her arms around my legs, she looked up with a big smile while her chameleon features acted up.


    Her hair turned blue, with her freckles becoming yellow, and her eyes a warm shade of red.


    Is that… her happy reaction?


    Blue, yellow- those are generally colors to highlight happiness. I’m unsure about red but-


    [She looks so adorable! Look how happy she is!]


    “Mr. Bukharin.”


    “Illya,” I replied quietly but mirthfully. “I’m happy to see you this lively.”


    She smiled and freed my legs from her tiny restraint. “I’ve heard from Adam that you’ve helped his mother,” The inquisitive girl muttered. “Is it true that Faunus are treated badly in Atlas?”


    I took a moment to blink and… realize how the situation had gone from a simple greeting to a very awkward question I was surprised to find myself answering to.


    But still, that was quite an unexpected assault from little Ilia. I thought she was more shy than this.


    You forgot how accustomed she got to your presence. Shyness is an element that can selectively be removed when the ‘shy person’ can trust the people around themselves.


    “I wouldn’t say the situation as tough as it might sound to an outsider, and I can say that from now on conditions are going to improve since Nicholas Schnee has announced he would take over once again until his daughter is ready to take over,” I replied carefully, knowing that bringing up mistaken terms could genuinely get an odd and unwanted situation going. “Let’s just say that Adam and his mother suffered through some unquestionably bad conditions.”


    The boy’s smile faltered a little bit and I gestured him to come closer the moment I saw this.


    He glanced up, expecting me to say something more but first… I reached for the top of his head and started patting.


    “You still showed a brave look before the trouble. I hope you know you should be proud of holding up against the absurdity that existed in Atlas.”


    His smile was renewed at those words.


    “And I see you two have formed quite the bond with each other.”


    Adam nodded. “Ilia writes the best of stories.”


    The compliment warranted a quick blush from the chameleon Faunus and the girl’s face tinged in a deep red at that.


    “It’s… I suppose many like what I write.”


    “Your stories are more than good, sweetie,” I replied kindly. “I can assure you that it’s not just a flattering compliment, but a badge you should wear with pride.”


    She gave a nod but… she then gave me a quizzical look.


    “By the way, Mr. Bukharin, do you know who else is invited for tonight’s dinner party at the Chieftain’s mansion?” The girl asked with a less serious tone. “Mom and Dad couldn’t say, and not even Adam knew about it.”


    “Mom said that we were invited with Doctor Watts. And that Mr. Bukharin was going to come too.”


    I stared at both children, confusion growing more in my head as I tried to make sense of what I was hearing about.


    A dinner party? And it was going to happen tonight at the Chieftain’s mansion?


    Why didn’t Kali or Ghira say anything-


    Wait, we’re invited?!


    [Too many questions!]


    And so little notice. What a troublesome situation indeed.


    I looked up at Sienna, the woman returning my confusion stare with one of her own as we both confirmed that we were clueless about this development. Could it have been something planned out after we returned?


    That would be incredibly awkward to mention to us if we were meant to be among the invited guests.


    The doorbell rang once more as I continued to ponder over the situation, prompting the Tiger Faunus to check at the door again.


    The new entry to this unexpected scene was… someone that I hadn’t expected to see this soon.


    “Arthur,” I greeted with a grin. “Good to see you.”


    He huffed. “John, I see that I’ve… intruded while you were busy,” The scientist replied after nodding at me. His eyes turned to see Adam and the boy looked slightly… nervous? “Adam, you shouldn’t have rushed so quickly. Your mother wanted to ask you to do a couple of things before running off with your friend.”


    “Apologies, doctor.”


    My eyes widened a little bit at that deflated response, prompting a proper look at the Bull Faunus as he looked quite somber after that admission. But before I had the chance to inquire about this odd reaction, my ears caught Watts sighing again.


    “Adam, I remind you that I’m not angry at you for behaving your age. The only thing you should mind is that you did leave your mother a little bit worried by running away like that,” Arthur muttered calmly. “You may seek games with your friends, just don’t forget to bring up this to either me or your mother.”


    The tension in the boy’s posture eased up at these words and… I realized what was wrong with him, my blood boiling at the mere thought of the possible reason.


    He was expecting a punishment.


    It’s rare for someone this young to display this much fear for misbehaving. It’s a clear sign of abuse.


    [Poor dear… thankfully he is doing great now that he is away from that horrible place.]


    Patting the boy’s head again, I managed to unravel his nervousness even more.


    “And since I’m here now, I guess I can tell you already that you’ve been invited-”


    “To a formal dinner at the grand manor?” I interceded with a curious tone, drawing a surprised look out of him.


    “I guess the children told you.”


    I nodded. “But I want to understand why this news arrived this… ‘late’.”


    “I confess I’m to blame about this,” The scientist apologized calmly. “I’ve been asked by Mrs. Belladonna if I could’ve been the one to give you two the news and… I ended up spending too much time at my workplace for today.”


    “Are you still getting accustomed with your new living conditions?” I questioned with a hint of fascination, starting to feel intrigued over the fact Watts was this close to the Taurus family.


    “I would be lying if I said that I’m adapting smoothly. Some elements, like the different climate and the smaller size of the community compared to what I was accustomed to, are work in progress. But the workplace afforded for my newest role as leader of the R&D group for Menagerie is… refreshing,” He explained with a polite smile. “I’ve also taken a liking with my living conditions. The chieftain saw it fit that I shared a house with young Adam and his mother.”


    “A liking?”


    Arthur looked quite nervous for a moment, but soon he answered.


    “Mrs. Taurus… Emma became something of a trusted assistant,” The man explained slowly but truthfully. “She is a hard worker, and she has backbone to mention I’m wrong when I try to go through some possible failure.”


    ...No, that’s not happening.


    I’m… I’m unsure what you’re talking about.


    Sally merely giggled in the mindscape, clearly aware of what I was implying considering the thoughts I was having on the matter.


    Maybe I was being too quick with my suspicions, maybe this wasn’t going to end up in a way I had totally not expected to see.


    But… But what if ‘that’ happens.


    [Lots of fun shenanigans!]


    And you would love all of them.


    [Guilty as charged~!]


    Still, I was glad that Watts was in the ‘Anti-Faunus’ spectrum of Atlas’ population. The fact he seemed quite genuine over his respect over Adam’s mother and how… ‘carefully’ he was treating Adam’s distrust for Atlesian it was kind of…


    Surprising? Disgusting? Shocking?


    Heartwarming.


    And that’s a ‘Disgusting’ from me.


    The conversation didn’t trail for too long. With Watts still having work to do and with Ilia having promised her parents to return home quickly to prepare for the dinner, the house was soon freed of any guests.


    And while peace quickly regained control over the place, I still pondered about the situation at hand.


    Kind of sudden for Zardula to be indicating a dinner party for our return… so quickly. I was surprised, and confused.


    But still, I decided that maybe it was just a thing he came up because someone told him to. Maybe his daughter.


    Maybe Kali had plans I wasn’t aware about and…


    Despite my endless musing, I still managed to hold well thorough the day as I managed to get the promised snuggling time with Sienna while the children went back to their room.


    Tonight was going to be a long night after all, and I needed all the cuddling I could get.


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


    AN


    It’s kind of amusing how Watts is… quite easy to write as a good guy. The only thing that got the ‘mad doctor’ to act for Salem was his hatred for Atlas. It was never mentioned if the accusations thrown at him were genuine since he never shown any indication nor propensity in biology-related experimentation, but… I could see him being a victim of Atlas’ own brand of corruption.


    Also next chapter is… a tiny timeskip. Just a couple of weeks after their return as I want to bring up some ‘speed’ to the story. And no, I’m not planning to speed up so suddenly, but I just want to make the world rotate a little more… and give time for ‘stuff to happen’.


    And next chapter will have a new dilemma, one that will pit Ozzie, Sallie, and MC one against the other.
     
  22. Dacffggggg

    Dacffggggg Julian the Great

    Joined:
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    Well done you have shown us that people can change and that nothing is in stone but I have a question can Salem really die because in the show it was never staited that silver eyes could kill her
     
    Relyt33 likes this.
  23. Sleeping Moon

    Sleeping Moon Not too sore, are you?

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    Hehehe~ Arthur my man!!! You seems gettin' to life properly?
     
    Relyt33 likes this.
  24. anirocks

    anirocks good man inside dirty pervert outside

    Joined:
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    wow arthur and adam's mom.that is a pair that i dont expected
    p.s.:-i find it real surprising that oz didnt visit to meet bukharin yet.
    p.p.s:-want to see oz astonsihed, surprised expression when he learns the truth
     
  25. Threadmarks: Never too Easy (1)
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.” – George Orwell (pseudonym of Eric Blair)


    Chapter 31: Never too Easy (1)


    One would easily expect for the important dinner to be besieged by some sudden guest that I wanted to avoid. Like Ozpin… and Ozpin.


    Really, I wasn’t planning to be cornered by the headmaster, and my little prayer was answered when the event turned out to be actually fine.


    Sure, I had to deal with the fact that Kali took it upon herself to question me about my intentions with Sienna… while the Tiger Faunus was sitting right beside me.


    The teasing and the ‘threats’ that were delivered in that big dinner ended up being the cherry atop the amusing cake that was made by various interesting situations unraveling during the situation.


    First hint that the day was going to end in the most amusing of ways was when the kids were given their own tables to sit. Nora decided to be the prime entertainment for the rest of the children, leading left and right the conversation through quick and somewhat cohesive topics.


    Ren was there to deter her from descending too much with the crazy stuff, but the overall result was a completely endeared table as the new entries of that group seemed to be faring well about it.


    Adam in particular seemed to be having fun talking with Ilia. The Chameleon Faunus was having a blast offering her own ideas to the easily-fascinated red-haired boy.


    Blake would quip from time to time, adding more to the duo and broadening it to a full-fledged trio.


    To think that these three were meant to be enemies…


    I’m glad to see that things turned out this well for us all.


    The second subject that drew a fair amount of my attention was when Kali diverted her ‘teasing’ to Arthur and Emma, Adam’s mother.


    I first encountered her by the entrance of the mansion. The woman almost tackled me to the down while she barraged me with ‘thank you’s over what happened back in Atlas.


    Since she didn’t have the means to reach me out while I was still in Atlas after she left for Menagerie, the woman had been struggling to think up how she was supposed to thank me properly.


    I just asked her if she was alright and to ask if she needed help. It wasn’t what she was expecting, and she did pout a lot when she returned back to her son.


    Watts regaled me with a confused frown when he noticed this development, but the older Bull Faunus saw it fit to tell the truth instead of exaggerating from the way the scientist gave me a sympathetic but sheepish look shortly after.


    They were both close to each other much to my surprise, yet they still regaled themselves as ‘housemates’ and work-partners.


    Not even Kali’s own brand of pestering the two to ‘confess’ the truth seemed to yield any results with the possible couple, and the true nature of their relationship was left up to suppositions and untold contemplation.


    Still, I was surprised that these two had bonded so easily… but then again Watts had never displayed a degree of hatred for Faunus, so maybe it wasn’t that much of a surprise that he just found Emma’s hard-working nature more than enough to endear a serious relationship.


    With the dinner ending with a toast for both Sienna and I, the rest of the night concluded with the guests going back to their respective homes and sleeping until the next morning.


    And from there the ‘normal days’ resumed for both me and the Tiger Faunus. Starting from the task of reporting the results obtained during the diplomatic visit, and some of the details noticed during our wandering, the Chieftain seemed overall pleased with what was brought back home.


    There were some minor issues born from the fact we brought so much without proper notice, but he wasn’t willing to complain about the absolute victory scored for Menagerie and thus he didn’t see it fit to do more other than reminding us to ‘call’ when the situation was getting complex.


    Kali was also there as she had promised, happily listening to everything we were saying while a tired-looking Ghira was trying his best to divide his attention between his own share of the paperwork and what we were saying.


    Things went a little bit ‘tense’ when the Cat Faunus decided to ask about the cast I had been wearing when I returned back to the island as neither Sienna nor I were ready to answer that question.


    The irritation building up within the usually kind and motherly woman as we ultimately spilled the beans seemed to be good enough proof of our concerns as we were scolded for endangering our lives.


    The worst was aimed at me as I was the one that got the most injured during the trip, and for those excruciating moments I felt like I was being chided about like a brat caught doing something bad.


    And that was something I was well-accustomed to from my childhood when my own mother would use her legendary wooden spoon whenever I did something grave. Which was frequent when I was a little kid.


    From this first step back in normalcy, work seemed to return a priority to me as I found out that the owner of the bank had deemed it fit to create a new section of the bank and put me in charge of it.


    While the promotion sounded sudden, I quickly realized that it was more of a damage control situation than else. I had inadvertently brought up a dangerous situation that had risked to damage the reputation and the integrity of the bank.


    To prevent this from ever happening again, the owner decided to create the ‘International Section’ that was meant to deal with clients that didn’t reside in Menagerie. I was chosen to lead this small group of people that had some understanding of the topic, and the first assignment was to draft a series of modifications that were meant to positively reform the current charter of the bank.


    A tough job that took me a ten days of long workdays to get through, but finally got me a much deserved increase to my payroll. The income was almost doubled because of this and I quickly started to draw out plans to expand the house earlier than I had initially wanted.


    With the money gained from the trip to Atlas and the promotion at the workplace, I was quite certain that the first project of expansion would commence in a month or so... even less if nothing that could drain our finances happened.


    But while this sounded so nice and all of that, a minuscule issue appeared when my relationship with Sienna was cemented… through a couple of dates.


    One would expect that those ended up being nightmarish considering the interest displayed by Kali, the children, and pretty much most of Menagerie… but I was surprised when almost every single one of those went pretty smoothly and without interference from anyone we knew.


    The secret of our success? We didn’t tell anyone that we were going out for dates.


    People just expected us to just hang around when we were free and both Ren and Nora were still at school, but we were already testing out the current state of things as a couple by going to the only restaurant on the island or checking the safe areas of the beach to rest for a few hours.


    But like all good plans, something odd and unexpected would sometimes come out and play a curve ball at us.


    In this case, the ‘something’ was a certain banditress that saw fit visiting and checking from time to time.


    Now that I was not dealing with some important work out of home, Raven saw it fit to enlist me as a free therapist. It wasn’t a full commitment, and I was pretty sure that some of the ‘sessions’ were about her barging on our dates and ‘deciding to spend some time with us as friends’.


    It didn’t help that she was giving me strange looks any time she said the word ‘friend’ as if to press a joke on my face or something. I had plenty of clues about what she was trying to accomplish, but the red-eyed huntress had severely forgotten I wasn’t someone that was just going to accept what she wanted from me.


    To make things clear, the issues behind that kind of relationship with Raven were… mostly dictated by my morality and some good bonds I had with the rest of Team STRQ.


    Sure, Taiyang had severed most of his past connection with his first wife, but I was quite sure that he really didn’t want Yang’s biological mother to leave the little girl.


    Despite Summer’s own efforts to mitigate the new predicament, it was complicated to explain to both the girls back in Patch that nothing much was changing and that Raven was no longer Taiyang’s wife.


    Yang was the greatest obstacle, with her unwillingness to consider the chances of both Summer and Raven being her moms in equal manner. Days had gone by but progress was sluggish and mostly difficult to spot on without paying incredible attention to both the young blonde and the tiny cookie-muncher.


    I was planning to visit by the end of the week, but for now I was stuck facing quite the troublesome thing that was love.


    Or rather, the ramifications that usually come out of it.


    Sienna was quick to devote herself to her new role in the White Fang, expecting for it to be a promotion that would make her command more people and reform positively what needed to be fixed in the current organization. It was nothing radical and… her expectations proved to be correct much to her early delight.


    Sadly, that wasn’t the only duty that came out of the promotion. Paperwork was also a thing that increased with her rise to the ranks, and her despaired groaning would linger in the living room whenever we were all back home and enjoying the ‘post-work’ routine.


    The Tiger Faunus wasn’t granted that privilege as she was drowned in the papers detailing reports and requests from various subordinates.


    But how does this become a problem to me?


    [Because you’re whipped~]


    Oh, come on!


    You could’ve technically have said no… even though that would’ve left you in quite the odd conundrum.


    At first it was a single request, then it became a situation that happened from time to time and… finally she asked for my full-time commitment to help her with paper.


    ‘After all, you are my second in command.’


    That very sentence, given with a mischievous smile and a wave of documents over my face really left me annoyed but… it wasn’t like I was planning to leave her to struggle with that much paperwork.


    Especially when half of it turned out to be letters from ‘admirers’.


    I was slightly surprised to learn about this curious predicament, but I was more irked when I discovered some of the admirers going as far as using rather crass terms to address their interest.


    This occasion proved to be a good opportunity to create a stash of paper that could be used to fuel the grill to make some BBQ.


    With this becoming another element of my busy daily life, the last addition to my week was the introduction of something I had promised Sienna to start trying with her.


    Training. Hardcore sessions at that.


    She didn’t spare me much relief as she gave me an absurd schedule to ‘begin with’, and my aura-deprived body was quick to get strained against the surreal list of exercises I had to go through each day.


    Two weeks went by smoothly ever since we came back to Menagerie, and I was still struggling to get beyond half of the crazy stuff the possibly-masochist Faunus had deemed good for me to endure and train for.


    Tiring days for sure, but I wasn’t regretting any of those as each day things seemed to become ‘easier’ to handle.


    I was a workaholic that just needed time to get accustomed to a sudden increase of my workload, but one that ended up in a relationship with someone that demanded to nap together with me for a couple of hours every day.


    So I wasn’t risking much by juggling so much when someone I could trust and rely on was keeping a good watch over me… while I did the same with her as she carefully handled important affairs for the White Fang.


    As time went on, I was expecting for something to happen quite soon as… I knew that the world wasn’t just going to allow me this much relief without offering some bumps to deal with once in a while.


    And boy, how much I was correct when something interesting did happen.


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


    I was feeling rather dead. My bones were hurting, my breathing was ragged and stressed, and I was half-tempted to drop off from the current exercise.


    It’s been two hours already, and, while I had the time to rest during two breaks that were five minutes long each, I could tell I wasn’t going to be able to finish this last exercise.


    “D-Dear, can I stop at eighty?” I asked quietly, my throat hurting a little bit because of the duress my entire being was being subjected to. “I’m already at- at seventy-five push-ups, I don’t think I can go for too long.”


    She sighed. “Hun, didn’t you tell me that you wanted to be prepared to tank any sudden attack on us?”





    Silence is often regarded as tacit consent-


    [Oh, I’m familiar with that. I remember someone keeping quiet when I gave him a similar option. Something about cleaning the bedroom and-]


    Are you really planning to bring out all the dirty laundry?


    [Speaking of dirty laundry-]


    Have some mercy, woman.


    Heh.


    Despite my ‘victory’ within my mind, Sienna ended up taking on Ozpin’s vision over my quiet self and she chuckled, crouching to pat my head and adjust one of the two small weights she had settled on my back.


    “It’s not that far. You just need to do twenty-five more.”


    That’s not as easy as you’re saying!


    I stopped a little longer, thinking of a way to get off this maddening exercise at once and… I got a brilliant idea.


    “S-Sienna, do you remember that… nice fish dish you wanted me to prepare for you?”


    “Yes? What about it?”


    “Well… I had planned to prepare it for you tonight but… I might not be able to do it if-”


    “I think seventy-five is enough,” She quickly interjected, giving me a nod before narrowing her eyes on me. “But I want double portions.”


    “D-Deal,” I said before allowing myself to collapse on the ground. Who would’ve thought that the earth of this training ground would’ve been so nice, warm, and soft.


    I think he is slowly losing his mind. The tiredness is taking a toll on his sanity.


    [Pity… So, what do you think that strange hooded figure staring on his right is planning to do?]


    The sudden change of topic further demoralized me, but I slowly digested Sally’s comment about the ‘figure’, opening my eyes to try and see what she was referring to and… I frowned as I found that there was indeed someone sitting by the nearby staircase that led to the training ground.


    The figure was rather small, and I was quite sure that they were a child. I couldn’t say if they were a boy or a girl from the hood and cloak covering their frame.


    As soon as they noticed my stare on them, they started to move. Standing up from their seat, they descended down the steps instead of running away.


    Their pace was quite slow but determined as I calmly stood up from my little ‘rest’, allowing Sienna to help me up as I kept on staring at the approaching individual.


    The tanned woman was about to tell me something, but she stopped herself in time as she trailed my stare up to what was keeping me distracted.


    Her own eyes were set on this unexpected intrusion, but I regarded it more as a kid trying to get an autograph or something like that.


    I feel like there is something familiar about this child.


    [You can’t see them. How would you recall them from somewhere else? Also, I think it’s rather ominous that they are approaching you like that.]


    For some reason, this very conversation reminded me of something… bizarre.


    I shrugged it off, deciding against waiting and already greeted the kid as they continued with their approach.


    “Hey, do you need something?”


    The question was ignored at first, but then the child got close enough, a voice came out of them.


    “You’re John Bukharin,” The girl said with a certain tone. “I was searching for you. I wish to speak with you.”


    Curt, serious, and somewhat familiar. Now I could tell that I had heard about her voice before but… I was confused by the different pitch.


    “Really? And what do you need from me, young lady?” I still returned, my voice hinting at my curiosity as her hands reached for her hood to pull it down.


    Oh no. Nonononono.


    My calm self lasted until her identity was finally revealed. It took an immense sense of self-control to keep myself from gawking, but my eyes widened as I was shown her face.


    Her hair was curly, but barely reaching her shoulders in length, while her fringe wasn’t long enough to cover either of her amber eyes. Her skin was a pale complex, like snow, and her serious look hardly fitted with a child her age.


    She was older than Nora and Ren. I was tempted to say she was as old as Winter was right now and… I was flabbergasted by the sight I was being bestowed to.


    “Mr. Bukharin, I’ve heard and seen of your deeds,” She said while giving a simple and polite bow of her head. “My name is Cinder Fall, and I wish to learn from you.”


    No.


    [She’s just a child-]


    That will cause the death of several of my students, of innocent civilians, the fall of Beacon and-


    And much more.


    To be fair, when I was expecting for Murphy to come by to screw my happiness, I wasn’t looking for him to drop a probable nuke on my lap.


    Cinder Fall, the woman that ordained the ugly ending of Volume III. The one that was responsible for Penny’s and Pyrrha’s deaths, the one that ended both Beacon Academy and the Kingdom of Vale in a single evening.


    It was like staring at a young Stalin, and trying to not just act on behalf of the innocents that were killed because of his future actions.


    A dilemma I hadn’t planned to deal… ever.


    This was perhaps worse than facing a certain Headmaster. At least that issue could be dealt with.


    Some bitterness was expected to influence my words, but I wasn’t going to screw my cover over my opinion with the other Ozpin.


    But Cinder? Oh, I didn’t have a proper answer to that conversation. Was there even a hint of me that wanted this to be a conversation?


    A single attack, a precise strike to end her life.


    Sienna was the only one there that would see it and-


    [And then become like Ozma? Bitter and afraid, always pondering about killing those that you’re scared of meeting? Will you try and kill ‘Ozpin’ next time too?]


    I felt freezing at that sudden interjection. Sally’s words were sharper than I wanted to feel them as they cut deep in me.


    This… this was what I really feared.


    Ozma, despite the dislike and contempt I had for him, was someone that had legitimate reasons to be this conniving and meddling. The world was massive, and pawns can easily become knights and worse if they were left to linger for too long.


    Remnant was just this big chessboard that… had slowly swallowed me deep in the centuries-old game.


    It was frustratingly wrong but… it had to be do-


    When your grandfather passed away, I was really at loss.’


    What is-


    [A memory. One I found deep inside your mind. How could you’ve forgotten this is beyond me.]


    I thought I should have hated someone. That I should have just sought loneliness to wallow in my own despair and… for a time I feared the most about my life.


    What changed back then, mom? What pushed you to go further?


    I could remember a bitter smile, but a determined glint from her eyes as she prepared to answer my simple question.


    How old was I at the time? Fifteen? Or maybe sixteen?


    Your grandfather was a thoughtful man. He left notes in his last will that addressed the chances of me falling in depression. He scolded me if I did. He wrote that he would’ve been disappointed if I gave up everything so suddenly all because he was gone.


    A sigh, she slowly gave me a hug. I could remember her forehead pressing on my shoulder.


    You are a good person. You might be silly at times, and you tend to be impatient about what you want to do,’ She muttered tiredly. ‘But you still come out on top with a bright smile. Even as a child. So I wish to make a promise to myself.


    And that… is?


    When you see someone in pain, don’t allow them to suffer alone,’ She answered with a calm tone. ‘Be their pillar, and allow yourself to take onto your back the burden. Never change and never allow yourself to grow cruel and bitter.’








    Indeed. How could I forget?


    This simple query felt so light to ask to my mindscape, but my attention swiftly rushed back to reality as I addressed the proposal with a frown.


    “Learn from me? But I’m not a Huntsman,” I rebuked with a confused look.


    “You still managed to beat someone like Jacques Schnee. You humiliated him and-”


    “And I made sure that people hurt by him were no longer hurt,” I interjected kindly, catching little Cinder off-guard. “It wasn’t much me going after him to prove something to anyone or myself. He tried to meddle on our work and I reacted accordingly.”


    “But what you did- it was still something that brought change,” The young girl retorted. “Not only you proved to be better than him, but you also reverted some of the things he made in the process.”


    That was a hefty praise considering the little individual I was speaking to, but I was far from getting myself bribed with some flattery.


    “That I did, but I think you’re seeing the reasons that led me to that point differently than it really was,” I half-agreed. “I was in Atlas for a specific business, one that threatened Jacques’ interests and he thought it smart to try and stop us through Atlas’ laws.”


    “But it didn’t work. You were aware of what he was trying to do,” Cinder remarked with a nod. “And knowledge is power.”


    She was like… twelve. How was she being this much of a power-hungry person at this young age?


    What drove her to become like this?


    I didn’t wait to hear an answer from my ‘mindmates’, knowing that they were clueless of what led the girl to this route.


    The only one that knew right now as Cinder herself.


    “Indeed. But let’s stop talking about me for a moment,” I replied with a small smile. “And let me ask you this. Who is Cinder Fall?”





    “W-What?”


    “I mean, I know she is a young girl asking to become my apprentice. That she has short, curly black hair and a pair of cute amber eyes, but other than that I know so little about you.”


    She frowned, finally understanding what I was talking about, but tensing up at the fact I was asking to know more about her.


    “Is this important?”


    “I think it is,” I rebuked quietly. “In fact, I found myself interested about what drove you so far from your former home.”


    Her intention increased, and her stare moved away from my face and down to the ground.


    “I… I don’t. I don’t want to sound rude but-”


    “You don’t want to tell me.”





    “I’m sorry-”


    “Don’t be,” I interrupted again, trying my best to sound kind and polite before I crouched down to stare better at her. Her eyes carefully returned to my own and she looked unhappy about the situation. “But the reason why I’m asking is… I think there is a good motivation that pushed you to crave for power.”





    “And?”


    “And I want to know. After all, how I’m supposed to help you as your possible teacher.”


    “What if you just want to know and then you refuse me as your apprentice?”


    That’s a fair point, but I had a fairer point at my disposal.


    “What if we make a deal that if you tell me right now the truth, I will take you as my apprentice?”





    “Why?”


    I shrugged. “Call it a hunch. I think it will be worth it.”


    She kept quiet for some time but… then she spoke. And I wasn’t prepared to hear her backstory.


    One of the many things the original series failed to address was why someone as malicious and devious as Cinder Fall came by. Why did she ally with Salem? Why she wanted that much power and…


    Why was she so empty inside?


    The answer was only one for all those queries, and it stemmed from her childhood.


    The daughter of a rich farmer, her life was a good one until the fable she was inspired from decided to rear its ugly mug.


    A woman ended up endearing her only parent, and with her came two young girls that were the daughters of the woman.


    While the tale of Cinderella had its high and low points, ending with a positive finale, Cinder’s story was tainted by the cruelty of modern times.


    Her father died by mysterious circumstances and his inheritance was all taken by his last wife. And in this case, the step-mother didn’t decide to turn her into a cheap servant.


    Oh no, the situation went a darker turn as the woman deemed it fit to erase the only possible evidence of her crime by shutting the girl close in her room and setting the entire villa on fire while she and her children ran away from town.


    In a normal circumstance, that had to have been traumatic as much as it could be… but the event was the catalyst for one of the greatest Grimm’s invasions a settlement has ever suffered.


    The villa was located in the center of the large town that was once Cinder’s home. The fire caused a large upheaval within the entire population and that eventually attracted the Grimm.


    So when Cinder managed to free herself from the closed door by breaking it through the use of her unique Semblance, the child was horrified to find monsters assaulting the place she called home.


    The abuse that had lingered from the years when things had started to decline before this zenith of horror had left her stuck with a single mentality.


    The world was a terrible place filled with terrible people. And the only way to gain respect, loyalty, and change was to accumulate as much power as she could and become a monster far greater than any of those malicious individuals.


    This wasn’t how Cinder relayed it, but from the burning tone influenced by her temper and the genuine tears that were rolling the moment she started to bring up that horrible bit of her past… I couldn’t help but pity her.


    She was surprised when I carefully pulled her in a hug, but I think I was the most surprised as I had gone for that route.


    A monster. I was going to help someone that was already so broken and so dependent on this dream.


    I was afraid I was tying myself to a doomed path, but I knew that whatever odds I had to face, I wasn’t going to let go of someone that needed help.


    There was still a chance. There has to.


    Sienna looked positively uneasy at the tale, and she offered a sympathetic look at the young girl as I ultimately gave her a positive answer to her proposal.


    But while she saw this chance as a simple apprenticeship, I… saw it as a way to give her a better future.


    Sometimes even monsters don’t deserve this much pain. Especially when those were still children.


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


    AN


    The more I think about it, the more I see Cinder fitting well as the dark, rule63 version of Shirou Emiya. Their ideals stem from similar connotations and both were following a similar pattern.


    Cinder became Cinder, and Shirou became Counter-Guardian EMIYA (for a time, that is.).


    Also similar power, one with glass-manipulation and the other using Tracing.


    Still, the arc is far from over and two particular individuals had kept quiet during the final interaction. I wonder why.
     
  26. Irked

    Irked Experienced.

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    Just caught up with this after taking a break to let it build up.....Honestly i like most of whats been going on and the character development but the Party Hardy/SI randomly becomes the Doom Slayer without having aura arc is godawful and seriously detracts from the story.

    If it were that easy to kill Grimm everyone would be doing it and the SI just cutting his way through legions of the critters whilst not actually having Aura at all broke my SoD over it's knee and then set it on fire.

    The implications/passive worldbuilding of that chapter alone pretty much rewrites the entirety of RWBY in regards to the Grimm as going by those set of chapters literally anyone can kill a Grimm with a big enough gun without much issue (i mean he wasn't just killing mook Beowolves, who are still pretty dangerous the average civilian/robots with assault rifles, but he was taking out Beringels, Geists and Ursa's too which is ridiculous).

    It's made worse by the fact that the SI has been going out of his way to take a different approach to things when possible so him deciding to randomly engage in pitched battle came completely out of left field (and don't even get me started on Ironwood actually deciding to take a random civilian into combat with a specialist squad) and his subsequent rampage (rather than getting his ass kicked because he's not fast/strong/experienced enough when it comes to fighting Grimm) as he proceeded to imitate the Doom Slayer ended up with me skipping over chunks of the absurdity.

    The stuff before and after that was great (the Ruby time travel thing is odd but interesting, it was fun to watch Jacques implode, the SI's approach to the trial/social side of things was a great showcase of his abilities, the character development from various people is very enjoyable, i definitely like whats going on with Watts and i'm looking forward to seeing future Ruby's reaction to chibi Cinder) but that one arc seriously detracts from the quality of your writing simply because of how silly it is in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
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  27. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    I can agree to your point to a fair degree. The thing that I might find difficult to agree to is that people in RWBY don't need Aura to fight Grimm.

    Aura's primary function is defense (it's a shield against attacks) which in the specific case of Party Hardy was 'slightly' replaced by the armor John was wearing. As shown at the end of the arc, the armor took the worst of Salem's counter and left the MC with a wound that he could recover from.

    There is also a detail about John's natural defense that I have yet to bring up, but let's just say that a deeper explanation will be given quite soon.

    Finally, I wish to express the fact I'm glad that you find this story enjoyable. My main priority is to create stories that readers can read, understand, and love. I'm always improving, and I will still take your comment as a reason to pay more attention on writing content that might subvert some limits I myself have left on the MCs.

    In this specific situation, I ended up adding a bizarre predicament when I had given way less of the clues I had planned to give about a specific circumstance with John. Next time, I will pay more attention to this possibility and make sure to handle it better.

    Once again, thank you for the feedback!
     
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  28. Procrastination

    Procrastination Getting out there.

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    You put tons of effort into your stories and having looked across a few projects, I feel confident in suggesting the following bits of constructive criticism:

    1. You change canonical characters too much without proper build-up/reasoning.

    I mean that you have a tendency to take a character with a name that has a canonical behavior, methodology, reasoning, whatever, and then you make up a reason that humanizes them or allows your character (in the stories I've read, all essentially SIs or OC-inserts with meta knowledge) to cozy up with them with no real effort on your part beforehand to cement the changes. Perfect examples of this are Raven and Salem in this story. You make up these odd alternative story facts that 'forgive' a reaction, whether it's a 'not salem's younger self or whatever. While there's nothing wrong with adjusting characters a bit, or adding to their story especially where limited canon knowledge for what drives them or made them make certain decisions is available, giving your main character a quick and easy reason to forgive, or having some odd 'we didn't know about this being the cause for why she/he did this really obviously bad thing!' scenario invalidates the whole nature of a character. You make everyone OOC in a way even before they ever react with your insert. Raven was secretly still wanting to be a mom, but blah blah blah, Ozpin threatened her and was going to send them to fight Salem in the grimmlands, and she had to do what she had to do because the alternative was him ruining her connection with the team...so she ruined it instead? Uh...what? Just, scenarios like this -- I wouldn't recommend doing it.

    Stick to the characterization provided by the series generally, and any 'changes' you make to characters, make them WITHIN the story or make the changes believable in emphasizing the character traits we've already been shown by the series before. You could have much more realistically in my opinion have had Raven have a moment of weakness(when she abandoned Yang initially) due to her upbringing, her relative youth (at the time of having a child) and likely mild PTSD (given again, violent upbringing among bandits) leading to her abhoring the married life/mother life, and leaving. Even when she feels some maternal instinct, she also feels in whatever way drawn back to the sense of powerlessness she felt whenever, so she doesn't do it. She does things that make her feel powerful. It doesn't make her a great person, but is she evil? No. She's a victim(in a weird way) of trauma, and she probably needs a lot of coaching to come back around to the same emotional interactions that other people take for granted. This is a character design that makes her redeemable, far more in character to the universe, and doesn't invalidate any of her behaviors in the main series really. It creates a loose net of it having been a 'possibility' for the character even if it wasn't canon, making it where to the reader, the illusion is your MC having been the deciding factor in the change and not just something like, 'Oh, she literally never told anyone this super dark one secret thing that happened, like her best friend dying for Ozpin and him blackmailing her, or something'.

    2. People act ridiculously surprised by the MC acting in a manner that isn't in any way ridiculously surprising.
    Sienna is a good example of this. Classic 'omg, a human who isn't looking at me with scorn or intending to trick me with some greater purpose' when she doesn't have any basis yet to believe this, and even if she did, it isn't indicative of anything out of the ordinary. Avoid this. If you want him to surprise her, have him do something that actually is surprising. In general, racism and its deeper connotations and effects on interpersonal interactions aren't 'blatant'. While there are those people who are terrible racists and open their mouth and nothing but trash spills out, the more dangerous (and far more common) are the people who manage or enforce ideals or features of society that have been built for systemic racism. TLDR - Sienna has likely interacted with at least one human in the course of her whole life who in the span of two conversations didn't say, 'You filthy damn animal!' or something equally cringe. Acting like your MC is the first person to ever not just be garbage to her earlier on in the story really pushes at suspension of disbelief further. This is such a common issue with fan fiction.

    3. Classic MC does the right thing, the other older 'good guy' always did the wrong thing.
    This comes up so much where the 'wise old man' fan fiction is concerned. You mostly see this with RWBY, Harry Potter, Naruto, etc. Someone goes, 'Oh, that really powerful figure made mistakes, or did this thing in the story, so clearly he's shitty in this way!'. It's an easy cop-out and drives away from the nature of conflict. Admittedly, writing in Ozpin as this calloused, disconnected wizard who drifts through the years casually sacrificing family after family in an eternal stalemate comes easy, but it's not necessarily a good perspective of the character. You write in your character who has probably thirty odd years of life, who is apparently a one-shot genius for guessing the correct outcome of every single scenario and he definitely has the better answer all the time over the 1,000 year old wizard who has lived at minimum thirty lifetimes. It borders on megalomania to suspect that you automatically have the better perspective of how to interact with people than this person. So instead of doing that, write up ways/reasons, things that could lead to this person having a different perspective on what you're dealing with, and show where your own plans fall flat, and where his absolutely would have worked better. While we write fantasy to be the one in a million who wins against all the odds, the wizard that already took 950,000 shots at that 1 in a million has probably got an idea how things go. In similar vein to this, you never have anything the MC does come back on them or seriously impact them in a negative fashion. Their wounds tend to be temporary, their abilities ramp quickly, their friendships are rarely if ever impacted by their decisions, they just make all the right shots and calls. It's a power fantasy in the most blatant way, and it's better to avoid that kind of thing. We often read for that fantasy, but dress it up, and hide it away a little more behind the veil of loss, growth, change, etc.

    4. Women are good. Men are bad. ...this is bad.
    Your ratios where women and men are concerned as far as being bad guys in the story are pretty ridiculous, and in a weird way you write yourself back around to awkward interpretations of characterization. Whatever bad actions a woman takes/does, you redeem or you explain their issue that lead to them there. Raven had blackmail of sorts by Ozpin/disconnect from teammates /death threat by grimmlands expedition. Salem got split, so we get nice salem and bad salem separate. Willow gets redeemed. Sienna gets redeemed. Cinder getting redeemed. Adam's mom gets saved and spun about, and that impacts Adam. I get that we're all FOR THE HAREM around here, but seriously, mix this up a bit more without having your cake and eating it too across various characters.



    I realize this is getting a bit ridiculous, so I'm going to cut my criticism off there. You clearly do have quite the following, and you write often, and I enjoy reading it. I think your stories are great. This is just my advice based on my perspective given I'm a relatively new reader of your works and some of these issues are prevalent across at least two stories. I hope despite me being a bit silly for how I explained some of it, it gets taken with a grain of salt and a pinch of sugar both. Keep up the good work!
     
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  29. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    I find most of this easy to agree to. I did find some instances within each points that got me frowning and scratching my head, but those weren't as frequent or completely inconclusive. Still, I wish to try and correct some things I think need some explanation:

    Not 100% correct, but also not incorrect. I'm well aware that in my early attempts to characterize individuals I do tend to be quite limited with the build up. It was an issue I did notice when I first started this story and when I 'preferred' to leave very few details in and out. As of now I'm working on improving in this department and I think I got a grasp over the proper course.

    The thing is that sometimes this point is true. In my 'older' stories I tend to leave characters different from their canon attitudes and that does disrupt the narrative. But while this can be considered bad at times, the thing is that in this story there are good reasons for this to be a thing.

    Raven is considered a bitter woman in Canon RWBY. She hates Ozpin, she doesn't trust him. The reason? He's manipulative and got her and her brother stuck with that 'curse' (I'm still failing to see how much of a curse turning into birds on their own free will is). But what is lost within the timeline is 'what cemented Raven's complete severing of her ties with STRQ?'

    The answer to that question is Summer's death. The ultimate proof that despite common sense and trust, Summer still believed Ozpin with what he promised if she succeeded against Salem. A life without Grimm, a life without having to see her daughters sent to fight in the frontline.

    If I had to stick with Canon, I would've to go with the absurd way Raven decided to leave STRQ. If she didn't want to set up a family, why the hell didn't she say so? She ended up pregnant, then left when Yang was born. The logic is missing at best, or it's plain poor at worse.

    I decided against giving it such a poor characterization and give something else.

    Could I have taken another better route? Yes, I just picked this since this wasn't the first time I addressed this predicament.

    Salem isn't forgiven. Because she can't be forgiven. Salem as a Grimm is driven by desire and emotions. Her logic is a mirror of her former self, and as such there is nothing humane within her mind.

    If you're referring to Sally, then no, there is no forgiveness in there too. The only thing that remains is atonement. Nobody expects for her to ask for forgiveness. But she still feels guilty about it, enough to still stick to happy memories of her past when discussing with others.

    It's an element that repeats more than once with her speech pattern, and it's not a case that Ozpin took notice of this a while ago.

    It depends on expectations. Atlas was a testament on this as John was seen as someone that wasn't meant to stand up against Jacques.

    I'm not sure how TKOing the head of the SDC in a single 'seemingly innocuous' trial about him would be considered mundane. While John isn't a warrior with some overpowered ability, he has two things that made the situation easy to accomplish out:
    1) He has knowledge about Economics, and he had time to study Remnant's international laws by working at the Bank of Menagerie;
    2) He has knowledge about characters. Jacques isn't a surprise to unravel, but that doesn't mean the deed is expected by everyone to be a easy game. I think that if this was the case everyone would have fun destroying the SDC just for fun's sake.

    It is not. and the examples brought up are characterized by an element that is different in this story.

    John Bukharin is a self-insert. He is aware of how things work and how people are in this world because he watched the show. Ozpin's knowledge stems from experience from his reincarnation.

    The logic behind the 'young MC is good, the old wise guy is dumb when he tries to do good' is indeed a trope that spans in the three fandoms you've brought up, but there are times when this is justified when it's not for the sake of bashing. The HP fandom has it worse since Dumbledore is most often demonized as the old guy that just can't take initiative in anything, or that he is all talk and no action regarding his support for wizarding equality.

    Ozpin is not spared by this in many stories, and in this one I saw it fit to give him a degree of sternness in his actions, even those that are bad, for the sake of OOCness. I don't bash Ozzie, and I've been displaying him in numerous versions. In fact, the one in 'I have a Cat Problem' is the closest to the mentor kind of guy. He is wise, he considers himself flawed and guilty of things he had done in the past, but he still tries to accomplish his best to support the newer generations and help them grow out of their issues.

    Mostly agreed to this, except for the fact that the ratio issue is more about the known bad guys that else. There are more 'bad women' than 'bad men', and there is a surprisingly larger amount of unredeemable 'bad men' compared to 'bad women'. This isn't me, the show seems to have a fixation in showing more well-characterized women than man.

    I don't know why, nor I will indulge in offering my opinions about this strange topic.


    It's not silly. Mind you, I find it as constructive of a review it can get. I praise you for bringing up this criticism as I now have a glimpse of what this story might be suffering of and what I will need to adapt from now on for the sake of not leaving any jarring situations.

    This is a well-built feedback that I can only appreciate and take notes from. I'm always improving, and I know that I do leave mistakes each time I write a chapter. Knowing where I'm wrong helps me improve this spots and, while this might not have appeared much evident in the section above, I do agree to your points even in part.

    I don't wish to discourage this as I find it important as a writer to always keep a look for any issues brought up by the readers.

    Once again, thank you for this. I appreciate the support and the kind words.
     
  30. Irked

    Irked Experienced.

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    The issue i have with that is that it's not just defense, its one of the most notable things sure but people with Aura have enhanced strength (Oscar actually making Hazel flinch/move with every hit for example, Ruby cutting Grimm in half with a single blow), reflexes, agility, Endurance etc and thats not to mention the healing.

    The healing lets them build muscle/train non stop so they can improve far quicker than the average person, the baseline of a huntsman (barring someone recently awakened like Jaune) tends to be much better than someone without Aura and then their Aura then pushes them even further than that.

    Someone with a high powered dust gun might be able to kill a few Grimm but they'd very quickly get overwhelmed because they aren't just funny colored animals they are fast and dangerous (despite how poorly the show portrays that).

    Guns aren't even the best option to deal with Grimm most of the time (hence so many alt modes for various hunters weapons are melee types) unless your willing to either use a lot of bullets or very high caliber dust rounds, which is why you see things like Beowolves tanking a lot of shots from Atlas assault rifles in the show or other Grimm ignoring the stream of bullets from Ren's weapon (heck a Beringel needed a point blank shot in the head from Ruby's scythe to kill it after already being softened up).

    If nothing else John should have been exhausted by the time he reached Salem and barely able to move simply because he hasn't really built up that sort of endurance, the gun might actually let him kill various Grimm but despite how the show portrays it those things are fast.

    The Beringels alone are ridiculously fast/tanky/strong (see how long it took Ruby to bring down one in volume 4) and fighting even one of them should of been nigh impossible for him as he is just not fast enough to react to it (or tanky enough to avoid having his insides pulped by a single hit).

    You even had John go into something of a berserker rage which would have actually made things worse as 'attack attack attack' is not really a valid strategy when the things your shooting at are smart enough to dodge (and again he's not fast enough to adjust his aim to compensate in time) an expert markswoman like Ruby.


    tl;dr sure you might not need aura to kill Grimm, as long as you have a strong enough weapon, but it'll take time and after the first 3-4 your going to have a bad time.
     
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