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The Lonely Goddess

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The wind whipped lazily through the city, kicking up discarded trash along the streets, and was readily ignored by the populace. She sat above them all, on her little solitary rooftop ledge, watching the humans below scurry around like ants. They mindlessly went about their day with no regard for the person that could erase their entire existence on a whim.

In truth, she wasn't in the mood for anything so drastic anyway.

She sat with one leg tucked up to rest her chin on, the other dangling over the edge, idly kicking back and forth in a small motion that tapped her heel against the brick wall. Her eyes were glazed over in thought, not really paying attention to the humans beneath her either.

She kept them around for her entertainment. To play with, to laugh with, to read their stories and watch their shows. Honestly, that's the only reason she made them in the first place. She had spent a long time as God; since the beginning of time itself, in fact. She had created worlds with eldritch horrors and abominations, worlds of mystery and romance, of heroes and monsters, all to evade that one emotion that she dreaded above all others.

Unfortunately, a single being can only imagine so many things, even with unimaginable power at their disposal… Right now she wasn't fighting monsters, wasn't excitedly gathering her things to set off on some grand adventure, wasn't sad about a loss or shocked by some great tragedy… Right now she was exactly what she feared most…. She was bored.

She had already created the worlds of all her favorite books to reenact, fought the Balrog side by side with Gandolf, Force choked Darth Vader because she thought it would be funny, attended Hogwarts so she could teach that Malfoy boy a lesson or two. She had lived thousands of lives and dropped them, one and all, to the wayside once that familiar feeling started to return.

She gave a small "hmph", into her knee. She needed the next adventure, the next challenge, the next group of friends to call her own. The wind that had been blowing lightly across the rooftop mimicked her displeasure. The wind picked up, and a sudden gust blew around her, carrying with it the sounds of someone in distress.

A feminine shriek pierced the air.

Instantly, She was on her feet, the enticing sound of something exciting drawing her towards it. In a literal flash of violet and purple light, she was standing on the opposite ledge, peering down into the alleyway below. Her eyes hungered as she noticed the woman along with the man attacking her. He had pushed the woman against the wall, the hand holding her also clutching a large knife in a white-knuckle grip. The man's other hand was clumsily tugging at the girl's belongings, trying to rip them from both her hands.

She descended in another flash, now standing behind the man on ground level. "Excuse me?" She said playfully, giving him a sharp tap on the shoulder.

With a shocked gasp, the man quickly turned from the woman and attacked, knife flashing through the air to plunge down into her collarbone. No pained scream escaped her lips, not even the slightest gasp of breath. Instead She smiled as the man's expression went from horror to what he had done, back to confusion, then reverted to horror as he watched her tilt her head, smiling wider.

She lifted her hand up to grip his own and kept it held in place, the knife still buried five inches into her collarbone. In fear, he let go of the prize he had sought behind him. Both hands came up, the other gripping at his wrist as he struggled to pull himself free. His veins popped out from exertion, his eyes flared open in terror. Her hand did not budge, nor did she buckle or stagger as his other hand began pounding against her chest, her stomach, her head.

Seeing what was happening in front of her, the woman dropped her belongings and screamed again, bolting out from behind the man and continuing to scream as she tripped. The woman's ankles buckled, incapable of running well in the high heels she wore.

Still, the woman didn't spare a moment to glance behind her, instead staggering back to her feet and running once again. The woman was soon lost to the concrete jungle that surrounded them.

She didn't really fault the woman for being afraid or running away. She had purposefully not included magic or wonder in this world. All the more reason for them to create things that She could then enjoy for herself.

"Awww, I didn't even get the maiden's favor for saving her. This world sucks," She said, feigning a pout and watching the woman go. She still ignored the futile attempts to dislodge her hand from the man's own.

"Just let go, you bitch!" the man yelled in her face.

She spared him a sideways glance, 'Was that really any way to talk to your god?', but sighed. The humans didn't know that. She had tried outing herself as god before, but it was never fun. They would just throw themselves in front of her and beg and beg and beg, or try to denounce her no matter what miracles she performed right in front of their eyes. With a sharp twist she snapped the man's wrist, forcing him to let go of the knife as he yelled in pain, leaving it stuck in her.

'That still wasn't any way to treat a woman.'

Already, the momentary respite from boredom was beginning to fade. There was nothing fun or challenging about this. She had tried being a vigilante before as well, and it had gotten old pretty fast. She could only hear a choked up 'thank you' so many times before they all blended together.

With another sigh, she spun the man to face the end of the alley the woman had run out of and gave him a little kick, finally releasing his wrist in the process. The man immediately cradled his wrist in his other hand and ran, only turning back for a brief moment to make sure she wasn't following him.

Reaching up, she tugged the knife out, shaking her head at the lack of blood. The hole it left behind closed the instant the knife was removed. She dropped the knife, letting it clatter down against the pavement. The sound did draw her attention, though, and there she saw the bag that the woman had been so desperately holding on to. She reached down and picked it up, curious as to what it could possibly hold that would mean more to the woman than her life.

She rested her head in one hand a moment later, as the contents had been revealed to her. 'Seriously, do my creations value their lives so little?' A small pile of DVDs met her eyes, brightly colored and still wrapped in thin plastic. With vague disinterest, she pulled one of the DVDs out to examine it more closely. Her eyes lit up at the cover. Four girls of varying color and poses stood side by side, in a banner like array. She read the title out loud, already turning away to head back home and start watching them.

"RWBY, huh?"

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Flashy fights, inspiring words, adorable girls and despicable villains. She slumped in her chair, rewatching the best moments of the show over and over. How many times had She rewatched the Nevermore fight? Yang vs Mercury? Torchwick vs Blake and Sun? Qrow vs Winter? Pyrrha vs Cinder? She was enthralled. She poured over the forums, played the games, and left the songs on blast. 

It just wasn’t enough.

With determination, she soaked in every detail she could about the world and prepared herself for what she had to do. This was never easy , per say, but neither was it exactly difficult. 

She created a new dimension.

Someone watching from the outside might have described it as her simply vanishing into another place, but it was much more difficult than that. With a mighty heave , she shoved the entire universe aside that she was currently in, making way for something new to be created. The old one was still there, an intangible distance away along with all the other worlds she had created since the first, each ready to be stepped in to at a moment’s notice. 

Now she stood in some place new , fresh. It wasn’t pitch black from lack of light, as many thought it might be, nor was it basked in an omni-present and all expanding white light like many fiction writers described it. The place around her simply wasn’t anything, because she had not made it anything yet. 

With a flick of her wrist, a sun bloomed into existence. Next she brought out a map of Remnant, and with precision, sculpted the planet in the space in front of her. She got to work adding in the continents, then the valleys, oceans and rivers and lakes, the mountains and vegetation, the weather always came last, as she set the equator in relation to the sun itself, adjusting them until she was confident in their accuracy. 

With a little speed up of time, the weather truly took effect, blanketing the northern areas in snow and heating up the equator, creating a true landscape that would have taken her infinitely longer to do by hand. With a final touch, she threw her arms wide, a scattering of stars blanketing the darkness, along with the moon itself. It was a large, elegant pearl, destined to be half destroyed in due time. 

She dusted her hands off and paused, bringing out another image from her pocket. This time it was of the two gods from the show, the God of Light, and the God of Darkness. It was not difficult to create the pretenders. She kept how she imagined them firmly in her mind as she brought them into existence. They would have false memories, believing that they themselves had caused this beautiful landscape to come into existence, and they would never be any the wiser to her own presence. 

The two brothers set about doing what they did best. She sped up time as she watched them, the God of Light creating, the God of Destruction then blasting it to bits. They bickered and fought, mountains toppled in the God of Destruction’s wake, only for the God of Light to bring them right back. In time, they finally reached a mutual agreement, coming together to spawn humanity on to the planet’s surface. 

She watched eagerly as events began to take place in fast forward. Cities seemed to spring up overnight. The fledglings that were humanity found their wings and spread out across the land. 

The God of Light kept his shrine of worship close at hand, easily accessible to those that would wish to have an audience with him. The God of Darkness secluded himself off into the furthest reaches of the western continent, eradicating the vegetation from the landscape and erecting huge pillars of purple crystal in their wake. The creatures of Grimm began to swarm the area soon after, not yet venturing out into the lands of man.

Time passed, and in the blur of it all, She did not keep track of the events leading up to the extinction. Humanity was there one moment, and in a purple flash that encompassed the planet, gone the next. She slowed time back down to a normal pace as she took in the devastation. She watched as eventually, Salem crawled her way out of the crater the exploding moon had left, one among many. She did not envy Salem, having to take the long way through time, but there was nothing to be done about it. She could hardly expose herself now. 

She sped up time again as Salem began her futile trek across the land. 

 


 

Time continued on, and everything seemed to be running smoothly. 

That is, until the entire world suddenly came to a jarring halt.

What is it this time? ” She mused in mild exasperation. Things of this nature had happened before in other worlds, only ever during their creation, on their path to the goal she had in mind. Usually it meant there was something simple, but important that she had overlooked, some detail that would help shape the future correctly that she had not taken into account. 

She eyed the landscape. All seemed well. The humans had started to reconstruct their civilizations after the calamity. The faunus had sprung up, seemingly from nowhere. They were mining and using dust, building towns, fighting off the creatures of Grimm… where was the problem? She pondered her dilemma for a moment before smacking herself in the forehead.

It was about time for Ozma to be resurrected, and for the Relics to be made. 

With ease, she slipped into the space between life and death that the pretenders had manifested, where she knew the God of Light would be speaking with Ozma, trying to convince him to return to the land of the living. Indeed, there they stood, frozen in time as the God of Light was putting on a show, arms outstretched around versions of the Relics that floated in mid air. 

The problem was, She didn’t know exactly what the Relics were supposed to do. 

If I give them some ability they didn’t have before, the world could change in some drastic, unforseen way... ’ 

She started with the easiest of them all, the one she knew . With a flick of her hand, the Relic of Knowledge appeared before her, floating gracefully as the others did. She crooked one finger towards it, and the blue and gold globe drifted down to rest in front of her.

“Jinn?”

As she spoke the name, a hazy blue mist began to coil itself out of the lamp, coalescing into a large, floating blue woman clad only in golden chains and accessories. The being that was Jinn leaned forward, gazing down at her with an expression of pure confusion.

“I do not know who you are,” Jinn stated simply, tilting her body forward to get a better look at the woman in front of her, “I was created to know everything past or present.” 

“I am god,” she replied simply.

He is God,” Jinn argued, pointing a thumb over her shoulder at where the God of Light stood.

“A pretender, one of my creations, and a god only in name,” She responded, giving a light laugh.

Jinn gave her a skeptical eye, crossing her arms and looking her up and down, “Prove it.”

She pointed towards the God of Light, drawing Jinn’s attention to him. With a lazy flick of her hand, she ended his existence.

Jinn turned back to her in horror, eyes going wide. Her expression came across as rather muted, and She could only laugh at the attempt. Jinn had just been born, after all. She couldn’t expect her to be a master of facial expressions quite yet. 

With another lazy flick, She brought the God of Light back, reverting the changes to his existence, and gave a subtle shrug to the relic.

“Well, color me impressed,” Jinn said, still wide-eyed.

“And what color is that?” She asked, tilting her head.

“Blue, apparently,” Jinn laughed, turning back to her. “So, what should I call you? God?”

“Eh, I’m not too big on titles. Worship isn’t all that fun. I don’t even know why the God of Darkness was so jealous of his brother in the first place. All the humans ever do is whine for things, disparage your name, or thank you for things you usually had nothing to do with.”

“So, what then?” Jinn asked, amused.

“I thought you were the one that answered questions~?” She asked with a light laugh, then shook her head, admonishing herself. “I’ve had countless names, but I suppose I’ll have to come up with one for the life I’m trying to give myself here.”

She idly twirled her finger in her hair, sparing a considering eye for it. The time she wanted to drop herself into focused on physical attributes like the color of one’s hair and eyes. Her own was cropped to shoulder length, light purple and becoming slightly more washed out towards the ends, while her eyes were a mesmerizing and vibrant pink. 

“What do you think?” She asked, holding up the hairs she had twirled around her finger.

“Lucy? How about Amanda?”

She shook her head, “In the future, where I want to live, they name their children based on colors, or stuff that sounds like a color, or after something that makes you think of a color… You get the point.”

“Well, I can’t say I know anything about the future, but judging you as you are now, I would call your hair various shades of violet,” Jinn replied slowly, focusing on her hair in particular.

“I like that. Violet,” She seemed to ponder the name, testing it in her mouth, “And my friends could just call me Vi.” Her face lit up, now enjoying the name more as she got used to it. 

“Violet it is, then,” Jinn smiled, “You have now used one of three questions allowed this century.”

“Ummmm, worth?” Violet laughed, “Don’t count that one, honestly.”

“As you wish, Violet,” Jinn allowed herself to relax a little, “Is there anything else you might ask of me, since this is probably the only time I’ll be able to talk with someone so freely?” 

“Yeah, actually,” Violet pointed past Jinn to the other relics still floating in the air behind her, “Do you know what any of those are supposed to do, specifically?”

Jinn frowned, “The Relics are as follows: the Relic of Knowledge, which is mine, the Relic of Destruction, the Relic of Choice, and the Relic of Creation. Beyond that…” Jinn became visibly frustrated as she tried to think of the answer, “I don’t know their exact functions.”

“That’s alright. I expected as much,” Violet nodded, walking over to gaze at the relics more closely. “I guess we’ll just have to get as close as we can, right?”

They both sat in silence for a time, pondering the question that floated before them, tauntingly just out of reach. 

“Do you think the relics are split evenly? Two for the elder brother, two for the younger? He does preach about keeping the balance a lot.”

“I… wouldn’t put it past him,” Jinn acknowledged, “Which do you think belong to each of them?”

“Well... what got me thinking about it in the first place is the Relic of Choice,” Violet replied, “The Relic of Destruction is obvious, but choice? What could it’s function possibly be? Humans and faunus already have choice, they were born with it, they live their entire lives with it. So what if the Relic of Choice was actually the opposite? What if it could be used to rob someone of their choice, forcing them down a different path altogether? That would definitely be evil, which would leave the Relics of Knowledge and Creation for the God of Light, both undeniably good things in my book.”

“Is it truly a choice if the option was never on the table for you to begin with?” Jinn asked back, thoughtful, but with a hint of uncertainty to her voice. 

“I suppose not...” Violet’s train of thought kept chugging along despite the momentary derailment, “So, perhaps it only works on someone if there was a chance they might have made that decision themselves, but it forces their hand?” Violet’s eyes lit up, “That would explain why Ozma couldn’t just use it on Salem, forcing her to be good, while also keeping it worthy enough of being a relic.”

Jinn continued to think on it for a few moments before shrugging, “It makes sense.”

“Alrighty, then! One Relic of Not-Actually-Choice coming right up!” Violet gestured as she said this. The relic morphed into existence, a golden crown with five protrusions along the top, starting with the tallest in the center and gradually becoming smaller on either side. 

“That takes care of that, now on to an easier one,” Violet chirped happily, “The Relic of Destruction. Easy enough, it destroys things when you swing it at them.”

“How much does it destroy, though?” Jinn asked tentatively, eyes on the floating version above Ozma.

“Hmmm, that is the issue, isn’t it?” Violet contemplated.

“Do you know anything more about it from the future?”

She had one finger to her lower lip, idly tapping away as she pondered the question, “Ozma did supposedly lay waste to a lot of people with it in one big battle. So somewhere between ‘obliterates mountains in a single swing’ and ‘much better than your average sword?”

“That’s a fairly wide range, if you ask me.”

“I wouldn’t waste a question on something like that ,” Violet teased, before turning back to the relic, “I don’t think it matters as much. It needs to be strong enough to be useful. Just not so strong that Ozma dies while foolishly trying to kill Salem with it.” 

Violet gestured once again, and the empty space in front of her spit the sword out onto the incorporeal surface they were standing on, “Strong enough to take out about fifteen or so people with a single swing should do it.”

Jinn nodded her agreement as they both turned to look at the last relic that did not have a duplicate sitting on the floor in front of them. The Relic of Creation floated in place, mocking her with it’s secrets.

“Any insight on this one?” Jinn asked.

“This one ends up in Atlas. They easily have the best technology out of any of the four kingdoms, which makes sense if they were using it the whole time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ironwood had been doing that. As long as whatever we give it makes it put out the same results, then this shouldn’t be too tough either. How about… grants the user enhanced insight into the methods of creation, making it easier to advance their technology at an exponential rate?”

“Are you sure that’s all they use it for?”

Violet rocked back and forth for a moment, deep in thought before her eyes lit up, “Penny!”

“What’s a penny?”

Violet scoffed, “Not a penny. Penny! She is, and I quote, ‘the world’s first synthetic person capable of generating an aura’. Which meaaaaannnssss,” Violet let the silence hang in the air for a moment, building the dramatic tension, “The Relic was used to give her a soul!”

Jinn stood by as Violet gestured again. This time the Relic of Creation appeared before her with a pop. She stood tall, looking down at her work. 

“Not too shabby, eh?” Violet said cockily, looking over her shoulder at Jinn.

“Well... I hope I was of some use,” Jinn replied with a half smile. All things considered, the ghost historian seemed bluer than usual.

“What’s the matter?” Violet asked, giving Jinn a closer look.

“Ah, it’s nothing. I’m just savoring the moment. Now that we’re done, you’ll be on your way. I don’t need to see the future to know that much.”

Violet nodded in understanding, “It’s going to be awfully boring waiting in that lamp and only being able to speak to someone three times a century…”

Jinn let her mood show, her face downcast and crestfallen. 

“...Which is why I’ll be sure to pop in, and keep you company from time to time,” Violet announced with a firm nod, then grinned at the pleased expression on Jinn’s face.

“Thank you, Violet” Jinn breathed. Violet smiled, pleased with herself. It seems there was a little bit of power left in those words. She did enjoy the banter with Jinn, and not only because she was someone that had appeared on the show briefly.

“I will need you to do me a couple favors, though,” Violet said finally, eyeing the tall blue being in front of her.

“Anything for you, Violet.”

“Call me Vi.”

Jinn’s breath caught momentarily before her expression grew into an even wider smile, “And the second thing?”

“Don’t mention me to anyone. As far as they should be concerned, the God of Light and Darkness are the only deities that exist in this world. If someone asks about me, just pretend you don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Jinn nodded her affirmation, and Violet waved as she returned into the lamp. Violet left it at that, certain the God of Light would be able to take things from there easily enough. As she left, the world lurched back into motion, time finally finding its legs again, and pushing forward with fervor as she skipped through time. 

 


 

Keeping to her word, Violet stopped at the beginning of every year, and paid Jinn a visit. They spoke in earnest, as Violet felt it was her duty to help assuage Jinn’s boredom. They spoke little of the world as it was. Jinn could not be entertained by thoughts of things she already knew. Instead, Violet spoke of the future, and when that ran out, she talked about the other worlds she had visited, the worlds she had created. Her head was brimming with daring tales and heartbreak, and kept Jinn entertained for at least one day each year. 

Time continued on, ever nearing Violet’s true goal. Wars were fought, blood was shed, and the schools were finally created, the Relics hidden within their vaults to collect dust. The small pocket dimension that Ozma created didn’t deter her in the slightest regarding her visits to Jinn, and she ignored the other vaults entirely, content to let them be. She did not need their power. 

Ozpin was born, then after a time, Team STRQ joined Beacon. Violet watched with more interest as they fought. Qrow and Raven didn’t mesh well at first, not with their true objective in mind. Over time, however, Tai and Summer managed to worm their way into the two’s hearts, and Tai into Raven’s bed. 

Then, around two years after Team STRQ’s graduation, Violet’s time had finally come. Raven was pregnant with Yang. There wasn’t any time to lose, Violet also need to be ‘born’.

Chapter Text

Violet found a fitting couple. A young, wealthy pair that owned a real estate company, of sorts. Her future father had inherited it as part of the family business, but he already had a son, so she doubted he would attempt to force her into working for the company if she didn't want to.

They had plots of land and houses a plenty, including locations in both Atlas and Vale, which worked well enough for Violet's plans. 'Luckily', the woman had purple hair similar to hers, and the man had eyes that were close enough, if somewhat more muted than her own. To top it off, his family name was old, or at least older than most.

Nodding her head, Violet settled on them, then grimaced. She didn't enjoy this process. Whenever she wanted to truly make herself a part of the world this way, she had to grit her teeth and bear it. It wasn't the act of being born that bothered her, but the nine months of waiting that led up to it. It was boring and tedious, but it had to be done. She wanted to integrate smoothly, and this was the best way to do it.

So with a few suggestions on the couple's consciousness, and nine months of boredom, she was brought into the world in the best medical facility Atlas had to offer, which is to say, the best there is. Their technology had always been leaps and bounds ahead of any other, especially with the Relic of Creation being used without Ozpin's knowledge.

Her birth was as easy as it gets. Entirely uncomplicated, Violet made sure of it. After a whole lot of patience, 'I didn't even have teeth to grit together', and a few mild suggestions, she was finally born.

Violet Regalia's cries greeted the world with tiny open arms.

 


 

The first seven years were entirely uneventful, as is the case with most children raised by wealthy parents with a dozen maids to wait on them and their offspring, hand and foot. Violet wanted for nothing, and her parents made sure of it. She excelled in the lessons that her private tutors gave her. How could she not? Violet flew through the material they presented her with, and she made sure to power through and make sure they kept it coming.

This phase of life was always boring. More of a chore than actual life. On top of that, Violet only slept if she wanted to. She didn't truly need it, like the mortals around her. Instead, she took that time to check in on the world, making sure everything was going as it should.

Raven left Tai, Summer fell in love with him, Ruby was born not long after. Ren's village was destroyed, and he escaped with Nora in tow. Blake joined the White Fang that her dad had created, a pitifully small child holding up a sign. Weiss grew up similar to Violet, if only with even more wealth at her family's disposal.

And Jaune… Eh, Violet didn't bother peeking in on him as much. He was a terrible child, far too naive, spouting that he would become a great hero, while putting in no effort to actually attain it. He seemed to believe that everything would come to him naturally, just falling into place as if the world itself revolved around him.

Violet's mind wandered as she pondered one of her constant issues. She was dimly aware of one of her tutors still in the room, but his voice was drowned out, background noise to the conflict taking place in her mind. Who's team did she want to be on? She didn't want to take the place of anyone on Team RWBY. They're group meshed far too well to break up. That really just left JNPR as her only option.

'I could always join Team CRDL,' she snorted in amusement.

"Miss Regalia, are you still with me? I know these issues can be confusing, but please keep focused."

"Sorry, sir," Violet spoke to the large man on the opposite side of the table from her. He had been writing on the chalkboard as he spoke, and only turned around when he heard her. They were in her study room. It was a comfortable size, spacious enough that she could run around in it if she needed to blow off some steam, as she had done in the past to take a break from the sheer boredom of studying.

Her thoughts started to drift off again, 'Jaune would be the easiest to replace...'

"Miss Regalia, may I ask what it is that's on your mind? Perhaps I can assist so that we may sooner get back to the lesson at hand."

Not really much chance of that being the case. 'Well, professor, I'm actually a goddess trying to trade places with characters in a story and I'm having trouble deciding which to choose,' didn't sound like something that would go over well. Instead Violet thought on it a moment, and asked an unrelated question. It was still of some interest to her, at least.

"Do you believe in destiny, Professor?"

The older gentleman placed a hand on his hip, the other moving up to stroke at the light stubble on his face. His eyes drifted off momentarily before focusing again. "I wouldn't say I do. At least not in the way you may be thinking of it, young miss."

"What do you mean?" Violet's face betrayed her confusion.

"People think of fate from the stories as some grand, sweeping event that happens in their lives. The father dies, so the son must take up his sword. The step-mother's evil machinations force the princess to go on a long journey where she meets friends and foes alike. That is all ridiculous, and rarely happens in the average person's life. It is the thing of fairy tales, and should be regarded with as much academic credit," the old man paused for a breath and turned back to the chalkboard, picking up a piece of chalk and drawing a long line across the empty space.

"The only version of fate or destiny that I would give any merit, is the type that works on a smaller scale," he punctuated his words with a dot, near the left-most end of the line. "This is your life, from the beginning," he pointed at the first dot, "to the end." He punctuated his words again, making another dot near the end of the line on the right.

"Everything that happens in your life will find its way on to this line. Your first birthday," another mark, "your first words", another mark, "riding a bullhead", another mark, "and when your parents hired me to be your tutor," a final mark.

"Now tell me, what makes any of these occasions remarkable?" he asked lightly.

"None of them appear all that remarkable, Professor," Violet replied, then paused with a blush, not wanting to offend the man, "I mean, aside from you becoming my tutor!" she finished with a rush.

The professor chuckled and turned back to the board, "The day after your first birthday, your parents were flying back to Atlas. While on the bullhead (he paused to draw a line between the two), you said your first words (another connection). You were a very quiet child, waiting so long to finally speak, so your parents wished to celebrate. They went to a fancy restaurant, paid the staff a ridiculous amount of money to skip the queue, and ended up sitting near enough to my table that I could overhear them. Naturally interested in the subject of child development as I was, I introduced myself to them and helped to calm their nerves. It is not unheard of for a child to wait so long to begin speaking. It was then and there that the roots were set, and eventually (he drew the final line) when you came of age, they hired me on to be your tutor."

The dots literally connected in Violet's head as they did on the board, "So from the moment I was born, it was 'destiny' that you would be my tutor. Not by some wild happenstance, but by simple, everyday occurrences."

"Right you are, Miss Regalia," the professor turned back to the board, "If any of these had not happened, and many, many other things along the way, we would not be sitting her now as we are, talking about this issue as we are. Fate is not something you can control so easily, because there are far too many variables. Or rather, it might be more accurate to say that no matter what you believe the future may bring, all it takes is the slightest change to upset what might have otherwise seemed inevitable."

Fear gripped Violet's heart with the professor's last words. Would her presence at Beacon upset too many things? Would her changing the slightest thing upset the balance, tipping the scales too far in one direction or the other, rippling outwards as more and more events became unrecognizable?

The professor chuckled lightly, bringing her back into the moment, "I see I have given you much to think about. On that note, we shall end our lesson for today. Be prepared next week for continuing with the actual lesson (he tapped the board near the things she had been supposed to be learning before). I hope you will have come to terms with our little discussion by then."

Violet thanked him profusely, but remained sitting where she was as the professor exited. The door closed quietly and she was left with nothing but her thoughts.

'Is that really how it goes? I've created so many different worlds, and I guess… Yeah, they weren't ever the same as from their story counterparts. Not unless I stayed out of it entirely. But that never really bothered me, and large scale events always seemed to remain the same regardless. Harry became the Seeker, Frodo dropped the ring in Mount Doom along with Smeagol and one or two fingers, and Obi Wan always greeted General Grievous with 'Hello there'.

Violet smiled as realization hit. If that were the case, then she wouldn't need to do something huge or dramatic to end up on team JNPR. All she had to do was remove Jaune, and the chips should fall into place. Don't mention Pyrrha's fame, avoid CRDL, and the only other option left was to become a part of the new…. VNPR? VRPN? Violet shook her head, she would let Ozpin come up with that one.

How should she do it, though? She wouldn't hurt Jaune. As useless as he was, Jaune was still good natured and wanted to help people. Well, she had another ten years to think about it. Violet's thoughts shifted to the other objective that she currently had her mind set on.

Summer had died a few weeks ago. It was time to give Patch a visit.

 


 

It was rather simple for Violet to put the suggestion into her parents heads that they take a vacation in Patch of all places.

In only a day, they were packed and boarding a bullhead for Vale. From there, they took a ferry out to Patch. The long bullhead flight from Atlas to Vale was unbearable, the boat ride much less so. Violet took her time enjoying the breeze that rippled across the water's surface, the sound of the waves lapping calmly against the side of the ship, and the cries of the birds flying high above.

She stood at the front of the ship, looking out across the water as they made their slow approach to the island. At first glance, it was heavily forested, but Violet had been here often enough in her out-of-body visits to know that wasn't the case. Much of it was, but the docks that snaked out of the woods would lead them into a small town, and from there, a handful of roads forked outwards into different parts of the island. Each road was no more than a dirt trail, but each would separate multiple times before finally winding to their respective houses. The best part about Patch, aside from the near-total lack of Grimm, was the privacy.

This fact was not lost on her parents when she had given them the suggestion. Violet's father's life was filled with constant board meetings and land disputes, legal teams fighting over who owned what, and her father was always in the thick of it. In a way, he fought for the business, not tooth and nail, but through his pen and his words, which Violet knew could be all the more frustrating.

Violet looked over her shoulder and smirked, her parents were standing a short distance away, also watching the island's approach. His father had a smile on his face, and an arm around her mother. Both looked to be enjoying themselves. Violet's brother was currently attending a private boarding school, and as such, could not attend. She didn't mind so much. It wasn't as if the two never got along, but they had very different interests.

Peri was dedicated to his studies, wanting to make their father proud, and as far as he was concerned, his sister never paid much attention to what was going on around her. 'I can't help it when I'm bored'. Violet had many siblings throughout her different lives. Some older, some younger. It rarely mattered to her, since they weren't usually the focus of the story she was recreating.

'Speaking of spacing out...'

The ship was just then pulling up into the dock, having finished the last leg of its journey. Violet stood on the deck, calmly remaining out of the way as sailors ran to and fro, tightening or tying off lines, shouting orders back and forth as they brought the ship to a safe and gentle stop. Violet headed to the gangplank ahead of her parents, eager to finally meet two of the young heroes in person, and perhaps even see 'Drunkle Qrow' in action.

Their servants gathered their bags and followed closely behind her parents, ready at a moment's notice to serve. Violet had insisted that they hire an equal number of faunus as they did humans, and paid them the same. Violet was all for showing favoritism to the characters of whatever story she was recreating, but aside from that, she despised racism. Her creations were all equal in her eyes, and deserved to be treated as such.

The breeze across the waters continued for only a short time into the treeline before it was cut off by all the vegetation. Violet followed the path, careful not to venture too far ahead of her parents in case she drew their ire. That would be left for later, and she didn't want them keeping too close of an eye on her before then.

The tree line opened up abruptly, giving a nice view of a wide clearing that the path led to. It turned into more of a proper road, if still made of dirt, by the time it reached the small town. That road led into a crossroads, situated in the center of the collection of buildings. Those three other roads that connected to the one she was currently on wound deeper into the island, branching out into many different homes along the way. Violet eyed the road she needed to travel on. She knew which way she needed to go, but would need to give her parents, and their servants, the slip.

There were any number of ways she could do so, if she was willing to dip even slightly into her godlike powers, but pushed the thought away absent-mindedly. That path led to boredom. If she was stronger than anything in the world anyway, and didn't mind abusing that fact, then what fun was there to be had? It would be like playing a game where the enemies don't even shoot back, which admittedly could be cathartic at times, but certainly not when she was in the middle of a story.

Townsfolk mingled around the shops with each other, giving greetings of goodwill and well-wishes. Violet's eyes lit up on one of the buildings. She paused long enough for her parents to catch up, and let them lead her to the inn they would be staying at. They were taken to their rooms, if only to know where they were, as the servants unpacked their things for her family. Violet was sure to thank them before heading downstairs and regrouping for lunch. Her parents made mild small talk, and as the food was eventually finished, they looked to her. "Is there anything you would like to do this evening?"

"Actually, I saw an arcade across the street from here. Do you mind if I spend some time playing games? I don't get to very often with all the studying I do," Violet said as she gave them the widest pair of eyes she could muster.

Her father chuckled and nodded to one of the servants. She was a faunus, one that particularly doted on Violet. She watched Henna's fox ears perk up as she smiled, "When would Miss like to go?"

"Right now would be great!" Violet chirped heartily and scooted her chair back, practically bouncing on her feet as she headed for the door. With a curt nod, Henna excused herself from the table as well and beat Violet to the door, holding it open for her.

"Thanks, Henna!"

Together, the two of them crossed the road to the arcade. It was a small place, all things considered, but there was a multitude of games to play. Violet set about playing them, and kept her eye out for the best way she could leave the place without Henna noticing. To Henna's credit, she kept a close eye. This wouldn't be as easy as Violet had hoped.

Violet came across a punching machine. One where you hit it as hard as you could to try and get the high score. It wasn't the machine itself that caused her to break out into a wide grin, though, it was the list of scores that scrolled down the screen. TAI stood out, right at the top in first place. Just beneath his name, there was QROW, then beneath his, YANG, and right down at the very bottom, with the most pitiful score of all, RUBY.

Violet could barely contain her laughter, as the mental image of a small Ruby being held up to flail at the punching bag refused to leave her mind. The show had never mentioned them going to any arcades, but she supposed they did have a tendency to play games on their scrolls. Where else did kids go to play games before they owned scrolls?

Violet's mirth slowly subsided, and she reminded herself of the task at hand. She turned around and noticed Henna's gaze was off to the side. Violet followed it, and saw the object of her attention. To that side, currently in use by a boy that looked not much older than Violet, was one of those groundhog pop up games with the mallet.

Except each time they popped up, Violet got a peek of a very non-threatening looking Grimm. The boy was having a tough time as the pace quickened, trying to adjust the hammer and pick up his pace. As time wound down, the Grimm popped up and then retracted faster and faster. The look of concentration on the boy's face was enough to send Violet into a fit of laughing coughs.

The boy seemed to have heard her, and turned, suddenly embarrassed at being laughed at, his concentration lost entirely. With a loud "BZZZZ" that signalled the end of the game, he turned back to it and huffed, wiping a few small drops of sweat off his face. He seemed hesitant to try again, and with Violet still nearby, seemed to decide to cut his losses and hurriedly left the arcade. Violet didn't fail to notice the slight glimmer in Henna's eyes as she looked longingly over towards the game.

"Do you want to play?"

Her simple question, quietly spoken, still elicited quite the reaction from Henna. Her cheeks brightened and she turned back to Violet, holding her hands up placatingly, "No, I couldn't possibly, Miss. This is your time to have fun!"

"Oh nonsense, Henna! I want you to enjoy yourself too!"

Henna shook her head, but Violet was not taking no for an answer. She quickly strode over to the machine and deposited the required lien before picking up the hammer. Henna had no choice but to move closer to keep an eye on her.

Violet feigned at being more inept than she actually was. Not that it was far off anyway. She hadn't done a single day of manual labor in this life, and her body certainly showed it. Violet glanced out of the corner of her eye, and each time she missed by a wide margin would elicit a motion from Henna, an attempt to try and help her. Violet's first round ended with barely any Grimm being bopped on the head, and she stepped back, wiping imaginary sweat off her brow to mimic the boy.

"Wow, Henna. This game is harder than it looks. Can you show me how to play?"

A wide array of emotions crossed Henna's face in a flash. Her ears perked up, then flattened, then wavered somewhere in between, then flattened again, before slowly raising back up, "Yes, I think I'll do just that. Watch closely, young Miss. My brother and I used to play this game a long time ago, and I'm proud to say I was always better than he was."

With a smirk, Henna stepped up in front of the game and deposited the necessary lien. She then adopted a stance, poised over the top of the game, hammer in hand, like a fox ready to leap on top of her prey at any moment.

Violet grinned despite herself, even as she slowly backed away from the faunus. Henna's attention was entirely diverted to the game in front of her, and as it started, Violet made a break for the front door. It opened with a 'whoosh', and she breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped outside. The lack of any 'little miss!' or 'where are you going!?' getting shouted out behind her was comfort enough. She didn't want to try her luck by waiting around, however, and took off across the dusty streets.

Destination, the Xiao Long cabin.

 


 

Henna breathed heavily as she stared at the brightly lit numbers on top of the game, displaying her easily achieved high score. Who did this RAVN person think he / she was? Henna would not be bested! She quickly used the select buttons to type in HENA, and stood back to give her achievement one last look, "And that, is how you play this game, little Miss."

She choked as she turned to find the young girl was nowhere to be seen. "LITTLE MISS!?" Henna cried out, turning her head frantically back and forth to try and catch a glimpse of Violet. Henna had no thought to what might happen to her for losing the young girl, only of finding her and making sure she was okay.

She quickly sprinted to the bathroom and slammed the door open, and cried out loudly, "Are you in here, little Miss!?" Silence. For good measure, she crossed the short distance to the opposite door and slammed that open as well. "Little Miss! Are you here!?"

A surprised squawk rang out through the bathroom, and a man's voice answered, "Sorry, no little miss in here, ma'am! This is the men's room!"

Henna didn't wait to hear the last part, as she was already tearing through the arcade, checking every nook and cranny. She ended up near the front door, breathing heavily, eyes darting back and forth, double, no, triple checking.

"She's not here," Henna said with a bubbling cry. She turned and ran out, scanning the streets, "It will take forever to search this place by myself!" Henna grit her teeth and ran back across the street into the inn. All the faces in the area swiveled in her direction as the doors pounded open from her impact. Her masters' numbered among them, and she wasted no time moving to them.

"Henna? Where's Violet?" the man asked, worry starting to crease the lines on his face.

"She… I don't… I don't know. We were playing games one minute, and the next she had just disappeared!" Henna said as quietly as she could manage, which is to say, everyone in the building still heard it.

Her master stood and looked around at the assembled servants that were on duty for the moment, "Go get the others, then waste no time in scouring this city. I want my daughter found, now!" He yelled the last fiercely, in such a commanding tone that even some of the regular townsfolk made for the door.

One of the other servants ran for the stairs, bounding up them three at a time to get to the servants room. Henna could hear her pounding on the door even among the milling of those that had gathered.

A scent caught her, and Henna's breath paused despite the rapid beating of her heart. She left the table, walking further into the inn itself, towards the bar. A man sat there, ignoring the commotion and drinking from the glass in front of him. His red cloak obscured most of his body as he sat on the stool.

From the looks of it, he was already several drinks deep, but that was not what had clued in Henna. She stepped up behind him, giving the man a couple feet so as not to surprise him in any way, "Excuse me… you're a huntsman, aren't you?"

The man gave a gruff and noncommittal "Hmm" before downing the rest of the glass and gesturing for a refill from the bartender.

"I'm sorry to bother you, but I could tell from your scent. You can tell if you know what to distinguish it from."

"Others might have gathered as much from the weapon," the man said gruffly, reaching over and patting the compacted hunk of metal and gears next to him.

"I'm sorry to bother you-" Henna began, but the man turned towards her slightly, arm still on the counter to support himself and raised a swaying finger to his lips.

"Shh, shh, let me stop you there, kid. I promise, whatever problems you think you have, mine are worse," he turned back away from her, resting his elbows back on the counter, head nodding low as the drink the bartender had brought him sat waiting. He didn't touch it yet.

"Please, my master's daughter vanished from sight. I… got caught up in something and wasn't watching as well as I should have, and now she's out there somewhere, probably as worried as we are. Having a huntsman to help lead the search would help us so much."

"I'm sure she's fine-" the man started before Henna cut him off.

"She's only seven!" she yelled.

The man's eyes seemed to clear, his expression sobering as he turned back towards her and slipped off the stool. His right hand reached back and grabbed his weapon, as he looked at Henna with determination on his face, "Give me her description."

 


 

Violet skipped merrily down the path, knowing the exact route she needed to take to get to the Xiao Long cabin. She had visited this place far too many times at night to not recognize the landscape around her. In took her half an hour before she finally saw the cabin through the trees. It was still light out. Violet figured they would have another three hours or so of daylight before night fell upon them, plenty of time to stop in and say hello.

However, as she approached, she stopped when she noticed the front door creak open. A tiny, adorable Yang stepped out first, but Violet's breath hitched when she saw the passenger Yang pulled along behind her. Ruby was lying down in the small wagon, cloak wrapped around her and pulled tight.

As she watched, she heard Yang say down to the small figure, "Don't worry, Ruby. We'll find my mom. She'll take care of us, too. Just like Summer did." The only response Ruby gave was to roll over on to her other side, still clutching tightly to her cloak.

Violet could see where this was going. Maybe she really would get to see Qrow in action! She practically skipped over to them, incapable of holding in her excitement. Yang stopped in her tracks, finally noticing the bouncing bundle of joy headed towards her and her sister. Yang dropped the handle and stepped a little bit more between Violet and Ruby, unconsciously defending her sleeping sibling. Violet let her emotions recede a little, she didn't want to be off-putting to Yang. The girl's life was certainly in turmoil at the moment if this was her greatest plan of action.

Violet gave a small wave, "Hi, my name's Violet. My family came to Patch for vacation. Who are you?"

Yang seemed to ease a little, but not fully, not yet. "Hi, Violet. Sorry to break it to you, but I'm busy, so could you come back another time?"

"Nice to meet you, Busy!"

Yang took a moment to register what Violet had said before she cracked a small smile, "That was a good one."

"Thanks! So, whatcha up to? If you're going on an adventure, can I come with?"

Yang looked uncertainly at the sleeping Ruby, then towards the edge of the forest that she planned to venture out in to, "S-Sure!" she wavered, "One more person should be fine."

"Great, we can talk on the way!" Violet replied, now moving much closer to Yang. She pretended to see Ruby for the first time now, gasping, "Is that your sister?"

"Yeah, that's Ruby. We're going to find her another mom."

Violet's heart dropped, but she gave a hearty, "Lead the way!" before grabbing the other half of the wagon's handle. Yang gave her an appreciative nod, and together the trio set out into the woods.

It was a small trail they followed at first. They had to go slowly over the bumps to keep from waking up Ruby, but they managed. One of the back wheels popped over a rock at one point, and Violet was sure Ruby would wake up, but she merely grumbled into her cloak and shifted to press herself down against the wagon more. Some time passed in silence before Violet could work up the courage to speak.

"What was she like?" Violet asked quietly, glancing to Yang.

"Mom was the best. She was always happy, always smiling. Even if she wasn't my real mom, she still loved me," Yang replied simply, but Violet could tell she was fighting the urge to cry.

"Wow, she sounds great. I'm sorry for your loss," Violet whispered.

The trail eventually met up with another dirt road. It was little better than the trail had been, but at least here they didn't have to watch out for tree roots or big rocks, and their pace quickened somewhat.

They continued for a little over two hours, making the occasional small talk about school, or friends. Violet steered the conversation away from family for now, knowing that it would just make the girl even more sad.

The strain of pulling the cart was lessened because there were two of them, but even still after such a distance, Violet was starting to really feel the strain on her muscles and back. Her legs ached as well. This was easily the furthest she had hiked this lifetime, and it showed. Sweat slowly dripped from her forehead, and her feet dragged across the ground occasionally. She was so focused on the ground in front of her that she didn't stop when Yang did.

"Ow! Hey!" the blond rubbed the small of her back then turned back around, "We're here!" Yang said excitedly, drawing Violet's attention up to the decrepit lodge that hunkered before them.

The broken door lay open, held up by only half its hinges. The windows were broken in places, and there were cracks in some of the logs. Yang let go of the cart handle, and Violet mimicked her and dropped it as well, if only to put a hand up on Yang's shoulder to stop her from walking further in.

"Wait, look at it. This place is beat up," Violet said, drawing Yang's attention to the actual state it was in, "I don't think anyone has lived here in a long time, Yang."

"N-No. My mother is supposed to be here…"

"I'm sorry, Yang. I don't think she is…"

Yang sobbed and turned towards her, tears already streaming down her face as she threw her head into Violet's shoulder, "No! This was supposed to be it! She was going to be here, and then she'd take us all home, and she'd stay there with us! For good this time!"

Violet put a comforting hand on the back of Yang's head and stroked it down through her golden hair. Her hand stopped halfway down as a low growl rumbled through the small clearing. Violet held Yang close to her as the girl spun in shock, staring towards the lodge with dismay written across her face.

Their eyes fixated on the lodge as the door slowly swung open, pushed by some unseen force that revealed itself only moments later. Two glaring red eyes regarded them, surrounded by ebony black fur covering the rest of its body. Four paws tipped with massive claws cracked the floorboards beneath them as it pulled itself free of the lodge, its mouth locked in a snarl that dripped malice. Once it was free, it threw its head back and howled, a blood curdling sound that reverberated through the clearing.

It was not nearly as terrifying as the echoing howls that answered it. Close, but not yet in the clearing with them. They were certainly surrounded.

"What have I done? What have I done? It's all my fault!" Yang repeated to herself over and over, gaze now moving from Ruby to the beowolf in front of them.

The creature took its time, slow in its approach, keeping the girls locked in place with a growl that would put every other canine on the planet to shame.

'Alright, Qrow. Any time now, buddy. Just swoop on in here, cut this beast in half, then save us from the rest while you're at it.'

But there was no sound of flapping wings, nor angry screech of a bird falling out of the sky to transform and kill the Grimm in front of them. The beowolf continued its lazy stroll forward, believing them completely defenseless. The easiest prey of its life.

'Seriously, Qrow! I'm going to put in a complaint and get you exchanged. 'Here take mine, it's broken.'

The beowolf was now within pouncing distance. Violet watched as it lowered its body, preparing to leap..

'What the hell? This isn't how it happened!' Violet's mind raced, finally settling on the talk she had with her professor. 'Shit! I changed something! I don't know how, I don't know why, but Qrow isn't going to show up!'

"I didn't even make it to Beacon!'

The tiny scream from behind Yang and Violet made them both turn quickly. Ruby had finally awoken from her nap, and was staring death in the face. The beowolf's growl almost seemed to change into a deadly laugh, finally launching itself towards them.

Three hundred pounds of murder came hurtling in their direction. Time slowed for Violet as she watched the teeth open, tracking the trajectory. It was going to sail right over the top of them… and go for Ruby first.

'Unacceptable!'

Violet's eyes flashed. Her usual vibrant eyes turned almost neon for a moment as the path of the beowolf changed. Its body was carried much further, a dozen feet past the cart as it landed with a pained shriek and rolled roughly across the dirt trail. The beowolf staggered to its feet and bared its fangs again, dropping its body low to once again launch itself at them.

"I said NO!" Violet screamed at him aloud, shocking Yang next to her. Violet's eyes flashed once again as the beowolf's body suddenly ignited in amethyst colored flames. It gave a scream of pain as its body was suddenly immolated, the energy that kept it alive vanishing with the fire. The body gave one last pained 'HMPH' before it dropped heavily on to its side, mouth open, eyes still glaring at the prey that had somehow defeated it.

The howls of the approaching pack closed in. Violet spotted a half dozen emerge from the trees. These ones were smaller, lacking the same bone structure as the one she had already set aflame. Her eyes flashed once again as she repeated the process to all those that would dare attempt to harm them. Six guttural howls of pain were cut short as their lives were unceremoniously ended.

Yang quivered next to her, and even though Violet was shaking a little herself, she put a hand around the girl's shoulder. "Get in the cart, Yang. I'll get us out of here."

Yang shook her head and picked up the handle once again, her voice hoarse, "I have to protect my sister."

Violet patted Yang's back, and grabbed her own half of the handle again. The girls nodded together before setting back out for Yang's home.

 


 

Violet's rule about not cheating started to waver while they walked. 'I already did it once, right? What's a little more going to hurt…"

They were making slower progress on the way back, due mostly to them both being dead tired. Ruby hadn't spoken yet, she was just hiding with her head in her cloak, softly sobbing into it. Violet's legs felt like jelly, her breath came out in ragged gasps, and every inch of her felt like it was coated with sweat. She couldn't do much more than keep her eyes on the ground in front of her and keep trudging, never mind trying to console a petrified Ruby.

Yang at least seemed to have found her stride a bit more. Her sisterly instincts had kicked in, and though her face looked set with determination, Violet could tell the strain was having nearly as much of an effect on her.

"Firecracker! What happened!?" a man's voice cracked as he shouted out in their direction. Violet glanced up to see Qrow sprinting towards them, clearly panicked. Violet's body gave out and she slumped onto her hands and knees, breathing heavily.

'We made it. We're saved.'

Fear kept Yang on her feet as she stared at her uncle running towards them. She backpedaled a single step then stopped, muscles refusing to budge. Yang's tough exterior vanished in an instant as Qrow got within arms reach and brought her into the tightest hug Violet had ever seen. The man's eyes were half crazed as he took in Ruby, the wagon, and Violet. Tears that had been barely suppressed suddenly surged to the forefront, the dam that had been holding back Yang's grief washed away in the tsunami of fear, shock, and sadness that contorted her face simultaneously.

"Uncle Qrow, I'm so sorry!" Yang cried into his chest, not quite able to wrap her little arms around his torso.

"Hey, hey, its okay Firecracker. You're okay," Qrow soothed, rubbing a hand through Yang's hair and tightening his grip on her even further, "I need to check on Ruby, okay? Can you let me do that?"

Yang nodded pitifully, but didn't protest as she was lowered back down to the ground. She kept a hand firmly attached to Qrow's pant leg though, as he stepped slightly past her and put a comforting hand on Ruby's back.

"Ruby! Your uncle Qrow is here. Come on, sit up so I can see you. Nothing to fear while I'm around, eh?"

Ruby's body still racked with sobs, but she raised her head slowly. When her blurry eyes settled on Qrow's face, she weakly launched herself off the cart in a death hug. Qrow held her close and whispered into her ear, comforting her with soft words and running his hand up and down her back. After about five minutes, Ruby was once again sleeping, dried tears streaked down her face, and Violet had recovered enough to breath normally.

"Come on, let's get you three inside," Qrow began to slowly walk along the trail again, leading Yang and Violet with him. Yang didn't let go of Qrow's leg until they had stepped into the house, and no one talked along the way.

Once they had gotten inside, Qrow vanished to a back room, coming back without Ruby in hand. 'He put her to bed. Good.'

Qrow saw them both still standing there and gestured towards the couches in the living room, "Go ahead and sit, you two must be tired."

Yang silently nodded agreement and walked over to sit on one of the couches. Her feet dangled over the side, not quite long enough to reach the floor still. Violet followed her example and sat next to her, about a foot away.

Qrow gave them a final glance before he stepped into the kitchen. They could hear the sound of pots and pans rattling around, drawers being opened and closed. Honestly, it sounded like he didn't really know where anything was in there, but after a few minutes, he emerged back into the living room holding aloft two steaming cups of hot liquid.

Qrow set both cups down in front of them on the table before seating himself in a chair across from them, "Go ahead, drink up. Make sure you cool it off a bit first, though."

Yang took her cup gratefully, sitting back on the couch after she grabbed it and holding it gingerly to keep it from spilling any of the hot liquid. Violet recognized it now as cocoa. She grabbed hers as well, if a little more timidly, before settling in as she had seen Yang do.

"I called someone in town while I was in there. Your parents were worried sick looking for you," Qrow said to Violet first before turning back to Yang. His expression grew far more serious.

"Yang… what happened."

Yang put off answering the question for a moment by taking a quick sip of her cocoa. She blanched quickly, realizing it hadn't had nearly enough time to cool yet and began blowing across the top.

"Yang…"

Yang started to speak, but choked up. It was a few moments later, after another sip of cocoa to help clear her throat, that she was able to begin speaking, "I went to go find… mom."

Qrow sat back a little, his face softening as he heard the admission, "Yang, Summer is gone. She's not coming back."

"Not Summer… I mean, my mom."

"Summer was your mother, Yang."

"You know what I mean…"

Qrow sighed heavily, "And where did you go?"

With trembling hands, Yang reached into her pants pocket and withdrew the folded up picture. She shakily tossed it across the table for Qrow to pick up, "I found it in the attic. I'm sorry."

Cold fury crossed Qrow's face for a moment and was gone. He tucked the picture into his own pocket and looked back up at Yang, "That was a long time ago, Firecracker. That place is long since abandoned."

"I know…"

"You mean... you walked all the way there and back? Is that why Ruby was so broken down?" Qrow asked, the shock plainly written on his face.

"We did. Violet helped me… and that's not why Ruby was like that."

"What happened to her?" Qrow asked slowly, sending a glance towards Violet.

"The Grimm attacked us. There was just one at first, but there were more closing in, and we were too scared to move… and then Ruby woke up and saw it, and it jumped at us…"

Qrow rubbed a hand across his face and pulled out his flask, drinking deeply off it, "How'd you escape?" he finally asked.

"They… they died."

Qrow stole a glance over his shoulder, back towards the shadowed part of the house where the sleeping Ruby laid.

"Was it, I don't know, like a flash of silver?" Qrow asked tentatively.

Yang quickly shook her head and glanced at Violet, "It was… like purple fire. They just suddenly lit up."

"That what you saw?" Qrow turned to Violet finally.

'Oh shit! I didn't think of a cover story!'

"I… I don't remember what happened, really. Like Yang said, they just sort of caught fire and died," Violet eked out. 'Come on! What kind of half-ass excuse was that!?' Violet topped it off with a half-hearted shrug, her arms too tired to do much more.

Qrow seemed to just take it in stride, though, and sighed.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there, Firecracker. I should have been home sooner."

'My fault!'

Violet didn't know what exactly had happened back at the town, but she was sure that this all led back to her somehow. If she wasn't there, Qrow would have been. Maybe it had all changed the instant she stepped off the docks, maybe even sooner. She tried to trace back the cause and effects that could have led inevitably to here, but she couldn't. Her puzzle wasn't complete. She was missing the necessary pieces.

There was a knock at the door that pulled Violet out of her thoughts. Qrow stood up and headed over to it, wrenching it open, "Hey... your kids in here."

Violet's parents bowled past Qrow to get into the house, their eyes searching hastily before spotting Violet sitting on the couch. Violet gingerly placed the untouched cup down on the coffee table and stood up as her parents nearly tackled her. Violet only had time to notice Yang quickly pulling her feet up on to the couch before her parents moved past. Violet's mother reached her first and pulled her into a tight embrace. Her father stood behind her, wringing his hands. It was the most nervous Violet had ever seen him.

Her mother finally pushed herself back, and Violet noticed her face was set in disapproval, "Why did you run off like that, young lady? We were worried sick. We had half the town out looking for you! You're lucky this man," she flicked a hand towards where Qrow had been standing before, not noticing he had long since returned to the chair across the table from them, "found you when he did! Explain yourself!"

Violet had never seen her mother get this emotional, about… well, anything. Ever. Her voice stammered out slightly as she replied, "I j-just wanted to see more of the island!"

"Wanted to see more of the island… Did you hear that, Mauve? She wanted to see more of the island!" Her mother's voice turned sickly sweet, mocking Violet near the end before the anger returned, "You had us all worried sick!"

"I'm sorry! It'll never happen again!" Violet cried out, trying to stop this side of her mother that she had never seen before.

"It had better not!" Her mother yelled one final time, cutting off as Mauve placed a placating hand on her shoulder.

"Are you alright?" Violet's father asked, trying to hide the tremor in his voice, but not quite managing it.

Violet could only nod dumbly. She didn't trust her voice right now.

Her father nodded back and turned Violet towards the door, "Thank you, Mister…?"

"Branwen. Qrow Branwen."

"Well, Mr. Branwen. I'll be sure to have the reward sent to you. Thank you for finding my daughter."

Qrow put a hand up and scratched the back of his head awkwardly, "Actually, that won't be necessary. I don't need your money, I'm just glad she's okay."

"Well," Mauve held his hand out and offered it to Qrow, who shook it back, "I'll be certain to pass along what you did here to the higher-ups in Atlas. A good word, as it were. Thank you again."

Qrow chuckled something barely audible about "Jimmy" before stepping back and letting them leave.

Violet had a long, silent car ride to think things over.

'It really must have been my fault, huh?' From the sounds of it, her parents had asked Qrow to help with the search for her in town, and it had entirely diverted his attention away from the two nieces waiting for him at home. Violet shivered.

"Can we… leave Patch tomorrow morning?"

Her father shrugged his shoulders, "Honestly, I'm not really feeling up to a vacation anymore."

Violet's heart sank, but she resolved herself. 'I can't be here to mess up anything else.'

 


 

"So that's really how it happened, huh?" Qrow asked one final time before putting Yang to bed.

The girl seemed to struggle with herself, then looked up into Qrow's eyes, "I'm sure she did it, Uncle Qrow. That girl, she killed the Grimm."

"Alright, Firecracker. You just get some sleep now, okay? It'll do you some good."

Yang nodded and sank into her bed. In less than a minute, her breathing had changed to the soft, slow whispers of sleep. Qrow rose off the side of her bed where he'd been sitting and walked back into the kitchen, where he had left his scroll. He pulled up his contacts, scrolling all the way down to the only name starting with an 'O' and dialed it.

The line picked up immediately, "Qrow? This is awfully late for you to be calling me."

"I know Oz, I know. But this is important."

Chapter Text

Ozpin stepped out of the airship onto the cold stone pavement walkway that led to Haven Academy. His cane gently tapped along with every other step, not truly needed, but a comfort nonetheless. His eyes roved over the scroll he held in his other hand, reading Qrow's report one last time before he shrunk the scroll and pocketed it. Ozpin had already memorized the words there during the first few minutes of his flight to Haven, but even still he felt the need to continuously recheck.

'I am old. Perhaps I'm going senile after 1,000 year,' Oz shook his head as he walked. He was not imagining things, and he trusted Qrow to not lie about such matters.

The grounds were empty. The semester for each of the schools had ended the week prior, which was the only reason Ozpin could even get away long enough to do this. The wind picked up and ushered him onward towards the large double doors that awaited him. With a gentle shove, the door opened inward.

Ozpin paused as he noticed a small figure sitting on a bench near the wall. Her hood was pulled up, face lit by the scroll she held. She didn't seem to notice that he had entered, too distracted by the game she played.

"Ehem", Ozpin coughed as he approached.

The girl panicked and dropped the scroll, turning fearful eyes towards him before visibly relaxing, "Don't sneak up on me like that, Headmaster!"

"I was hardly sneaking, child."

"Yeah, well. I was distracted," she said as she gingerly picked up the scroll, checking for damage.

"And it is my fault if you are too engrossed in your games to notice the world around you?"

'Ek!' the girl sputtered, "I wasn't!"

"I do have students of my own at Beacon, child." Ozpin turned his gaze to their surroundings and frowned, "Where are your guards?"

"Oh, I uh… gave them the slip," the girl replied meekly.

Ozpin sighed and gestured further down the hall. The girl took his hint and jumped to her feet, patting down her skirt before scurrying off ahead of him. Ozpin continued his leisurely stroll through the quiet building in the direction of Lionheart's office. The child stopped every so often, looking back and waiting for him to gain enough ground before running off again.

Soon, she was at Lionheart's door ahead of him, and with some small trepidation, she knocked three times. There was the muffled sound of movement, and as Ozpin reached the door, it finally opened. Leonardo clicked the door open, noticing Ozpin first, then stumbled as the girl shoved past him into the office.

"Leo, old friend, you need to get better security."

"It would seem so," Leonardo Lionheart replied, facing paling slightly as he noticed the obvious lack of guards flanking them, "They will be reprimanded."

He straightened then, and gave Ozpin a curious look, "I admit, I couldn't make much of your message. What are you here for, Oz?"

"I need to ask a question," Ozpin replied, letting his expression show how serious he was.

"Oh, of-of course," Leo stuttered and turned back towards his office, "Vernal!"

The three of them headed to the large open chamber, Leo nervously rubbing his hands together, and Vernal skipping along behind them. It was only once they had begun their descent that the child's mood changed. She stood, shuffling her feet back and forth and stealing glances at the two adults next to her.

Not for the first time did Ozpin wish someone else had been chosen as the new Spring Maiden. This child seemed outgoing enough normally, but as soon as things turned even the slightest bit serious, she clammed up. Perhaps she would grow out of it... Ozpin just hoped she would have enough time to.

The elevator stopped flush with the walkway ahead of them, leading towards an outcropping of stone. Several trees grew behind the stones, their leaves glowing a brilliant orange. It was the door, however, that held all three of their gazes. The surface was made up of several different shapes that fanned out across it, glowing the same unnatural color as the tree's leaves behind it.

With no hesitation, Ozpin strolled off the platform towards the door, prompting the others to follow along. Once he stood before it, Ozpin turned to look at Vernal, "If you would be so kind, my dear."

Vernal gave a tight nod and stepped past him, placing her hand on the door. She seemed to concentrate for a moment, then jumped back in shock as the shapes began retracting into themselves. Vernal stared open mouthed at the desert that somehow fit inside the doorway. The sand and air itself shifted unnaturally. If Ozpin had not been used to it, he might have been queasy just looking at it. Instead, however, the wizard was as calm as ever as he stepped into the desert, eyes locked on the intricate blue and gold lamp that floated above a sandstone pillar in front of him.

Ozpin gave one final look behind him, his eyes meeting with Leo's to make sure that he got the message. Leo nodded and placed a hand on Vernal's shoulder, leading her out of earshot.

"Jinn?"

Almost before the words were spoken, the hazy wave in the air ceased, and time stopped. Blue mist curled out of the lamp on each side, forming into a large blue woman that towered above him.

"Hello again, Ozma," Jinn crooned, placing a hand to her chin as she leaned down to be at more of an eye level with him.

"I've come with a question."

"Don't you always?"

"Ahem", Ozpin cleared his throat, taking a moment to sear the exact wording of his question into his mind. The words came out soft, but commanding, "What information do you have about Violet Regalia?"

Jinn's form moved away from him, back to her original position, as a coy smile played across her lips.

"Who?"

A long silence passed between the two. Ozpin stared up at Jinn in shock, and Jinn tried her best not to laugh.

"What!?" Ozpin's usually calm demeanor broke entirely.

"Is that another question?" Jinn smirked down at him, "Unfortunately, I'm not sure what it pertains to."

"Who is Violet Regalia!?"

"Who indeed?"

"What is her origin!?"

"When a man and a woman love each other very much-"

"Where was she born!?"

"Haven't you already contacted people in Atlas to inquire about that?"

"What powers does she have!?"

"The power to not ask dumb questions, for starters."

"Why did the bodies of the Grimm she killed not vanish as they usually do!?"

*Shrug*

"Aaahhh!"

Ozpin scowled up at Jinn, his face a mask of pure bewilderment at this turn of events.

"Why will you not tell me?" he demanded loudly, his hands gripped the cane tightly.

"I do not have the answers you seek, Wizard," Jinn sighed, "You have two questions remaining this century. Is there anything else you wish to ask about?"

Ozpin spun on his heel, cane swinging out and piercing down into the sand once his back was turned from the Relic of Knowledge, "No. We are done here."

An amused snicker escaped Jinn's lips as the haze returned, and the two waiting outside began moving again. Ozpin did not need to turn around to know that she had retreated into the lamp.

"It's finished," Ozpin announced roughly as he stepped out past the startled forms of both Leo and Vernal. From their perspective, it had only been a few seconds since they turned from the doorway to give him privacy. Ozpin did not slow his pace, his cane was held in a fist at his side.

"Not the answer you were hoping for?" Leo managed to get out. As they moved away, the shapes on the door began folding back outwards, sealing off the desert landscape from prying eyes.

Ozpin could only grimace as he reached the elevator and waited for the other two to step aboard.

"Worse."

 


 

The tenth year of Violet's life was hell, all because she had to open her stupid mouth on her birthday. 'Note to self - the next time mom asks what I want to do with my life, don't tell her the one thing she least wants to hear.'

Violet had told them in no uncertain terms that she planned on becoming a huntress. Her father had laughed at first, but his mirth died in his throat when he realized Violet was serious. He had pleaded, placated, and begged for her to change her mind, all the while Violet had remained resolute.

Violet's mother had then stepped in, and in the most sickly sweet voice she had ever heard her mother use, announced, "Of course you can become a huntress, sweetheart~"

The next day Violet had been awoken at 5am and taken into the new gym her mother had renovated into the house itself. Awaiting her had been three personal trainers, each with a grim scowl on their faces. The first trainer had her run until she dropped. The second had her lifting weights until her arms refused to move anymore, and the last had demanded she do it all over again.

Violet had lasted a little over half an hour before she had to stop and lie down on a mat, her weak body refusing to take any more self-inflicted punishment. Her mother had chosen then to step inside, "What's wrong, sweetheart? Don't you want to be a huntress~"

Violet was proud of herself for still being able to say yes. She was still required to attend the lectures from her private tutors afterwards, in which she had barely been able to pay attention.

The next day had been much of the same. Sprints, weights, jumping jacks, back to sprints, and on and on until she collapsed. Her mother had stayed to watch for longer this time, and simply asked, "Ready to give up?"

It continued that way for a month straight. Each day, Violet was able to run faster, lift more, and endure longer. She was tempted to cheat. To wash away her own fatigue, to make herself stronger and faster than she would be naturally, but doing that would be just as bad as admitting defeat; if not to her mother, than to herself. So she persevered.

By the end of the month, Violet's mother was present during the entire two hour session, a silent observer.

As Violet lay panting on the ground, spread out completely to try and let her body vent some of the heat it had built up during the exercise, her mother approached.

"Do you still want to be a huntress?"

Violet's breath caught at the words. There was no hint of the disapproval that had been there before. No dissatisfaction. Just a simple question. Violet turned to regard her mother, still breathing heavily, and with one nod of her head, signalled her confirmation.

"Okay."

Violet was still lying on the floor in confusion when her mother walked past to the personal trainers, "From now on, she shall be trained properly."

"Yes, ma'am," three voices replied somewhat in unison.

The next day, she didn't do sprints. She didn't lift weights. Instead, the first trainer taught her the best way to work each of her muscles, the second showed her the best meals to eat to promote muscle growth, and the third began showing her how to use various weapons.

The last part came more easily to her. Violet's techniques themselves were born of countless lives spent adventuring. He remarked on her being a natural, 'If only he knew'. They continued their sessions, however. While Violet had the mind for it, her new body did not share reflexes with those past lives. She had to build her muscle memory up anew, and with her trainer's assistance, she made rapid progress.

That same day, they had unlocked her aura.

With her aura unlocked, the pains of exercise that previously would have crippled her for the remainder of the day were instead washed away within half an hour. The healing properties of aura extended to torn muscle fibers, apparently. After learning the proper techniques, she was able to work much harder, for much longer than she would have only a day prior. Violet's trainers took her accelerated fitness in strides, more than aware that she could take more punishment now than she had before.

After a few months, she started sparring with them. They changed weapons daily, keeping her on her toes. Violet struggled still, at first. A new body that was so small could not wield the weapons the same way an adult body would. In some cases, she was given weapons that she hadn't used in many life times, and it took a long time to work out the kinks with those.

They had her meditate at various intervals during their sessions, both to relax and let her aura recover, and to think about her semblance. Of course, they thought these little meditation sessions would help her 'discover' what her semblance would be, but Violet instead used them to ask herself what she wanted. She could give herself anything, unlike regular people, and she refused to have a useless semblance.

The eternal struggle of strength versus fun raged in her mind during these 'meditation' sessions. She didn't want a semblance that would just win fights for her. It needed to require skill, and still be effective. Versatile, but not all powerful. She thought about the issue for weeks, until her trainers finally decided it was time for her to choose a weapon that she would train with primarily.

They arranged a basic version of every kind of weapon along a rack in front of Violet. Daggers, staffs, swords, clubs, scythes, maces, axes... You name it, they had it. Her eyes roamed over them slowly, trying to account for the various advantages and disadvantages that came with each. Violet's eyes finally settled on one, and an idea sparked in her mind. A wide grin appeared on her face.

'Why not kill two birds with one stone?'

She heard one of the trainers choke as she pulled her choice off the rack.


After that day, another tutor was hired. A man that had spent his life working in the Science Division of the military, but had retired a few years ago. Their lessons started with the basics, and Violet was able to follow along well enough. She had spent a number of life times in sci-fi universes, after all. They hadn't been her favorites, but she'd learned a thing or two there.

The real complications came about when aura and dust were involved. The first hurdle, using her aura to change a weapon from one form to another. Violet's tutor gave her a very simplistic design to start with, a dagger that could shift into a pistol.

Stretching her aura out into an object had felt strange at first. Unnatural. It took her an entire month before she could reliably change forms when told to, another month before she could do it without having to concentrate on it.

From there they had built her knowledge base, working from one function to another, and getting more and more in-depth about dust integration. They didn't rush to build her weapon. According to her tutor, using a weapon's system in the field that you weren't intimately familiar with led to missing limbs or death, and he had the coroners' reports to prove it.

Violet was fifteen before she decided once and for all what she wanted to incorporate into her weapon. It took a year and a half of long nights spent poring over blueprints and schematics, designs, redesigns, concept pieces, and massive overhauls before she was finally done.

Violet and her tutor shook hands in mutual congratulations at the masterpiece that lay on the work bench next to them.

 


 

"Violet, I have an important business meeting in a few minutes. Could you please hold off on any test fires until later this afternoon?" her father asked her, poking his head into her training room.

Violet stopped to grab a towel and wiped the sweat from her face before replying, "Of course, father. Pepper was going to pick me up at 2 o'clock, anyway. We're headed back out to the fringes again until later tonight."

As always, her father's face revealed his concern, but he shook his head and left. Unlike Violet's mother, he had still never quite come to terms with his only daughter wanting to be a huntress. He respected her decision, but it did not stop him from worrying.

'I wish I could soothe your fears, father. Nothing bad will happen to me, I promise."

After he left, Violet returned to her training. She had long since mastered how to use it in conjunction with her semblance. Violet had chosen something that required skill, but was still potent and versatile like she'd wanted. It was also the only reason she could use the weapon she'd chosen in the first place.

'Even Yatsuhashi would have trouble hefting this thing around."

Violet smirked at the thought.

Violet continued working through the sword form routine that her tutor had helped her develop. It was one born of necessity and practicality. The greatsword she held had a foot long leather hilt, giving her the leverage she required. The gold colored crossguard was fashioned to look like a crown of sorts, the edges that wrapped around it keeping attacks from sliding up her blade into her hands. Past that, fourty pounds of four foot long steel, sharpened on both sides and ending in a tapered point, awaited anyone, or anything, stupid enough to get within reach.

Violet endured the strain for another ten minutes before she needed to stop and catch her breath. She set her weapon down on a nearby table and grabbed the towel off it again. Violet's hands froze as she spotted the person leaning against the doorway that her father had previously vacated.

'Weiss!?'

The girl realized she had been noticed, along with the shock on Violet's face and raised her hands from where they had been crossed under her breasts, lowering them down slowly over and over in an attempt to calm Violet down.

"Sorry! I'm just waiting for my father to finish his meeting, I didn't mean to spy on you," Weiss stepped into the room as she spoke, giving Violet an apologetic smile.

Violet became aware of the fact that she was still standing and staring, and shook herself back into motion. She toweled herself off and dropped it back on the table before turning back to Weiss, "No problem, you just caught me by surprise. My name is Violet." Violet held out her hand to shake Weiss's own and the girl gladly accepted.

"Weiss Schnee," she said matter of factly before letting her eyes roam around the training room. They settled on Violet's greatsword, "You weapon is massive. How in the world do you manage to swing it so freely?"

Violet grinned and picked the sword back up, holding it out in one hand towards Weiss. The girl frowned, but begrudgingly held her hand out to grab it. Weiss's eyebrows shot up as she raised the greatsword with ease in front of her, taking a few downward swings away from Violet.

"Umm, how?"

"Semblance," Violet said with a grin, "I can manipulate the mass of things within a small distance from myself."

Weiss's face twisted in thought, "Won't that have the same effect as just using a smaller sword, though?"

"Hold it out further," Violet instructed and waited for Weiss to comply. She did, using her left arm to point the tip out to her side, a full arm's length away. Violet dropped the affect of her semblance for only a moment, like flicking a light switch off and then back on again, but in that instant the tip dipped dramatically. Violet laughed at the surprised 'ah!' that escaped Weiss's lips.

"I reduce its mass while I swing it, but before it hits I return the mass back to it, effectively retaining my speed while giving me the impact power of someone much stronger than me," Violet explained.

"It isn't just objects that I can manipulate, though," Violet took her weapon back and set it on the table again before regarding Weiss, "Want to try?"

Weiss's face showed some hesitation, but she nodded her head all the same. Violet concentrated, then felt her semblance take effect. Weiss looked around herself in alarm before looking down at her arms. She slowly raised them up and down, feeling how they were now nearly weightless. Weiss bounced up and down on her feet, "This feels incredible!"

Violet nodded, "It helps me move faster and jump higher." 'Its also the most important part to my landing strategy. I don't want to end up a puddle in the Emerald Forest if I can't get Pyrrha to like me."

Violet released her semblance and staggered as it went. She was starting to get tired.

Weiss's eyes flashed concern as she raised a hand up to steady Violet, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Too much weight for too long starts to wear me out, that's all."

Weiss made a 'hmph!' sound and turned her head away slightly, "I-I don't weigh that much!"

Violet laughed when she realized what Weiss must have thought she was implying, then gestured back towards her weapon, "No, no, I'm still just beat from training."

Cheeks light pink, Weiss turned back to her.

Whatever she was going to say was interrupted by a cough..

"My meeting is finished, Weiss. It's time we left," Jacques commanded, standing in the doorway behind her. Weiss's face soured, then returned to a more regal expression befitting an heiress as she turned around.

"Yes, father."

Weiss gave her one final smile before the two of them left.

 


 

"Another glass, Miss Regalia?" the servant asked, stepping up next to her table with tray in hand.

"Henna, how many times do I have to tell you to just call me Violet?" she replied, exasperated.

"At least one more time, like always. Now, about that glass?"

"No, thank you. I've had enough for the night," Violet sighed.

Henna grinned and stepped back, "As you wish, little Miss."

Henna retreated before Violet could come up with a reply. She hadn't been called that in years, but the thought did bring a smile to her face.

Violet sat at a table alone, off to the side from where the rest of the party-goers were mingling. She wasn't socially awkward or inept, and she was certainly not an introvert. Violet's problem with the festivities was renewed every time she listened in to the various conversations around her. Simply put, they were boring. Talks of business deals there, a friendly chat between two ladies recommending hairdressers to each other there. 'And seriously, who cares about your nails?'

The function itself had been a celebration of her father's twentieth year managing the company, but the actual event had long since ended. Unfortunately, Violet need to at least partially keep up appearances as the daughter of a man running a multi-million lien a year business.

Violet couldn't help grinning in anticipation despite herself, though. It was finally time to send in her transcripts to Beacon. She had filled them out the night before, but admission didn't begin until tomorrow.

"May I sit here?"

Violet turned with a smile to nod at the man that had spoken, but the smile died on her face before she could catch it. It returned immediately, but she knew the man was perceptive enough to have caught her reaction.

"Yes, of course!" she managed to say without stuttering. She had kept up her yearly visits to Jinn, and knew that Ozpin had specifically asked about her ten years ago.

'Damnit Qrow!'

"Thank you," Ozpin scraped the chair back before sitting down in it around five feet from her, "This is a nice party, isn't it?"

"It really is," she replied before continuing, "Sorry, I didn't catch your name? I'm Mr. Regalia's daughter, Violet."

"Professor Ozpin, Headmaster at Beacon Academy," Ozpin's eyes regarded Violet intently over the fingers that he had steepled in front of himself.

Violet let her eyes widen in mock surprise, "I thought I recognized you from somewhere."

"Indeed. I heard from a student of mine that you were thinking of becoming a huntress?"

"A student?..."

"My apologies. It has been quite some time since then. He is one of your instructors now, a pro huntsman that goes by the name of Pepper?"

'He's been keeping tabs on me.' Violet realized with a tiny shudder, "Oh! Yes, he is one of my favorite teachers."

"Glad to hear it," Ozpin smiled, "Have you decided what school you want to go to?"

Violet smiled and nodded, not really having to lie, "Actually, I was going to submit my transcripts to Beacon tomorrow morning."

Ozpin paused. The widening of his eyes would have been near imperceptible if Violet had not been looking for it, "That is a nice surprise. If you've been following Pepper's teachings then I have no doubt you'll pass with flying colors!"

'Of course I'll pass. You want me at Beacon to keep an eye on me.'

Violet smiled and accepted his words nonetheless, "If you will excuse me, Professor. It is getting late, and I have bags to pack."

"That confident? Good! It will be a pleasure to have you at my Academy, Miss Regalia."

"The pleasure is all mine," Violet beamed as she stood to leave.

"One thing before you go. I have been pondering a question for quite a while, and wondered if perhaps you might have some insight?" Ozpin tapered off the statement to make it sound like a question, and Violet shrugged in assent.

"How does one kill a Grimm in such a way that its body does not vanish?"

Violet did not fail to notice Ozpin's eyes become more intense as he asked, but the question only drew a confused expression from her, "Dead Grimm always vanish, Professor."

"Indeed," Ozpin replied, the barest hint of dissatisfaction curving his lips downward, "Thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing you at Beacon."

Violet took that as her cue to finally leave.

She really did have bags to pack, but before that, she had someone else's transcripts to sabotage.

 


 

Violet floated above the ground in her ghostly, incorporeal state she adopted while asleep. She was in Vale, keeping an eye on her intended target. Ahead of her by twenty or so feet, Jaune kept to the sidewalk, nervously gripping his fake transcripts as if they might blow away in the wind.

'It's not the wind you need to worry about, Jaune.'

Crocea Mors was strapped to his hip and he was keeping his head down, as if he expected his father to come running down the street, demanding Jaune to stop his foolishness and come home.

It was still night here, as it was in Atlas. While she couldn't feel it, Violet could see the effects of the wind blowing down the silent streets. Jaune looked as if he had been travelling the entire day to make it to Vale on time, his breath rasped out with each painful step, threatening to eat away at Violet's resolve.

'It isn't my fault you didn't train before coming to Beacon, Jaune. You can't protect the others from what's to come. I can.'

It seemed as if Jaune had finally found what he'd been searching for. With a burst of exhilaration, he jogged the last thirty feet to his goal, Violet silently floating along behind. Jaune pulled the handle down on the mailbox, slotting his transcript in and, with only a slight quiver, dropped it inside.

Jaune spun on the spot and leaned back against the mailbox, letting his exhaustion get to him. His body slumped, and he kept his eyes down to the pavement as he spoke, "Please, God, let me get into Beacon." He sighed deeply and slowly left, hands dipping into his pockets, putting his fate in the hands of some unseen force that might help him achieve his dreams.

Violet wouldn't. 'Couldn't.' She'd destroyed his transcripts the instant they left his sight.

Chapter Text

The ground grew distant from the windows of the ship carrying the students to Beacon. Violet rested her head against her hand, elbow propped up by the window itself. 'I'm finally here." After years of training, boring tutors, and long nights spent waiting for this moment… She was honestly having difficulty putting herself into action. Violet could see both Ruby and Yang off a ways, Yang excitedly talking about being proud of Ruby, and Ruby talking about wanting normal knees... but she just couldn't bring herself to walk over to them. An odd sort of anxiety had gripped her heart. 'What if I mess up?' was the thought that kept running through her mind. A loop with no end in sight.

Violet pulled herself out of her negative thoughts. She'd done this many times before, in other worlds. Failing to share a room on the train with Harry, being the last to speak up to join Frodo and the others get the ring to Mt. Doom…

Violet spent so long trying to psyche herself up that she had only just started to walk towards the two when the ship lurched to a stop and opened its doors on to the platform to Beacon. The cluster of students nearby cut her off from her quarry. She almost lost them in the crowd, but Yang at least was tall enough, 'and bright enough', to keep an eye on. The students surged out on to the platform. Violet followed, and as they reached the outside, they began to disperse, giving her enough room to push through and catch the tail end of the sisters' conversation.

"Well, actually-my-friends-are-here-now-gotta-go-catch-up-bye!" Yang spout off rapidly before running off with her friends. Violet didn't recognize any of them. They must not have made it through initiation.

And there was Weiss, butler pushing her bag rack straight towards an unknowing Ruby who was about to fall onto it and start a chain reaction of bickering that would carry on well past initiation. Seeing the telltale signs of what was about to happen, Violet stepped forward at a brisk pace, weaving between other students and then past the butler himself. She threw her hand out and caught Ruby, right before she could topple backwards into the dust-laden cart.

"Oh! Sorry!" Ruby exclaimed, freeing herself from Violet's arms. Ruby brushed imaginary dust off her skirt and grinned uncertainly at Violet. The butler muttered as he swerved around them, but without the commotion it seemed Weiss was still absorbed in something on her scroll, and didn't notice what had almost happened.

"No problem. You were looking a little woozy there and I didn't want you to hurt yourself," Violet replied with a good-natured smile. She held out her hand, open palmed, and Ruby took the hint, extending her own. They shook energetically, and as they did, Ruby's eyes drifted over Violet's shoulder to the handle poking out.

"Ooooooh~, is that your weapon?" Ruby asked pointedly, eyes growing wide. 'Figures that's how she'd start off a conversation. Didn't even ask my name first...That's okay, I'll bite.'

"It is!" Violet gave a mild chuckle at Ruby's expression. She reached up with her right hand and grabbed the hilt before flexing some of her aura into it. The mechanism holding it in place detached, allowing her to lift it off easily and draw it between the two of them.

"Oh. My. God! That looks like it could obliterate Grimm with one swing! How do you hold up all that weight so easily!?" Ruby's hands twitched at her sides, her weapon fixation threatening to take over reason. Violet figured it was easier to show her like she had done with Weiss than to explain, and held it out to her. When Ruby backed off a little, uncertain, Violet grabbed one of her hands by the wrist and brought it up to hold the hilt before letting go of her own hold.

Ruby's body reflexively dipped, expecting some massive weight to come crashing down on her, but her face conveyed the confusion she must have been feeling. Ruby backed away half a dozen feet and swung the sword in a wide arc, earning a startled 'Hey!' from some other student which they both soundly ignored.

Ruby returned the greatsword to Violet, seemingly lost for words before she was torn out of her stupor when Violet teased, "I showed you mine, now show me yours."

With a grin, and a deft series of spins and twirls that Violet could never hope to imitate, Ruby changed the form of her weapon from compact mode to full scythe and slammed the tip into the ground.

"...Oh, so it's a hoe?" Violet smirked, eyeing the crater it had left in the pavement.

Ruby looked down and her face went red, "N-no, it's a scythe!" she exclaimed, ripping her weapon back out of the ground. Pieces of pavement scattered off it around the hole, "It's also a customizable, high-impact, sniper rifle."

"Impressive," Violet replied honestly. Seeing Ruby's scythe in-person for the first time was both amazing, and somewhat intimidating. Ruby's weapon wouldn't have looked out of place in the hands of a villain, with its huge gleaming blade that promised to cut down anyone that was unfortunate enough to draw the ire of the small girl in front of her.

"Does it have a name?"

"Crescent Rose! My baby and me are gonna become huntresses and travel the world together, saving people and protecting towns, just like the heroes in the books!" Ruby exclaimed, "What about yours?"

"Zenith," Violet reciprocated, giving her greatsword a small twirl before reconnecting it to her back.

"What does that mean?" Ruby tilted her head as she asked, unfamiliar with the word. They started to walk towards the main building as they continued to talk. Violet led the two of them, knowing Ruby had no clue where they were supposed to go. 'It's a straight shot, how can you miss it?'

"The highest point." At Ruby's look of confusion, Violet explained further, "In a way, it's like saying, 'This is the best it gets'."

Ruby nodded, appearing to understand.

"Anyway, we haven't properly introduced ourselves, yet. I'm Violet."

"Oh, right! Ruby Rose!" Ruby said boisterously, practically bouncing on her toes as they walked. The large open doors of the auditorium drew nearer as they walked, "So, where are you from?"

"Atlas. You?"

"Patch! It's a small island community off the coast. I went to school at Signal Academy! Where did you go to school?"

"I didn't. My parents paid for personal trainers and tutors to teach me everything they could before letting me leave to follow my dreams," Violet wasn't expecting the wide eyes that Ruby gave her, but shrugged it off, "They wanted their little girl prepared to fight the Grimm."

'If only Grimm were the only thing we'd be fighting.'

Ruby's look grew somber, and Violet realized she had probably reminded her of Summer. Thankfully, Violet didn't have to think up a distraction as they finally reached the auditorium. Ruby's eyes shot up at the crowd, quickly glancing around for a hint of yellow hair. Spotting the top of Yang's head, Ruby grabbed Violet's hand and led her that way. The two of them reached Yang right as she was excusing herself from her friends.

Yang turned her head around and noticed Ruby behind her, "Oh there you are, sis! I was starting to worry you'd gotten lost on your first day."

"You wouldn't have to worry about that if you hadn't ditched me!" Ruby seethed. 'Adorable.'

"And look at that, my baby sister making friends already!" Yang mockingly gasped, glancing down at where Ruby's hand still gripped Violet's tightly.

Ruby instantly pulled her hand away as her cheeks turned red, "Yeah, so what if I did? This is Violet. Violet, this is my monster of a big sister, Yang."

Recognition sparked in Yang's eyes, and Violet took the chance to adopt a thoughtful frown as well, "Do I know you from somewhere?" Violet asked, screwing her face up into as close of an approximation of confusion as she could manage.

"You're that girl from ten years ago!" Yang proclaimed loudly, shocking a few bystanders and drawing attention to their little group.

Violet had never had a good poker face, but she prayed 'to myself' that she was pulling off a surprised expression, "Oh! Then that means you're-!" Violet cut herself off, now pointing towards Ruby, "You've definitely grown from the last time I saw you. Did your uncle ever go back for that wagon?"

Ruby looked as confused as ever. No doubt because she had been only four or five at the time. Violet doubted she could have remembered anything more than the Grimm they'd seen.

"Who cares about the wagon!? I never got to thank you~!" Yang forcefully drew Violet into a tight hug that wheezed the air from her lungs, causing her to make a very startled 'hrk!' sound.

"Yang! Don't leave me in the dark like this! How do you know each other!?" Ruby demanded with a pout off to the side.

Yang let go, letting Violet inhale raggedly and cough, recovering for the moment, "She's the one that saved us, Ruby. You remember that time when I took you out on the wagon to go find that cabin?"

Violet had to step in before this got too out of hand, "Hold on. Those Grimm died on their own, I didn't have anything to do with it."

Yang scoffed and rolled her eyes, "They burst into purple flames when your eyes lit up! You can't tell me that was some huge coincidence. Grimm don't just spontaneously combust."

'Her eyes had…? I must not have noticed at the time. I was too focused on saving us. Is that why Ozpin was so interested in her? He thought there was some other eye power showing up that could help in his endless struggle against Salem?'

"I'll have to take your word for it. I don't really remember doing anything except stare at them. You were staring at them too. How do we know you didn't set them on fire?"

Yang's eyes peered into Violet's very soul as she spoke her next words with dire seriousness, "PurpleFlames."

"Your eyes are purple," Violet retorted.

"My eyes are lavender. And I know it wasn't me," Yang said heatedly.

Violet was saved from thinking her way out of the conversation as the sound of a microphone being tapped deafened the room.

'Or not.'

Yang kept her eyes on Violet in a "We aren't done talking about this" way before turning towards the stage with the rest of the gathered students.

Ozpin had taken the stage.

"Ahem. I'll… keep this brief. You have travelled here today in search of knowledge. To hone your craft and acquire new skills. And when you have finished, you plan to dedicate your life to the protection of the people. But I look amongst you, and all I see is wasted energy. In need of purpose; direction. You assume knowledge will free you of this, but your time at this school will prove that knowledge can only carry you so far. It is up to you, to take the first step."

'Wow. He sounds like he's still bent out of shape because Jinn wouldn't talk about me.'

After Ozpin had said his piece and stepped away, Glynda took his place and began instructing the assembled students on where to store their weapons and where they would be sleeping for the night. Violet took the opportunity to veer away from Yang, making sure she was the first into the locker room and lost among the crowd. 'Hopefully she'll forget about it. Ah, who am I kidding. She won't stop asking until I give her something.' This time away at least gave her a chance to clear her head and think of an excuse. 'Yeah… I've got nothing. I'll just have to keep pretending I don't know what she's talking about. If I reveal anything, it might get back to Qrow, and that's a direct line to Ozpin… I can't take that chance.'

Violet chose a locker at random, which prompted her to set a new key code. She stowed Zenith and her bags, and mentally prepared herself for the verbal battle that would certainly take place in the future.

 


 

Violet had managed to hide herself away from the two girls for the rest of the day, using what skills she had to vanish among the throng of students that milled around for the rest of the evening, chatting in groups of four or more. She had made it all the way to nightfall, changed into her pajamas, and used her sleeping bag to obscure herself from view. Violet's eyes roamed over the ballroom they would be sleeping in. She caught a quick peep of Yang and Ruby, both girls chatting while apparently keeping an eye out for her.

'Where to sleep, where to sleep?'

Violet's eyes finally settled on a small alcove, near what looked like a wardrobe. It looked like as good a place as any to bed down away from the majority of people. Her feet were already carrying her in that direction before she noticed candles being lit right next to her intended spot. Violet's eyes whipped over to the side, and there, previously hidden in the shadow of the wardrobe, sat Blake. Her knees were pulled up, allowing her to rest a book on them. The candle's light was certainly only there as a way to keep her cover as a faunus, more than being actually necessary. Blake's eyes would have been able to read it just fine with her faunus nightvision.

Violet's awkward shuffling in Blake's direction drew a wary eye, but when it became clear that Violet wasn't there to disturb her outright, she went back to reading her book. It was the way that she had to lower herself to the ground slowly to keep herself out of sight that got Blake's attention again. Violet unzipped her sleeping bag, still in a half-crouch, then immediately dove in. Her legs were backed into the alcove, with just a small part of her head sticking out of the top. She doubted Yang or Ruby would be able to spot the half of her head that stuck out, especially now that she was down at ground level.

Violet noticed the tilt of Blake's head, eyes still focused in her direction, "Don't mind me, just hiding away from an awkward conversation with a certain goldilocks that's been asking too many questions."

Blake's eyes left hers and gazed over the room before locking on to something, "You mean the one that hasn't stopped looking around since we got here?"

"That's the one," Violet replied with a half smile. 'Such an observant little White Fang defector, eh Blake?'

"Do you know her?" Blake asked, surprising Violet with the continued conversation. 'I would have thought you'd go back to your book by now.' The reason dawned on her a half second later. 'She's probably worried about Yang asking her too many questions.'

"Kind of. We met a long time ago and I haven't seen her since. I made friends with her sister when we landed, and she recognized me from way back then," Violet gave up as much information as she needed to about the situation. It wouldn't do for Blake to avoid Yang during initiation. 'Team RWBY needs to stick together!'

"Yang is a really nice person when you get to know her. She's strong, too. Really strong," Violet continued, trying to lead Blake on. 'You want her to be your partner tomorrow~'

"I'm Violet, by the way. Nice to meet you…?"

"Blake."

"Nice to meet you, Blake. Now if you don't mind, I'm going to try and get some sleep before tomorrow. Enjoy your book!" Violet rolled over and pulled herself deeper into the sleeping bag. There was a quiet "Goodnight" from behind that surprised her, but she chose to ignore it. 'Stand strong, Team RWBY!'

 


 

Unfortunately, Violet couldn't keep up the act the following morning. She was busy 'sleeping' in her normal way, watching over her family back in Atlas with some melancholy, when she felt her body get violently kicked. She was sucked away, halfway across the world in an instant and sat up in confusion. Violet blinked back blurry eyes and looked up at the figure standing above her.

The first thing Violet could see was Yang's golden hair, lit from the sun's rays beaming through the windows behind her, "Let's go. Breakfast. And then I have questions."

Violet groaned and flipped over, pretending to still be tired, "Just five more minutes!"

"How about five more kicks?" Yang threatened. Violet felt her foot drawing back to make good on her promise and quickly ripped the sleeping bag off herself, "Okay, I'm up! I'm up!"

"That's better. Ruby is already in the dining hall. Let's go get you changed," Yang reached down and grabbed Violet by the back of her pajamas, hauling her up on to her feet.

"I can stand up on my own, ya know?" Violet said, not really angry, just irked that her plans had fallen apart so early in the morning.

"If I let go, you'll run off again," Yang smiled matter-of-factly, giving Violet a small push as she said it. Looking around, it was obvious why Yang had been able to find her so easily. Violet had 'slept' in longer than anyone else, too caught up in Atlas to notice the time here in Beacon.

Yang let go of her when they reached the locker room, but stood with arms crossed as Violet changed into her regular outfit. Yang finally noticed Violet's weapon for the first time, and when she turned around it was to see a large smirk across Yang's face.

"Compensating for something?"

"Rich, coming from a girl that fists everyone," Violet retorted with a smile of her own.

"Hey! Phrasing! I punch people!"

"Right, right. Fist, punch, grope. You do you, sister," Violet laughed.

Yang seemed ready to punch her if her eyes going red were any indication, but Violet stepped past before turning back to her, "The dining hall?"

Yang's hands trembled as she shut her eyes and forcibly simmered down. She stepped forward and shot a hand out towards Violet, who flinched, only for Yang to grab on to the back of her top again.

Violet smirked, "See? Groping."

Violet was glad Blake wasn't there to hear Yang's outraged scream. The poor girl would have gone deaf in both sets of ears.

Despite herself, Violet managed to keep Yang distracted with more jabs and snarky comments all through breakfast. There was a mood Violet could keep her in that was just right to keep her distracted, but not have it end with a punch to the face.

Glynda's voice boomed over the school's intercom, informing the students that they should gather their weapons and be ready for further instruction. A general sense of unease settled over the student population around them. Most of them looked nervously amongst each other, knowing that only a small portion of them would actually succeed, passing the initiation test to become full-fledged students of Beacon. Even Yang was rendered silent as she started to focus up on her goal, which Violet took advantage of to immediately break away again.

 


 

Violet was typing the number she had chosen into her locker's keypad when a familiar voice announced it's presence, "Oh, it's you! I didn't know you were going to Beacon!"

Violet recognized the voice and peeked her head back around her open locker door, "Weiss! I could say the same! Did you retire from your singing career?" Violet feigned mock surprise.

What was surprising was that she'd somehow managed to choose the locker side-by-side with Weiss's own. Violet gave Weiss a glance. Everything was as it should be, combat skirt, ponytail, and Myrtenaster clipped to Weiss's hip like she'd been born to use it. A flash of red and gold behind her caused Violet to flick her eyes in the direction for a brief instant. 'Right on time, Pyrrha.'

"For the foreseeable future, at least. I've decided to dedicate my life to helping others. I want… to improve my family name," she said the last bit much more quietly, seeming to trust Violet enough to share the tidbit but not wanting it to be overheard.

Violet nodded in understanding and stepped forward, towards both Weiss and Pyrrha. She made sure to project her voice a little bit louder than was necessary if she'd only been speaking so that Weiss could hear, "I can't say my goal is all that grandiose. I've just been lonely at home. I was hoping to… make some friends." Violet whispered out that last bit the same way Weiss had, but she could tell Pyrrha had picked up on it. Brilliant green eyes turned in their direction.

Weiss sighed and spoke candidly, believing themselves away from prying ears, "Friends would be nice, too."

There was a truthfulness to it that spoke volumes. An honest desire, one born of lonely days spent all alone in her mansion, only servants, admiring fans, business partners, or Whitley, to keep her company for months on end. Violet shuddered when she saw Pyrrha's smile grow genuine, her gaze taking in nothing but the young heiress that was none the wiser to the two beautiful green eyes burning a hole in her back. 'Damn it, Weiss. You're supposed to be helping me! Not making Pyrrha go after you! Team RWBY must live!'

"Would all first your students please report to Beacon cliff for initiation. Again, all first year students report to Beacon cliff, immediately." Glynda's voice once again rang out through the school's intercoms. Pyrrha left before Violet could get another word in. Violet's shoulders slumped.

"Hey, don't worry. I'm sure you'll do fine," Weiss smiled and put a hand on Violet's shoulder.

'...RWBYYYYY!'

 


 

The students had all positioned themselves on the launch pads as instructed, while Glynda and Ozpin stood closer to the cliff, looking over them. Yang had taken up the pad directly to Violet's left, and given her a glower when she arrived. 'Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.'

"For years, you have trained to become warriors, and today your abilities will be evaluated in the Emerald Forest," Ozpin began the small lecture, getting the student's attention fully devoted to the two adults before them.

"Now. I'm sure many of you have heard rumors about the assignment of teams," Glynda continued where Ozpin had left off, "Well, allow us to put an end to your confusion. Each of you will be given teammates… today."

"What? Oohhh…" Ruby simpered a little way down the line.

"These teammates will be with you for the rest of your time here at Beacon, so it is in your best interest to be paired to someone with whom you can work well. "

"Ohhhh…"

"That being said, the first person you make eye contact with after landing will be your partner for the next four years."

"Whaaat!?"

Violet couldn't help but laugh. It was so much better in person.

Ozpin continued his explanation, but Violet ignored it. She knew the rules. Instead, her focus drifted across the line of waiting students, towards Pyrrha. Violet sighed. Pyrrha was stealing glances at Weiss. `My plans are ruined. Foiled before they'd even started.'

Ozpin finished his speech, and the furthest student to Violet's left was launched skyward. It repeated, over and over. Pyrrha, Weiss, Nora, Ren, Cardin, Ruby, then Yang.

Violet braced herself, using her semblance on her own body to try and let the pad send her even further than it would normally, "See you on the other side, Professors."

The tiniest of smiles stretched one corner of Ozpin's lips, as Violet was launched into empty air. Nothing but trees and hard packed earth beneath her a hundred feet below.

Immediately, Violet dropped her semblance from her body. Letting the launch pad send her off with the least amount of resistance was good, but if she kept it up, it would be like throwing a feather into gale force winds. Completely ineffectual. Instead, Violet soared through the sky, outstripping many of the other students. The only one that kept ahead of her was Yang, who was using her Ember Celicas to increase her speed before she disappeared into the trees. Violet watched Pyrrha land, pull out Miló, and scope in on Weiss.

'Oh no you don't!'

Violet tracked where Weiss landed as well. The girl used her glyphs masterfully, landing in an empty clearing to avoid the trees. As it was, Violet was going to overshoot the two of them by a hundred feet or so. 'Time to act like a feather.' Violet felt her semblance's influence wash over her, reducing her forward momentum almost instantly due to the wind resistance against her entire body. Violet looked down and, happy that there were no Grimm in sight directly beneath her, allowed herself to drop, kicking in her semblance at the last moment to ease herself to the ground.

She turned back towards where she needed to go. If Pyrrha was on her way to Weiss, then Violet would need to cut her off. Deciding on an angle of approach, she set off at a run, weaving her way between the trees and vegetation that made up the floor of the Emerald Forest. 'No Grimm. So far so good.'

Violet burst into a clearing and smiled. No sign of the two, yet. 'This should be about where Pyrrha will come through.' Violet moved over to the side that Pyrrha would have to come from and hid in a bush, waiting for her chance to pop up and pretend like she'd just stumbled into Pyrrha. 'Shit happens, sorry Pyrrha. I promise I really do just want to be friends.'

Violet saw a flash of red and gold through the trees off to her side, 'There you are,' and spared a glance to the other side of the clearing. Her face paled as she noticed white moving through the trees. 'This is going to be close.' Watching the different approaches of both, Violet timed it to right before Pyrrha would get into the clearing, and stepped out from her bush.

A rush of movement and then a startled 'Eep!' behind her caused Violet to swing around in surprise before something dressed in red came blurring out of the woods behind her. She only had time to see a pair of silver eyes before the head attached to said eyes slammed into her own. Violet's world turned black.

 


 

"What were you thinking, running around like that!?" Weiss's voice came in as a warbling mess, unfocused and distant.

"I'm sorry! She just kind of popped out of the bush in front of me!" Ruby's voice could be heard, sounding on the verge of tears.

"I'm sure it was an accident… It looks like she's waking up now," Pyrrha's voice could be heard more easily, as Violet sat up, her head starting to clear. There was still a high pitched 'eeee!' that refused to leave no matter how hard she shook her head.

Violet took in the scene around her, Ruby was standing behind both Weiss and Pyrrha, all of them looking at her with concern etched across their faces.

"Did anyone get the number of that rose bush? I need to call my lawyer," Violet mumbled, the high pitched sound finally starting to fade away into the background.

Weiss huffed, "She's fine, thank god." Weiss offered Violet a hand, and she gladly took it, swaying only slightly when she was fully on her feet.

"You know, you should introduce yourself to Weiss the same way. Might serve to break the ice between the two of you."

Weiss rolled her eyes and let go of Violet's hand. They were still in the clearing, though Violet couldn't tell how long she'd been out and decided to ask the others.

"Just a few minutes, actually. Are you sure you're okay?" Pyrrha replied, still a hint of concern in her voice.

"Yeah, I'll be fine," Violet sighed before stepping up next to Ruby. The girl was still looking far too guilt stricken, "Really. I'll be okay, partner." Violet ruffled Ruby's hair for good measure to show there were no hard feelings between the two. The smile returned timidly to Ruby's face, and the four of them stopped to take in their surroundings.

"Pretty sure it's that way," Violet said finally, pointing northward towards the mountain that could barely be seen over the top of the trees.

"I can't disagree," Weiss stated, taking the lead in that direction. The other three fell in line, and Violet chose to introduce herself to Pyrrha.

She gestured toward herself, "Violet, and you're Pyrrha Nikos, right? I watched the tournaments each year. You're really good."

Pyrrha's cheeks colored slightly at the praise, but Violet was content to leave it there. Pyrrha didn't like to be overly-acknowledged.

Weiss scoffed from in front of them, "Really good? Pyrrha's the best."

Violet sensed where this might go, and quickly stepped up next to Weiss, "Speaking of being the best. I listened to all of your songs after we met that day, Weiss. Can I get your autograph?"

Weiss sighed, "I guess after we finish initiation I could spare a moment to sign something for you."

Violet leaned in close, getting Weiss's attention and gave a meaningful head nod, back to where Pyrrha was ten feet behind them, staring at the ground in front of her as she walked, "I don't think Pyrrha really appreciates the attention of adoring fans, either. Maybe try to keep that sort of thing to a minimum." Violet whispered it, trying to make sure that Pyrrha didn't over hear them. Weiss gave Pyrrha a long, steady look before turning back to Violet and nodding her agreement. 'Might as well ease up any problems in the future if they're stuck on the same team.'

"But enough about that, let's keep focused on the task at hand. Does anyone know what 'relics' we're supposed to be finding out here?" Weiss asked, drawing everyone's attention.

Pyrrha looked happy at the change in subject. Ruby's eyes glazed in thoughtful silence, as if she was trying to remember the exact words that Ozpin and Glynda had used up on the cliff. Violet just shrugged. She knew, but there was no way she was supposed to know.

A howl cut them off. Violet's eyes narrowed as she peered through the trees ahead of them. She spotted a blur of black, then another, and another.

"Beowulf pack. They caught our scent," Violet stated, preparing Zenith by raising it in front of herself. The others each drew their respective weapons, and Violet looked around at each of them in turn with an approving nod, "I'm sure we can take them."

The others smiled in agreement before taking positions. Pyrrha took the rear with Ruby, raising her shield up to chest level and holding Milo at the ready. Ruby spun Crescent Rose backwards, lowering to the ground in preparation to activate her semblance and blitz the first Grimm that popped into sight on her side. Violet noticed Weiss giving Ruby an uncertain glance and chuckled before whispering over to the girl, "She can take care of herself. Focus on your own fight." Weiss still seemed uncertain, but turned back to her side all the same and focused.

The sound of Crescent Rose firing off behind them announced the arrival of the first Grimm, and its subsequent death as the scythe cut through it in one fell swoop. The rest of the Grimm immediately charged in from their various hiding spots. Weiss threw up a glyph to speed herself and flashed forwards into the first on her side. Violet recognized the familiar sound of Milo in rifle mode, firing off at the Grimm on Pyrrha's side.

Two came charging out of the woodworks at Violet, lumbering roughly through small bushes and knocking over saplings in their wake. 'If you find yourself facing multiple opponents, focus on speed first to avoid taking damage, then get in hits whenever you find an opening.' Pepper's training droned through her head, beaten into her skull until she could recite it all verbatim. Violet activated her semblance on her own body, feeling it lighten considerably. 'Try to use their numbers against them. Put one of them between you and the other at all times, so that you aren't being flanked and can focus on one direction in front of you.'

As they approached side-by-side, Violet used a sudden burst of speed and dashed diagonally, positioning her body to the right side of the right beowulf. The other would have to plow through his own pack mate to get to her. The one closest snarled and reared back a clawed hand. 'So predictable.' Violet dropped low, letting her greatsword lay almost flat behind her as the claws wooshed above her head, leaving it exposed. 'No hesitation.' Violet dragged her greatsword across the ground from behind her, then swung it upwards, putting the weight back into it the instant before it made contact with the beowulf's neck. There was a satisfying sound as the head was cut clean off, sent flying somewhere behind her as the body dropped with a thud in front of her.

The second beowulf was just then getting around the side of the other beowulf's body. It charged at her angrily, and she used it's momentum against it. She stepped to the side, twirling like a matador to confuse it, then slammed the full weight of Zenith into the path it's nearest leg was taking. Unable to stop itself, the beowulf plowed through the edge of her greatsword, lopping off its own front leg in the process. Violet immediately capitalized on its downed form. It used its other legs to try and push forward for a bite, but instead it ate the full forty pounds of steel that Violet slammed down onto its head.

There was another rustling sound behind her, and Violet turned around to see another beowulf that had remained hidden, already leaping with its claws raised, snarling eyes focused on her face in a cold fury. A red blur met it halfway, and Violet was forced to duck as the upper torso of the beowulf flew over her head. She gave Ruby an appreciative nod. The girl smiled, finally in her element. Violet turned back to see how the others were faring. There was no need to worry, the fight might as well have been over before it even began. Pyrrha stood over the pieces of three beowulves, Weiss over two, and looking around, Violet could spot the bodies of five others that were most likely Ruby's handiwork.

"Told ya," Violet said to Weiss with a smug grin. The girl could only nod when she also noticed how many Ruby had handled.

"Shall we continue?" Weiss asked.

"Right behind you, fearless leader!" Violet replied to Weiss, pointing with certainty towards where she knew the ruins would be.

Weiss huffed, but seemed pleased. 'She does want to end up as a team leader, after all.'

The group set off again. The mountainside was slowly approaching off to their left, and Violet looked over curiously. 'I guess the deathstalker won't be making an appearance-' Violet's train of thought was cut off as the trees cleared, and she noticed the rubble in front of the cave. The sides of the cave entrance were smashed to bits, as if some large creature had… 'Its already out!'

Violet suppressed a gasp and let her composure resettle before turning to the rest, "Guys, look," she pointed off towards the cave, "That rubble looks fresh to me. I might be jumping to conclusions here, but if some big Grimm was trapped in there and broke out, it can't be good. Someone is probably in trouble. We should hurry."

Weiss frowned. It really was a leap in logic, not one that Violet would be able to explain now, but could chalk up to a lucky guess later on, "I have a decent idea of where we need to go. If you're all okay with it, I'll use my semblance on all of us so that we can run there without too much strain."

"If you're really that worried…" Weiss started.

"What does your semblance do?" Pyrrha asked uncertainly.

"It'll make us all lighter," Violet said briefly, looking at each in turn. Weiss had already stepped up next to Violet, and shared in giving a questioning look to the other two. Ruby stepped up immediately, pressured into agreeing by the two older girls. Pyrrha took a second longer, but taking the hint, stepped closer to Violet as well.

Violet closed her eyes and focused. Reducing the mass on her weapon and herself was easy enough. Extending it to another person could be tiring if she kept it going for too long. Four people? 'I'll be tired by the time we reach the ruins, but if it gets the three of them there faster and feeling fresher for the fight, then it will be worth it.' It took a few seconds of concentration before each of the three girls around her widened their eyes in surprise. Weiss did less so, but Violet knew well enough how pleasant it was to suddenly feel a tenth the weight that you normally did.

Violet nodded to them, "Keep close. The further you get away from me, the harder it is to keep this up. Ruby, if you see someone is in a desperate situation, I want you to use your semblance and get in there to help as fast as you can. You're speedy enough as it is without my help."

They all nodded along, and followed closely as she took off running. Weiss stuck two steps to her left, Ruby two steps to her right, and Violet could feel Pyrrha only a few behind the rest of them, running in a diamond formation with Violet in the lead. It took three minutes of hard sprinting, Violet could feel her semblance's strength waning, before they burst out into a much larger clearing than before. Violet's eyes took in the ruins, the chess pieces small glinting specks on their raised pillars, and the battle that was currently taking place.

Blake was behind the Deathstalker, trying to get its attention with Gambol Shroud, but the small dagger and pistol combination wasn't enough to distract it from the prey in front of it. The Deathstalker slowly walked forward, pincers snapping over and over again towards Yang, who was desperately dodging them, taking every chance she could to fire off shots from her Ember Celicas into the creature's face.

"Yang!" With an outraged cry, Ruby crossed the distance like a bolt of lightning. Violet dropped her semblance's influence on Ruby as she felt the strain instantly start to tank her stamina. In a flash of red that the Deathstalker could never have hoped to react to, Crescent Rose dug a groove straight through the front of its face, gouging out several of its eyes in one long, jagged line. The Deathstalker shrieked in pain and pulled its pincers back towards its face in an attempt to protect itself, giving Yang the breathing room she needed to get out from where she had been boxed in.

Violet's eyes quickly looked over the rest of the clearing. Ren and Nora were currently distracting the Nevermore. Ren was dipping and dodging through a hail of feathers thicker than his arms, and Nora was pounding it with shot after shot from Magnhild. The combination was effectively throwing off the Nevermore's aim, it screeched in annoyance but refused to land, instead dipping away to circle back and try for another strafe run.

The Deathstalker was still distracted, the pain overwhelming its desire to feast on the humans right in front of it. The three of them, Violet, Weiss, and Pyrrha had managed to get within a couple dozen feet of it now. Violet dropped her semblance from the two next to her and herself as she shouted to be heard over the Deathstalker's screams, "Weiss, Ruby! Grab a relic and let's get the hell out of here! There's a cliffside off to the west. If we keep ahead of the Deathstalker, we can at least gain some high ground and avoid it altogether!"

Violet felt a little bad about lying. There was a cliffside to their west, but it would be separated from them by the canyon. Their only choice would be to use the ruins to their advantage, but Violet knew they could beat these two Grimm. There was little danger in the farce, and it would be easy enough to play off as her not being able to see the canyon either until they were right up on it.

They all took it in stride, though. It seemed like Ren and Nora had heard her as well. Nora idly tossed the rook she had taken, repocketed it and waved energetically towards them. Ren kept his eyes on the Nevermore that was still a ways off, giving them time to take a breather. Weiss used her glyphs to quickly get in and out past the Deathstalker. Ruby was already in the ruins, and flew out at a speed that the Deathstalker couldn't have hoped to keep up with, even if it had been fully aware of its surroundings. Violet sighed, she hadn't seen what pieces they'd grabbed.

'No time for that now.' The Deathstalker was finally shaking off the pain, its pincers swung back out from its body and clacked together ominously as it spun to face the group that gathered around her. Violet sighed. 'I'm so damn tired.' The run to get here had felt more like a marathon. She'd essentially supported the majority of four people's mass plus her sword's. 'Thankfully they're all fit young women.' Violet shivered at the thought of having to do that with team Cardinal. 'No way. I'll leave them to die. It'll be better for my health.'

Weiss seemed to sense her fatigue, and looked towards the western cliff that was just barely visible over the treetops. She jumped in where Violet faltered, "Let's go! That Deathstalker isn't going to wait for us to catch our breath."

Everyone nodded their assent and took off after her. Weiss glanced back towards Violet a few times, but Violet worked up the best confident expression she could and smiled at her. Violet had done a lot of stamina conditioning during her years of training. She knew her body's limits, and she was still a ways off before she would end up collapsing from exhaustion.

The cliff was thankfully a shorter distance than it appeared, sitting low at only about a hundred feet above the ground level on their side of the canyon. The ruins started off as a bridge that then led out into a spiral tower, reaching up with decrepit stonework to the edge of the opposite plateau. The group took it in stride, though. The Deathstalker plowed through the treeline behind them, coming into view with a sickly shriek as it found its prey once again. A screech from the sky answered it back as the Nevermore sighted in on them now that they were back in the open.

Weiss reached the beginning of the bridge first, but didn't cross. She stopped at the edge and turned backwards, firing off dust-infused shots from Myrtenaster with elegant flicks of her weapon. Ice, fire, gravity, lightning. Each hit didn't slow the Deathstalker nearly enough. It was still gaining on the group. Ruby, Yang, Blake, and Violet crossed first, but had to fling themselves forward as the Nevermore's massive form took advantage of their positioning and exploded through the middle of the bridge. Weiss, Pyrrha, Ren, and Nora were left on the opposite side. Stuck between a thirty foot gap stretched over a yawning canyon with no visible bottom, and a Deathstalker. Violet didn't fault them for trying their luck with the Deathstalker.

She had her own troubles to worry about, though. The Nevermore was circling back around. Yang, Blake, and Ruby were up, firing shots at it that just pinged off its thick feathers and hide. Violet took a quick inventory of weapons and semblances at their disposal. She knew Yang could get the Nevermore down if she fired directly down its throat. After that… An idea started to form in Violet's mind, and she quickly called out to the others to put it into action.

"Yang, we need to knock it down to the ground. Ruby, once its down, try and pin a wing down with Crescent Rose. Yang and Blake should do the same to the other wing, but stay away from the middle of its body. Once its immobilized, I'll be able to have a guaranteed shot at it."

Yang and Blake looked at her with some uncertainty, but Ruby agreed immediately, "You heard her, Yang! We don't have much time!" Backed by her sister, Yang gritted her teeth and climbed up one of the taller pillars. The Nevermore had finished its lazy return and was now headed back for them. Yang started punching the air, firing off shots and drawing its attention to herself. Trusting Yang to do what needed to be done, Violet moved into position.

The Nevermore flew at Yang in outrage at the shots that were slamming into its front side. As it approached, she pointed her Ember Celicas down, firing them as she jumped and launched herself higher than she could have jumped unaided. The Nevermore took the bait, angling its a body and opening its mouth to swallow Yang whole. With a feat of pure strength of will, Yang stopped herself from being bitten in half by slamming one hand up into the roof of its beak, and pushed down with her feet, forcing the Nevermore's mouth to remain open, while her free arm fired shot after shot directly down the Nevermore's throat.

It gave an agonized scream and lost control. Yang jumped out of its mouth at the last moment as the Nevermore's body slammed heavily into the cliffside, stunning it. As it tried to pull itself back up, the red blur that was Ruby came flashing down from the sky, Crescent Rose opened to its maximum, and pierced straight down through the Nevermore's wing, burying the scythe's blade a foot and a half into the stone beneath. Blake took her queue, and fired Gambol Shroud as she threw it to Yang, keeping a hold of her half of ribbon that they then held over the top of the Nevermore's other wing.

Violet sent her aura surging down into Zenith, its form shifting dramatically into a shape that resembled a long rifle. The center split open, revealing coils on either side that started to hum loudly, sparks shot back and forth between the coils, charged with compact lightning dust fed up into the weapon from where she stored it in her pommel. The grip and trigger fell into place. Violet reached down to her belt, removing one of the six, fifty caliber, bullet-shaped pieces of pure steel that she kept strapped to her ammo belt. There was no blasting cap. Her 'gun' wasn't as conventional as that.

Violet slotted the projectile directly in between the coils. As soon as it got close, the electromagnetic field they were producing pulled it out of her hands and into a floating position, locked into place by the opposing polls that surrounded it. Violet breathed out, absorbed every ounce of the forty pounds of steel her weapon usually weighed, and forced it all into the projectile. It didn't sag of falter, still held by the magnetic fields locking it in.

She sighted down her railgun, aimed at the Nevermore's head, and squeezed the trigger.

The ground in front of her erupted outwards in a cone, as the projectile itself tore through the air, going from a standstill to Mach 3 in the span of four feet, creating a massive heatwave at the end of her weapon. Protective ice dust was vented simultaneously from the spot nearest the grip, protecting Violet from the resulting backlash that still threatened to knock her backwards.

The Nevermore never heard the shot that killed it, as the heat alone coming off the projectile liquified anything in its path. The resulting crater left in the canyon wall would remain a harsh reminder to Zenith's destructive power, as the Nevermore's body offered no resistance. A foot wide hole was visible through its entire body before the Nevermore's weight collapsed in on itself, unmoving.

'At least those sci-fi universes paid off.'

Violet's legs gave out and she fell backwards, laying out flat on her little section of the bridge that remained, Zenith limply held in her outstretched hand, still in railgun mode, but coils dimmed and silent. Its full charge of concentrated lightning dust had been spent in that one shot. Violet was too tired to even crane her neck to see what the trio's faces must look like. 'I'm popping back in time later to take a picture,' she promised herself.

 


 

"Weiss Schnee, Lie Ren, Nora Valkyrie, and Pyrrha Nikos. The four of you retrieved the white rook pieces. From this day forward you will work together as Team Siren (SRNN). Led by, Weiss Schnee! Congratulations!"

'I failed. Team RWBY is no more…'

Team Siren vacated the stage after applauding Weiss. They at least looked happy with the results, and Violet couldn't fault them for that. It was her new team's turn now.

"Violet Regalia, Yang Xiao Long, Blake Belladonna, and Ruby Rose. The four of you retrieved the white knight pieces. From this day forward, you shall work together as Team Vibrant (VYBR). Led by, Violet Regalia."

'Oh no, and I'm the leader… This couldn't get any worse…' Violet's eyes roamed the auditorium and she paused, 'No, scratch that. I could have ended up on team Cardinal somehow. I would rather be on a team by myself than with that bunch.'

Violet's team congratulated her and each other as well, but in that moment, she wasn't feeling particularly cheerful.

Chapter Text

It was already getting late in the evening when Ms. Goodwitch assigned them a dorm, gave them each their school approved apparel, and issued them personal Scrolls, capable of summoning their lockers and required to open their dorm rooms. Each of the four girls gathered their things and brought them to their room for the first time.

The room was very standard. Four beds with matching sheets, two desks with a small lamp apiece and small overhead shelves, and a single short book shelf set in front of the large window. There was one door beside the one they had came in from, leading into the open bathroom which was also light on furnishings. The light was off as Violet entered first, and she noted as she turned it on that you could control the brightness in the room. She went ahead and set it to max for the time being, but made a note of it, an idea flickering through her mind but shelved for later.

The other three were quick to file in as well. After the events of the day, even Yang seemed tired and none of them could keep a conversation going for more than a few sentences. Violet chose the bed against the left wall, resolving to wake up early in the morning and unpack then, and it seemed the others took her queue. They took turns changing in the bathroom, and were soon all lying in bed, letting themselves succumb to the dreams that clawed them into sweet unconsciousness.

 


 

Violet was the first to wake. She got up quietly to use the bathroom and changed into her new school uniform and freshened up. The uniform fit perfectly, and she couldn't help but give a small smile while she looked herself up and down in the mirror. She could make this work. It might not have gone as she'd planned, but then, not much seemed to anyway. All Violet could do was make the most out of it.

As she stepped back out into the room, she looked at the sleeping figures still lying in their respective beds. Yang laid flat on her back, snoring lightly, her hair spread out in every direction. Ruby was curled up, nearly into the fetal position, gripping her blanket tightly. Blake had taken up the wall opposite Violet's, and was drawn in towards the corner more than might have been comfortable for most people. Violet lips twinged towards a smile as she noticed the bow on her head twitching in her sleep. A small, almost imperceptible movement, but Violet didn't fail to catch it. She really would have to do something about that soon. It can't be nice having a delicate part of your body wrapped up like that all the time. Violet at least wanted Blake to be able to let loose in their dorm.

The sun was just starting to peek up over the horizon, and Violet realized she'd been staring in thought at the trio of girls for ten or so minutes. It was already seven in the morning, and with the renovations they were going to do, Violet wanted to make sure they had plenty of time before Port's first class. Blake was the first of the three to wake. Her head rose slowly up off her pillow, still looking towards the wall. Violet quickly turned back towards the desk behind her and scraped the chair back. She felt Blake's stare suddenly on the back of her head, but the intensity softened as Violet sat down and pulled up her bag of belongings, starting to rifle through them. Violet hadn't brought much with her from Atlas, only enough to last the first week of school before she'd be able to head down into Vale and buy some more permanent things. Even Blake had brought along more things than Violet had, but then again, they were probably all the things she owned. 'Did she rob a bookstore to get so many? I never pictured her running off with pockets stuffed with lien.'

There was a barely audible, "Good morning," from Blake as she let herself into the bathroom, closing the door before Violet could reciprocate. After a few minutes, Violet heard the shower turn on, and looked back towards the other two. Now was as good a time as any to get the day started. Violet left her bag sitting open, items strewn out across the desk as she stepped up between Yang and Ruby's bed. Violet pulled the curtain wide, letting in a flood of light that basked the room in a healthy glow.

Yang looked so peaceful, so serene, despite the snoring that is. 'It's almost a shame' Violet thought idly as she softly climbed up on to the other girl's bed, standing above her. The mattress dipped beneath her as she drew one foot back.

"Wakey, wakey!" Violet shouted, slamming her foot into Yang's exposed ribs. Yang awoke with a start, thrashing wildly in Violet's direction, surprising her. Between Yang grabbing at her legs, and the awkward shifting of the mattress beneath, Violet toppled off the bed backwards. She was saved a concussion from Ruby's bedpost thanks to her aura, as Ruby also bolted awake at the sound of her crashing to the floor.

"Ow! Violet! What was that for!?" Yang shouted, clutching at her side while shooting a death glare at where Violet lied on the floor, rubbing her head.

"Revenge," she replied darkly, but with a smile on her face, standing back up.

"W'as goin' on?" Ruby said half asleep, sitting up and rubbing her eyes.

Violet smiled and grabbed both her wrists, drawing them aside to look Ruby in the face, "It's the first day of Beacon, Little Red, and we all still need to unpack." Ruby's eyes widened and she hopped up out of bed excitedly, rushing to her things like it was Christmas morning. She spent a few minutes rummaging through her things before Blake opened the bathroom door, already fully dressed with her bow securely in place. Ruby blew past her, uniform in hand, petals scattering across the floor in her wake.

"Did your family sell bouquets with all these excess rose petals lying around?" Violet asked back towards Yang, idly picking up one of the petals. It fizzled away after a few seconds, "Bad deal for them if you did."

"Our dad was a teacher at Signal," Yang said roughly, getting out of bed as well. Her aura had already healed the sore spot on her chest, but she continued to play up the pain. Yang looked around for her own things and spotted them on one of the desks, moving that way. She grabbed her things and joined Ruby in the bathroom to change.

"What about you, Blake?" Violet asked good naturedly, crossing her arms and leaning back against the windowsill. She already knew the answer, but was curious to see what lie Blake would come up with.

Blake's shoulders drew up in defense, but she forcibly relaxed herself. She kept her eyes away from Violet, though, and started pulling books out of her pack to slide on to the shelf, "I don't know. I haven't seen my parents in a long time."

'Half lie, half truth.' Violet pondered. She lied down on Yang's bed, crossing her arms behind her head on the other girl's pillow and stared up at the ceiling, "My father owns a real estate company in Atlas, but he has property her in Vale as well. He does well with it, and my older brother makes him proud." Violet turned to look at Blake, who's expression was unreadable, "That life wasn't for me, though. Board meetings and legal documents and briefings, it was always too boring to hold my attention for long."

"Well you certainly escaped it. Becoming a huntress is as far as you could get from that," Blake replied evenly.

"Exactly!" Violet said, turning back to look at the ceiling, "I just had to get away from it all and make a difference in my own way."

Blake turned away, a thoughtful expression on her face as she finished up placing her books on the shelf. The door to the bathroom opened, and Yang stepped out with her arms wide, basking in imagined praise at how good she looked. Violet decided to humor her, and gave an appreciative wolf whistle, "Thank you, thank you!"

They spent the next half an hour unloading their things, and all came to the same conclusion. Their room was crammed to the brim, taking up the majority of the floor space and forcing their beds up against each other. Ruby jumped in with her idea of making bunk beds, and after another half hour, they'd cleared a considerable amount of space. Blake and Yang would sleep on the right side of the room, Blake on the top bunk and Yang on the lower, while Ruby and Violet shared the left side of the room, Ruby above and Violet below.

Violet looked at Ruby's bunk, bolted to the ceiling with ropes, 'Where'd she even find that stuff?' and noticed it swaying slightly. 'Yeah, I'm not gonna die in my sleep, crushed by Ruby's bed.' Violet directed a small iota of power into the bolts, securing them much more firmly, all the while making sure her eyes didn't light up. It seemed Yang had at least forgotten that line of questioning for the time being thanks to yesterday's events, and Violet was loathe to bring it back up again ahead of time. 'Which reminds me…'

"It's 8:45. Our class starts at 9. We should get ready and start heading that way," Violet told the room, making good on her own suggestion and grabbing her book and notebook. She slipped her Scroll into her pocket and held the door open for them all to file out with some resignation.

"Helloooooo~!" Nora's voice sang from the hallway in greeting as the first members of team Vibrant stepped out. Pyrrha gave a small wave from behind her, and Ren only nodded. It seemed Weiss had the same idea to leave early, as the group of eight headed towards class together.

"So, what class is first?" Yang asked, pounding her fists together expectantly.

"Grimm Studies with Professor Port," Weiss answered.

"What? When do we get to hit stuff?" Yang whined, her hands falling to her sides and shoulders slumping dramatically.

"That would be Ms. Goodwitch's combat class after lunch," Violet answered this time, smiling as Yang perked back up, only to sigh at Violet's next words, "Both of which are after Dr. Oobleck's history class."

The group continued to chat amongst each other, making introductions and commenting on each other's performance the day prior. They started complimenting and asking questions about everyone's weapons. Ruby was back in her element. Violet was happy to just listen in, already knowing as much as she needed about their weapons, before Ruby piped up, "And Violet's… what even was that!?'

All eyes turned towards her. Siren's fight against the Deathstalker had ended before Vibrant's, so they'd all gotten a good look at how the Nevermore had met its untimely demise. Violet shrugged. This wasn't anything she needed to hide, and it kept Yang distracted from her witch hunt. "It's a railgun. The coils inside produce a magnetic field. When I fire it, they turn on in sequence, firing the projectile through the force generated by the magnets. It takes an insane amount of lightning dust to power, causes a blow back of heat that took me months to figure out a work around to, and has to enter cooldown for about a minute afterwards while wind dust circulates out the excess heat. All things considered, the only thing it excels at killing are large Grimm. Not unless someone was dumb enough to stand there while I aimed it at them."

"Can you show me how to make the magnetic sequence thingy?" Ruby asked, wide eyes begging for Violet to say yes.

"It wouldn't work nearly as well without my semblance, Ruby," Violet laughed.

"Awww, why?" Ruby pouted. The rest turned to her with the same question on their minds. Or at least a few of them did. Weiss, Pyrrha, and Ren seemed to be following along, if still with some mild confusion. Yang, Blake, and Nora looked completely lost.

"Like I said, it generates a lot of heat. Before I fire it off, I use my semblance to transfer the weight from my greatsword down into the projectile. The extra forty pounds of mass adds some durability to it, in a way. If you tried to fire Zenith off without that, the projectile would liquefy instantly. All you would get is about twice the kick that it usually puts out exploding out the sides, and nothing would leave the barrel."

"At least we don't have to worry about someone stealing it to use against us in a fight," Pyrrha nodded along thoughtfully.

"That would certainly be a shock for them," Violet chuckled. The others that had been trying to follow along at least nodded at that last bit. Message received. Never try and fire Violet's gun.

They reached the classroom and all filed in. There were a couple teams that had gotten there ahead of them, but with five minutes left before class started they were hardly the last. Both teams took up places next to each other, Violet had Ruby on her left and Yang then Blake on her right. Professor Port was at the front of the class, writing on the chalkboard and waiting for the bell before he would start his lecture. The last team to get into the classroom was Cardinal, who took the seats a few rows behind them.

Violet noticed Ruby had already begun doodling on her paper next to her and bumped her with an elbow, "Hey, you're going to pay attention once class starts, right? You moved ahead two years. I don't want you falling even further behind."

Ruby hid away her half finished cartoonish drawing of Professor Port under the rest of her notebook and looked at Violet with a look of complete and utter innocence, "O-Of course!"

As the bell rang and Professor Port started his 'lecture', 'if you could really call it that', Ruby started zoning out. Her hand drifted towards the drawing whenever she thought Violet's focus was elsewhere, her feet drummed against the seat beneath her, her hands tapped against the desk in a poor attempt at a drum beat, and she huffed in discontentment every thirty seconds or so. Violet was so busy noticing all of Ruby's bored little ticks and antics that she didn't realize how much time had passed.

Professor Port shouted out a "Ho, oh!" and looked over the class, "So, who among you believes themselves to be the embodiment of a true huntress?"

Violet kicked Ruby's leg under the desk and gave her a meaningful look. Ruby's hand shot up, but her voice immediately wilted under the attention, "Uh, me?..."

"Well then, let's find out! Step forward, and face your opponent!" Port gestured off to his right with a wave of his hand, to an ominous looking black steel cage that began to rattle and huff.

Ruby leaned over to whisper to Violet, a quiver in her voice, "Uhm, why am I doing this!?"

"So you can blow off some energy. It's just a boarbatusk, go play," Violet said, shooing the girl out of her seat with a push to get her moving, "You'll be fine."

Ruby nervously left to get her weapon, taking a bit longer than necessary to return. Ruby's cheeks immediately heated at all the attention she was getting from the class, all eyes turned towards either her or the cage off in the corner of the room. Violet gave her two thumbs up. Yang started cheering loudly for her little sister. Even Blake was getting into the mood, and gave Ruby a confident nod when their eyes met.

Port hefted his blunderbuss axe, and Ruby's eyes focused on the cage across the room from her. The red in her cheeks started to recede as determination grew in its place. With a mighty swing, the axe came crashing down, shattering the lock off the cage. The cage shook as the boarbatusk's bulk shot out a few steps, surprisingly spry for its size. Red eyes stared at Ruby, the target of its aggression after being locked away in a cage for god knows how long. With a sound that was half squeal, half growl, it charged forward.

Ruby fired off a shot from Crescent Rose, but the bullet ricocheted off the bones covering its front side. She was forced to dodge, rolling to her right as the boarbatusk blew past her, left tusk missing her by only a few inches. Ruby shifted her weapon to its scythe form, leveling it behind herself and lowering to the ground, readying herself for its second pass. The boarbatusk stopped ten feet away, spinning in place to face Ruby again, snuffling in annoyance. It curled in on itself, spinning faster and faster before shooting towards Ruby.

This time, Ruby utilized her semblance, waiting even longer before deftly zipping out of the way of the approaching creature. With a yelp, the boarbatusk crashed into Port's desk, falling into a heap on its back. Ruby took her chance, blurring back in, and with a single flourish, slammed the point of Crescent Rose down into the boarbatusk's stomach. It squealed in pain, then went limp, its body already starting to disintegrate.

Yang shouted, "Yeah!" from among the spectators, many of which started clapping, drawing Ruby back into the present where she was now the sole focus of the class. Thankfully, Port spoke up then, "Ho, oh! It looks like we are indeed in the presence of a true huntress in training! I'm afraid that's all the time we have for today!" Port then continued, listing off some pages that they would need to read before tomorrow, and excusing them from the class.

They had fifteen minutes before they would have to get to Oobleck's class. Violet, Yang, and Blake caught up with Ruby outside in the hallway as she was walking back to the locker rooms to put away Crescent Rose. Violet gave Ruby a smile and playfully hugged her around the shoulders with one arm, "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"No-o," Ruby struggled out, and Violet grinned at the rosiness to her cheeks, "It was just embarrassing."

"Oh, don't be so dramatic," Yang tapped Ruby on the shoulder with her fist, "You did fine."

"And if that's how you react to one measly fight with a boarbatusk, then how are you going to get through sparring in Ms. Goodwitch's class?" Violet felt Ruby's knees buckle and supported her with her arm wrapped around her, "You forgot the people were even there once the fight started. I'm sure it will be the same for combat class." Ruby cheered up a little at that. She did act differently as soon as the fight started.

With Ruby's weapon safely stowed back in her locker, the four of them headed to Oobleck's class. The man was silently standing behind his desk, taking the occasional sip from his coffee mug and eyeing each student that stepped into the class. Violet gave the man a small smile and headed over to go sit with her team. On the inside, she shuddered. This was undoubtedly going to be the most boring class to have to take. 'History lessons? I watched it all pass with my own eyes…' Violet huffed, leaning forward with crossed arms on the table in front of her and resting her chin down on them. It was times like these that Violet wished she really could find comfort in sleep.

As the bell rang and the class officially started, Violet let her mind wander completely. Moments like these were why her and her brother never connected much. Peri was only interested in talking about things that Violet wasn't interested in, and when she was bored, her mind tended to wander to the extreme. Violet began to reminisce of times long gone, when she had been on adventures with different people, in different worlds, as a different person. It was enough to keep her entertained. She noted with pleasure that at least Ruby was paying attention, the fight had let out some of the girl's pent up energy, and now she was following along with the history lesson Professor Oobleck was regaling them with. The man darted back and forth across the front of the class, coffee having kicked in, and never let up on his verbal tirade.

Violet was dimly aware of when Oobleck started asking the class questions, the most familiar of which finally coming about as he turned to Cardin, "Mr. Winchester, what advantage did the faunus have over General Lagoon's forces?"

"Well, I know it's a lot easier to train an animal, than a soldier," Cardin replied with obvious disdain. There was a general intake of breath around the room, the students and even Oobleck appearing uncertain about where to take the conversation from there. Oobleck sipped his coffee and looked like he was about to say something before Violet interjected.

"Trash like you would judge someone before you got to know them," Violet surprised herself as she spoke. She hadn't been paying any mind to the conversation, and knew what Cardin was going to say ahead of time. Something about it irked her more than she thought it would, though. Perhaps it was the years spent with Henna that fueled her rage, but the comment had made her angry. Violet turned around to glare at Cardin as he spoke, "What? You got a problem?"

"Yeah, you could say that," Violet fumed.

"That's enough," Oobleck interjected, "Ms. Regalia, do you have the answer?"

Violet thought back to the Battle of Fort Castle, and what parts of the battle likely hadn't been put into their textbooks. She could see the reason, plain as day, and smirked. 'This oughta get under his skin.'

"While General Lagoon was an idiot for attacking the faunus at night, he still had the edge due to both better weaponry, and a vast amount of soldiers at his disposal. Bullets don't need to see in the dark to kill you, after all, and with his soldiers laying down a heavy amount of suppressive fire on the walls of the fort, the faunus were essentially boxed in. Fortunately for the faunus, they weren't idiots. They had already captured two separate reconnaissance groups from the previous week, and outfitted themselves with their clothing to sneak into General Lagoon's ranks. When they were successful and captured the General, they forced the soldiers to stand down. One brave group of faunus changed the tides of the battle, and won them the day."

Violet continued quickly before she could be interrupted, wanting to push her final point home, "The books won't mention this because they were written by humans, and for them, it's better to make the battle sound like it was lost by the humans because of a simple mistake that can be corrected, and not won by the faunus for their ingenuity and courage. Even when they lose, humans still write the history books."

"May I ask how you came about this information, Ms. Regalia?" Dr. Oobleck asked, not disbelieving of her, just genuinely curious.

Violet had to lie, but what she said before was still the truth, "One of my maids was a faunus whose grandfather was at the Battle of Fort Castle. It's secondhand knowledge, but I trust her more than I do these books."

"Indeed, I cannot blame you. The victors have a history of, well, rewriting history, and humanity did prevail in the end," Dr. Oobleck gave her a smile, "Perhaps we could speak another time, and you could divulge any other information you have that might prove to, educate," he looked at Cardin as he said it, "our students more effectively."

Violet laughed at Cardin's expense, but didn't turn around to acknowledge his glare, "I would love to teach you a lesson." She obviously didn't mean Dr. Oobleck.

Cardin was positively seething with rage as the bell rang. Oobleck called up to him, telling him to stay after class, and Violet left with her team and team Siren. Violet didn't fail to catch the approving look that both Pyrrha and Blake were sending her way. She hadn't really planned on any of that to make them like her more, Cardin had just pissed her off.

Their group headed to the lunch room, a few comments were said at Cardin's expense as they walked. It took a bit longer for Violet to notice Weiss hanging back, doubt creeping across her face. "What's up?" Violet asked, slowing down to let the others pass and sidling up next to the girl.

"Did you really mean those things you said? You almost sounded like a faunus supremacist, back there," Weiss said, looking askance at Violet, confusion clear on her face, "Are you a faunus?"

"Would I have to be, to think people deserve respect, no matter what extra parts they might have? We're all still the same in here, Weiss," Violet ended by pointing at Weiss's chest, right about where her heart would be.

"But, groups like the White Fang-" Weiss started before getting cut off by Violet.

"Are doing the only thing they can to try and change their lot in life. What do you think would be the result of poor education, blatant racism, and denial of any faunus representation in the systems of government that create laws specifically catered to keeping the faunus down?" Violet tried to help Weiss hear the truth in her words, "The only faunus in a position of power I know of, outside Menagerie, is Headmaster Lionheart in Haven, and he only got there because he had the full backing of Ozpin."

Violet could see the uncertainty twisting Weiss's face. Weiss looked at Violet, sadness in her eyes and asked, "Do you hate me for being a Schnee?"

Violet gave a warm hearted laugh and smacked Weiss lightly across the back of her head, "Were you not paying attention? I meant it when I said you shouldn't judge someone before you get to know them. Call me an optimist, but I don't think you would go cheap on security and send faunus to risk their deaths in the Schnee mines just to protect the company's precious profit margins."

Weiss's face became resolute as she stared ahead, "No. No I wouldn't."

"Well, there you have it. If I might suggest, the next time you get the chance, maybe talk to a faunus. Get to know them. Their dreams and ambitions, their life experiences… You might be surprised by how logical it all sounds when compared to what they've been through."

Weiss smiled at her and nodded, "Thank you. I… I just might do that."

It wasn't until then that Violet saw Blake's bow twitching wildly.

 


 

Lunch passed uneventfully, everyone seemed to be excited about their first combat class with Ms. Goodwitch. Ruby made the mistake of revealing that she'd met Ms. Goodwitch before Beacon, and ended up having to field questions from around the table. Sure, they'd all seen Ms. Goodwitch around the school and at initiation, but to see her fight?

They quieted down once lunch ended and they left for combat class. They opened the doors to be greeted with a small half-coliseum. The raised seats looked down on the arena stage, lit from above by several spotlights. Off to the side of the stage, two separate doors each led to their respective girl's and boy's locker rooms. All the various first year teams filled in only a small portion of the available seating, the excess reserved for when students from other kingdoms visited for the Vytal Festival and Tournament.

Once they had all settled down in their seats, Ms. Goodwitch herself stepped out of a back room that connected to the stage. 'Probably leads to her office,' Violet thought absentmindedly. She giggled when all the assembled students leaned forward, on to the edge of their seats, but stopped when she felt herself pressed up against the rail in front of her as well. 'This is where the fun begins.'

Ms. Goodwitch gave them a rundown on how the sparring sessions would work. She pointed to the large screen behind her, where currently only her aura bar showed, "Once a fighter's aura has reached the yellow, the spar is over. Anyone can demand a fight once per week. Aside from those, I will be delegating out the matches, trying to find good combinations of opponents to help both students learn from the experience. The record of your performances will be catalogued, and at the end of the semester you will be given a grade that shows your current standing compared to the rest of the class. Are there any questions?"

A few hands raised slowly, but none were nearly as fierce as the hand that Cardin shot up, as he physically stood up from his seat as well.

"Yes, Mr. Winchester?"

"I want to fight her," Cardin said vehemently, pointing a shaking finger in Violet's direction.

Violet laughed and said aloud so that the whole class would hear it, "I've never seen someone so eager to sign their death warrant. Would you like to write your obituary out in advance, too?"

"You think you're so tough!?" Cardin's face turned beet red as he seethed with rage.

"No, I just think you're that weak."

Cardin looked like he was ready to throw himself over the seats to get to her. The rest of team Cardinal tensed, raising a hair from where they sat. Violet felt more than saw the rest of team Vibrant do the same. 'That would just be a massacre,' Violet mused.

They were all interrupted by Ms. Goodwitch's voice from the arena below, "Very well, Mr. Winchester. It sounds like the two of you need to solve this little spat in the arena. Both of you suit up. I want you back out here within the next five minutes."

Cardin rushed off to the locker room to grab his things. Violet stood and gave a smirk to her teammates and Siren, before heading to the changing room as well. She changed into her fighting attire and stuck Zenith to her back. When she stepped back out, Cardin was already there standing on the opposite side of the arena, his ridiculous mace resting at his side in a white knuckle grip. Violet grinned anew at the flicker of uncertainty that crossed Cardin's face when he noticed the massive greatsword strapped to her back. The doubt only increased when Glynda turned to Violet and said in no uncertain terms, "I hope it is understood that your gun form will not be allowed during any of your spars in this class, Ms. Regalia."

"Like I would waste a shot on him, anyway. Do you know how much it costs to make compact lightning dust?"

"I would assume it isn't cheap, Ms. Regalia," Glynda replied tightly and stepped back, "You will begin at the sound of the buzzer. Prepare yourselves."

Cardin raised his mace up threateningly, at which Violet just scoffed and pulled Zenith off her back. Violet's weapon had at least thirty pounds on the mace, and she could move Zenith much faster than he could his weapon. Just as a demonstration, she gave it a few flourishes, making sure to showcase how truly weightless it must feel for her. Cardin tensed and shifted his body, ready to attack at a moment's notice. Violet made herself light-of-foot.

The buzzer went off, and Cardin charged forward through the intervening ten feet that had separated them. 'Your biggest advantage is the range that you can maintain with your greatsword. It has a longer reach than most other weapons. Always keep your enemies at bay until you want to close the distance.' Pepper's instructions rang through Violet's head once again. She kept a close eye on Cardin's movement, paying attention to the rhythm of his feet. Cardin at least wasn't inept enough to leave himself wide open in his opening move, but he was trying to close the gap, thinking to overwhelm Violet quickly.

The instant Cardin stepped within range of her greatsword, she lashed out. He was caught midstep, incapable of backing off, and was instead forced to throw his mace up between them to shield his chest from the greatsword's path. Violet dumped the weight back into Zenith right as it connected with Cardin's mace, the resulting 'clang!' knocking his guard wide open as his arm was pulled back by the weight of his own mace, forced to do so if he wanted to keep his grip on it. Following up with her momentum, Violet spun and arced Zenith high above her head before lashing downwards. Cardin tried to recover, his front foot pushing off to get back out of Violet's range, but she simply stepped further into the swing. Cardin yelled as he threw his other hand up, taking the brunt of the hit to his forearm and getting flung backwards. 'Don't back off when you have them on the run.'

Cardin had the battle sense at least to turn his fall into a roll, managing to get his feet under himself and start to stand, but what he lacked was awareness. His eyes had been off Violet for too long during the roll. His head came up, eyes widening as Zenith slammed against his chest, Violet having followed up her move with a calculated lunge meant to catch him right at that moment.

Cardin backed off, recovering from the sudden onslaught, now in a defensive stance, warily keeping his distance from Violet. His aura was already in the orange. One or two more hits, and he would be out of the fight. Violet considered her prey. His stance was awkward, imperfect. Violet could tell that he wasn't used to being beaten back, but was likely used to being the one doing the beating. As such, he didn't have much practice in defending himself.

Violet withdrew all the mass she could from herself and her greatsword, bending her knees in preparation for a dash into his guard. Cardin sensed the change, and shifted to keep his mace between the two of them. Violet lunged at him, bringing Zenith down towards Cardin's head in one hand. He brought his mace up, using both hands to stop the greatsword on the metal haft. His face turned into one of confusion, though, as Zenith lacked the power it had before. Violet let that arm remain high, keeping his attention on the big threatening sword above him as she dipped under his arms.

Violet transferred the weight from her entire body and Zenith into the left jab she slammed into his stomach. Cardin's breath exploded out, his arms going limp as he brought them down to clutch his abdomen. Violet took that moment to slide Zenith down his guard as she slipped past him, and with another burst of weight into her greatsword, slashed it across his back in one heavy swing that sent him reeling forward onto the ground.

"Stop!" Ms. Goodwitch called out, stepping in to make sure Violet didn't continue the attack. She needn't have worried. Violet took that moment to put Zenith on her back and turned to face the roars of her teammates and team Siren. 'Lesson learned, I hope.'

Chapter Text

Blake was more confused than she might have ever been in her life, and feeling so very lucky because of it. This rich girl from Atlas, her own teammate, that grew up with private tutors and maids, living in some mansion on top of the floating city high above the rest of the common folk beneath, was unlike anyone she imagined someone from there would be. There had been the time in the ballroom before initiation, where Violet had given her total privacy despite lying only five feet from her, and even managed to tip her off about Yang being a capable partner. 'Even if there's no way she could have known I was cautious of her at first.'

Then they had ended up on the same team, and in the first morning, the girl had stared at her three teammates as they slept. Blake had woken up easily at the first sounds of Violet getting out of bed. She felt more than saw the girl watching them, but waited to see what Violet was going to do before she herself got up. The girl had just sighed longingly, and hid the fact she was staring at them when Blake herself started to move.

And that single comment by the racist had set Violet off, causing her to rant out details that had been left out of the history books about the faunus 'victory' over the humans. There'd been no doubt in Violet's voice, and no edge of regret that the humans had lost. She had sounded proud of the faunus, and threw that fact in Cardin's face, outright condemning him for his beliefs. 'And then backing it up with her actions, when she kicked his ass in Goodwitch's class later.'

But most baffling of all, was how the girl had so easily subverted the Schnee's attitude, and even gotten her to agree to have an actual heart to heart with a faunus. 'A Schnee!' Violet had quickly and concisely pointed out the issue at the center of the White Fang's increased aggression, better than Blake herself could have worded it.

It was just all so confusing. Blake had never met a human that would go so far to protect the faunus. If it wasn't outright racism at their expense, then it was the cold shoulder, the refusal to help no matter how a faunus was beat or berated.

Blake's three teammates were all in the room currently, going about their own business. Violet was sitting at the desk nearest the door, head slumped on her hand while she slowly filled out her history homework. She hadn't even bothered to open up her textbook, and was just filling in answers to the questions on the sheet. Despite her bored expression, she laughed every now and then as she filled in some detail, sounding like she had more insight to share with Oobleck that would make the man's eyebrows reach his hairline.

Violet had also reigned in Ruby when they arrived back at the dorm. Ruby had been wanting to play games on her Scroll, but Violet told the child in no uncertain terms that she needed to do her homework first. Ruby had grumbled initially, but eventually sat down at another one of the desks and started pouring over the information in the textbook. Yang sat next to her, both of them working together through the questions that the younger girl was struggling with. Every now and then, one of them would shoot a question off to Violet, and she'd just mutter the answer back. Never giving them the entire explanation, but just enough that it seemed like they were able to find what they were looking for in the textbook more easily.

Violet finished with her work first and pulled out her Scroll, connecting to some website and idly reading through the text there. Yang and Ruby finally finished fifteen minutes later, both of them sharing a yawn and calling it a night. They changed into their pajamas and crawled into bed, each spending a few last minutes on their Scrolls before truly falling asleep.

Blake sat up in her top bunk, reading one of the books she had bought before coming into Beacon. Blake wasn't exactly the best off financially, but as long as she could afford food, then the extra lien in her account could be spent however she chose, and she chose books, every single time. There was a scrape of Violet's chair being pushed back, and Blake thought she might be heading to bed as well, but instead she leaned against the wall next to the door, her right arm twisted back behind her in a way that Blake doubted was very comfortable. Even so, the girl stayed that way for half an hour.

Blake glanced at her every now and then from over the top of her book, keeping a curious eye on her. Blake couldn't fail to notice the delicate grin that slowly worked its way on to Violet's face. 'Was she reading something funny on her Scroll?' The small snores of Yang continued, and with her hearing, Blake could tell Ruby was fast asleep as well. Blake kept reading. She was starting to get tired, but until the enigma at the door went to sleep, Blake was content to stay up.

As time passed, Blake's vision started to grow a little fuzzier. 'I must be more tired than I thought.' As long as Violet was up, though, Blake would be to. There was something that felt off, though. Some imperceptible change in the air that she couldn't quite put her finger on. 'I need to sleep soon,' she said to herself, and glanced at Violet again. Her gaze stopped dead on Violet's eyes, as the girl was grinning at her maliciously.

 


 

Violet stepped away from the wall, where her right hand had slowly been lowering the light level in the room for the last thirty minutes until the light had gone out completely. Violet had given it another five minutes before finally smiling up at Blake, who stopped mid-glance the next time she looked up from her book.

"Oh my, Blake. You know it's bad for your eyes to read in the dark," Violet laughed lightly. It was too dark to see Blake's face, but she was dimly aware of the girl's body freezing up. Step one of her mission, 'Reveal Blake's Secret' was a success.

 


 

'What? Reading in the dark? But the light was...' Blake froze as she got a good look around the room and realized what had felt wrong. The room's light was out. Her night vision had kicked in over time, and she had been so wrapped up in her thoughts and her book that she'd failed to notice the telltale signs before it was too late. Violet grinned up at her in the dark, likely incapable of actually seeing Blake's expression with her human eyes. If Violet could, she would have seen Blake's eyes narrow.

"How did you know?" she whispered suspiciously, not wanting to wake up Yang or Ruby and include them in the secret. There was a dangerous edge to her voice. A warning to Violet that she better have an acceptable answer, or else. Blake's body tensed where she sat, ready to move if need be.

Violet waved her hand offhandedly, "I had a few faunus maids growing up, Blake. There were a few hints, here and there. This was just the final test."

'Hints?' Blake had been so careful. She had been trained by the White Fang to disguise herself well, blending in with humans, perfecting their mannerisms, all the better to go by undetected. "Like what?" she finally asked, giving Violet a cold stare that the girl still couldn't see.

"Oh, just the little things. Changing into your sleepwear but refusing to ever take your bow off was the first sign. Aren't your ears uncomfortable under that thing all day?" Violet replied nonchalantly, leaning against Blake and Yang's bed post.

'They were aching.' Blake had hoped to get used to the bow holding her ears in place, but it was always uncomfortable if left on for too long. She reached up with a trembling hand and pulled the bow off, feeling immediate relief after the tension that had been there all day.

"Better?" Violet grinned, tilting her head questioningly.

"Better," Blake admitted quietly, laying the bow down on her bedside, "So what now?"

"I just wanted you to be more comfortable. You can relax around us, ya know?" Violet said, giving her a soft smile, "I'll let you tell them on your own time if you want, but Yang and Ruby are both nice girls. Trust me when I say, their opinion of you won't change in the slightest when they find out."

Blake looked thoughtfully over at Ruby, and bent over her bed to spare an eye down at Yang. Both of the girls were still apparently asleep, none the wiser to the quiet conversation taking place. They were nice girls. Blake had noticed them both getting annoyed with Cardin's attitude, and both had cheered more than was necessary when he'd been so soundly defeated in the arena. 'Could it be?' Had she lucked out completely, getting a team of humans that really wouldn't treat her differently because of her faunus heritage? A soft smile of her own played across her lips.

"Well, it's up to you. You can trust me not to share your secret with anyone before you do," Violet said, giving Blake's leg a tentative, but soothing touch. Blake felt the tension flood out of her. She believed Violet. How could she not after her fierce displays in defense of the faunus? The girl left, lying down in her own bed across the room and turning away to face the wall. Blake's acute hearing was the only reason she could hear Violet's last words before the girl's head sunk into her pillow.

"Just give it some thought, okay? You can trust all of us to have your back."

Blake stayed up for a while longer, mind going over all the events of the last couple days with a fine toothed comb. None of her teammates actions or words would suggest a secret dislike for the faunus. Could she really trust them, just like that? So soon after initiation, before they'd gotten to know her as a person? Blake smiled longingly despite herself. She really did believe she could trust Violet, and if Violet had faith in Yang and Ruby…

Blake rolled over on to her side. She quietly tucked her bow away and relaxed into her bed, a great calm forcefully smothering her anxiety. She would trust a human... for the first time... in a long time. Sleep came within moments as a gentle purr escaped her chest.

 


 

Yang cracked her eyes open at the sound of the shower turning on through the wall next to her. She stifled a yawn, arching her back and raising her arms above her head where she lay before sitting up a little and looking around the room. Violet was already up, leaning back in one of the chairs with her feet up on the desk, rocking back and forth while she played with her Scroll. She was humming a song that Yang didn't recognize, but every now and then she'd part her lips and half-sing, "I buurrnn!"

Ruby was still sleeping, her body sprawled out across her bed hanging from the ceiling, one leg threatening to dangle off. Yang slipped out of bed and stretched again, this time managing to pop her back in all the right places. Violet glanced her way and gave a hearty, "Good morning, sunshine!" before she turned back to her Scroll and resumed her humming.

"What, no pleasant kick to wake me up in the morning? Don't you love me anymore?" Yang joked breathlessly, throwing a hand up towards her chest while she pretended to be offended.

"You can thank your bunk for that," Violet joked along, shaking her head at the great loss.

Yang placed a hand on Blake's bed above her own and nodded her head solemnly, mouthing an appreciative 'Thank you' before walking over and pushing Ruby's leg back up on to her bed. The girl awoke with a start, silver eyes glancing Yang's way from underneath black and red bangs. She groaned and flipped over, "Not yet, Yang! I was just about to rescue the princess!"

"Don't you mean prince?" Yang laughed, "I didn't know my sister swung that way."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ruby grumbled into her pillow, "The hero always saves the maiden."

"And what does the fair maiden do in return?"

"Gives the hero a favor or something, I don't know," Ruby sighed and turned back over, looking up at the ceiling, eyes vacant as she tried to recall the dream that had so easily slipped from memory.

"While she's down on both knees-" Violet started but was interrupted as a pillow smacked into the back of her head.

"Don't listen to her, Ruby. The guys are the ones that go down on one knee, to ask for the woman's hand in marriage before they do anything else," Yang flared, eyes flickering red.

"Like kissing?" Ruby asked in horror, eyes going wide.

"Like kissing," Yang agreed. Violet just laughed and resumed rocking back and forth on her chair.

They were interrupted by the door to the bathroom opening. Blake stepped out, clothed in only some shorts and a tank top that showed off her belly. Her hand froze on top of her head, where she had still been toweling off her hair, eyes going wide. Blake looked nervously between the three of them, before her eyes finally settled on Violet. Violet's face was unreadable, but it seemed like some message passed between the two. Blake stepped further out of the bathroom, catching the eye of both Ruby and Yang, expression both serious and determined.

All eyes were on Blake as she stepped within five feet of Yang, eyes glancing off to the side in unease for a final second, before she slowly pulled the towel down off her head, and two cat ears popped up out.

Yang let out an impressed, "Cool," that made Blake's ears seem to perk up, before they flattened as Ruby's shrill young voice rang out from behind Yang, "Ohmygodthey'resocuuuuuuute!"

"Ruby! Calm down a little, okay?" Violet chastised from where she was sitting. Yang noticed that the girl had a small smile on her face, and looked at Blake with… pride? Admiration? Yang couldn't quite place it, but something had passed between the two right before this.

"I mean they are," Ruby said in her own defense, eyes still staring at Blake's head. Her fingers slowly twitched forward, despite Blake being well out of her reach.

The uncertainty that had been on Blake's face vanished, replaced with a genuine smile that started small and crept outwards, eventually reaching her eyes, as just the tiniest hint of wetness appeared in them but was dashed away when she blinked.

"Alright, Yang. Your turn," Violet said, drawing Yang's attention to her.

"What do you mean, my turn?" Yang asked uncertainly.

"Your deepest, darkest secret. Blake was brave enough to share hers just now, and you're next. Then Ruby, then Blake again, then you again," Violet spun her chair to face away from the three but then straddled it to keep looking their direction.

Yang's eyes narrowed in suspicion, "I can't help but notice your name missing from that list, Ms. Purple Fire Eyes."

"Eh, no secret there. Must have been a trick of the light," Violet dodged the question as she nodded sagely and looked back to her, "Your turn."

"I don't have any deep, dark secrets," Yang replied with a growl. 'I am still looking for my mother," but that was less a secret and more just something she... didn't tell anybody.

"Really? That's a boring backstory," Violet leaned her chin on her hands, using the backrest of the chair for support, "What about you, Ruby?"

"No-o… I'm pretty normal," Ruby half stuttered, eyes still locked on to Blake's ears. Blake noticed that Ruby was still staring and narrowed her eyes at her, earning her a small 'eep!' as her hand fell back to her lap.

"Looks like it's just you and me, Blake," Violet sighed, turning to face her, "We'll have to carry the team in the mystery department."

"Ms. Purple fire eyes?" Blake asked, latching on to what Yang had said.

Violet tried to wave it off, "Yang is under the impression that I can blow up Grimm with my mind or something. She just watched too many cartoons growing up."

"I know what I saw," Yang said fiercely, then recounted the important parts of the story to Blake.

Blake stared at Violet's eyes with newfound interest, who's eyes in turn went wide, "Uhh, curiosity killed the cat, Blake."

"But satisfaction brought it back," Blake finished the line, grinning widely.

 


 

The girls presented a united front against Violet, attempting to bore the answer out of her very soul, if they needed to. Violet laughed hesitantly and stood up, "Right, time for a shower."

Ruby blurred across the room and slammed the bathroom door shut.

"How about breakfast?"

Blake appeared in front of the door to the hall, her clone vanishing from where she had stood a second earlier as she locked the door behind her.

"A walk in the gardens, then."

Yang closed the window.

'Damn, I should have started with the window,' Violet sighed. She sat back down, in clear view of all three other girls. They visibly relaxed, but did not move from their positions. 'Okay, forcing my hand, here. I need to come up with an excuse. Gotta give myself time to think.'

"Spill it," Yang demanded.

Violet hesitated, trying to come up with something that would distract them while she could think, and sighed, "It was actually my identical twin?"

"Then how did you recognize us on the first day?" Yang scoffed.

"She told me everything she could before dying from a terminal illness."

"And you have the same name," Ruby inserted.

"I took her name to honor her memory as the older twin."

Blake rolled her eyes in disbelief.

Violet sighed and muttered under her breath, "I bet it wasn't this bad for Jinn." Violet cursed herself immediately after, realizing she'd made a mistake the moment it slipped from her lips, as Blake asked in pure self-satisfaction, "Who's Jinn?"

Violet was annoyed that she had given up such a dangerous name, and shouted out "My dead sister!". She was still trying to by time, but the anger at herself seemed to seep through, causing the girls to believe it was directed at them. The mood grew somber in the room as the trio looked uncertainly between one another.

"Is… was that stuff actually true?" Yang asked quietly, a slight tremble to her words.

Violet stayed silent, thinking it over. 'Could this work to get them off my back?' She hardly believed the girls would press further if she told them it was the truth. Add a little conviction, a little sadness around the eyes, and end it all sounding heartbroken. She could pull it off. The drawbacks? Violet tried to think of ways that it could go wrong by making the girls believe it, but… she couldn't see a way that it would backfire. If it got them to stop asking, to go back to thinking she was just another normal girl, then it would be worth letting them believe a little white lie...

Violet used the extended silence to her advantage, and made sure to not look any of them in the eye as she spoke, "Y… yes. What you saw was my sister's semblance… she... died, a long time ago." Violet put the weight of countless losses from previous lives into her voice. The real deaths that had left her a broken mess for days afterwards, and stood up to walk to the bathroom. She refused to bite back the sadness, and with a few tears welling in her eyes, pushed past the shocked form of Ruby, "I'll be taking that shower now… I'll meet you guys in class."

Violet sighed as the door closed, leaning back against it as she heard the other girls get changed and eventually shuffle out. Her plan had worked out well enough. There were gaps in logic. How would her sister's name be Jinn if Violet said she'd taken her name? After a performance like that though, she doubted they would bring it up with her again.

But, if it had worked out so well… then why was she still crying?...

 


 

Weiss sat at the cafeteria table in between her teammates, her left dominant hand tasked with scraping food off her plate, and her right hand idly flipping through her history textbook. 'It really doesn't have any specifics on how General Lagoon was captured in here.' Weiss's team was enjoying a comfortable silence as they ate, a rarity when you had Nora on your team. The girl in question was busy vacuuming down a plate full of pancakes, though, and Weiss was loathe to interrupt the peaceful atmosphere.

Movement near the door caught her eye, as three quarters of team Vibrant slumped into the hall, in a silent mood that looked anything but comfortable. They went through the lunch line, and headed in Siren's direction, giving a half-hearted greeting and sitting in their usual spots.

None of them ate. Blake didn't bother touching her tray, Yang absentmindedly pushed around some peas, and Ruby held one cookie in front of her for a minute before shoving it back away from her.

"Alright, what's wrong?" Weiss was forced to ask, as Pyrrha nudged her, getting Weiss to speak for the group. 'Why me?'

"We did something awful," Ruby replied quietly, giving her cookie a death glare.

"It still doesn't make sen-" Yang began but was firmly cut off by Ruby..

"Stop."

"But-" Yang tried to speak up.

"No, Yang! You didn't see her face. She was crying. Like, really crying," Ruby said furiously, cutting Yang off again. The older sister drooped, setting down her fork and leaning against her fist, propped up by the table.

"Are you talking about Violet? What did you guys do?" Weiss asked cautiously.

"We… forced her to talk about something she didn't want to," Blake replied sadly, one hand subconsciously messing with the bow atop her head.

"And you made her cry?" Weiss asked vehemently, staring across the group from one person to the other.

"We didn't think it would go down like that!" Yang said angrily, defending herself, "She's always so happy or playful. I didn't even think Violet could be sad."

"The saddest people are often the best at hiding it, even from themselves," Ren said to no one in particular. He gave a small smile to Nora as her hand reached up and gripped his shoulder, the two sharing a look that Weiss couldn't hope to understand.

"We... don't exactly feel great about it," Yang admitted.

'You don't say,' Weiss thought. As if their entire demeanor didn't shout 'regret!'

Her next words were cut off as a startled gasp echoed through the dining hall, followed by the clattering of a tray laden with food that was sent skittering across the floor, its contents flying off every which way.

"Watch where you're going!" Cardin shouted down at the rabbit faunus on the ground in front of him. For good measure, his foot drew back and he kicked what was left of the girl's drink into her, splattering milk across her uniform and face before turning to walk off.

"CARDIN WINCHESTER!" Weiss shouted, standing up from the bench, face flushed with indignation as she stormed directly up to him, staring up into his sneering face.

"Why does a Schnee care if I put a stupid faunus in its place?" he taunted angrily.

Weiss's hand twitched towards her hip. She desperately wanted to stab him right then, but she didn't have Myrtenaster, so instead, Weiss calmed herself down enough to speak coherently and with as much acidity as she could possibly muster. "I'm only going to warn you, once. Do you see the group at the table behind me?" Weiss waited for him to glance that direction before continuing, "Every. Single. One of us, is stronger than you. If you do something like this again, we will make the next four years of your time at this school hell. There are seven of us. We could challenge you in combat class, every day, and never get in trouble for the pain we would cause you."

Cardin's face paled as he looked between Weiss and the group at the table. He hesitated, starting to open his mouth and let out some false bravado, but cut off as Nora, Ren, Ruby, Blake, Yang, and Pyrrha stood up at once, each directing their deadliest glare in his direction.

He turned fearful eyes to Weiss, shakily nodded once, and left the dining hall.

Weiss waited until he was gone before turning her attention down to the faunus that was still lying on the ground, dumbstruck by the entire event. Weiss reached a hand down, offering it to the girl, and she took it, letting Weiss help pull her to her feet. Weiss pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket and gave it to the girl, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Let me escort you back to your dorm," Weiss said calmly, using the hand on the girl's shoulder to guide her past the mess and towards the dining hall doors. The girl let Weiss walk her away, and then took the lead slightly as Weiss had no idea where her dorm room actually was.

"I'm sorry that happened," Weiss said sadly, breaking the silence a minute after they left the cafeteria.

"It wasn't your fault," the girl giggled. Her ears raised off her head a little at the comment, though.

"My name is Weiss," she went on, "May I ask your name?"

"Velvet. Velvet Scarlatina."

"It's nice to meet you, Velvet. If Cardin ever gives you trouble again, even the smallest comment at your expense, I want you to come tell me," Weiss's voice burned with a newly discovered ferocity that she hadn't known she was capable of.

"I'm… surprised that a Schnee would help me," Velvet admitted timidly.

Weiss's breath caught in her throat, "I'm… more than just a name."

"I can see that now," Velvet agreed, directing them down another hallway.

"Do you… have to go through that a lot?" Weiss asked, now the one with timidity in her voice.

Velvet just nodded, but at Weiss's expression, clarified it for her, "Not many people are as outright racist as Cardin, but there are... enough. And I can't hide my faunus trait as easily as a lot of others. I've been forced to deal with people like Cardin my whole life." It was the way she said it so casually, making the abuse sound like such a common occurrence, that tore at Weiss's heart strings. They were getting to the end of the hallway. Velvet's steps picked up, likely not wanting to waste time getting out of the wet uniform.

Weiss let her arm go as Velvet used her Scroll to unlock the door at the end of the hall. She opened it, but paused, one foot already inside, and looked back at Weiss.

"Thank you, Weiss. I don't think I said that yet."

Weiss felt a warmth spread through her, and nodded, "You're welcome, Velvet." The door clicked shut as Velvet stepped inside, leaving Weiss to stand outside and reflect on what had transpired. Weiss Schnee had helped a faunus, and, frankly speaking… it felt good.

Weiss left, her footsteps feeling lighter than they had in a long time.

 


 

"I don't like how we left things with Violet," Blake sighed at the table, looking between the other two girls that had a hand in their current depression.

"Well, we still have fifteen minutes before class… Should we go apologize?" Yang asked the group.

The other two nodded in wordless agreement. They set off back to their room, arriving with plenty of time to spare before classes would have a chance to begin. Ruby knocked, and when she didn't hear a reply, unlocked the door and opened it slowly. The three stepped inside, ready to beg for forgiveness.

Violet wasn't there.

Chapter Text

She had to get away from Remnant to clear her head. Her thoughts kept drawing her back to a place that didn't exist, not there, anyway. A memory that had been buried a long time ago pulled her to the spot, as She stepped between the fabric of space, color and light receded as her vision went black, only to spring back into existence a moment later.

She stood in the middle of a large tropical valley. The sun beat down on top of the trees, pushing rays through the gaps of the canopy above. The entire place was overrun with vegetation. She knew this place well, though, and managed to appear on the only cobbled path that existed there. A low wind blew through the trees, ruffling her hair in greeting as her shoes on the cobblestone created the only sound for miles around made by something other than wildlife.

The trees in this place were tall, planted hundreds of years ago, in the time after the great war. She had fought in the war, and remembered, as she stepped into the clearing that marked the mass graveyard for all those that had fallen… she had died in the war.

She had not been alone, though. Her friends had been there with her, her companions. Through thick and thin. Years, they had spent, fighting on the front lines against an evil that threatened to take over the land. Sharing laughs, sharing food, at times even sharing a bed, if only to distract themselves from the pain in the world around them.

She sat down against the only gravestone. A large marble slab, etched with the names of thousands and towering above her. A solitary tear curled down her cheek. This had been the place. The time when she had created her first rule. Her secret rule. The rule she herself had eventually forgotten.

'Don't get attached.'

They all died, eventually. Whether it was an accident, from violence, disease, or old age. They never stayed with her, always leaving her in the end. Alone. Lost. Unloved. A wandering soul desperately trying to find a new place to call home. She could recreate them. She had tried that, but their deaths had haunted her every time she looked into their eyes. Every time, she would see their bodies bent, broken, lifeless.

Even still, She had never been able to keep to that rule for long. She was still a being that desired those attachments, and avoiding that had led her to boredom, so instead, another rule had taken its place.

'Never look back.'

And She had broken that rule. In her desperate ploy to avoid telling her team the truth, she had looked back at the years of sadness, the bodies left in her wake. It had all caught up to her at once, catching her off guard with the wave of ignored emotions that threatened to overwhelm her. She closed her eyes, leaning back against the monument, and let the feelings wash over her. But she was shocked to realize that with the sadness, and regret, came the years of happiness along with it, outweighing her despair. Thousands of years worth of memories of friendships and love crashed down on her like a landslide, filling the emptiness that threatened to consume her. Despite herself, a smile played across her lips. She sighed raggedly, even her breath itself quavering under the dual onslaught. She needed a new rule, one that better encompassed the feelings she felt. One that held true to the memories She had.

'Enjoy it while it lasts.'

 


 

Yang was sitting in her seat uncomfortably shifting back and forth. No matter what Ruby said, Violet's story didn't make sense. The way Violet had so easily recalled events, mentioning things that she doubted some 'sister' would think important, like the wagon, or how Yang herself had been staring at the beowulf just as hard, weren't details she could just look past to accept Violet's lie. Ruby was adamant though, fiercely denying Yang any line of questioning when she tried to bring it up. Her sister had pointed out that no matter what the truth was, it had brought Violet to tears. 'Do you want her to cry!?' Ruby had reprimanded her, glaring with cold silver eyes.

Yang sighed as she looked towards the classroom door like she had so many times already. No, she didn't want Violet to be upset. She didn't like being lied to, though. Her father and uncle had spent her entire life avoiding the truth when it came to Yang's mother. Getting just her name out of them had taken years. Violet's secret wasn't like the ones being kept from her by her family, though. It was a secret that had saved her life and Ruby's, at a time when they'd had no chance of escaping with their lives without it.

Yang stared down at her desk, thought it over once more, and decided to just let it go.

The door creaked open seconds before the bell rang, Violet slipping in quietly and heading over towards them. Her expression was unreadable, but Yang could see the small tear tracks left on her cheeks. Professor Port waited until she was seated next to the rest of her team, next to Yang, before beginning his lecture.

Yang leaned over to whisper to Violet, "Where'd you go? We looked everywhere for you while we could."

"I took that walk in the gardens," Violet replied with a single sad laugh, also keeping her voice down to avoid Port's ire.

"Well, I'm sorry for what we did. I… don't believe what you said, and I know you don't either," Yang whispered slowly, trying to get her thoughts in order, "But… I won't ask anymore. Not if it's something that makes you that upset. You can tell us, though. When you're ready."

Violet smiled lightly to Yang as her only reply, and with the sleeve on her hand, wiped away at the tear tracks left on her face. They sat through Port's lecture, a silence fallen between the entire team as they took comfort in each other's presence.

 


 

The rest of the week was business as usual from then on. Violet cracked jokes, if only to keep their spirits up and show there were no hard feelings between her and the group. She accepted Blake and Ruby's apologies. Blake was particularly hard on herself, realizing she had tried to force Violet into talking about something only minutes after Violet had been so caring in letting Blake reveal her secret when she felt ready. She didn't hold anything against her, though.

And so they found themselves in the last combat class of the week, a happy bunch, readily chatting with each other and team Siren as they watched some of the other fights play out. Violet looked across the group with a secretive smile. She hadn't yet used her challenge for the week, and was debating with herself on who she wanted to use it on. Violet's eyes focused on one person in particular, and she set her jaw in firm determination.

When the fight ended on stage, Ms. Goodwitch announced the winner and stepped back into the middle of the stage, "That concludes the planned bouts for the day. If anyone would like to issue a challenge, please make it known."

Violet stood up, getting the room, and Glynda's, attention. She turned towards her team, then let her eyes drift past dramatically, settling on a pair of beautiful green eyes, "Pyrrha Nikos! I challenge you!" Violet shouted in mock seriousness, a smile breaking through the facade. Pyrrha smiled back and stood, nodding her acceptance. The two left for the shared locker room as Goodwitch began pulling their aura readings up on to the large display for the entire class to see. Violet could hear excited murmurs from the room behind her, as both she and Pyrrha entered the locker room.

"This oughta be fun," Violet laughed, reaching her locker and beginning to switch into her combat outfit, "Don't go easy on me. I want the full Pyrrha Nikos experience."

"You want me to go Full Nikos?" Pyrrha gasped, giving Violet a mournful look, as if she was thinking about what flowers to leave on her gravestone.

"I want to fight Pyrrha freakin' Nikos," Violet corrected, turning back to her locker to grab Zenith.

Pyrrha hefted Milo, inspecting it as she spoke, "Is that my name, now?"

"God given, I'm afraid," Violet grinned.

Pyrrha sighed, "As if 'The Invincible Girl' wasn't bad enough already."

"Who knows, maybe after today they won't be able to call you that anymore," Violet smirked, giving Pyrrha a reassuring pat on the back as they both exited the locker room.

They took up positions across from each other. The crowd grew silent as the fighters both settled into their respective stances, faces lit by the spotlights above and the screen off to their side, now displaying both their aura readings. Both at max capacity. Violet knew how fast Pyrrha was in her fights. She had a speed and versatility that Violet couldn't hope to match on the best of days, but Violet had one trick up her sleeve, reserved for when things started to get too desperate.

The buzzer sounded, announcing the start of the fight, but neither fighter rushed forward immediately. They began to circle each other slowly, keeping an eye on the other's defensive stance as they moved. Violet could only sigh, Pyrrha's was perfect. She could see no openings in the girl's stance, no dip of the shield when she stepped. Pyrrha was firmly resolute, an impregnable wall of shield and sword that dared any to approach.

Pyrrha's eyes had caught on to something, though. And with a speed Violet still hadn't been expecting, flashed forward towards her defense. What came after was a series of swipes, lunges, gun fire, and shield bashes that left Violet reeling, barely capable of withstanding the ferocity that gave her no time to counter, no time to do anything except react. Violet's eyes burned in concentration, keeping track of every little movement, every twinge that betrayed Pyrrha's intentions the millisecond before they happened. It was all she could do to not fall beneath the blows.

Pyrrha finally let up, backing off and giving Violet a moment to recover. She was smiling, they both were. This was the experience she had been looking for when she invited Pyrrha to spar with her. This was Pyrrha Nikos.

'Guess I'm not going to be able to hold out on that trick,' Violet smiled as she thought it.

Violet didn't betray her intentions. One moment she was standing, arms slack. The next she had removed almost the entire weight from her body and Zenith, letting her flash forward as Pyrrha had, her muscles exhilarated by the lack of anything holding them back. Pyrrha brought her guard up, but was surprised as her movements became slow, lethargic. That first moment of surprise allowed Violet to get the first hit in, Zenith dipping above Pyrrha's shield in a downward lunge. Violet continued the onslaught, but after the first couple hits, Pyrrha's defense managed to recover enough to keep Violet at bay. Her sword was slower, her shield heavy, as Violet had taken the entire mass she'd removed from herself, and dumped it into Pyrrha's equipment. That wasn't enough to pull a full 180 on the fight, though. Pyrrha was a natural born fighter, and with the increased mass to her weapons, was having an easier time blocking the strikes by the greatsword, even when Violet did let its entire weight return. Violet backed off as Pyrrha had done, giving them both a chance to recover.

Pyrrha regarded Violet with a newfound respect. While it hadn't spelled the end for her, it was a good strategy. It kept Pyrrha from retaliating, kept her on the defense instead, and saved Violet from the sheer difference in agility that Pyrrha held over her opponents.

Violet grew wary as Pyrrha's smile grew darker, a curl to her lips that spoke of some nasty surprise she was ready to unleash. Violet's guard came up, Zenith held steadily between herself and Pyrrha. Violet couldn't help but notice the dark glow that started to emanate from Pyrrha's weapons. Understanding flickered through her mind, even as Pyrrha did the same across the arena floor.

Pyrrha's speed had returned. Her movements aided by her own semblance, using the additional power and strength, along with the weight Violet had added to her weapons, against her. Violet stopped as many hits as she could, but she was severely outmatched and outgunned. Pyrrha knocked Violet's guard up with her shield, slipping in a strike across her abdomen. Zenith came crashing down in an attempt to trade for the blow, Pyrrha deflected it to the side with her own sword, letting the greatsword slam into the ground next to her. Pyrrha took the moment to spin backwards, dipped as she turned back towards Violet, and hurled her shield directly into Violet's chest.

Violet staggered backward, the extra weight of the shield, given by her own body, causing far more damage than it would have otherwise. The breath was violently expelled from her lungs on impact, but she refused to let go of Zenith, dragging it back with her as she stumbled. In that moment, Violet's semblance dropped, concentration broken by the heavy blow, and Pyrrha wasted no time capitalizing on that fact. With a final series of strikes that Violet couldn't hope to dodge, she fell back on to the ground, breath ragged and chest heaving after the entire exchange.

"And that's the match," Glynda Goodwitch's voice boomed from somewhere nearby. Violet glanced up at the aura meters on display and sighed. Her own was in the red, and Pyrrha's had only dipped slightly past eighty percent.

Pyrrha stepped up next to her, Milo and her shield returned to her back, holding a hand down to Violet. She took it gratefully, drawing Pyrrha into a hug as she stood that surprised the girl.

"That was amazing!" Violet excitedly announced, pulling back and giving Pyrrha a look of pure respect and admiration. Pyrrha's cheeks heated up at the attention, but there was still a self-satisfied smile on her lips. Together, the two left the sounds of the cheering crowd to return to the locker room and change.

As they changed, Pyrrha turned to Violet, face thoughtful, "You know, if you alternated between giving my weapons more weight while I moved to defend, and removing that weight when your strikes were about to hit, you could have overwhelmed me with your attacks."

Violet shook her head, "I've tried that before. My semblance is limited, in a way. It causes a strain that's hard to describe. Removing the mass from items is easiest. It's a little bit harder with people, but only because they weigh much more than the average weapon. Adding mass to something where it doesn't belong is the most fatiguing, but it's only the initial effort that takes so much. Once that mass has been established, maintaining it becomes easier."

"So you would have tired yourself out faster by trying to switch between the two?" Pyrrha asked, if only for clarification.

"Yeah. I could maybe last a minute doing that, but the concentration required is monumental in comparison, and hardly worth the effort when it will leave me exhausted in so short a time."

"Why not remove my weight? Your blows would stagger me more, and my own would have less of an effect on you."

Violet just shook her head again, "I can't force my semblance on to people, not if they have their aura still, anyway. The instant you felt your own weight dipping, your aura would help you fight against it. You can let it happen, but I doubt you'd do that while we were in the middle of a fight."

Pyrrha nodded along as she finished changing and placed her weapons back in her locker. The two exited the locker room to find their teams waiting for them. The rest of the class and Ms. Goodwitch had left already, leaving the group to excitedly talk in earnest about the fight while they walked back to their dorms.

"Nice try, Vi," Yang laughed, putting a reassuring arm around her shoulders, "But next time, maybe choose someone you have a chance against."

"Like you?" Violet smirked.

"No, I'll kick your ass," Yang squeezed Violet's shoulder playfully.

"I'll take you on!" Nora grinned from Violet's other side.

Violet thought about trying the same trick against Nora and paled. No, making Magnhild hit harder would not be in her best interests. With how much of a beast Nora was in her fights, she doubted it would slow the girl down in the slightest. Ruby and Weiss were busy praising Pyrrha, the girl in question shying away from their affections with rosy cheeks. Ren and Blake took up the rear, content to watch the back and forth tirade of chatter from the sidelines. They arrived outside their dorms, and were giving their farewells before Nora interrupted.

"Guys, we can't just go to bed now! We just finished our first week at Beacon! We should celebrate!" Nora yelled energetically, flexing her arms up to try and get the rest of them pumped.

The others glanced among each other. Ren shrugged, Yang grinned, Blake scowled while she stared at the book she'd been wanting to read. The general consensus was in agreement, though, and half an hour later, they were all dressed in more casual attire, riding a bullhead down to Vale to celebrate their first week at Beacon.

"So… where are we going?" Ruby peeped out, looking around her fellow students.

"I know a place," Yang said with a grin, "We'll just have to sneak Ruby in."

"Is this a place dad wouldn't want me to go?" Ruby asked, eyes narrowed at Yang, who put her hands up in a placating gesture.

"Hey, Ruby, ya gotta grow up some time! Don't you want to try some adult things while under the supervision of your loving sister? Better me than on your own some day, right? Or with Uncle Qrow," Yang managed to get out, but even she was struggling with the farce.

"We'll corrupt you yet, Little Red," Violet grinned devilishly.

"No one is corrupting my innocent little sister!" Yang growled, bawling her hands into fists before forcibly calming herself, "We're just gonna… show her the ropes, that's all."

"Works for me," Violet said with a shrug, turning the question over to the rest of the group.

A myriad of shrugs and nods silently agreed to the proposal.

"We are going to get pancakes after," Nora amended.

The group wound their way through busy streets. It was late, but it was also a Friday, so there were plenty of people out and about. They arrived outside a large brick building after twenty minutes of walking. Violet looked up at the familiar sight, large double doors, windows high up towards the top, letting out a pulsating mixture of reds, blues, golds, and white.

Two guards dressed in black suits with red ties stood outside, carding anyone that tried to enter. The line was small, but it was still early enough that the club had likely opened recently for the night. Their group joined the queue behind a few others, the line slowly moving as they checked every ID.

Ruby's eyes were wide, and she leaned over to tug on Yang's sleeve, pulling her down to whisper in her ear. Violet was right behind them, close enough to overhear the girl's panicked words.

"I beat up these guys before Beacon. That's how I got in," Ruby admitted to her sister, who looked up thoughtfully at the guards at the door.

"Don't worry, sis. These guys aren't much of a threat. Just keep your Scroll out with your Beacon ID on it. They won't give us trouble," Yang said it with such confidence that Ruby immediately complied. Ruby paused as she was pulling out her Scroll, "Wait. Isn't this the place where you-"

Yang cut her off as they reached the front of the line, stepping in front of Ruby and flashing her own Beacon ID with a playful smile. The two bouncers recoiled, hands going to their weapons, but one look at the group standing behind Yang holding out seven more Beacon IDs told them that was a bad idea.

"The boss isn't gonna like this," the one on the left said gruffly.

"Calm down, boys. I'm not here to start anything~" Yang said with a smirk. They looked at each other through red tinted sunglasses and shook their heads, each pushing a door open to let the group pass.

The lights washed over them all as they entered, the pulsating revealed to be from strobe lights on the ceiling, spinning in place to wash the dance floor in a dizzying display of color. Next was the sound, nearly deafening at first until their ears got used to it. Some better than others, as Blake raised her hands up to her head and pushed her ears down beneath her bow, looking all the while like she regretted not staying at the dorm with her books. Books were quiet, just how she liked them.

There were already quite a few patrons inside. Many of them took up the seating at the bar, but there were more at the tables around the sides of the dance floor. A few people were dancing, but most hadn't drank enough liquid courage to step out on to the floor just yet. Violet saw several of the nearby guards in similar suits visibly tense when they saw Yang walking across the dance floor to the bar, but thought better than to attack her.

'She kicked their ass the first time.'

Yang pulled up one of the bar stools and sat down, looking down the bar to get Junior's attention. He froze, mid poor, and spilled excess booze across the counter top before catching himself. Junior cursed, wiping it up with a rag, and adjusted his tie as he walked over to Yang.

"Didn't think I'd be seeing you so soon again, Blondie," Junior grumbled, standing a few feet out of Yang's reach. His eyes checked her wrists, and he relaxed slightly when her gauntlets were nowhere to be seen.

"We're just here to have some fun. Blow off some steam from studying at Beacon," Yang replied, putting emphasis on the last word to draw Junior's attention past her. Junior's confidence wavered, but he turned to eye Yang up and down.

"As long as you don't destroy my bar again, and pay for your drinks."

"Of course. One strawberry sunrise, if you don't mind," Yang smiled, setting her card down on the table. Junior shrugged and took her card, mixing the drink and handing both back to her a minute later.

"And your friends?" Junior inquired, sparing a glance their way. The rest finally moved into action, the tense air having dissipated. They all got their drinks of choice. Violet bought a strawberry sunrise for herself, 'Always wanted to try one', and for Ruby. It had a surprising kick to it, but was quickly taken over by the delicious after taste. Ruby blanched on her first sip, eyes closing at the momentary intensity before warming up to it when the aftertaste hit.

"Take it slow, sis. That's the only one you're getting for the night. I don't need to carry my darling little sister back to the dorm because it turned out she was the world's worst lightweight," Yang warned, keeping a close eye on Ruby like she'd said she would.

Ruby paled and looked down at her drink, taking care to only sip from it every few minutes or so. Once they all had their drinks, they moved off to a table, arranging themselves around it at random. Violet ended up between Nora and Ren, and decided to take the opportunity to finally talk with the two in earnest.

"So, where are you two from?"

"Oooooh, here and there. Me and Renny travelled all over the place before we came to Beacon!" Nora excitedly replied. She had ordered a drink similar to Yang's, fruity but with a kick to it judging by her expression each time she drank it. Ren only gave a 'hmm' of agreement, busy with his own drink.

Violet asked them about some of their travels, all of which Nora was more than happy to share. Ren would interject a correction here or there. The correct name of a village, how many Grimm they had actually been fighting, how much they had actually been paid. It was all rather amusing when she listened to the way they played off each other so well. 'Ren has the patience of a saint.'

Yang had pulled Weiss, Ruby, Blake, and Pyrrha out to the dance floor, drink still in hand. She was heartily egging them on, trying to get them to dance with her. Blake was the most resolute of the bunch and stood to the sidelines with her arms crossed, but Yang was having none of it, and grabbed her hand to pull her out on to the floor with her. Blake still didn't dance, but a small smile threatened to overpower her scowl. Yang's antics got the better of her, and she finally put in the effort of at least nodding her head to the music.

Violet turned back to the new story that Nora was telling, diverting her full attention to it. With that, and the music pumping over head, she failed to notice the first couple shouts coming from just outside the front door. The doors were flung open, hitting the walls with a resounding slam, before a familiar voice yelled out over the music.

"Junior! I've come to take you in!"

Violet's head slammed down on to the table a second later. 'What the hell are you doing here, Jaune!?'

The boy himself was causing a ruckus. He stood next to the open doors still, eyes darting around the establishment as he tried to track down the goon's boss.

"Not another damn blonde!" Junior yelled in annoyance from his place behind the bar. He reached down beneath it and picked up his massive club, nodding to several of his guards that pulled out their weapons and paced in Jaune's direction.

Jaune nervously glanced around at the guards pushing towards him and pulled up his shield, Crocea Mors raised at his side in the worst combat stance Violet had ever seen aside from children play acting as huntsman.

'Just ignore it, Violet. It's not your fight. You don't owe him anything,' Violet thought to herself, turning her back to the commotion. Nora had stopped her story, both hers and Ren's eyes were focused on what was happening. It looked like the ones on the dance floor hadn't quite noticed anything yet, they were too busy with their own shenanigans and further away from it all.

"Should we help him?" Ren asked seriously, likely able to tell just as easily as Violet had that Jaune was not a capable fighter.

"He's the one breaking in and causing havoc," Violet pointed out, still not turning around as the sounds of steel on steel rang out across the clubroom. The rest of their group finally noticed once the sounds of fighting grew loud enough. Their eyes gazed towards the door with uncertainty, none of them stepping in yet.

A cry of pain got Violet moving before she could think about it, as Jaune was struck across the back with Junior's club, sending him crashing into a table that slid five feet across the floor. Chairs went flying off to the sides, startling several other patrons that had to dodge out of their way or risk getting smacked in the shins. Jaune groaned and slipped off the table, lying face down, his shield and Crocea Mors in loose outstretched hands. Violet took the opportunity to take them off him, much to his distress.

"Shut up or I'll hurt you worse than they did," Violet lashed out in annoyance. She held up a hand to the approaching Junior and his cronies.

"Friend of yours?" Junior asked warily, eyeing the two of them and then the rest of the Beacon students that had pushed forward through the crowd by then.

"No, just some dumb kid that thinks he's a hero. One who is far past his bedtime," Violet made sure to put all the irritation she felt into her words. Junior took the hint and backed off, content to let the students deal with it. Violet shifted the shield into sheath form and put the sword into it before tossing it to someone behind her. She didn't care who caught it.

Jaune had recovered enough to see it happen, and jumped up, "Hey! Give that back!"

"Not until you've proven to me that you're responsible enough to have it," Violet replied heatedly, giving him a glare that brooked no arguments. Even still, he tried to step towards where his weapon had gone. Violet reached over and grabbed him by the shoulder, using her semblance to remove as much of Jaune's weight as she could, before picking him up bodily and holding him over her head. 'Good thing you don't have aura, 'ey Jauny boy?'

Jaune struggled in surprise but couldn't break free as Violet carried him out the front door. She could hear the rest of her friends following along. 'Ruin our night, why don't ya?' Violet was half tempted to throw him on to the ground, but instead just let him drop into a stumble that still nearly ended with him off his feet.

She crossed her arms and glared at him, "Why the hell would you try something so foolish?"

"Hey, come on! I'm trying to get into Beacon! I heard about a girl that beat up some thugs, so they let her in two years early!" Jaune whined, eyes looking past Violet back towards the club.

"So you decided to call out Junior in what amounts to basically his base of operations, untrained, and with no back up, hoping to what… get lucky?" Violet mocked him, trying to drive home how unthought out his plan was, "You have got to be kidding me."

"Becoming a huntsman is my dream! You wouldn't understand!"

Violet laughed and turned back to the rest of the group, only to find that most of them didn't share her mirth. 'Eh, whatever. They just don't know how useless he is. How he fails all of you.' Instead she turned back and raised an eyebrow at him, "I go to Beacon. As do the rest of them."

Jaune's mouth gaped, and he looked among them, eyes going wide, "But then, can you put in a good word for me?"

Violet placed a hand across her face and shook her head slowly, "You aren't ready for this. You aren't ready for any of this. Go home. Go train. You should try again next year. I promise that by then, you might at least be able to match up against a member of team Cardinal."

Jaune's eyes were downcast, as no one stepped forward to offer him their support. Violet felt a little bad, despite herself. It wasn't easy hearing your dreams were only that, dreams. It had to be done though. He really wasn't ready for any of what was to come.

"Do you have a place for the night?" Violet sighed, getting his eyes back on her. From the look he gave, the answer was no. Violet grabbed him again, not picking him up this time, just steering him away from the club as they walked away.

The others stuck behind, talking amongst themselves in whispers, as Violet and Jaune took the lead a dozen feet ahead of them. Once they were far enough away from the club, she let go of his forearm, but spared him a glare that kept him walking next to her in submission.

"What a night," Violet muttered. Jaune gave her a sideways glance but didn't speak.

Violet led them in silence the rest of the way. She knew where she was going, but didn't bother to clue anyone else in. After half an hour of walking, they reached the residential district. Ten minutes after that, and they were standing outside the gate of a large two story mansion. The hedges were trimmed into squares that blocked the garden from view. Short brick walls topped with metal rods, sharpened on top, wrapped around the perimeter of the hedge. Violet stepped towards the side of the gate, pressing a button that buzzed loudly. A few seconds later, a voice could be heard yelling "Coming! Coming!", followed by the appearance of an older gentleman, in his sixties, that peered at his side of the screen, looking at the group of disheveled teens through the camera affixed to the wall.

His eyes widened in surprise, "Ah! Ms. Regalia! A pleasure to see you ma'am! What may I do for you?"

"This hoodlum needs a place to stay for the night before he heads back home tomorrow morning. I was hoping we might provide him a room and some food until then."

The gates buzzed open, swinging on their own, "Yes, of course Ma'am. I'll see you inside!"

Violet grabbed Jaune by the arm again, his face showing the bafflement he must have felt as she led him through the garden, and up the stone steps to the front door. The old man was already at it by the time they arrived, holding it open welcomingly, other arm outstretched to gesture into the room. The rest of team Vibrant and Siren followed wordlessly.

"Wow… I mean, you said your family was rich, but…" Yang said, looking around the brightly lit entrance hall. A set of stairs led up to the second floor, carpeted in a deep maroon with gold trim, the railings smooth marble. The only one not staring around wide-eyed was Weiss, the only other one used to this sort of thing.

Violet wrinkled her nose at Jaune, finally catching that the boy smelled like he hadn't showered since arriving in Vale over a week ago, "Mr. Slate, please see that our guest is given a bath and a change of clothes. He looks like he might be close enough in size to Peri, so just use some of his."

Violet looked around the group and sighed, "And have one of the cooks make us all pancakes," She looked at the glee on Nora's face, "A lot of pancakes."

The old man nodded and left the group, taking Jaune with him and ignoring the young man's protests. His struggling was weak, at best. Violet led them to the dining room, since aside from the study it was the only place with enough seating to accommodate all of them. Violet pulled out a chair for Weiss, which she gladly accepted, while the rest chose their own spots.

Ruby was scooting in excitedly when she finally broke the silence, "Wow, Violet! Your house is amazing! Are your parents home? I wanna meet them!"

"My family lives in Atlas, Ruby. I told you that already. This is just another place they own and pay to have maintained for when they're visiting Vale."

"But it's so…." Blake started before trailing off.

"Big?" Violet tried to fill in.

"Awesome!" Nora shouted, "You can have people make pancakes whenever you want!"

It was Violet's turn to get a little red in the cheeks for once.

"Why become a huntress when you could have lived so peacefully?" Ren asked, surprising Violet. 'Right. Two orphans that barely had a full belly their entire lives.'

"Money isn't everything. Weiss's family has even more than mine, yet she's also becoming a huntress. We all have our reasons for the things we do, Ren. Even if they aren't always plain to see."

Ren nodded in understanding, then repeated his question with a little variation, "So why do you want to become a huntress?"

Violet thought over her answer carefully before she spoke, "There are... people I want to protect, and I need the skills to do that."

"Sounds like me and Renny!" Nora chirped up from her place next to him. Ren nodded, accepting her answer along with Nora's outburst.

"You guys have fun, I need to go do something. Be right back!" Violet excused herself to head up to the room she stayed in whenever her family had visited Vale, stepping in through her door quietly and closing it behind her before turning the lights on. Violet headed over to her desk, where her safe sat underneath, and withdrew what she wanted from it. She placed it in her pocket and left, making sure to turn the lights back off as she did.

When she returned, the pancakes had been served, and Jaune was awkwardly sitting off to one side, in new loose fitting clothes with a plate of pancakes in front of him. It looked like he hadn't eaten in a while either, as he was digging into the plate nearly as voraciously as Nora. Violet let them eat, having a couple pancakes of her own while she waited for them all to finish.

With a few burps on Nora's part, and some giggling at that by Ruby, their meal reached its end. Violet went over and sat down next to Jaune, catching his attention. She pulled out the object from her safe and presented it to him, as his eyes looked at her in confusion.

"This is a lien mastercard, tied to one of my accounts. When you leave here tomorrow, I want you to go home, and use the money on this to pay for a tutor. One on one practice will do you a lot more good than joining a class full of other students. This card is to be used only to pay for that tutor, and for your trip home. I will keep an eye on the account, and I'll know if you break your promise. Do I make myself clear?"

Jaune stared at her dumbly, looking back and forth between her eyes and the card, before a hand slowly reached up and took it from hers, "I… I promise. I won't use it on anything else. Only to get home, and pay for a teacher."

"Good," Violet gave him a smile and touched his shoulder reassuringly, "You can give it back to me when you get into Beacon next year. Failure is not an option."

'If Beacon is even still standing in a year.'

Tears brimmed at the corners of Jaune's eyes, and he turned away, whispering at the floor, "Thank you, god."

Violet smacked him on the back of the head, "God has nothing to do with this. Your fate is in your own hands, Jaune. It's your job to make the most of it. This is just a little push in the right direction. Don't forget that, or your promise." Jaune's eyes firmed, face growing determined.

"Now, it's about time we all got back to our dorms," Violet stated, looking back at the other students. Ruby yawned into her hand in agreement, and they all excused themselves. Violet was sure to thank the old man as she left, "Oh! Who has the sword?" Pyrrha held it out, and Violet had her give it to Mr. Slate. "See that this is returned to him in the morning, would you?"

"As you wish, Ma'am."

The group left together, headed in the direction of the bullheads that would take them back up to Beacon. All of them were at various stages of lethargy after the meal, so it was slow going.

"That was really nice, what you did for him," Pyrrha spoke up after a time.

Violet sighed, "I couldn't help myself. He was just so…"

"Weak?" Yang tried to fill in.

"Hopeless," Violet corrected quietly.

They made mild small talk as they boarded the bullhead and set off back to Beacon. Violet didn't jump in on the conversation, content to just listen while the others chatted about other things. The bullhead landed, they walked off the platforms back to the dorm building, up to their shared hallway, and excused themselves for the night.

Violet climbed in bed immediately, and laid her head down to rest.

That night, she watched over Jaune.

Chapter Text

Violet woke up the next morning feeling refreshed. After watching over Jaune, she had zipped over to Atlas again and confirmed that both her parents were home, checking her father's meeting board for the schedule there. The entire day was open, as he said it would be when she left. Her father had wanted to be available at any time of the day so that Violet could call to catch up with them after her first week at Beacon.

Talking to her family again… 'I'll admit, I am a little homesick.'

Her teammates were already awake ahead of her. Blake must have been the first, she was already showered and clothed, minus her bow, sitting up in her bed to catch up on the reading she had missed last night. The shower was running, and Ruby was sitting at one of the desks, still in her pajamas.

"Good morning," Violet said heartily, standing up from her bed to stretch out. She raised her arms up towards the ceiling and bent backwards, getting a satisfying series of 'pops'.

They each repeated the words back to her in their own way. Blake, without looking up from her book and with no emotion in it, and Ruby, mumbled while half asleep at her desk, head laid down across her arms.

"Where's the spirit, ladies? Today's going to be a good day!" Violet cheered, pulling open her dresser and going through her outfits. Really, she only had one left, since she'd only packed to last the week. 'I still need to go shopping today, too.'

"Ah, yes. A day all to myself with my books. It will be a lovely day," Blake replied back evenly, still not looking up.

"Sure, alone, aside from when we head over to the CCT, that is."

"What are we going to the tower for?" Ruby muttered, eyes cracking open to look at her questioningly.

"My my, Ruby. I thought you would have been more excited to get exactly what you wanted," Violet scoffed lightly.

Her head rose from the desk at that, confused, "What I wanted?"

"To meet my parents, of course. You asked if you could last night, remember?"

Ruby's eyes went wide and she jumped up, "Really? Oh, this is gonna be so cool!"

"Wooh," Blake said from up in her bed, but she had at least taken her eyes off her book.

"Ah, come on, Blake. Tell ya what, after we talk to my parents, I need to go shopping anyway. Why don't we stop by a bookstore on the way, and I'll get you whatever you want?"

Blake's eyes lit up before she could hide them. She coughed once, "Yeah I'd love to meet your family."

"Blake gets a present?" Ruby looked up at Violet, eyes wide and hopeful.

Violet tried to think of something worth getting for Ruby. An entire box full of cookies? Comic books? A new game? As she was pondering it, her eyes fell on something in the room, and she smiled, "How about I let you fire off Zenith?"

Ruby's face broke out in an enthusiastic smile, until the doubt crept on to her face to replace it, "Isn't it bad to try and shoot your gun, though?"

"Not if I'm there with you to make it work properly," Violet laughed.

Ruby pumped her fist into the air excitedly, letting out a more genuine "Wooh!" than Blake's could ever hope to be. She hurriedly started getting dressed as Yang stepped out of the bathroom, half dressed, "What are we cheering about in here?"

"We're going to meet Violet's parents, and then she's going to let me shoot her gun!" Ruby gave a rapid fire response as she pulled a shirt down over her head.

Yang's eyes narrowed, "Isn't that, like, super dangerous?"

Ruby spoke again before Violet could, "Not if Violet's there, silly," sounding as if she hadn't just asked the same question a minute ago.

"You in, Yang? I'm sure my parents would like to at least see my entire team," Violet asked.

"Sure. We have the whole weekend to ourselves, anyway. Maybe we'll give our dad a call, too. He's a teacher, so he shouldn't be working on the weekend either," Yang replied with a shrug of her shoulders, heading back into the bathroom to fix up her hair.

'Finally meeting Tai? Sign me up,' Violet smiled, as she finished dressing herself.

 


 

They stopped by the cafeteria to eat breakfast before heading for the tower. It was a nice enough day out. Hot, if not for the breeze that rolled across the plateau, cooling the temperature down to a more bearable level. The four girls made their way through the mildly busy campus to the awaiting tower, which loomed over the rest of Beacon, its top lit with a greenish light that gave the school its namesake.

"The tower is so huuuuuuuge!" Ruby admired joyously, eyes staring up at the massive spire.

"You think that's big? You should see my-" Violet was cut off by a smack to the back of the head by Yang.

"See what?" Ruby asked, too busy looking wide eyed at the tower to notice the little exchange.

Violet rubbed her head and shot Yang a glance, "Eh, the tower in Atlas, I mean. You should see the tower in Atlas. It's bigger. It's where General Ironwood get's his name-" Violet managed to dodge the fist leveled at her face but cut herself off just the same with a smirk at Yang.

They headed in through the front door, past the guards that gave them one glance before letting them go by. They stepped inside, walking through the opening area that included guards and students alike, and into the elevator.

"Please present identification,' a feminine recording chimed.

Violet held her Scroll up in front of the sensor, the computer decoding the information there before it chimed, "Welcome to the CCT, Violet Regalia. Where would you like to go?"

"To the communications room, please."

The elevator shifted beneath them, rising at a steady pace up the length of the massive tower. They wouldn't reach the top. The top was Ozpin's office. The elevator stopped somewhere around the middle, doors opening to reveal a room set with dozens of terminals.

Violet led them to the far corner to give them a little privacy. There were other students in here already, looking as if they were talking to their own family or friends back home. Violet took a seat, and the rest of her team stood right behind her. She connected her Scroll to the terminal, it's signal getting boosted, and the screen lit up as the call home went through.

Thirty seconds passed with no response before the screen flickered, an image finally coming into focus on it, "Hello? Violet? Can you hear me, sweetheart?" Her father's voice came through, crystal clear as his face appeared on the screen. It looked like the same had happened on his end, as his eyes lit up. Violet's mother cracked her hips against the man as she stepped into frame, knocking him to the side playfully.

"It's good to see you again, dear. How-" Her mother's voice cut off as her eyes widened.

"Mom, dad. This is my team," Violet pointed them out in turn. Ruby and Yang, "They're sisters", and last but not least, "This is Blake." They each gave a little wave as their names were mentioned.

"Well, it is certainly nice to meet you, girls," Her mother said emphatically, "Look dear, our daughter's team." She made it sound as if he was just being shy even though she was the one that had knocked him away with more force than was necessary.

"Indeed. It is nice to meet you all. How is everyone faring in school?"

"Ha! Among the first years, we only have one team that has any chance against us, and that's mostly because they have Pyrrha Nikos on their team. Yeah, that Pyrrha Nikos," Violet clarified when the two shared a look.

"Vi fought her in class, she got wrecked," Yang laughed, likely still holding a grudge from Violet's comments to Ruby earlier.

"Yang! She did really good!" Ruby chastised, nodding excitedly at the two adults, "She lasted longer than anyone else did, even longer than Yang!" The older sister narrowed her eyes at Ruby, scathing but with the smile still on her lips.

"How are things back home?" Violet interjected, talking over the brewing argument between the two girls.

"Oh, same old, same old," Her father hummed with a sigh, "A little bit quieter, since we don't have you test firing your weapon to deal with anymore."

"Hey!"

"You fired that thing indoors!?" Blake interrupted, staring wide eyed at Violet.

"N-no! I fired it off the balcony at targets I set up in the garden!"

Blake rolled her eyes, "Because that's so much better. I'm sorry for the property damage she must have caused, Mr. and Mrs. Regalia."

"I only broke one statue," Violet mumbled dejectedly.

"Reduced it to a fine powder, you mean," Her mother quipped, giving her a smile.

Violet raised her hand up to cup her mouth as she turned away from the screen, hiding what she said from her parents, "It was reaaallly ugly. I had to look at it from my bedroom window every morning. It was a total eyesore!"

Ruby suppressed her giggles, while Blake was apparently in deep thought trying to think of anything outside their window that Violet might get trigger happy over.

The adult's attention was pulled away from the screen for a moment, as their voices became muffled. With a startled gasp, they were joined by a familiar fox eared faunus that slipped between the two of them to stare into the screen in excitement.

"Henna!" Violet laughed, eyes drawn back to the screen. Blake leaned forward to look at the sudden addition. Henna was grinning broadly from ear to ear. 'If her faunus trait had been a tail, it would be smacking my parents back and forth right now.'

"Little Miss!" Violet winced at the name drop, feeling the grin break out on Yang's face, "Are you getting enough sleep? What are you having for breakfast? Are you drinking enough water?"

"Yes. Food. And yes. In that order," Violet replied quickly, trying to slow down the barrage of questions before she could give Yang any more ammunition to taunt her with later. Henna's eyes beamed happily until a cough by Violet's father reminded her that her employers were right there.

"Oh, uhhh, I'll leave you to it then!" Henna said cheerily and extricated herself from between the two.

"I miss you, Henna!" Violet called out as she left. Henna's head returned into frame, long enough to give Violet a wink before disappearing again.

"How's Peri doing, by the way?" Violet said into the silence that followed.

"Ready to graduate next month. He'll be coming with us to Vale to visit you once your first semester ends."

Violet perked up with a smile. It would be nice to see him after so long.

"What are your plans for the rest of the day?" Her mother asked.

"We need to make another call, and then I need to go buy some things in Vale."

Her father's pocket vibrated, and he pulled out his Scroll, looking at the caller ID before giving an apologetic look towards Vi, "Sorry, gotta take this." Her father listened to what the caller had to say, face darkening, "What do you mean, we lost contact with Brunswick!?"

Violet's mother shot the man a frown then sighed, giving Violet a sad look, "Well, it was nice talking to you while we could, dear. Give us another call next weekend if you can."

"Yes, mom. Love ya!" Violet laughed.

"Love you too, dear," She swatted her hand against the man's forearm, and he turned away from the call long enough to give a quick, "Love you!" before the video feed buzzed away, call ending.

"Well, they were nice," Ruby said simply.

"Little Miss~" Yang sang out in a falsetto, "Are you having fun destroying statues in the garden~?"

Violet stepped back away from the console and gestured for Ruby to step forward quickly, "I'm sure your family doesn't have any embarrassing stories to share. Maybe I'll ask him for some pictures of you as a kid. You were just so adorable when you were young. I don't know what went wrong."

The mockery didn't get the reaction that Violet wanted. Yang was too caught up in thinking over her own insults to pay attention to what she had to say.

"Hey, dad!" Ruby's voice announced the call going through, distracting them.

"Ruby! Yang!" Tai shouted in surprise, raising his Scroll closer to his face as he stared at them, "I wasn't expecting a call! Did something happen?"

"What, your daughters can't just call because they miss their old man?" Yang replied with a snarky smile, "Yee of little faith!"

"No, I'm glad you did. So, who are these two?" Tai changed the subject to the other two girls sharing a cubicle with his daughters.

"This is Blake, another member of team Vibrant, and this is," Yang's eyes glowed, "Our fearless leader, Little Miss~!"

"Yang! This is Violet, dad. She is our leader," Ruby broke in, trying to differentiate between what was fact and fiction.

Tai's face was unreadable as he brought the Scroll even closer to his face, one large eye all they could see on their side, "Is that, the Violet?"

"Ew, dad, gross!" Ruby yelled, averting her gaze from the giant close up eye on the screen.

"Yeah, that's her. Even if she keeps denying how it happened," Yang huffed with a glower at Violet.

Violet just shrugged under the scrutiny, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Xiao Long."

"Thank you, Violet. I've wanted to say that for a long time. If it hadn't been for you, both my daughters would have been taken from me," Tai's face grew dark, a deep-seated depression settling in.

Violet felt guilty. 'I could have stopped them if I tried… Hell, if I wasn't there at all then Qrow would have been.' "I don't need your thanks, sir. I'm glad they could be here, too. They're precious members of my team now," Violet looked at Blake as she finished, "All three of them."

Tai nodded his understanding, "Sorry to cut this short, girls, but I have a ton of papers to grade. Thanks for calling, and make sure you remember to again!"

"Bye dad!"

"See ya, pops!"

With a satisfied nod from Tai, the screen went blank and the girls were left to themselves again.

"So, Blake. Wanna make it four for four?" Violet teased.

Blake's bow twitched as her face paled, "That's not a call I want to make right now."

"Why not? I'm sure they would be proud of you making it into Beacon," Violet chastised. She knew they would forgive Blake. Hell, they really didn't seem all that upset with her in the first place.

"I… didn't leave on the best terms," Blake said with a tremble.

Violet gave her a considering look, then turned to Yang and Ruby, "Hey guys, you go ahead. We'll meet you down there."

The two sisters looked between Blake and Violet uncertainly, but took their leader's suggestion after a few seconds and headed for the elevator. Violet waited until the doors had closed and they were left mostly alone, still a good distance from the other students in the comm's room, before drawing Blake even further towards the corner of the room.

"Did Ghira not want you to be a huntress?" Violet asked the question that she knew was wrong, if only to get the conversation rolling, and surprise Blake into hopefully sharing more than she would realize.

Blake's eyes flared in fear, hand reaching up for Gambol Shroud, which was still tucked away back in the dorm. She took a step back from Violet, other hand up to ward her away, "How do you know that name!?" she whispered vehemently.

Violet held her hands up in a placating gesture, looking around the room to remind Blake of where they were, "Blake. It's me. The history buff, remember? Did you think I wouldn't know that the creator of the White Fang and current Chieftain of Menagerie was a cat faunus with the last name Belladonna? Honestly, Professor Oobleck probably connected the dots on the first day. Headmaster Ozpin, too."

Blake's eyes darted around the room, panic setting in. 'She wants to run,' Violet thought worriedly. Blake tensed as Violet stepped forward, then froze in shock as Violet pulled her into a tight hug.

"Blake, calm down. If they were going to do anything about it, they would have already. They want you to go to Beacon and become a huntress. Ozpin is probably hoping you'll help the faunus and the White Fang for the better once you graduate. You have nothing to worry about. No matter what happens, your team will always stick by your side. You're our friend, Blake. We don't care about your past," Violet whispered it all affectionately into Blake's ear, hoping against hope that the girl would hear the sincerity in her voice.

To her surprise, Blake's struggling stopped. Her shoulders slumped, and two hesitant hands drifted up Violet's back to hug her in return. It was weak, but it was better than the alternative. Violet stayed as she was, putting all of her love for the girl into the hug, not wanting to be the first to pull away.

After a minute, Blake slowly withdrew from the embrace, a choked laugh betraying the conflicting emotions she felt, "How did I get so lucky?"

"Maybe you're one of the main characters in a story. Good stuff tends to happen to them to balance out all the bad," Violet replied with a smile.

"Then I'm past due for a lot of good," Blake laughed again. It was clearer this time, happier.

"Well, why don't we start with some now? You should call your parents, Blake. I'm sure they miss you. What parent wouldn't?"

Blake looked at the console hesitantly, "You really think…?"

"Yes."

Blake nodded and sat down in front of the console with some trepidation. She gave a meaningful look at Violet, who realized what she wanted and walked over behind her, offering Blake her support with just her presence.

Blake pulled out her Scroll and connected it to the console. Her finger hovered over her contact list, and with one final deep breath, she pressed 'Dad'. It took a few seconds, and Violet could already see Blake beginning to tense, but then a voice could be heard over the line, and Ghira Belladonna came into full view, "Yes, who is- KALI GET IN HERE!"

Ghira's face broke out in the happiest smile Violet had seen in a long time, as he shifted the front camera to show the woman that had just arrived, "What is- BLAKE!"

They both stared in utter joy as their daughter's bow twitched, faltering beneath the reactions that she hadn't expected in the slightest.

"We've missed you so much, Blake. When are you coming home?" Kali asked.

Blake was speechless, her eyes saucers as she stared at her parents. Violet reached up a hand and gripped her shoulder tightly, drawing Blake out of her stupor.

"I… I missed you guys, too. I'm not coming home for awhile, mom. I'm a student at Beacon now," Blake struggled out, eyes flicking between the two faces to see their reactions to the news.

"That's wonderful darling! I hope that means you finally-" Kali cut off as she finally realized Violet was there with Blake.

"Left the White Fang?" Violet finished quietly, so as not to be overheard.

Kali's smile returned and she nodded, turning her eyes back to Blake.

Blake nodded as well, "I did, mom. They were getting… too violent. I didn't recognize it as the same White Fang anymore. I'm… sorry, for the things I said to you guys."

Ghira and Kali exchanged confused glances before Ghira spoke up, "We were never mad at you, Blake. We were just worried about what you were getting yourself into. We will always love you."

Fresh tears streamed down Blake's cheeks as she nodded her acceptance, unable to speak.

"Now who is this lovely young lady?" Kali asked, turning her eyes back to Violet and giving Blake time to recover.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Belladonna. I'm Violet, Blake's team leader. I convinced her to make this little call," Violet replied with a smile.

"Thank you, Violet," Kali said sincerely.

Violet shrugged, "No child deserves to feel like they aren't loved," she nudged Blake playfully, "even if it is all in their head."

Kali looked at Blake in dismay, "Oh sweetheart, you thought we…?"

"I was being stupid. I know that now," Blake struggled to get the words out, "I love you guys."

Ghira and Kali started asking Blake questions from there. What her time at Beacon was like, about her teammates, what classes she was enjoying the most. Violet shot a text to Yang, telling them it would be awhile and that they should just go ahead without them. Violet could hear the annoyance through Yang's text message, but she agreed, telling her that they were going to get some sweets and to message her when they were done.

Violet was brought back into the conversation at a few points, but the happy parents kept the majority of their attention on their daughter. It was an hour later before the three of them finally agreed to end the call. Blake promises profusely that she would call again when she got the chance. They all said one final "I love you", Violet waved in the background, and the screen went dark.

Blake let out a long, pent up sigh. She stood, swaying a little, and Violet spared a hand to help her steady herself, "Thank you, Violet."

"Hey, what are team leaders for? I'm supposed to look out for you kids," Violet joked, giving Blake a little shove towards the elevator, "Yang and Ruby went to go get food while you were talking, but that was over an hour ago. I'm sure they're very impatiently waiting somewhere for us to regroup with them." Violet spared a glance to Blake as they stepped into the elevator and the doors closed, "How about I tell them to meet us at Tukson's Book Trade. Somebody deserves what they're owed. Wouldn't you agree?"

Violet was surprised as Blake gave a bubbly laugh and threw her arms around Violet in a deep, long hug. She didn't struggle or protest. She just returned the hug with just as much warmth as before.

It turned out, Violet didn't need to send a message to Yang. As the elevator doors opened, she was there. Her foot was angrily tapping away at the floor while Ruby sat off to the side, but her foot froze as the scene was revealed to her.

"What, you guys ditched us to make out~?" Yang asked with a coy smile, anger instantly forgotten.

Blake ripped herself away from Violet and glared at Yang, "Way to ruin the moment, Yang. We were having a heart to heart."

"You were probably touching more than just each other's hearts, if you catch my drift," Yang replied smugly, "Oooh~, Little Miss~"

Violet desperately wished she had Zenith with her. The two stepped out of the elevator, Blake red faced from embarrassment, Violet trying to close the distance so she could wrap her fingers around Yang's throat and stop the taunting forever.

"We're never going to live this down," Violet finally sighed when she realized that choking the life out of Yang wasn't in her plans. 'I wouldn't want to upset Ruby like that. You're safe for now, you blonde bimbo.'

"Let's go," Violet said tightly, stepping past Yang to head towards the door. Ruby and Blake followed, along with Yang, still popping off very suggestive sounds as they walked.

"Hey, Ruby. You want to watch some 18+ videos when we get home?" Violet asked after the fifth time Yang moaned from behind her.

"Like a horror movie?" Ruby asked innocently, "Will it make me scared?"

"Oh, it'll make you feel something, alright."

"Don't… you… dare…" Yang's eyes flashed red, and her hair started to burn.

"It's just a last resort, Yang. Like a deadman's switch. It will only go off once I've been forced to use it~" Violet replied, sparring Ruby a glance to see the utter confusion on the young girl's face.

"Yang? What are you guys talking about?"

"Just adult stuff, Ruby. You don't need to know about it."

"Like kissing?"

"Like kissing."

They arrived at Tukson's Book Trade after another ten minutes of blissful silence. 'Home to every book under the sun,' Violet read to herself, seeing the slogan printed on one of the windows. 'What the hell is Third Crusade, anyway?'

They all stepped inside, and Blake breathed deeply. This place smelled intensely of paper, and Blake wasted no time pouring through the shelves with a delighted grin. As they had entered, the doorbell jingled. Soon after, Tukson walked out of the back, looking at his new patrons.

"There's some comics near the front there, Ruby, if you want to pick something out. Take it as my apology for making you guys wait so long."

Ruby happily accepted, pulling out several comics one after the other to give them a look.

Violet gave Yang an inquisitive look, as if to say, 'Peace. Do you want anything?' Yang just shrugged, apparently understanding, and started rummaging through the books herself.

Violet started idly walking along the shelves. She didn't really want anything, except to pass the time and let Blake enjoy the moment while it lasted. 'Not fighting deadly Grimm or deranged psychopaths. Just picking out some free books, courtesy of your very own team leader.'

As she waited, her curiosity got the better of her, though. Tukson was still standing back behind the counter, keeping an eye on the group every now and then, but otherwise content to let them shop in peace. Violet edged up to the counter, getting his attention but making sure her teammates weren't in earshot, not even Blake.

"Do you have Third Crusade?" Violet whispered in a miniscule voice, drawing as close as she dared to Tukson without arousing suspicion.

Tukson tensed, his eyes going wide for a moment before he eyed Violet up and down. His eyes kept flicking back up to hers, then down to her body, trying to pass on some message that she didn't understand. 'What the hell is Third Crusade?' Violet tried to put together the facts about Tukson. The book either didn't exist, or Tukson just didn't have it. Tukson was a part of the White Fang, but at this point, hadn't defected yet. 'If I was a secret organization trying to recruit people…That's it! It's a code!'

Violet gave Tukson a flat look and glanced back over her shoulder towards her teammates, hoping to convey the lie. 'I can't show you my faunus parts while they're here.' She then tapped the upper half of her forearm, hoping he would interpret it as her having scales up there or something. Tukson gave her a tight nod, seeming to understand, and pulled out a small business card. It had only an address and a date on it, along with three black slashes, like claw marks.

Violet pocketed the slip of paper and turned away, pretending as if nothing had passed between them. Tukson seemed ready enough to do the same, and leaned back against the counter, back turned, pointedly not looking at any of them while he composed himself.

Violet walked over to Blake, "So, what'd you find?" The girl in question had an armful of books, and was looking at them each in despair, "I said you could get whatever you want, Blake. Sky's the limit, here."

Blake looked at her in hesitation, likely not wanting to take advantage of her teammates wealth, but with a comforting smile from Violet, relaxed and brought the armful of books to the counter. Ruby followed suit, carrying her own armload of comics, and Yang shrugged, bringing up the one book she had. They set them all down. Violet nodded when Tukson asked if it would all be one transaction.

They left the shop a few minutes later, and after a short walk Violet dropped them off at the bullheads, waving them goodbye with an excuse that she needed some alone time, and didn't want to have to drag them around with her while she shopped for herself. Blake was surprisingly hesitant, despite the hoard she had just acquired. Violet got her to leave all the same.

She was going shopping, but first, she had somewhere to go scope out.

Chapter Text

Violet headed over to the warehouse district. After a brief search on her Scroll, the location was marked on a map, and her GPS guided her to the correct street. She approached slowly, keeping an eye out in every direction. This area was run down, deserted. If someone was to spot her, she would have a tough time explaining why she was there. Violet decided to scale the fire escape ladder on the building adjacent to her target. She brushed her hands together, knocking off the rust that had gathered there from her climb, and move to the edge of the rooftop, thankful for the ledge that protected her from view.

The warehouse she was looking for sat in disrepair. The paint was cracked and flaking, tall grass grew up around its edges, it looked abandoned, if not for the man standing at the front door, smoking a cigarette. Violet took a close look at him. He stood, acting nonchalant while he leaned against a wall, just to the right of the door. His eyes never stopped moving though. Down one way, then the next, back and forth as he kept his look out. Violet left him for now, moving along the edge of her building to see as much as she could of the other. There was a side door, in the alleyway between hers and theirs, but with no visible guard, Violet could only assume it was locked tighter than the one at the front.

That door suddenly opened, though, and Violet ducked down lower, exposing the barest minimum of herself to keep an eye on what was happening. A man stepped out, wearing an obvious White Fang mask before he was pulled back inside. Another pair of gloved hands was visible, removing the mask from him forcibly and pushing him back outside. 'Not very bright, then.' The man walked through the alleyway to the front of the building and traded places with the man that had been smoking. He ground his cigarette into the grass with a boot and opened the door he had been guarding, stepping inside.

The new guard took up watch, but he was much less observant than the previous had been. He let his eyes wander lazily, catching on to things or stopping altogether, in apparent thought about something unrelated to the task at hand.

There were no windows on the building, no chance for Violet to get an eye inside without getting into the building itself. With a hint of annoyance, Violet noticed that the fire escape on the other building had been broken off, left to lay on the ground in the alleyway. 'I could just… No. No cheating.'

Violet didn't particularly like her options. She could attempt to sneak in past the guard, distract him somehow then try to open and close the door unnoticed. She could try and catch him by surprise, her punches were surprisingly strong when she needed them to be thanks to her semblance.

Violet chose the second option. The guard had just been switched, so she doubted another was going to take his place or check up on him soon. The front door was also unlocked, since neither had pulled out any keys for the first man to get back inside. That would leave her retreat open if she was discovered the moment she opened the door…

Violet set herself in motion, climbing back down the ladder of her own building to the ground level, then glanced around the corner, keeping an eye on the guard's seemingly random pattern of keeping watch and daydreaming. She waited until his eyes were off the other direction, head rested like he was thinking about something again, before she stepped out from behind the corner and began walking towards him nonchalantly. Violet was careful not to assume a gait that would look suspicious. She didn't tread lightly, didn't stare at the guard or the ground.

He heard her approaching once she was within ten feet of him, his head spinning back to face her direction, body tensing. Violet just gave him a smile and slowed down a little, not completely stopping, but trying to make herself appear as non threatening as possible while still gaining ground. "Excuse me, do you know where 1252 Anchor is? I've been looking everywhere around here. My boss wanted me to deliver something," Violet choked out a laugh, "They'll kill me if I'm late!"

The man's body lost some of its tension, but his eyes still darted from her to the street around, unsure of what to do in the situation. 'Good, stay like that. It'll keep you from doing anything before I close the gap.'

"I don't know about any Anchor Street, kid. You're in the wrong neighborhood if you're-"

Violet dashed forward the final three feet with a speed that shocked the man. He had no chance, as her weighted fist collided with his chin, knocking his head to the side as he slumped towards the ground. Violet finished the movement, her other hand already reaching out and grabbing a hold of his shirt and making him weightless before letting him down to the ground.

'Step one, gain access and secure an escape route. Step two onward... no clue.'

Violet moved to the door and pulled it open just enough to get a peek through the crack she had made. She didn't see any motion through the crack. The lights were dimmed, and there was a cargo container situated near the door in front of her. 'Alright, I'm going for it.' Violet listened for anything, and hearing nothing, pulled the door open. She closed it quietly but swiftly before moving into a crouch behind the nearby container. The first thing she noticed was the large snowflake emblazoned on the side, and Schnee Dust Company written in easy to read script next to it.

'Dust cargo containers?'

Violet took in more of her surroundings. The first thing she noticed was the walkway above her. A quick frantic glance showed no one above her though. She moved to the other side of the container, and found another, then another. They were packed into the building tightly.

"Can't you animals doing anything right?" the familiar voice of Roman Torchwick caught Violet's ear, and she paled. 'This is his hideout! The first of many, most likely."

The faunus unfortunate enough to have gained Torchwick's ire mumbled something incoherently, too low for Violet to make out compared to the yell that had been the orange haired man's. 'Do I keep going?' Violet didn't have her weapon on her, and even with some hand to hand training, she doubted she would match up against the crook. He had fought off both Blake and Sun for a time during their fight at the docks. 'Even if that hasn't happened yet. It isn't as if he gets suddenly more competent overnight.'

Violet slowly backed off, towards the door she'd came from. 'I already know where he ends up, anyway. This isn't worth it.' With a skill born of fear, she exited the building silently, and left.

'Time to go shopping, I guess.'

 


 

Roman stood over the unconscious form of the faunus that had been on guard duty. This was bad. Someone had waltzed in, completely unnoticed aside from this one damn animal, knocked him out, gathered intel on their operation, and left without making a peep. Roman shivered, 'This is very bad.'

"One of you animals go grab my Scroll off the table," he growled.

She was still taking care of other loose ends, but they could wait. He was going to need all the protection he could get.

'I need to call in Neo.'

 


 

The rest of the weekend and most of the next school week passed uneventfully. Violet bought her clothes, the gang spent more time together and with Siren, they had their classes, Violet learned very little, but helped the others with their homework, and the bond shared by all of them deepened in the process. It was the following Friday that Violet started to get excited about.

'Forever Fall, here we come.'

Violet supposed she shouldn't be excited about someone getting covered in sap and having wasps set on them, but Violet had only gotten to beat on Cardin that one time. He'd been keeping himself surprisingly scarce, as of late. 'Now that I think about it, other than that first day, I haven't noticed any more of his usual antics.'

Cardin was still there. In classes, in the halls, at lunch. He seemed to be adamantly opposed to playing his role as the bully anymore, though, which Violet found confusing. They were in the cafeteria at the moment, and Cardin was sitting with his team, all of them the only ones at that particular table despite it being large enough for more people. 'There's Velvet… right behind him.'

The bully made no move to do just that, bully. Velvet was loudly chatting with the people beside her, which should have drawn his attention to her. The soft, easy, rabbit faunus target.

"Has anyone noticed something off about Cardin. He's a lot more… reserved, than on the first day," Violet finally asked, turning to the assembled group all enjoying their meal together.

Several faces at the table smiled, sharing some joke that Violet wasn't privy to. It was Weiss that spoke first though, one of the few that wasn't smiling, "Winchester won't be a problem anymore."

Violet's eyes grew wide, "What did you do?"

"Threatened him with the harshest punishment I could imagine."

Violet gasped, drawing Weiss's eyes to her, as she slowly raised a finger and slid it across her neck, a silent question in her eyes.

Weiss's eyes widened in shock, "No, you dolt! I told him our teams would challenge him every day in Ms. Goodwitch's combat class if he didn't fix his act!"

'Okay, I thought I'd messed up time really bad for a second there.' Violet looked at each of her friends in turn, seeing various levels of pride, smugness, and dislike for Cardin. She had to hand it to Weiss. It had been more effective than Violet would have given it credit for. She supposed the addition of expressing a united front had helped, more than Violet just beating on him over and over would have done. 'Peer pressure is a strong tool. Especially when the primary person speaking out against you would have been an assumed ally.'

"Good job, Weiss. I'm glad you were able to put a stop to him like that," Violet said, voice thick with appreciation. Weiss took the compliment, just nodding ascension before going back to her meal. 'She's proud of what she did, but doesn't want to show it.'

Forever Fall was sounding a lot more boring now. If all they were going to do was collect tree sap without the drama, what was the point. Violet's head slumped down on top of her hand. 'Greaaaaaaat.' "What did he do anyway that got you to step in like that?"

"Tripped Velvet then kicked her drink into her face while she was still on the ground," Weiss replied with barely hidden disgust.

…...

"...He… what…" Violet ground out between clenched teeth, eyes now boring a hole through Cardin's back. 'The little shit thinks he can get away with that!?' Velvet was sweet, innocent. She didn't deserve to be treated with such blatant disrespect!

"Hey, it's okay. Weiss took care of it," Yang said in alarm, putting a hand on Violet's own when she saw the murderous look in her eyes, "I know you're really protective of the faunus, but he stopped."

'Took care of it!? She threatened him with a slap on the wrist and then let him walk away. No punishment had been dolled out for his actions, none at all.'

Concern grew on a few of their faces as Violet's anger refused to subside, her death glare promising retribution for the things Cardin had done.

"Hey, don't do anything you'll regret," Blake said timidly, placing a hand on her other arm, "Focus on Velvet. She's fine now. She's happy. She's laughing. That's all that matters, right?"

Violet reluctantly let her gaze drift over to Velvet. She was happy. She was enjoying herself, in the company of her classmates. It took a lot of effort on her part, but Violet finally managed to quell her rage. She kept her eyes on Velvet the entire time, trying to let her smile be infectious, wanting some of that happiness to waft Violet's way and pushed out the anger she felt.

Yang and Blake kept their hands on her until she started to relax. "He's just a glorified fucking extra," Violet muttered, not caring who heard. The admission helped to soothe her, though. The tension finally left her body, she sighed, and gave a small smile to the girls next to her.

"Can I just break one of his bones?" Violet joked after a full minute had passed, a tiny bit of suppressed anger still slipping through.

"I suggest the legs," Nora piped up from down the table, "He can't run away if you start with the legs."

Violet let her expression turn thoughtful until Blake backhanded her shoulder, "None of that."

Violet smiled at her and bumped shoulders, anger leaving her completely, "Alright, alright. I won't hurt Cardin, at least as long as he doesn't act up again."

The two nodded and went back to their meals. That was fair enough to them.

'Boredom awaits.'

 


 

Blake kept the smile up on her face, even though deep down, Violet had scared her. The way she had said that… It showed a total disregard for Cardin as a person, as if his life truly didn't matter to her in the slightest. She knew a faunus that spoke like that about other people... The thought made her shiver.

She hoped Cardin didn't 'act up' again. For his sake, and for Violet's.

 


 

The bullhead that dropped them off at Forever Fall took off again without them. It was unsafe to leave it parked in a place infested with Grimm, so they were on their own. Violet watched the ship disappear through the trees, the hints of its presence being lost when it finally covered enough ground. The sound of its engines faded as well, the ominous silence a gentle reminder that they were on their own.

Violet turned a wary eye to her surroundings. She knew they shouldn't be attacked while they were here, not unless the Ursa stumbled on to one of their groups. 'Please let it be Cardinal, please let it be Cardinal.' Her senses were warning her that this place wasn't safe though. It wasn't the kind of place you wanted to relax in, or else you'd end up with a beowulf breathing down your neck.

Ms. Goodwitch confirmed her suspicions as she told them their objective, then warned them that the forest was indeed full of the creatures of Grimm. The mood shifted slightly, despite the beautiful scenery, as everyone's eyes grew a little bit more wary.

The jars were passed out, to be used in collecting sap from the trees deeper into the forest. 'What the heck does Professor Peach even need this much sap for anyway?'

Glynda finished up her speech, "We will rendezvous back her at 4 o'clock. Have fun," then walked away, perhaps to get away from the children for a few minutes.

'Right. Fun. Collecting sap. Wooh.'

Violet sighed and followed her team and Siren into the surrounding trees, travelling deeper into the forest, where the trees started to grow in scale and width. Cardin and his teammates disappeared, off to god knows where. 'Except I don't,' and that fact was starting to bother her. Violet looked at her friends. Their attention was diverted towards the front, in the direction they were headed. Violet took the opportunity and slipped away through the trees, wanting to make sure that Cardinal wasn't up to something.

She spotted them a small distance away from the rest, already tapping into some of the smaller trees. Violet hid herself behind a tree, close enough to listen in on their conversation.

"That bitch thinks she's sooo much better than me," Cardin seethed, already holding a half-filled jar of sap, "I'll teach her a lesson. One that she won't forget."

'Were they talking about me? It sounded like it, but it had been two weeks now since she'd said those things. It has to be Weiss.'

"Are you sure about this, Cardin? I don't like to admit it, but we've all had to fight them in combat class. They are stronger than us," one of them said, Russel maybe, Violet had never bothered to learn their names.

"Which is exactly why they'll be just fine fighting off a few Grimm," Cardin replied, "I looked this stuff up on my Scroll. It attracts the Grimm. That's why there's so many here, and why Professor Peach wants samples of it."

Violet's anger started anew, 'Trying to sick Grimm on us, are you? That's your master plan?' Her fury boiled over, all the suppressed feelings from earlier rushing back as she watched him turn around to the rest of his team, a smug smile on his face, holding aloft the jar he had filled.

"Let's hope something dangerous shows up. I'm hoping for a King Taijitu, at the very least."

Team Cardinal never heard the King Taijitu move up behind them.

It hadn't existed before then.

'Wish granted, extra.'

 


 

Yang noticed Violet slipping away, and slowed down, letting the group continue ahead. She watched them go, a little uncertain, but decided to just go grab Violet herself. God knows what the girl was thinking, but with Cardinal out here, and the Grimm, Yang didn't want to take any chances letting her roam free. Violet was quiet, though, and stealthier than Yang would have thought possible, given how the girl should have stood out like a sore thumb compared to the forest of red that surrounded them. The moment she had taken her eyes off her, Violet had vanished into the vegetation. Yang suppressed an urge to shout Violet's name. The Grimm could hear things. She failed to spot her, though, as she traveled deeper into the trees.

The sound of something heavy crashing against the ground, and panicked screams, got her moving. Yang dashed in their direction as she heard more heavy crashes, the snapping of trees, the yells of several people in fear and desperation. Yang blew into the clearing and froze, immobilized by the horrifyingly massive King Taijitu that was currently laying into team Cardinal. Every twist of its body snapped trees in its wake. There were already deep furrows dug into the ground where its heads had slammed into it, trying to snatch up the prey in front of it. Only two members of team Cardinal were still up that she could see, the others unconscious, or worse.

Yang blasted into action.

 


 

'Shit.'

Violet hadn't meant to make it this strong. Her anger had gotten the better of her, made her sloppy. The King Taijitu was easily twice the size of a normal Grimm of its type. It dwarfed the members of team Cardinal. They had immediately noticed the dark shadow looming over the top of them and yelled in shock, turning around to defend themselves from it. The King Taijitu had lashed out, shattering one of their auras in a single hit, sending him flying back into a tree across the clearing with a cracking sound that Violet hoped was just the tree. The others had tried to defend themselves, but the other head had struck a moment after, catching another one off guard. The head had slammed him straight down into the ground, a massive hollow left in its wake that hid his body from view. Violet had no idea what she would find when she looked.

Violet pulled Zenith off her back. 'What should I do!?' Using her powers now to undo it would just reveal herself. That road led to questions, to her having to leave or risk being exposed.

'My fault!'

Violet surged into action, right as Yang came screaming out of the trees, roaring a challenge at the giant Grimm. Its heads looked up, one to each of them, and lunged forward. Cardin and his teammate managed to dive to the side as the body of the Grimm threatened to crush them in its passing.

Yang blasted her Ember Celicas down as the Grimm's mouth opened wide, launching herself above her impending doom. Violet made herself lighter, rolling out of the way the moment before it struck, then turning back and lashing out with Zenith. Her greatsword glanced off its skin, leaving only the tiniest of scratches. 'This isn't going to work!'

Yang wasn't having much more luck than she was. Her blasts of Ember Celica across the Grimm's back were completely ineffectual. The head she had dodged turned back towards her, lashing out once again and slamming into its own body. Yang narrowly dodged being crushed instantly. Her aura wouldn't have protected her from that. Violet had to take her eyes off Yang as the head next to her whipped sideways. With nowhere to go, Violet was sent flying across the ground, a strangled cry escaping her lips as pain flashed through her entire body. Her aura had broken. One hit from the Grimm had proved to be too much.

Yang heard Violet's cry and turned her attention towards her, eyes going wide. The head that had slapped Violet across the clearing slowly coiled in her direction. Violet tried to pick herself up, but whimpered and fell back to the ground, pain shooting up her leg. It was broken, just like her aura.

With another scream of outrage, Yang shot across the clearing and landed in a roll, coming up between Violet and the King Taijitu. She stood, breathing heavily, back to Violet, standing over her protectively. Both heads slithered towards them, flattening the ground in their wake. Yang shook, but stayed where she was, as both of the heads raised up, rearing back to strike.

'MY FAULT!'

Violet's eyes burned as familiar amethyst fire scorched along the entire length of the King Taijitu, from one head to the other. Both heads thrashed, screeching in pain so loudly that it reverberated through the clearing and sent Yang to her knees, hands clutching at her ears in a desperate attempt to protect them from the roar. The fire continued to burn as it thrashed, not letting up, until the body dropped heavily to the ground one final time. The fire went out, leaving no sign in its wake. The Grimm was not burned. Violet had not destroyed its flesh. She had destroyed its very essence, just like she had so long ago to the beowulves.

Cardin burst back through the treeline, Professor Goodwitch hot on his heels as they stopped and stared at the carnage. Glynda got a hold of herself and ran to the first two students she saw, Yang and Violet. Cardin ran to his teammate that had been thrown into the tree, checking for a pulse.

Ms. Goodwitch opened her mouth and said something, but Violet realized immediately that she couldn't hear. Blood trickled down the sides of her face, out of her ears. Yang seemed to still have some hearing left, as Ms. Goodwitch tried shouting at them. Yang mumbled something as best she could. Violet got Glynda's attention, pointing off towards the deep hole in the ground, trying to say as close to "One of them's over there," as she could manage. Glynda seemed to understand her, and rushed off. She used her telekinesis to pull the boy out of the ground, laying him flat on the ground next to it.

Glynda checked for a pulse as well, and her expression calmed. 'A good sign.'

The rest of team Vibrant and Siren finally made it into the clearing, and immediately began helping where they could. Her teammates were saying things to her, but Violet could hear none of it. She had eyes only for the two members of Cardinal that had been downed.

With immense relief, she saw them getting treated, 'That means they aren't dead, at least,' and let herself fall back on the ground. Her breathing came out ragged and painful, in short sharp bursts, 'Probably some broken ribs.' Glynda had pulled out a medical kit from her supplies, and filled a syringe before sticking it into the boy's thigh. Violet recognized the colorful blue liquid. 'Aura boosters. Send one this way… After the other guy, of course.'

Glynda had shown Weiss how to duplicate the procedure at the same time, though, and sent her off to Violet with one while Glynda herself went to the other member of team Cardinal. Violet barely felt the needle that Weiss jabbed into her leg. It was lost among the rest of the pain. After a minute of the drug being administered, though, she felt her hearing start to return. Her aura was working double time, patching up her ear drums as well as the rest of her wounds. Violet's friends were still muffled, more than one had tears in their eyes.

After a time, Glynda used her semblance to pick up the three of them and floated them with her as she walked, heading back to the evac point. Yang clutched Violet's hand as she floated, uncertainty in her eyes as Glynda turned around, throwing questions her direction. Violet couldn't hear what she said... she just hoped it was anything but the truth.

 


 

Violet was lying in one of the many medical rooms at Beacon. Her hearing had returned, and her rib cage had healed, but the damage to her leg was more extensive. It had been shattered in several places, and would take a couple days to fully heal. 'Wooh… wasted weekend.'

The two members of Cardinal were in separate rooms, still alive. She had asked the nurse what the extent of their injuries were. The one that had been slammed into the tree was in similar condition to her, but it was his shoulder that had taken the brunt of the hit. The other was worse off. His entire upper body had taken the blow into the ground. Violet could only imagine the extent of the damage. He was lucky to be alive.

The door to her room opened, and Violet had to stop herself from visibly recoiling, 'Ozpin.'

The headmaster stepped into the room fully once he noticed she was awake, "Good evening, Ms. Regalia."

"Is it evening already?" Violet asked, looking towards her closed blinds. They only led out into the hallway, "Hard to tell with no real windows."

"I assure you it is," Ozpin replied with a quirk to his mouth. He shifted in his seat, drawing Violet's eyes back to his own as he spoke, "Ms. Regalia, I need a full recounting of the events that transpired yesterday. Spare no details."

Violet had already planned for this. There was no way to lie, not fully anyway. They would have the new body, another to compare to the Grimm from ten years ago. Violet needed to come clean with what Ozpin thought was the truth, and keep the rest of her secrets guarded closely as she did so.

So Violet began her tale. Arriving in Forever Fall, seeing Cardinal and his group sneaking off, thinking they were up to something. Losing track of them, then running into the clearing to find them in the middle of a fight with the King Taijitu. How it was bigger, stronger, more resilient than any she had ever seen. How two of the members of team Cardinal had gone down instantly. Trying to help distract it so that the other two could get away. Yang's appearance. Violet getting wounded. Yang jumping to her defense.

Then... how her eyes had lit up, and the Grimm along with it, burning it in a way that somehow left no marks. How the body had not disappeared, as all Grimm usually did.

"I'm sure Ms. Goodwitch could tell you more from there. The Grimm made me deaf for a while, so I really couldn't tell what was going on after that."

"And were you aware that you had performed this feat before today?"

"I… the memory came back, when I was killing the Taijitu. Like I had repressed it, maybe. I don't know. I remember it now, though. Staring down the face of that beowulf and feeling like I was going to die…" Violet let out a very real shiver as she said it. It was the two girls that had been with her that she thought of, though.

"Thank you, Ms. Regalia, for your honesty in this matter," Ozpin replied, looking into her eyes as he said it. Violet didn't break eye contact. She knew what 'tells' were, and had long since ground them out.

"Do you know what this is, Headmaster? This thing I can do?"

"I have never seen anything quite like it," Ozpin replied, "What all you can do with it remains to be seen. I hope you will keep this matter a secret, though. Ms. Xiao Long has been given the same instructions. No one else saw what happened, though they are confused, which is to be expected." Ozpin stepped up to the door and held it half open, smiling as he gave one last glance in Violet's direction, "Get well soon."

Ozpin left her with that final sentiment.

Chapter Text

Ozpin sat in his office, faced away from his desk and staring out the green tinted windows into Vale. He often would adopt this position when he was in deep thought. Right now he had a very important mystery to solve, and it wasn't making it easy for him. Certain parts just didn't add up. The young Ms. Regalia had some sort of power similar to the silver eyed warriors, and yet not. Silver eyes reduced the Grimm to stone and dust. These new… violet eyes… didn't destroy the body at all, but left it cold, lifeless, and untouched. The Grimm that had moved the body was certainly no longer there, its essence gone, in a way. Grimm did not have a soul, but perhaps there was some other fundamental part of their being that gave them their autonomy?

The color bothered him as well. It was her color. The color of the lands of the Grimm. Was there some connection there? The silver eyed warriors were descendants of his offspring, so could the Queen of Grimm have done the same? The idea seemed preposterous, she was not interested in creating life, not since… Ozpin shook the memories from his mind, focusing back on the task at hand. There was also the issue that it seemed to only work on the Grimm.

And why would a child between Salem and a human create a child capable of killing Grimm, but show no interest in using said power on other people? Could Violet, if she tried? Ozpin was not exactly keen to test that theory. She was still far too young to be taking the lives of other people.

Ozpin had gathered intel on both of the girl's parents. The father wasn't the type to have ever visited the Grimm lands, and the mother was on the hospital records to prove she had given birth to the girl. A baby switched at birth? She was the spitting image of a younger version of both. Her eyes were brighter, less dulled than her father's, but they were too close for it to be happenstance.

Then there was the King Taijitu. Ozpin had never seen one so large, not in any of his lives. The beast dwarfed all those that stood before it. It's scales had been harder than any Grimm's as well. Even after death, Ozpin had taken the chance to attempt to dissect it, to study the Grimm physiology. The scalpel had bent when he tried. Even more… extreme measures… had given them very little results. If Violet had not been there, he feared the Taijitu would have killed the entire class, and Glynda.

So when and how did such a powerful, massive Grimm work its way into Forever Fall, completely unnoticed? Why did it? That answer at least seemed the most obvious of the bunch, it was after Ms. Regalia. It had attacked in the area she was near, perhaps stumbling upon team Cardinal first during its approach. It had disregarded the other two members of team Cardinal the moment she appeared, instead focusing on her and Ms. Xiao Long. Could the Grimm sense her? The alternative was that Salem had sent it specifically, which was far more troubling of an idea.

Not for the first time, Ozpin wished Jinn had been more useful in his last attempt to use her, and that he had kept his anger in check to find a question that would have worked. Young Vernal had disappeared soon after. Ran away, kidnapped, murdered… He and Leo had never managed to track her down, regardless. He could not ask any more questions for a long time, perhaps not even in this lifetime or the next. Jinn's answers had been so evasive, it was not like her. She had acted as if there was no Violet Regalia, but Ozpin had spoken to the girl only half an hour ago, had known she existed since the moment Qrow brought her to his attention.

A crazy idea started to swim in the murky depths of Ozpin's twisting mind. It was ridiculous, but… might make the most sense. The child had lived a life of relative comfort, at the heights of Atlas, never truly being in danger aside from the two times where her powers had appeared. The first time, a mental block of sorts could have formed, letting her forget enough of what had happened that she didn't realize it was her own powers that had killed the Grimm. Since that time, she had wanted for nothing in her extravagant life. And now again, when she, and one of the same people she had saved before, were at the brink of death… She had reacted instinctively in both scenarios. 'Kill it'. That thought may have taken the same form both times. What if there was more she could do, and she had just not tried yet? If that were the case...

Ozpin sighed, turning back around to his desk to connect his Scroll and go through his contact list, dialing the name he had been looking for.

A gruff voice answered him, "Oz? What is it? I'm still on my mission."

"I'm calling you home. There are more important things that require your presence."

"I'm close though, Oz."

Ozpin pulled up one of the images saved to his Scroll and messaged it to the man as he spoke. A picture depicting four young girls, standing on a stage together, congratulating themselves on a job well done.

"Your fiery friend has returned, and she is in danger… Along with her team," Ozpin let his last words hang in the air. He knew the man on the line would never abandon his nieces.

"I'll come as soon as I can. It will still take me a week to get there."

"Seen you soon, old friend."

Ozpin turned back towards the window as the call ended. He paused to ponder a new question.

If he asked Jinn to tell him information about the man whose body he had joined with, the one that became the current iteration of 'Oz', would she still recognize that body as its own person?

 


 

Yang ruffled Ruby's hair as they walked down the hallway to Violet's hospital room, drawing an annoyed silver eye for her efforts. Yang knew that Ruby didn't like it, but she needed a distraction. The poor girl was getting too worried. Violet was fine, if still recovering. Blake wasn't with them. She had excused herself, saying she needed to go down into Vale for something and that she would visit Violet later.

"Yang! You know I don't like that!"

"Awww, but your hair was just begging me to mess with it," Yang smirked, keeping Ruby's mind off her worry. Yang ruffled her hair again for good measure, since Ruby couldn't defend herself, her arms held down by the lunch tray she was carrying. Ruby's glare was her only defense.

They arrived outside Violet's door, and Yang held it open for Ruby, who stepped in first. They both stopped as they realized Violet wasn't alone. Standing by her bedside was one of the nurses, blanket pulled to the side as she checked up on Violet's leg cast. The wrapping started at just above the ankle, and went the rest of the way up to her inner thigh. Yang still remembered seeing it the first time. While they were still in Forever Fall, when it had still been fresh. Her leg had been brutalized by the blow, snapped in three places. Yang hadn't been able to leave her like that, even with the Grimm about to strike.

Yang's mind had flashed to ten years ago while she stood there trembling. The all too familiar feeling of complete despair welling up inside her. Yang had only one glimmer of hope, one thought that kept her standing there, the prayer that Violet would find it within herself to repeat the past, and save them both from the Grimm that threatened to end their lives… And Violet had done the impossible again. The Grimm had burst into flames, shrieking in an unworldly pain that deafened the both of them, but left them alive. "Deaf is better than dead.'

Violet turned a smile to the both of them where they were still standing in the doorway, and motion them in. There were a couple guest chairs off to the side of the wall that Yang snatched up and dragged over next to the bed. Ruby set the tray of food down on a table nearby, waiting for the nurse to be done.

"You're healing up nicely. We'll have to keep the cast on overnight, but tomorrow we can remove it."

"Oh good. Do you know how much it would suck if my leg started to itch?" Violet gave a hearty chuckle and then stopped, staring down at her leg in horror, "Oh no."

Violet looked up at the nurse wide eyed, "Just take the leg!" The nurse just laughed and grabbed a small instrument off a nearby table before putting the tip underneath the edge of the cast. There was a sound of air getting dispensed and Violet laid back in pleasure, "Oh, that hit the spot..." The nurse started to step away, but was stopped by Violet's hand shooting out to grab her by the wrist. She looked pointedly at the object she had used, begging. The nurse handed it to her and Violet set it down in the bed with her, next to her leg, ready at a moment's notice. The nurse left the room smiling with a shake of her head, leaving the three of them alone.

Ruby finally handed Violet the tray, "We brought you food!"

Violet's eyes lit up as the tray was set down, her eyes scanning across it, "Oh, you're a saint, Little Red. The stuff they give me here isn't fit for dogs."

Yang's eyes noticed the similar trays resting on the counter nearby from previous meals, "Don't they give you the same stuff from the cafeteria?"

"Yeah, but Little Red and I share a special bond, you wouldn't understand. She just knows me. We're practically sisters or something. She always throws in the special ingredient," Violet mocked.

"And what might that be?" Yang grinded out, glaring at Violet's antics.

"Love," Violet replied with a grin as she lifted one of the plates, revealing a few cookies that had been hidden underneath. She gave Ruby a playful frown, "I thought you said you snuck four of them out?"

Ruby just licked her lips and smiled in response.

"Hm, should have seen that one coming."

"Are we gonna talk about what happened?" Yang interrupted their little game. She crossed her arms and frowned at the both of them, "We almost died."

Violet bit into one of her cookies slowly, and handed one to Ruby. The last she held up, temptingly swaying it back and forth in Yang's direction. She got a glare in return.

Violet sighed and laid back against her pillow, "We're alive, Yang. What is there to talk about?"

"Well for starters I need to say thank you. Again."

Violet looked away from them, towards the other side of the room, "Don't." It was hard to hear what she said. It was soft, as if she was afraid of them even hearing it.

"Why not? You saved my life twice, Violet!" Yang raised her voice a little, confused by the response she had received.

"Listen, it just… it feels wrong, to have you say that," Violent said quietly, turning back towards them but not all the way. She paused for a few seconds, "Friends don't need to say thanks... right?" Violet didn't even sound like she believed what she was saying.

"You should always thank people when they do something good!" Ruby chipped in, just as confused by Violet's reaction as Yang was.

Violet turned back to them fully now, a sad look in her eyes as she looked at the both of them, "need to say sorry."

Yang reeled back in surprise, "For what!?"

Violet's eyes looked off to the side, refusing to look into Yang's own, "For… not doing something sooner. Not this time, or the last time. If I had done things better…" Violet's words trailed off, too quiet to hear the rest.

'Is this some weird kind of survivor's guilt even though nobody died?' Yang stood up and punched her on the shoulder lightly, "Don't be ridiculous. You did what you could, when you could, and we're both alive because of it. So stop beating yourself up."

Violet smiled slightly, looking at her shoulder, "That's your job, huh?"

"Damn straight it is," Yang punched a little harder, forcing Violet's body to sway to the side. Yang's expression grew a little somber as Violet started eating finally. She decided to stop the conversation for the moment and talk to Ruby in the meantime, "So Rubes, what was it like on your end?"

Ruby tried to look at both of them with reproach, 'Adorable'. "Well after you two disappeared," her expression grew cuter, "We weren't too worried at first. You're both good fighters, and if you left together we thought it would be okay… Then the ground started to shake." Ruby shivered, "We were running back when we heard the Grimm screaming. We slowed down when Blake had to stop and hold her… other ears," Ruby pointed at the top of her head, "Then we got there and tried to help." She shrugged, "Not much to tell. We weren't there for any of it," her eyes turned thoughtful at the two of them, "Why did you guys leave anyway?"

"I was trying to spy on team Cardinal," Violet replied between bites.

"And I was following Violet. She kind of... lost me, though."

Violet snorted, "Are you blind? I wasn't even trying to hide from you."

Yang's eyes narrowed, "It's probably because you're so short."

Violet laughed, "I'm two inches shorter than you, at best, and that's just when you're not wearing your high heels."

"I don't wear high heels," Yang frowned.

Violet looked over the side of her bed at Yang's feet in confusion, "But it's Saturday. Shouldn't you be headed off to your other job on the corner soon?"

Yang really did punch her for that one.

Violet rubbed her shoulder and glared at Yang, "I don't remember ordering a dominatrix." Yang raised another first threateningly, eyes turning red, and Violet shied away. Yang nodded, eyes turning back to their usual lavender.

They immediately went red again as Ruby spoke, "What's a dominatrix?" Yang directed the deadliest glare she could at Violet. 'Fix this,' her eyes demanded.

"Somebody really good at board games?" Violet struggled to come up with something, anything.

"Oh, I like board games."

Violet grinned shakily, eyes glancing at Yang in desperation. Yang shook her head and decided to just leave it at that. Ruby would forget about this anyway. She always did when you brought up adult stuff around her, thankfully. 'The first creep that lays a hand on her, though…' Yang let her own thoughts trail off. You couldn't plead temporary insanity if the murder was planned.

"Why'd you follow Cardinal?" Yang asked, bringing them back on track.

Violet shrugged, "Didn't like the way they were sneaking off and wanted to see if they had something planned, I guess."

"We told you we scared him off. You don't have to worry about him anymore, Violet."

"I would have accepted that if it was me that I was worried about. People like Cardin that are used to getting their way all the time by bullying other people don't go down without a fight, Yang. Several fights, in Cardin's case."

"So, did you see them plotting anything nefarious?" Yang chided, "Oh that's right, we all almost died, so of course you didn't. Unless they unleashed the deadly Grimm."

Violet turned away, a far off look in her eyes. After a few seconds she just turned back to Yang and shrugged, though, looking defeated. Her eyes glanced over to Ruby as she realized something, "Who have you guys told?"

It was Yang's turn to shrug, "Ozpin told us to keep it a secret. I told Ruby and Blake the truth since they would have figured it out eventually anyway. We haven't told anyone on team Siren," Yang's eyes narrowed in annoyance, "No matter how many times Nora banged on our door last night." Yang sighed, "We're going to have to think of something to tell them."

"Heart attack," Violet suggested.

"Grimm don't have organs."

"Bolt of lightning."

"The sun was out."

"Ruby did it."

"Ruby was with them."

"It tripped."

"Snakes don't have legs."

"Indigestion."

"Nobody got eaten."

"Bad breath."

"Who had bad breath?"

"Jeez, it's like I'm the only one coming up with ideas here," Violet laughed while still trying to look offended.

"Yeah, bad ones," Yang retorted. Ruby was just giggling off on the side.

"Watcha think, Little Red?" Violet turned to Ruby. Her giggling was cut short.

"Can't we just tell them the truth? There's nothing else to tell them," Ruby whined.

Yang and Violet sat in silence for awhile, and eventually they both had to agree with Ruby.

"So, we tell them?" Yang looked at Violet, who nodded.

"We tell them."

 


 

Ruby and Yang left a little while later when Violet told them she was getting tired. They hadn't been gone long though when the door opened again, and Violet sat up in shock. Cardin stepped inside, looking over his shoulder as he closed the door gently. Violet tensed up, preparing all manner of horrible things to set upon him.

Cardin breathed out a sigh of relief once he was inside, "Man, I thought they'd never leave."

"What are you doing here, Cardin?" Violet seethed, letting her voice carry all the venom she could muster. Cardin's eyes widened as he looked at her and raised his hands up in a gesture of peace.

"I'm not looking for a fight," Cardin said hesitantly, still standing near the door instead of approaching her bed at all. 'A trick, or something else?'

"Then what are you here for?" Violet asked, keeping her voice tight to show that she wasn't about to be fooled.

"I…" Cardin put a hand up and rubbed the back of his head, "Look, I've never done something like this before." At Violet's raised eyebrow, he continued, "I wanted to say... thank you…"

Violet's other eyebrow shot up to join the first, surprised by the admission. If she didn't know any better, she would have said he looked genuine about what he was saying. 'This is just weird.'

"You jumped in to help when you could have just left us. If it wasn't for you, my entire team would be dead," Cardin admitted, tentatively meeting Violet's gaze.

"What about Yang? She helped too," Violet pressed, keeping her eyes on his face.

Cardin gave a half-hearted laugh, "She did, but she's not the one in the hospital bed because of it, is she?" Cardin shrugged, "That's all I really wanted to say." Cardin turned around to leave.

A shred of an idea popped into Violet's mind, and she spoke quietly as his hand touched the door knob, stopping him in his tracks, "Is that how you would have wanted to be remembered?"

Cardin froze, hesitating as he turned back around, "What do you mean?"

Violet sighed before launching into her desperate bid, "Cardin, to put it bluntly, you've been an ass ever since you got here at Beacon. A racist bigot with a penchant for bullying people weaker than him," Cardin's face flinched at each harsh word, "If you had died yesterday. Is that how you would have wanted to be remembered, as a terrible person that only seemed to care about himself? Because that's how we all would have thought of you."

Cardin was silent as he stared at Violet, appalled at what she had said. After a few moments though, his expression shifted to one of guilt, "That really is how you all would have thought of me, huh?

"But that isn't the person I saw in that clearing. That isn't the person that I chose to save. What I saw was a team leader, desperately trying to fend off a Grimm that had already wounded two of his teammates and was threatening another. You could have escaped, left your team to die while you got to safety. Instead, as soon as you could, you made the choice to go and get help. You ran back into that clearing before Goodwitch even did because you wanted to make sure your team was safe."

Cardin's posture changed a little, the sagging of his shoulders retreating as he realized that she was no longer insulting, but praising him.

"As a favor to me. To the person that did save your life. Share a little of that compassion with everyone else. You are a hero, Cardin. You just haven't grown into it yet."

'Holy hell, I am laying it on thick. Take the hint or I'll kick your ass again, cast or no cast.'

Cardin stood up straight, eyes focusing and unwavering on Violet's own, "I… I'll try."

"Close enough," Violet replied dryly and nodded towards the door. Cardin got the message and left without another word, head already down in contemplation.

'Can't I just go a week without trying to fix somebody?'

 


 

Blake had gone into Vale to get Violet a gift. After she'd bought what she was looking for, Blake had returned via bullhead and gone straight to the hospital wing. She had some things she needed to say, things to apologize for. Her ears perked up at the sound of a door opening and closing ahead of her.

Blake's feet jarred to a halt, and she put a hand on Gambol Shroud when Cardin stepped out of Violet's room, head down.

"What the hell were you doing in there?" Blake practically growled at him, body shifting down as she got ready to spring into action and tear the bastard to pieces.

Cardin's face shot up, eyes looking at her sadly as he raised his hands. He wasn't scared. He looked... weary. Tired, in a way. 'What the hell?'

"I was just thanking her for saving my team," Cardin replied quietly, stepping to the side of the hallway, "Check for yourself. She's fine. Even I'm…" he paused in silence for a moment, "not that terrible of a person."

Blake kept her hand on Gambol Shroud and one eye on Cardin as she stepped past to Violet's door, giving him a wide berth. A peek through a gap in the shades proved the truth to his words, as Violet was idly drumming her hands against her cast, looking pleased with herself. Blake let her hand fall off her weapon and nodded to Cardin, waiting for him to leave before she composed herself and opened the door.

"Finally, a friendly face!" Violet said excitedly, letting her hands drop to the sides to pretend like she hadn't just been tapping up a storm. Violet's eyes drifted down to Blake's hands, at the book she held.

Blake quickly stepped up to her and held the book out. She knew her cheeks were starting to go pink, she wasn't good at this sort of thing, "I went back to Tukson's and bought you something to pass the time. It's one of my favorite books!"

Violet gasped, eyes wide as her hands pulled back then slowly inched forward, "Ninja's of Love?" she whispered.

Blake balked and dropped the book in Violet's lap, "No! How do you even know about that!?"

"After two weeks, how did I notice the book that you shove into your pillow case when you go to sleep, instead of carefully placing it back on the shelf like all your other precious books?" Violet grinned, "Though I suppose I should have guessed as much. Tukson's slogan is 'Every book under the sun', and that book has never seen the light of day, has it?"

Blake's cheeks had turned a bright shade of red as she threw her hands to her face to hide from the truth, "You can't say anything to the others."

"Yang and I already read parts of it, so sorry about that," Blake groaned, "and she would kill me if I showed it to Ruby, so no worries there. Which one is this, then?" Violet drew her attention back to the book she had actually bought.

Blake spread her fingers to peek through them, mumbling into her hands, "It's about a man with two souls, each fighting for control over his body. I was reading it the first night we met."

"Sounds intense," Blake's ears perked and her hands lowered at the genuine excitement in Violet's voice, "I'm definitely going to read this. Thank you, Blake."

Blake's chest purred at the praise before she could stop herself. Thankfully it looked like Violet hadn't noticed, as she had opened up the book to the first page, "There's something else I needed to say."

Violet didn't look up, still flipping through the first few pages, "Go for it, I'm all ears," she did glanced up after that, a smile playing at her lips, "As much as a human can be, anyway."

Blake shook her head and smiled at the lame joke, giving herself that extra moment to strengthen her resolve, "I needed to say... I'm sorry."

Violet's hands paused as her eyes raised to Blake's, a question clear in her eyes. She waited for Blake to continue at her own speed, though. Blake was thankful for the moment to get her thoughts in order.

"When you were mad at Cardin yesterday, when you said 'He's just a glorified extra', you reminded me of someone. It scared me. You scared me. I started to doubt you, and I'm sorry for that. After all you've done to earn my trust, I shouldn't have thought you were… were like him," Blake rushed on as Violet's face turned to dismay, "But then you proved me wrong, in so many ways. You saved Cardin and his team. The person I was comparing you to would never have done that."

The two of them let the silence hang in the air as Violet thought over Blake's admission. Violet finally patted the chair next to her, and Blake sat down in it.

"I don't blame you," Violet said simply, shocking Blake as she continued, "I really did want to hurt Cardin for what he had done. I'm not a monster though, Blake. Cardin's team was mostly innocent. They're kind of assholes too, but I think with him as their leader, they just feed off his negativity. Even if it had only been Cardin there… He didn't deserve to die for a little spilt milk. Hell, I'm hoping this will change him for the better. Let him reflect on his life now that he's stared death in the face."

"Is that why he was so depressed when he left?" Blake asked, putting the dots together.

"Yeah, I might have taken it into my own hands to try and jumpstart that revelation," Violet looked somehow both sheepish and proud of herself.

'If anyone could…'

"Speaking of which. Yang filled you in, right?"

Blake nodded, "Can't say I'm not surprised. It's one thing to hear about something, another to see the proof right in front of you."

"Ozpin told us to keep it quiet, but… we're going to tell Weiss and the others. There's no way to really keep it from them," Violet admitted.

Blake shrugged lightly, "Makes sense. I don't like breaking the Headmaster's trust like that, but our hands are tied."

"Ah, he'll get over it," Violet waved away her concern, like the man that held all their lives in his hands was nothing to worry about.

"I'm glad at least one of us won't lose sleep over it," Blake grinned, letting a bit of Violet's nonchalance infect her.

"Nope, you have books for that already."

Blake's face glowed anew, "Okay, that's enough for one day," she stood and walked to the door, before turning back, a smile on her face. "Get some rest."

Violet raised the book and shook it lightly, "In a bit. I have some reading to do. Have a nice night, Blake."

"You too, Violet."

Blake left after that, a slight spring to her step.

 


 

Violet had been released the following day, and was able to go to the cafeteria for lunch instead of having it delivered. Her leg had been stiff for a while, but eventually went back to feeling normal by the time they had finished up with lunch. Team Vibrant had refused to answer any of Siren's questions, looking around the packed cafeteria to get the point across. Once everyone was done eating, they had gone up to team Vibrant's room. Violet, Ruby, Yang, and Blake sat on their desk chairs that they had pulled over near the window, facing Weiss, Pyrrha, Ren, and Nora, most of which sat on Yang's bed. Nora had taken up Blake's top bunk, and was swinging her legs back and forth over the edge, dangerously close to her teammate's faces. Violet had left it to Yang to tell them the truth. It wouldn't due now to accidentally let something extra slip.

Yang had just wrapped up the last part of their little tale. They sat in silence, waiting for team Siren's reaction.

"This all sounds ridiculous," Weiss said across from them. All of team Siren were leaning forward, staring at Violet's eyes, which was making her very uncomfortable.

"Ooh, ooh! I know! Set this on fire with your eyes!" Nora yelled, tossing down Blake's pillow. There was a distinct 'thud' that, thankfully, only three members of team Vibrant noticed.

"Uh, how about no," Blake wavered as she picked up her pillow carefully and held it in her lap.

"I don't really want to try and use it again, Nora. It's too dangerous to play with," Violet said evenly, trying to leave no room for argument. As always, Nora failed to pick up on the hint.

"But that's dumb! You have super powers! I'd be setting everything on fire!"

"Should I be reporting an arsonist on the loose to the Vale Police Department?" Violet asked in mock worry.

"Snitches get stitches."

"Nora!" Ren admonished, calming her down a little.

"Sorry Ren~!"

"I'm not exactly in a rush to go throw myself or my friends in a life or death situation again," Violet continued, trying to put the entire idea of 'testing it out' to rest.

They all nodded in understanding. Violet just sighed internally to herself. She had really messed up in Patch. The entire ordeal had spiralled out of control from that first failure. Now she had to pretend to have 'super powers' as Nora so affectionately called it. 'It stops here. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do if I run into something that I can't just set on fire. I swear. If I end up with a laundry list of things I need to keep track of, I'm hitting the reset button.' She wouldn't, but one could dream. 'Except I can't do that either...'

She was really starting to feel the urge to just go smite something to vent her frustrations out on.

'Which reminds me…'

Violet pulled out her Scroll, connecting to a particular Schnee webpage that she had visited far too often. Weiss noticed through the back of the screen and raised an eyebrow questioningly. Violet shrugged and leaned forward, turning her Scroll around so that Weiss could read what she was ordering correctly. Weiss's eyes widened at the price tag at the bottom, "That's insane."

"Gotta do watcha gotta do," Violet smiled, flipping the phone back around to complete the order, "It's Ruby's fault, anyway."

"What's my fault?" Ruby asked cautiously, eyes darting back and forth between Violet and Weiss.

"Well, somebody wasn't content to shoot Zenith just once, and used her cute little puppy dog eyes so that I would let her shoot it another dozen times," Violet replied, not really upset, but it was funny to see the worry on Ruby's face.

"Is that bad?" Ruby asked meekly.

"You could say that. They cost 1,000 lien apiece to order from the SDC."

"And you let her shoot it that many times!?" Yang looked like she was about to pass out. Ruby had gone green in the face, looking about ready to run to the bathroom and puke.

"I'm a sucker for a cute face. Truly, it is my kryptonite," Violet laughed.

"Your what?" Weiss interrupted.

Violet paused, realizing the minor slip up, "Eh, just something from a comic book I read when I was little. The hero's weakness was a little glowing stone that drained his… semblance." 'Damn my loose tongue!'

Weiss just shrugged lightly. She had no experience with comics.

"Until…" Violet turned her eyes back to the order confirmation email, "next weekend... I only have three shots left."

"You don't sound very worried about that," Ren pointed out.

Violet laughed, "You've seen Zenith go off. If we run into three things during a school week that need to be taken down with that level of extreme prejudice, then something has gone horribly wrong."

"It does still sound terribly wasteful," Pyrrha pressed the issue.

Violet smirked, "There's no kill like overkill."

"That… sounds like a terrible lesson to try to teach others," Ren said evenly.

Violet shrugged, "The things I shoot tend to stay dead."

Yang lowered her head and shook it in sadness, "That poor statue."

"You'd have shot it too if you had to see it everyday."

Violet was forced to explain the joke to team Siren. From there the conversation devolved into more mild topics, as they fell back into just hanging out, enjoying each other's presence. After a while, they started playing games. Violet went back to reading the book Blake had given her, much to the other girl's delight. They spent the rest of the evening together while Violet ordered pizzas for them. After everyone had their fill, and the chatter quieted down from full bellies and tired eyes, Siren excused themselves, and the members of team Vibrant wished each other a peaceful night's rest.

Sleep came easily to all of them.

Chapter Text

They were sitting in the cafeteria a few days later when the unthinkable happened.

Lunch was starting to wind down, the time for the first year's next class with Ms. Goodwitch fast approaching. Team Vibrant and Siren were all still at their seats, in mild conversation between bites, content to try and stretch out the few minutes they had before class. It wasn't that they weren't excited for combat class… they were just the only teams that could put up a fight with each other, and they had each sparred several times with each member of both teams by now. The rest in their class simply weren't on their level. It had even gotten to the point where Pyrrha was sparring against entire teams by herself. Yang and Violet had been the only other two to replicate that feat, if not as easily as Pyrrha had.

Pyrrha was chatting with Weiss about some of her favorite memories during her years as a tournament champion, the people she had met, the more difficult fights she had won. Ruby was oiling Crescent Rose, in preparation for class. Nora had seen a few other girls looking at Ren, and was unsuccessfully trying to convince him to wear a pin that she had written 'Property of Nora' on in black sharpie. Violet was reading Blake's book. She was close to finishing it, only two chapters away, and had promised Blake that they would discuss it once Violet was done. Her attention kept getting stolen away from it, though, as Yang was excitedly talking about a new Spruce Willis movie she wanted to go see later that night.

"Guys, it's gonna be awesome. Trust me. I watched the trailer for it! 'Dye Hard' is going to be this summer's big box office hit!" Yang loudly proclaimed. The only one actively listening was Blake, but she didn't look very impressed.

"Hmm," the sound Blake made was the very definition of noncommittal, "Yang, you do realize that we're training to fight monsters for a living, right?"

"So!? Our lives aren't half as exciting as Spruce Willis's, even with the monster fighting!"

Violet felt Yang turn her eyes on her, hoping for backup on this one. Violet sighed, "I'll go, if you promise to rein in your voice so I can finish this book before we leave later."

Yang's mouth opened and she pumped a fist into the air, but the shout she was about to make came out instead as a muted, "yeaaah", at a look from Violet. 'That would've been the fastest promise broken in the history of ever.'

Violet's eyes caught on to the cafeteria doors opening before she could turn back to her book. Cardin had stepped inside, looking troubled. His gaze was up long enough to see where his team was sitting before his eyes dropped back down, legs carrying him forward towards them while he was still lost in thought.

Velvet stood up from the table she was at, excusing herself to go drop off her tray and leave for the second year's classes. Her eyes fell on Cardin walking towards her as she left the table. Violet saw a look of apprehension fall across the girl's face, her eyes darting between Cardin and Weiss. She resolved to keep walking, but as Cardin drew closer, her gaze became more and more uncertain. With her eyes locked on the bully, she didn't manage to notice the liquid that had spilled on to the ground where she was about to step. With a startled cry, her feet slipped out from under her, right as Cardin was passing.

On pure instinct, Cardin reached out and grabbed a hold of Velvet, stopping her fall. The two stood their awkwardly for a few seconds, neither sure what to do, before Cardin dipped down and picked up her tray along with the leftover wrappers that had been on it. Wordlessly, he handed them to Velvet and walked away to his team, sitting on the bench with them and ignoring their stares.

Velvet's face was stuck in absolute bewilderment as she left the cafeteria.

Violet turned back to her book, a self satisfied look on her face that only she and Blake understood. The rest of the table erupted in whispers, as those that had seen what happened pointed it out to the others.

"Cardin Winchester just helped a faunus!?"

"It looked like an accident to me. He didn't even mean to."

"You're sure it was Cardin, and not some body double?"

"This isn't one of your Spruce Willis movies, Yang!"

"Good thing too. It would have ended with an explosion if it was."

Violet let their voices drown out as she turned back to the book. Her eyes didn't travel across the pages in front of her, though. Violet wasn't reading. She was scheming.

 


 

Cardin leaned against his hand, propped up by his elbow on the rail in front of him. Goodwitch's class had gone as usual so far. The members of team Vibrant and Siren had trounced all the other students they were pitted against, then used some of their remaining weekly challenges to fight each other instead. Honestly, even though he would never admit it to any of them, their skills were incredible. Even the kid that had gotten in two years early showed how adept she was with her weapon and her semblance, using them in tandem to unleash attacks that were horrifyingly swift and accurate.

Right now, she was fighting the yellow haired one. Her sister, if he recalled correctly. How two kids could come out looking so different was beyond him. They were both complete powerhouses, though. The older sister more so than the younger, if only because of the age difference. Cardin had taken to observing both team's fighting styles more closely over the last few days, trying to learn something from them that he just couldn't from the other teams. They might have been the titans that ruled the class, but he was still a cut above the rest of the other first years.

It was disheartening, to say the least. He had reached a plateau, one that he didn't know how to rise above. He wasn't learning anything from the other students, not really, and his fights with Vibrant and Siren were over faster than he could think. The gap in their skill levels was just too dominant.

The fight between the two sisters came to an abrupt end, as the older one that had been getting pressed towards the edge of the stage turned that momentum around on the younger, catching her scythe with her aura protected arm and pulling the girl into an overhead throw that carried the younger one out of bounds. Watching from above, it had been clear that she was giving ground on purpose, drawing the younger girl closer to the stage to end the fight with a ring out.

The kid got up with a laugh, though. Not demoralized, as Cardin would have been. Instead the two girls embraced, talking over what they had been thinking as they fought, sharing their experiences to learn from them in a way that Cardin had never been able to.

As they returned to their seats, Goodwitch returned to the stage, turning her gaze up to the students in attendance, "We have time for one more spar today. If anyone would like to use your challenge, please make it known." Cardin watched Violet stand and shook his head. 'Going to try and beat Pyrrha again?' The girl was relentless. Her eyes drifted past the championship fighter though and rested on Cardin, who couldn't resist swallowing in dread.

"Cardin Winchester, I choose you," Violet said gravely, a quirk to her lips that went unnoticed. He stood up straight from where he had been slumped and nodded uncertainly. She just walked out of the stands and off to the women's changing room, though, and Cardin had no choice but to follow suit into the men's. His mind was a haze of panic and a forlorn understanding that he didn't stand a chance. Cardin wasn't sure what had started this, 'Had she seen what happened in the cafeteria? Maybe she thought it was rude that I didn't say anything. Maybe she thinks I was the reason Velvet nearly fell again in the first place.' All he could do was try his best.

The class was silent as Cardin exited the locker room. Violet was already on the stage, rubbing a hand furiously on her ridiculous greatsword as if she had seen a spot of dirt. Cardin sighed, her odd personality didn't dull her skills, unfortunately. He composed himself as best he could, and waited for the beat down he was about to receive. Cardin lifted his mace in his right hand and took up his fighting stance, preparing to at least defend himself.

But, as Goodwitch signalled for the fight to start, Violet simply stuck her greatsword into the arena floor in front of herself, resting her arms forward on it while she gave him a critical look. Cardin felt exposed, under that gaze.

"You need to bend your knees more. You're a big guy, and you're leaving your center of gravity too high up. It would be pretty easy to knock you over."

Cardin just stared in confusion, 'What is she doing?' Violet rolled her eyes at him, and said with a wink of one dazzling eye, "Just trust me, okay?"

Cardin nodded hesitantly and bent his knees a little. Violet glared, and Cardin nearly staggered as a massive weight suddenly dropped him lower. Cardin's eyes darted around, his aura instinctively flaring up to defend himself from the attack.

"Stop that," the girl grumbled, drawing his eyes back to her. A bead of sweat had formed on her forehead as she stared at him in concentration. 'Is this her doing?'

Cardin let his aura die down, and her expression relaxed. He felt the weight fluctuate slightly, the shift making his body raise and lower a little bit. His muscles didn't expect the sudden changes. He was applying a certain amount of strength to hold himself up, and when the weight lightened, his body rose slightly. When it grew heavier, his knees bent back down.

Violet nodded her approval after about fifteen seconds, "That's much better. You should spread your legs out further apart too, though."

Cardin just shrugged and spread his legs further apart until she seemed satisfied with their positioning. Cardin felt his arm slowly raise as the weight was lifted off them, pulling his weapon up and closer to the middle of his body.

"From there you can react more quickly to an attack on either side, and above. It's easier to start high, since lowering your weapon down to block a strike aimed at your legs has the added benefit of gravity working with you to get it down faster. Just don't block your own line of sight with your mace," the girl gave his stance one more look before nodding, "Now, attack me."

Cardin felt his body weight vanish, suddenly feeling light on his feet. Even as he moved forward to attack, Violet kept talking.

"You don't have Pyrrha's speed, which is what you need if you want to get into my guard before I can counter. You have a much heavier build. If you want to overcome the difference in the length of our weapons, you need to try and bait out an attack first. Calculate the reach of your opponent, and keep yourself light of foot when you approach. Once you reach that range," she punctuated that by swinging her greatsword at his head, which he quickly stepped back out of reach from, "let the person attack, and capitalize on their mistake." She comically continued holding her greatsword out to the side, where it had stopped after missing him.

Cardin got the hint, and stepped back into her reach. She actually swung it this time, forcing him back. The instant it whistled by, though, he stepped into her guard and swung his mace horizontally at her head. Cardin was shocked as she dipped beneath the blow, letting her greatsword's weight carry her into a spin that ended with her left fist slamming into his stomach. He staggered back from surprise, more than anything. There hadn't been nearly as much power in it as there was during their first duel.

"Swing lower. A blow to the head can be ducked too easily. Aim for center mass, and be ready to step into the swing so that they have nowhere to dodge."

The odd lesson kept going from there. Violet showed him how to parry, a better way to set his body to block her massive blows, how to follow up on an attack without winding up as much. After another ten minutes, she started fighting at what seemed like half speed. The entire time, she was manipulating his body and giving him more suggestions. She made his arms heavier as she swung an attack towards him, lowering his guard to block more effectively. She removed the weight from his body when he was going to get caught in a horizontal slash, allowing him to backpedal out of range instead of taking the blow to the chest. On and on she fluctuated the weight of his limbs and weapon, until he started to move in those ways ahead of the weight transfer, getting used to the movements Violet was drilling into him.

The strain was becoming clear on her face. Violet's had broken out in sweat, despite the relatively slow pace of the fight. She finally stopped after the fifteen minute mark, getting a breather. Violet looked up at him and gave a half smile, "Alright, time to end this."

Cardin felt the various manipulations on his body fade away, back in complete control. He quickly moved his body back to a close approximation of what she had shown him, and waited for her to attack. Violet paused, nodded her head once after looking at him, and from a relaxed position, crossed the intervening space in a flash that he still wasn't expecting.

As Cardin lay on the ground thirty seconds later, his aura in the red, weapon far out of reach, and a greatsword hovering in front of his face, he would at least be grateful that he'd lasted longer than in their first fight.

Violet grinned, returning the greatsword to her back, and offered him a hand, "Can't expect to see too much improvement after one day. Challenge me tomorrow and we'll pick up where we left off."

Cardin accepted the hand and felt his body get lighter again as she pulled him off the floor. She turned away, heading back to the women's locker room.

Cardin could only manage one word as she walked away, "Why?"

Violet turned around and gave him a considering look, then shrugged, "Good karma? An olive branch? Stay on the hero's path and you'll see how much stronger you'll get because of it."

'So she saw me helping Velvet?' Cardin was too tired to smile, 'Yeah... I could get used to this.'

 


 

"We already tried the stick, I just wanted to test out the carrot," Violet said, once again trying to explain why she had been so nice to Cardin in Glynda's class earlier. She had managed to evade their questions long enough to get a shower in, and was sitting in bed with Blake's book propped up against her knees. Even the faunus was sending questions her way, though. Violet sighed and shut it, there was only half an hour before the movie anyway, and Nora had popped her head in to let them know her team was ready to leave.

Violet set the book down next to her and stood up, stretching. That 'training session' with Cardin had been fatiguing, in more ways than one. They all headed to the door, Yang in front as she swung it open for them, "Ahh, yeah! Girl's night out!" Team Siren was already waiting for them.

"Ehem."

"And Ren," Yang corrected with a smirk before setting off down the hallway.

They arrived at the theater with only a few minutes to spare. Violet bought copious amounts of snacks to divvy out while the others got into the theater, hoping to snag seats for all of them. Violet followed soon after, arms loaded with sweets and popcorn that she quickly dispensed to her friends. Luckily, they had managed to get a row for themselves, a long line of brightly colored teens that stretched out across its entirety. One or two people were giving Yang a scathing stare from a couple rows behind them, though, so maybe luck had nothing to do with it. The last seat had been left for Violet, with Blake on her left and the isle on her right. The other members of team Vibrant were past Blake, then Siren even further down, with Ren on the far end next to Nora.

The movie was just starting as Violet sat, "Perfect timing." The movie played through the opening credits, music loud enough that even Violet's ears were starting to feel it. She'd never actually gone to a movie theater in this life, it was practically deafening.

Violet flinched when she felt something push up against her, then looked over. Blake had buried the side of her head against Violet's arm and shoulder, using her to cover half her ears on that side. Violet could see the pained expression on her face and changed her position slightly, better covering her ears for her. Blake looked at her thankfully, if a little red in the cheeks, and they went back to watching the movie. Violet felt Blake bundle up next to her in the dark, but ignored it. 'Whatever she needs to do to enjoy herself.'

The movie was fun, if a little played up. 'If I ever say that many one liners during a fight…' The ending was satisfying, though. A few people cheered and clapped in the audience as people started to stand, 'Why? They can't hear you clapping…' Violet stood up from her seat and Blake nearly fell over in surprise. 'When did she start leaning against me so hard?' Violet shrugged and gave Blake a hand before leading the two teams out of the theater. It wasn't until she stepped out into the cold night air that Violet realized how late it was.

The second thing she noticed were the red and blue lights flashing just down the street. Violet smirked back at Nora who was just then seeing the lights for the first time.

"I'm sorry, Nora. I had to turn you in."

Nora gasped, looking between Violet and the police cars down the street, "Traitor!"

"I wonder what happened?" Pyrrha interrupted, talking more to herself than them. She went on tip toe, trying to see down the street.

"Let's check it out!" Yang smacked her fists together, apparently still pumped up from the movie, and took off towards the lights.

"You really shouldn't run at the police, Yang," Ren cautioned, but she was already gone.

The rest followed more slowly. As they approached, it became apparent that it was a dust shop that had been robbed. Glass from the windows was shattered outwards, and a briefcase half-packed with dust crystals was spilled out across the pavement inside the perimeter the police had set up. There were splashes of blood across the pavement and a person's white chalk outline in front of the door. All things considered, it looked like someone had been murdered. Their group was able to catch a bit of the officer's conversation as they stood near the yellow tape, faced away to look over the scene of the crime.

"Nah, it just doesn't make a lick'a sense. Who needs that much dust?"

"You thinkin' the uh, White Fang?"

"Yeah I'm thinkin' we don't get paid enough."

Blake stepped back, motioning the rest of them away from the police, "Why would the White Fang rob a dust shop in the middle of downtown Vale?"

"You don't think it was them? Why not?" Weiss asked.

Blake shook her head, "No. I don't think it was them. This isn't the White Fang's usual M.O."

"And how do you know so much about how the White Fang operates?" Weiss replied quietly, looking closely at Blake as she said it.

"I… I…" Violet grabbed Blake's hand as she started to step backwards, holding her in place. Violet smiled lightly, waiting for Blake to look calm down. Blake's face was a mixture of fear and anxiety, but slowly relaxed. She looked back at Violet with appreciation.

Blake turned to Weiss and clutched Violet's hand harder, standing firm before looking back into Weiss's eyes, "I used to be a member of the White Fang. I quit before coming to Beacon, and I don't intend on ever going back to them."

Weiss seemed hesitant, doubtful. She stared at Blake, a quiver in her shoulders.

"Weiss," Violet said just her name, to get her attention. Weiss's eyes latched on to hers as she spoke, "You can trust her."

Weiss looked back to Blake, her face a twist of so many competing emotions that it became unreadable, "Just tell me one thing, Blake..." at Blake's nod she continued, "...Did you ever kill anyone?"

Blake's eyes widened and she shook her head vigorously, "No! No, I left because they were getting too violent. The White Fang that I knew was gone. They… they've gone too far."

Weiss let out a trembling sigh of relief, "Then we have nothing to worry about."

They all stood around in awkward silence until Ren suggested the sleep on it. Both Weiss and Blake were quiet, deep in thought for the trip back to their dorms in Beacon. Yang tried to pick up a conversation about the movie, but stopped after a while. No one else was in the mood.

The teams still wished each other farewell before parting, heading into their rooms. Yang leaned against the bookshelf in front of the window, Blake sat down on Yang's bed, and Ruby collapsed on to Violet's.

"As much as I love a cuddle-buddy, Little Red," Ruby giggled as Violet used her semblance and picked her up, tossing her into her bunk up top, "You're a million years too young for me."

"You're only two years older!"

"And in a million years I'll still be two years older," Violet laughed.

The group fell back into silence for a minute as Ruby and Violet both got themselves situated.

"So, we're investigating, right?" Violet asked finally, looking towards the two silent girls across from them.

"Isn't that the police's job?" Yang asked, shooting a protective look at Ruby.

"Would Spruce Willis leave it to the cops?" Ruby shot back, "I can handle myself, Yang."

"I know you can, Ruby. That doesn't mean I need to be happy about this."

"Didn't you hear what they said? They're not interested in following up on the robbery. If someone is collecting that much dust, we have to know who it is, White Fang or not," Blake added in, giving Violet a nod.

"Blake is right. Whatever they're planning, it can't be good," Violet tacked on.

Yang sighed and turned to look out the window, "Alright, alright. We'll do some investigating… What's the plan?"

Chapter Text

Blake peered over the edge of the rooftop, keeping an eye on the dust shop across the street, "Is everyone in position?"

"For the tenth time, Blake. Yessss," Yang's voice replied back over their comms, feigning annoyance. You could always tell when Yang was actually upset, or just pretending to be. One had a lot more fire involved, both in looks and voice.

"Aye aye, el capitán!" Violet had used a different response every time she had asked, half of them barely recognizable as meaning 'yes'. Blake at least understood what 'aye aye' meant.

"Ruby?" Blake asked into the following silence.

"Oh-uh, sorry! I was pressing the wrong button! Everything's fine over here."

Their team had spread out across half a dozen streets in Vale for two nights now, creating a web of eyes to keep a watch on six different dust shops. Now they were just waiting for the robbers to fall into it. They had stolen from nearly every other dust shop in Vale, pushing their way out of the warehouse district, or so it seemed. These six shops were the most likely to get targeted, or at least they hoped so. Last night had been a total bust. No one had been robbed, but Blake and Violet had managed to convince the sisters to come out again for another night.

Blake shivered in the light wind that blew over the rooftops, and sighed. So far tonight had been another bust. It was getting late, nearly midnight, and there hadn't been hide nor hair of their perpetrators. 'Maybe they already collected enough dust.' The idea didn't bode well. Their only other lead was that it seemed as if they were coming from the warehouse district, but that district was huge. It would be completely impractical for four girls to scour the entire thing. More likely if they brought team Siren into it, but even then… 'There's too much ground to cover. This is our best bet.'

Still, it was late, and they had classes tomorrow. Blake hadn't even done her homework yet. She'd been too focused on planning the investigation and looking into which stores had been hit already. Blake brought her radio back up to press the button down, ready to call it a night. Her finger froze over it, though. The quiet street had been interrupted by the sounds of an approaching vehicle. Blake let the radio fall back down and crept back into the shadows of the rooftop she was on. A black, unmarked van came around the corner, windows tinted, and pulled up in front of the dust shop across the street.

"I think I have something over here. Hold on," Blake said, pulling her radio back up quickly to whisper into it.

The van had parked directly in front of the shop. The driver's side was angled towards her, but with the tinted windows, she couldn't tell who was driving it. Blake heard the sliding door on the other side of the van open, along with the front passenger door. The passenger door slammed shut, and Blake could see orange hair capped with a black and red bowler's hat just over the top of the van.

"It's Torchwick," Blake followed up her previous message. Ruby had given them a description of the man when they were considering other culprits. Blake breathed out a sigh of relief. The other girls radioed back, letting her know they were on their way. "It's not the White-" The thought was squashed down brutally as she saw members of the White Fang stepping out of the back and side of the van, weapons in hand and masks on their faces.

Blake's feet hit the street below before she had even thought to move. She drew Gambol Shroud from her back as gunfire rang out ahead of her. The sound of metal piercing glass told her they had shot out a window. Blake vaulted the van, taking in the scene in front of her the moment before her foot connected with a White Fang member's head. He flew forward, landing in a heap on the ground. 'No aura. Better for us, then.'

Torchwick spun in place at the sound, bringing up his cane gun. 'Seriously, how dapper is too dapper?' Blake left a clone, and shifted in a roll to the side. Torchwick didn't fire, though. He would have shot the van they just came out of.

"You're not the one I was expecting. Is your little friend here?" Torchwick asked, giving Blake a frown. His eyes darted up and down the street. 'Does he mean Ruby?'

Blake took that moment to pounce, crossing the distance and swinging Gambol Shroud at his chest. "Tch, rude much?" Torchwick taunted, his cane came up between them in an instant, faster than Blake had counted on. She was forced to leave a clone and flip backwards as two of the White Fang's swords slashed down at her from either side. The White Fang charged at her recklessly, untrained and full of openings. Blake waded into the frey, dodging their swings even as she countered. A clone here, backflip into a kick there.

As much as Blake had denounced the White Fang, though, she couldn't bring herself to do any real harm to them. They were still faunus, her past brothers in arms, and they had no aura. Her attacks were only meant to debilitate, but holding back was making it much more difficult. Pulling her punches, only dealing blows to nonlethal parts of the body, was taking too much concentration. Blake didn't notice quickly enough when Torchwick stepped through the crowd around her.

His cane came down across her back, knocking her forward into one of the White Fang that she had been dodging away from. His sword carved across her chest, aura sparking from both of the massive blows. The two attacks knocked her off balance and sent her to her knees. In desperation, she activated her semblance again, this time intent on escaping the group. Blake heard a shot as she rematerialized and felt the shock wave of heat wash over her as she was blown off her feet. Blake was propelled through the shop window by the blast, glass shattering around her. Shards raked across her aura as it flickered and broke under the strain. She rolled back into a crouch as well as she could when she landed, eyes darting up to see Torchwick cockily strolling in through the front door. He raised his cane again, aiming it at her feet.

"Now, tell me where your little friends are."

"Right here!" With a blast of Crescent Rose, Ruby blurred through the hole in the window that Blake had made, massive scythe already deployed and screaming towards Torchwick's chest. He was forced to throw himself backwards out of the way in a panic, back into the street where the rest of the White Fang were.

"Nice to see you too, Red!" Torchwick replied haughtily, pulling himself back up and brushing himself off. Ruby didn't follow, but stood her ground in front of Blake, scythe at the ready. Blake stood back up shakily. Her aura was broken, her arms and legs dripping blood from the cuts the glass had made when she fell.

Torchwick's eyes narrowed as he took in the situation, "I guess I'll call it a night for now." He motioned for the White Fang to get back into the vehicle. They hesitantly followed his silent order, many of them limping or holding wounds as they got back in the van and slammed the sliding door shut. Ruby's body lowered into the stance she always adopted before one of her semblance infused dashes. Blake put a hand on her shoulder, "Not without the others."

Torchwick had tensed up, but now eased as he opened the passenger door, "Enjoy this little victory while you can. The shops were drying up anyway, and we've got bigger fish to fry!"

Blake got a brief glimpse of the driver before Torchwick had climbed in and shut the window tinted door, blocking off sight. The van roared back to life as it took off, leaving a small column of smoke in its wake.

Blake dropped back down to a knee, breathing heavily. She was a mess. There were several shards of glass sticking out of her body in various places, not all of them had just cut across her as she rolled over them. Yang arrived a few moments later, eyes going red and hair exploding up past her shoulders as her eyes took in Blake's wounds. Furious red eyes darted down the street, but the van had already turned the corner, far out of reach for any of the three.

"Where's Violet?" Ruby asked into the silence.

 


 

Violet hummed along with Zenith as it reached its peak charge. She had been the furthest away from Blake, but heard the van as it approached the street she was on. It would cross the intersection in front of her soon enough, and she was waiting for it.

The black tinted van came roaring down the street. A smile twisted Violet's face as she pulled the trigger.

'Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.'

The shot caught the van directly through the front engine compartment. The force of it blasting a hole straight through to the other side and whipped the van sideways, tires catching in a direction they weren't made to spin, flipping it on its side. It screeched across the road, sparks flying in all directions before it finally came to a stop forty feet later, billowing smoke out of where the engine had been only seconds before. Violet approached leisurely as White Fang members climbed out the 'side' door and out the back, clearly dazed and disoriented.

"What in blazes was that!?" Torchwick yelled, pulling himself up out of the vehicle. His eyes settled on Violet, but she had already transformed Zenith back into its greatsword form. She couldn't use it again so soon anyway. The only sign that it had been her weapon to fire off the shot were the small vents that had opened up along the blade, usually hidden, but now allowing the heat trapped inside to poor out, ventilated by the wind dust that circulated within.

Torchwick grumbled, eyes narrowing as he kept them on her and dropped off the side of the van. The White Fang had finally recovered, although some of them were still wounded, likely from a fight with against the others. Torchwick's eyes looked over them, his confidence rising when it appeared that Violet was alone against all of them. "Well? Get her."

Violet smiled as they charged. This would be all too easy. She let them run to her, leaving Torchwick thirty or so feet away as the fight began. Violet didn't want her friends to think she was a murderer, and killing these White Fang here would certainly upset Blake, but where Blake had to hold back while using a smaller weapon meant primarily for slashing… Bones broke under the weight of Zenith's strikes, as Violet used the flat of the blade with reckless abandon. The White Fang members screamed in pain when she hit them, immediately disengaging as they nursed shattered collar bones and arms. Several of them went down in a heap, unconscious in seconds from glancing blows to the head. The last few backed up, looking to Torchwick uncertainly. They fled, not willing to risk his ire or fight the crazed teenager with a greatsword.

Violet started walking towards Torchwick again, keeping a slow but confident pace. She halted, though, as a mess of brown and pink hair popped out of the passenger door, followed by a pair of eyes that promised murder. Violet kept the confident smile on her face, even though she was reconsidering the situation in her mind. 'Torchwick I can take. Torchwick and Neo?' She didn't like her chances. 'I'll try and throw them off. Make them think I really can take both of them. Hopefully they'll just run.'

"Ah, Neo! Great to see ya. Sorry, I didn't know you were in there," Violet slipped her smile into a mocking grin, digging Zenith's point into the road in front of her to lean against as she had with Cardin.

"Do you know this girl, Neo?" Torchwick gave her a questioning look. Neo's face went from pure murder, to a frown. She turned to Torchwick and shrugged, clearly confused by the development.

"She doesn't, but I know her well enough," Violet interjected with a sigh and leaned harder against her greatsword, "It appears we are at an impasse. Even with the two of you here, you can't beat me. Unfortunately, with Neo's semblance, I can't catch you either," Violet shrugged, "Let's just call this night a wash, eh? You didn't get your dust. I failed to capture you."

"You seriously think you can take both of us?" Torchwick brought his cane up threateningly, but Violet could see the doubt in his eyes. 'Good.'

"Well, I would want to take you in alive... If you force my hand, though," Violet switched Zenith back into its railgun form and dropped a shot into it, letting it charge menacingly, "You could press the issue and end up as a red stain across the top of that van behind you." She added a smile for good measure as she leveled Zenith in his direction.

Torchwick eyed her gun. It was still steaming, but the lightning dust had enough of a charge left in it to spark between the coils. 'Its his first time seeing it. He can't tell it's charge is low.' His eyes flicked back to the foot wide hole punched through the van's engine and the smoke that still billowed up out of it.

"Neo… Let's go."

Neo nodded, even though Roman wasn't looking at her. She grabbed his hand, bowed to Violet with a cocky grin on her face that she had to have learned from Torchwick, and a moment later, shattered into glass onto the pavement along with him.

Violet shifted Zenith back into its greatsword form and returned it to her back, feeling like Yang's catchphrase was the only appropriate way to describe events.

'Well that was a thing.'

 


 

The police had arrived before the White Fang members regained consciousness, but Violet didn't stick around to be questioned. She did not want to explain the giant hole left in the shop that had been on the other side of the van. Nor the hole in the building after that one, or the building after that one… Thankfully no one had been hurt by the blast, but Violet still chided herself for being so careless. She'd been too caught up in the moment to consider the collateral damage Zenith's path might cause. 'Damn it Spruce Willis.'

Their team was back at Beacon, in their dorm. Violet had just finished picking the glass out of Blake's wounds to wash and bandage them. Ozpin would know who had fired the shot once he heard about it on the news tomorrow, but she wasn't eager to tell him herself, and Blake going to the hospital wing would draw his attention too soon. Blake's aura had started to recover by the time they got back to their dorm, anyway. The bandages were just there to slow the bleeding until her aura could patch her up properly. Blake thanked her and they headed back out into the dorm, where Yang and Ruby were pacing. Their eyes lit up in worry at the sight of Blake in bandages.

"I'm fine guys, really," Blake smiled and waved for them to calm down. They both did with a sigh, sitting down on the lower bunk beds. Ruby on Violet's and Yang on her own.

"Blake already filled me in on what happened at the shop," Violet told them, as she and Blake moved in front of the window, both backed up against the bookshelf.

"What about you?" Ruby asked, letting the question hang in the air.

"I took out the van and fought off the White Fang that came after me," Violet replied. At a look from Blake she continued, "I broke bones and gave a few concussions, but they'll all live. Torchwick escaped after that. He has a brown and pink haired midget with him that can create glass illusions. I wasn't able to follow them after they vanished." Violet shrugged, raising her hands, palm up in a 'what can you do' motion.

"This might have been our only chance," Blake mumbled loud enough for them all to hear.

"What do you mean?" Yang asked. She hadn't been there to hear Torchwick's parting words.

"Torchwick said they were on to bigger fish since the shops were drying up," Blake answered, brows furrowing in concentration as she tried to remember the exact wording he had used.

'Do I want the fight at the docks to go down? We should be able to handle it, even with Neo there, and I know exactly where it'll happen. I just need to come up with a reason why I would know…'

Violet slapped herself on the forehead, drawing the rest of the girl's attention to her before pulling her Scroll out of her pocket and pulling a certain webpage back up. She tossed it to Blake, who caught it deftly and looked over the screen.

"Weiss wasn't kidding, that's a lot of zeroes," Blake replied, not sure what she was supposed to be looking at.

"No, no, look at the date," Violet replied, reaching over to scroll down the webpage and point out the delivery date, "My dust cells are coming in tomorrow, probably along with another shipment of dust from the SDC. What did Torchwick tell you? That they were going after bigger fish? It sounds to me like they're going to attack the docks to go after the shipment directly." Blake's eyes widened, as did Yang and Ruby's as they considered her words.

"That's a lot of dust," Yang chipped in with a forced laugh.

"Which is exactly why we can't just let them have it," Violet finished, turning to look at each of them in turn. They nodded, somewhat hesitantly.

"We'll just have to go down into Vale early after classes tomorrow to avoid Ozpin, scope the place out, then sit and wait while we keep an eye on the place."

They nodded along with the plan, but Violet saw Yang's head tilt when she brought up Ozpin, "And why exactly are we avoiding Ozpin?"

"Ehhhhh, you've seen what happens when I fire Zenith off, right?"

"Yeahhhhh," Yang's face grew worried.

"I maayyyy have not thought about that when I shot the van. And that shot may have gone straight through it and then through… a few, buildings behind it."

Their faces all betrayed the shock they felt as they stared at her, wide eyed. Violet raised her hands in a placating gesture, "Nobody got hurt. I made sure of that before the police even got there. It was just, you know, property damage."

"How could you be so careless!?" Blake glared at her from a foot away.

Violet put a hand on her shoulder but looked at Yang instead, "I blame Spruce Willis. He's a bad influence on my young, impressionable mind."

"Wow, and I thought Blake was the terrorist," Yang laughed. She sobered up when Blake's glare whipped in her direction, "Ex-terrorist, my bad."

"As long as no one was hurt," Ruby chipped in, "Just be more careful next time."

"Eh, I only have two shots left anyway, and I'll be stuck like that for a while if we let Torchwick get that shipment," Violet replied. Her hand moved off Blake's shoulder and rubbed her back, trying to comfort her. Blake's glare softened, the tension in her body fading away under Violet's hand. 'Did I find the kitty's sweet spot? Normally that's behind the ears...' Violet idly let her hand continue its motion across Blake's back as she turned her attention back to the conversation.

"Alright, so we go to the docks, save the shipment, capture Torchwick, and get home in time for dinner," Yang nodded along to her own version of how she thought events should play out.

"I doubt he's going to attack the docks that early. We should probably get dinner on the way and be home in time to get enough sleep before classes tomorrow," Violet corrected.

"Good enough for me," Yang shrugged.

"Alright! Let's catch this guy!" Ruby yelled excitedly, drumming her feet against the floor.

Violet pulled away from Blake, 'Did she just sigh?', and hoisted Ruby up into her bed. It was nearly two in the morning and they did have school tomorrow. Violet eyed the book as she rolled on to her bed, but decided it was best to save it for later. She needed her rest now. The last couple chapters would have to wait.

Violet felt a pair of eyes on her and turned in time to see Blake's head whip away, 'Firing Zenith off like that must have really upset her. I can kind of understand why. I'll be sure to be more careful in the future.'

The group gave a collective 'good night' and turned the lights off. When the hairs on the back of Violet's neck stood up though, she got the sneaking suspicion that Blake was stilling looking at her in the dark. 'Very careful, then.'

Chapter Text

Violet idly flipped her last extra lightning dust cell between her fingers as she stood on a nearby rooftop, keeping a close eye on the docks below. The other cell was already safely housed in her weapon, but she wasn't sure if she would use it tonight. 'There's at least fifty cargo containers down there. If one goes up in an explosion…' It wouldn't be a pretty sight. Anyone in the vicinity would certainly die. Violet sighed and tucked the extra cell away. 'Not unless I have to…'

Vibrant was spread across the warehouse rooftops that connected to this specific dock. They'd been here for a few hours now. The dust shipment had arrived shortly after they did and the activity on the docks had finally died down over the last half an hour as various employees went home, cargo stacked and ready to be sorted through. Violet had no way of knowing exactly which container held the cells she had ordered, but she wasn't about to go look.

Their conversations had died down around the same time, reduced to mere check ups every few minutes. Violet could tell they were nervous. She couldn't blame them. 'I've been through one too many situations like this one,' she mused, leaning back against the wall behind her. Violet could let herself remember those previous lives without it hurting as much anymore. The pain had been reduced to a dull ache when she thought back on them these days. Not that she had much time to between classes, hanging out with her friends, and now their 'investigation'. They all came together to eat away at her time. Violet was enjoying herself, though, and that was all that mattered in the end.

"Check in," Blake's voice buzzed lowly over the radio channel. Violet might have had more past experience with situations like this, but that hadn't stopped her from being impressed with Blake's expertise. The girl knew the tricks, knew the requirements for something like this to go down well. Her time in the White Fang had not been wasted as just Adam's cronie, it seemed. Blake was so much and more.

"Red clear," Ruby said quietly over the line.

"Gold clear," Yang followed up.

"Regal clear," Violet finished, eyes still scanning the docks.

From her reckoning, this event had been pushed forward about a week. Perhaps her ordering over twenty thousand lien worth of dust had pushed the SDC's schedule up. She was one of their favorite customers, after all. 'Who doesn't love someone that throws money at them?' That meant no Penny as backup, though. If anything was going to need Zenith's tender attention, it would be any bullheads foolish enough to try a strafe run on her or her friends. 'And they'll be in the sky, so I won't hit the containers at least. The bullheads, though...'

"Hold on, I've got something here," Yang's voice came back over the line, "Three o'clock, off the shore."

Violet let her eyes drift across the horizon towards the west. It took her a moment, but she spotted the grey dot, slowly growing in size as it approached the coast. 'Were they hiding their bullheads on Patch, or did they angle out across the ocean before heading back in to hide where their base is?' A second grey speck dropped out of the clouds above, followed by a third, all following the first and converging in their direction.

"The first bullhead is going to arrive earlier than the rest. We should try to take out the people in it fast before the other two have a chance to land," Blake's suggestion came through. No one argued. 'Divide and conquer is always nice.'

Violet took one final look around the docks, and seeing no movement, launched herself over the ledge, using her semblance to break her fall and come up in a roll. Violet turned to see her teammate getting down in a similar way. Blake was ridiculously acrobatic, and replicated Violet's fall without any assistance from a semblance. She hardly broke her momentum and turned her roll into a sprint as she took off across the docks to get into position. Violet saw a flash of red and yellow in the distance, Ruby and Yang also descending in their own ways as they all moved closer.

Violet managed to find the gap between two stacks of containers that Blake was hiding in. Ruby and Yang appeared, each in different gaps across from where she and Blake were. "How many White Fang do you think can fit in a single bullhead?" Violet asked quietly. The distant sound of the bullhead's engines made a low rumble through the air.

"Fifteen, usually. More when they don't have to fly far, but if they want to carry cargo containers out of here, I'd guess ten, no more than twelve apiece," Blake replied. She had taken off her bow already. Her ears swivelled in the direction of the approaching bullheads.

The rumble grew to a dull roar as the first bullhead passed over the top of their hiding place, engines exuding the fire dust that was used to power it. The bullhead hovered over the docks, thirty feet up, slowly spinning to face back towards the ocean before drifting down for its landing. Almost a dozen White Fang members stepped out, guns at the ready while they eyed their surroundings.

"Would you animals hurry it up? What am I paying you for?" Torchwick yelled as he stepped down the ramp behind them. Despite his words, he also took a moment to check his surroundings. Satisfied, he returned to berating the faunus. 'Three, two, one, aaaaaand… there's the psychopath' Neo stepped out of the bullhead as well, umbrella tucked across her shoulders as she looked over everything with a vicious smirk.

Blake tensed in front of her, and Violet followed suit. 'Any second now…'

A shot from Crescent Rose broke the silence, as her ice dust infused sniper round slammed into one of the bullhead's engines. The ice expanded in a brilliant cascade that covered the turbine. With a sudden snapping sound, the turbine erupted in a plume of black smoke and flames, crippling the left engine and rendering the bullhead dead on the ground. 'Good thing I made sure we had a 'they have bullheads' plan.'

Blake and Violet took off the instant the propeller exploded, Violet giving the benefit of her semblance to both of them so that they could cross the distance in only a few moments. Yang beat them to the frey still. She flew low across the ground in a blur, each burst of speed punctuated by her Ember Celicas firing off behind her. Yang caught the first man while he was still fumbling with his weapon, too absorbed by the sudden explosion to notice the golden streak in time. Yang's punch took him in the chest, knocking him backwards into another that had been trying to whip his weapon up at her.

"My night just keeps getting better!" Torchwick shouted sarcastically, raising his cane to fire it off at Yang. Another ice round from Ruby bloomed in front of him the instant before he pulled the trigger. The resulting explosion was directly in his face, blowing him backwards across the pavement and on to his back.

Blake left the White Fang for Violet, her weapon was better suited for them, and used a clone to launch herself past them at Neo. The girl recovered quickly from seeing Torchwick go down, though, and met Blake's sword with her umbrella. Neither wasted time as they began their fight. Violet had told Blake that she was likely the best suited for taking on the brown and pink haired girl. Their two fighting styles were evenly matched, both relying on fast paced dodging and acrobatic feats to avoid damage.

Violet wasn't sure who would win in a one on one, but Blake just needed to buy time and keep Neo preoccupied while the other three took care of the rest. Violet began to lay into the White Fang with her greatsword, bludgeoning a swath through them that kept them away from Blake's fight. Yang ran past her and vaulted the ice blossom that Ruby had created, slamming down into Torchwick with a heavy right hook just as he was starting to recover. 'Good. Keep them separated and off balance. Neo is Torchwick's only way to escape in this situation.'

Ruby finally joined Violet as well, blurring into the action with a gleam in her eyes matched only by her scythe. The two of them made short work of the remaining White Fang and then turned their attention between Torchwick and Neo. Ruby joined her sister, the two had trained together the most and would have the best tandem attacks to bring him down. Violet closed in on Neo with Blake, making sure that she came up on the side closest to Torchwick, cutting Neo off from him.

They were all interrupted as the other two bullheads arrived on the scene. Violet heard the sound of their guns whirring to life and shouted out a warning to the rest, "Get to cover!"

Blake had already noticed it as well. The first shots of the gatling gun ripped through her clone, gouging chunks out of the pavement in a shower of dust and tarmac that sent Neo stumbling away in a panic. The stream of bullets switched targets. Violet could see the flashes of rounds raking across the pavement in her direction. Violet put Zenith between herself and the ship, reducing her body weight to its minimum and throwing herself into a roll behind the bullhead that had already been grounded. Two rounds whizzed off her greatsword before she heard more tearing into the top of the bullhead above her. A few rounds punctured through completely, missing by a narrow margin. Violet's head lurched.

'A cascade of black arrows rained down on their defenses, whizzing through open air and puncturing holes through shields. The screams of the fallen were the only sound she could hear aside from the arrows that fell like rain in a downpour. Those damn arrows. A hand reached up from behind her, drawing her attention as the man grabbed her wrist. Her eyes widened at the sight. Her life long companion, a black arrow sticking out of his chest. "No! No I can fix this!" Her final thoughts were cut short as the second volley fell on their undefended forms.'

Violet shook herself, trying to get back into the moment as the second bullhead's gun whirred to life, another stream of lead splashed against the ground in Yang's direction. The ship careened off target before it could find its mark, though, as Ruby quickly turned, firing her final ice round across the cockpit window and blinding the pilot. The bullhead hastily landed, and another group of White Fang dropped out of it before charging in their direction. 'We didn't have enough time!'

Violet realized that with Blake and her both preoccupied, Neo was free. Her eyes darted over to see the girl sprinting low at Ruby from behind, hidden blade exposed, "Blake! Get Neo!"

Blake's eyes instantly took in what was about to happen, and threw Gambol Shroud, firing it as she did. It wrapped around Neo's umbrella, yanking her to the side the moment before her attack could connect with Ruby's exposed back. Blake was in her face in an instant, resuming their fight, but they were all exposed from the air.

'I don't know what the hell is wrong with me, but that bullhead needs to go down!' Violet heard the gatling gun spinning to life again as she switched Zenith's form and dropped one of her projectiles into its waiting maw. She launched herself from cover and came up in a crouch, one knee against the pavement and Zenith aimed at the ship. Violet's eyes glazed over, a memory struggling to the forefront.

'She threw herself from cover, RPG at the ready as the helicopter's guns whirred to life. They tore her apart as she fired. She didn't care. Her comrades already lay scattered across the street, their eyes cold and lifeless. The rocket arced through the air, flying true even as she fell, and reduced the damned mass of steel to flaming chunks that scattered through the air.'

The coils hummed to life, electricity arcing between them as she fired Zenith.

The delay allowed the pilot enough time to try and bank to the side as the ship tilted sideways, a desperate attempt to avoid whatever was being aimed its way as it strafed. The blast tore through the wing like it was paper, pieces of metal further from the impact zone were instantly warped by the superheated projectile. The bullhead's left propellers stuttered, the ship spinning as thick black smoke streamed out of the engine. Violet tried to predict its path as it fell.

'I can't tell!' The spin was too erratic. The bullhead would dip harshly one moment, then pull up the next as the engines fought to continue working. Only one thing was for certain. It was going down. The White Fang that had been charging her also noticed, and screamed as they realized what was going to happen. They broke away in various directions, with no hope of making it off the docks in time.

The other combatants in the area heard the explosion. All eyes turned to see the bullhead dipping out of the sky in an unpredictable spin. Torchwick took his chance. With the sisters' attention off of him, he fired his cane directly between the two, blowing them both backwards and off their feet. He followed it up by firing another shot, this one at Blake. She must have heard it, more than seen it, not daring to take her concentration off the girl in front of her. Blake was forced to retreat. The blast hit the clone she left behind as she reappeared next to Violet, breathing heavily. Her eyes were wary as the two finally joined back up with each other.

Neither of them appeared eager to stick around, though. Neo gave them one final smirk, her eyes flicking up to look at the bullhead and back to them with a wink, before they shattered into a million pieces.

"What do we do!?" Ruby yelled in fear as she got back on her feet. If the bullhead crashed into the containers, the explosion would level the entire dock, and they were directly in the center of it all. There was no escape. Violet's mind reeled.

'The ogre's massive club slammed down in front of the cave's entrance, blocking them in with the goblins that swarmed from the depths. "What do we do!?" Her sister cried out from next to her. Looking to her, the older sister, for the answers to the impossible. They were alone, defenseless, with nowhere to run. The goblins cheered in guttural laughs as they took their time murdering the two girls. Her final thoughts died before they could reach her lips. "My fault!"

Blake and Yang turned to Violet, their leader, a desperate plea in their eyes that she would come up with something, anything to get them out of this alive. Violet's mind raced as she took in their surroundings. There were containers between them and the ocean. If any of the containers were hit, the resulting explosion would set off a chain reaction that would detonate all of them in the surrounding area. The downed bullhead couldn't provide the cover they needed. The warehouses were too far away to get to in time, too far away to seek shelter in.

With one last metallic screech the propeller exploded, pieces flying in all directions to spell the end of its struggle. The bullhead's side dipped menacingly, angled directly for the closest stack of cargo containers in a collision course that would kill them all.

Yang screamed in despair as she threw herself over Ruby.

Blake screamed in fear as she threw her hands over her head.

Violet shut her eyes as a wave of untold loss played out in her mind, threatening to repeat itself. Her eyes started to burn.

'The blast ripped through barracks, where they had thought themselves safe. She watched her brothers-in-arms get blown to bits in the devastation. Body parts and gore blasting in every direction as the building itself exploded around them. She was dead, too. Her body wiped away in the shockwave like the others. She stood in the middle of it all, only her spirit left as she stared over the ruins that had been the resistance. This form couldn't shed the tears that she felt.'

Memories long lost flashed before Violet's eyes, thousands of the dead begging her to save them as their lives were cut short. 'No! It's all my fault!'

Her emotions erupted in the form of a twelve foot thick dome of amethyst colored ice that roared into the sky. The walls collided against each other at its peak, causing a groaning slam like a coffin that echoed the deaths of all those that she had let die before.

With one final twist of melted steel, the bullhead's blazing wing slammed into the cargo container, followed by the rest of it.

All Violet could see were the eyes of the dead pleading for her help.

The dust in the first container combusted on impact, starting a chain reaction of explosions that shook the ground around them like an earthquake. Multicolored bursts of dust in every direction roared around the wall of amethyst ice that towered around them, stalagmites a dozen feet thick and two dozen high weathered the onslaught. Cracks spiderwebbed across the ice in every direction, each consecutive eruption chipping away at the only thing that stood between them and certain death. The dome remained resolute and unmoving. The air smelled like ozone, charged with dust particles that threatened to set the air itself on fire. The deadly salvo continued for another few seconds, and then…

The four girls breathed out heavily, their limbs quaking as they slowly recovered from their lives flashing before their eyes, more so for Violet than any other. Those eyes went wide as they looked at the titanic mass of ice that had protected them. Violet raised her own hand up in front of her face and saw it tremble in front of her. 'How… how could I have left so many to their deaths?'

'Never look back,' the words to the rule taunted her, a reminder that she was responsible for it all.

Three sets of eyes locked on to Violet. She couldn't return their smile. 'I'm a monster.'

Violet was overwhelmed in the sudden rush, nearly knocked off her feet by the force of all three girls surging in to hug her at once. They gripped her in a deathly embrace, tears streaming down their faces. Violet didn't react, she was still in shock.

"Thank you, Vi! Thank you!" Yang cried into her shoulder, body shaking in choked sobs. Ruby and Blake were silent except for their own whimpers, each hiding their faces against her.

'No, I'm not worth your thanks. I've let so many die…'

The girls didn't let up. The towering walls of ice created their lonely little world as they stood there, holding Violet, holding each other.

'Please, just leave me. I don't deserve this.'

Despite herself, Violet's arms wrapped around as much of the girls as she could. Her team, her friends. She had done the impossible just for them. 'Never again.' The cracks in the ice surrounding them deepened.

"You're the best leader we could have had, Violet," Ruby sobbed out between the heavy breaths that wracked her chest. 'Don't say that, Ruby. It's all my fault…'

Chunks of the ice wall around them shattered, falling to the ground to break apart into pieces and fade away, the force that held them becoming unravelled.

Blake pulled back, looking deeply into Violet's eyes. Blake's widened, seeing the torment behind them. She gave a choked smile, her face closed in, cheek pressed against Violet's. A whisper escaped her lips, meant for Violet's ears alone, "Thank you."

The wall of ice collapsed, unable to support its own weight any longer.

Violet felt her breath escape in a deep, rattling sigh, 'I'll protect all of you.'

 


 

The police arrived on the scene to find the devastation. Warped metal and steel like shrapnel stuck out of the ground in every direction, scorch marks from both fire and lightning dust alike carved deep gouges through the tarmac, fires still raged all around, mountains of ice spiralled into the sky, and at the very center of it all, a perfectly unblemished circle of pavement, completely untouched by the mayhem.

"You thinkin' the uh, White Fang again?"

"I'm thinkin' about an early retirement."

 


 

Violet crawled into bed as they arrived at the dorms, giving her team one exhausted stare to warn them not to disturb her. They looked tired, but itched to talk about what happened. Understanding her mood, though, they excused themselves from the room to go talk somewhere else.

Violet was emotionally drained more than anything else. She could have stayed up to talk with them, but there was something more important she needed to do. It was time for Violet to take things into her own hands. She closed her eyes, and let her consciousness drift to the top of the tower at the heart of Beacon.

 


 

Ozpin's legs were crossed as he sat in his chair, one foot idly swaying up and down as he impatiently waited for the elevator to finish its ascent. Time was of the essence. He had a small glimmer of an idea as to what Salem might be planning, and it was not good.

The elevator doors finally slid open, and Qrow stepped out, already brandishing his flask as he walked in exhaustion to the desk, "This better be good, Oz. You don't know how tiring it is to fly for two days straight."

"Yes, yes, I assure you this is of the utmost importance. Salem has made her move," Ozpin announced gravely, nodding as Qrow was shocked motionless. He recovered long enough to take another swig and pocket the flask before dropping heavily into the chair across from Ozpin's.

"What's she done?" Qrow asked quietly, remembering the reason he had been so quick in getting here in the first place.

"Your nieces are fine," Qrow breathed a sigh of relief, "For the moment."

Qrow straightened at that, eyes telling Ozpin that he would not be toyed with.

Wordlessly, Ozpin pulled up the dock footage, or what was left of it, up until the instant the bullhead had ignited the stockpile of dust stored in all the containers. He used one of the camera angles that hid the four girls from view, so that Qrow could first see the explosion for what it had been, unsurvivable.

Qrow winced, "Was anyone down there?"

Ozpin paused, "Your nieces and their teammates, yes."

Qrow's eyes went wide and he stood up sharply, glaring down at Ozpin as his fist trembled at his side, "You said they were fine!"

"And they are," Ozpin replied calmly and changed the camera angle now, going back to a few moments before the explosion. Team Vibrant stood in the middle of where the explosion would take place. Qrow leaned forward, hands wrapped around the edges of the table in a white knuckle grip. They both watched as, the instant before the bullhead collided with the cargo container, a spire of thick, closely grouped purple crystals surrounded them.

Silence hung in the air between then as Qrow's eyes screwed up in confusion and worry, "What happened?"

Ozpin scrubbed back the timeline again, this time choosing a third camera angle that had a better view to Ms. Regalia's face, and zoomed in on it, playing it in slow motion as the girl's eyes burned with a purple radiance.

Qrow stumbled back, "A… A maiden!?"

"One created by Salem, it would seem," Ozpin nodded, bringing Qrow's attention back to the crystals, indistinguishable from the ones that permeated Salem's domain.

"But when? Why!?"

"My running theory is that Violet Regalia was the product of the power transferring to someone at random, similar to a regular maiden. She herself was not created by Salem."

Qrow's eyes screwed up in confusion, "But we've not heard anything about one. Who could have even killed a maiden like that?"

"Summer," Ozpin replied simply, shocking Qrow, "We never found out who was responsible for her assassination. The area showed clear signs of a battle taking place. Perhaps her silver eyes were able to kill the maiden of the Grimm, even after she herself had been mortally wounded."

Qrow fell back into his chair with a huff, "This is too much."

"It was always a possibility. If I could transfer my magic to the maidens as I did, then so could Salem."

"What are we going to do?" Qrow asked gruffly, waiting for Ozpin to tell him the course of action they should take.

"I don't know."

Another silence passed between them, "What's that supposed to mean!?" Qrow blurted out.

"If Salem has lost such a valuable asset, then it is our duty to keep it out of her hands," Qrow nodded along, "Unfortunately, I believe Ms. Regalia could kill me for good if she tried, like she did to the Grimm. Her flames do not burn away the flesh, but the soul."

Qrow froze as his eyes regarded Ozpin.

A feminine giggle from the corner surprised both of them.

Harbinger was in Qrow's hands in an instant, a shot fired from its double barrels in the direction the voice had come from. The giggle continued, now sourceless and all around them.

"Who is there!?" Ozpin shouted, hands gripping his cane tightly as his eyes roamed the room.

"Silly wizard and his pet bird. If you stay up here too long, your little minds will think themselves in circles~" the voice mocked them with another giggle as it seemed to swirl around them.

Qrow fired another shot, hitting nothing as he tried to follow the voice by sound alone.

"Oh, please. This will be so much easier if you just relax~" the words had a force behind them. Ozpin felt his hand go limp, his cane dropped on to the ground with a clatter, Qrow's weapon did the same with a much heavier thud.

"That's better, isn't it?~" a single mote of light appeared between the two, amethyst in color, with flickering flames the same color surrounding it.

"What are you?"

"God," the voice lost its playful tone, sounding like it disliked the title it had given itself.

"There are only two gods of Remnant, and I recognize you as neither of them," Ozpin stated flatly, staring at the mote of light.

"Two gods of Remnant, but not the only two that exist~" the voice lost its edge, returning to the mocking tone it had started with.

"I don't believe you," Ozpin said coldly.

"But then, who can you trust if not God?~" the voice laughed, "Oh, I know!"

Ozpin felt the world shift around him, vanishing out of sight as he was thrust into sand that blurred beneath him, his eyes darted up, taking in the familiar hazy dunes that shifted unnaturally. Qrow quickly stood, eyes whipping around, no clue where they were.

"Jinn~"

Ozpin and Qrow turned to see the Relic of Knowledge, resting above the sand pillar behind them. Watched as blue smoke poured out, forming into a large naked woman, clad only in gold jewelry and chains. Ozpin stood up and backed against the closed door behind him, the one that he had never seen closed from this side, "This isn't possible."

The mote and Jinn both ignored him.

"Hello again, Jinn~"

Jinn seemed to take in the situation cautiously, noticing immediately that both Ozpin and Qrow were there. A smile broke out across her face as she turned back to the mote of light, "It's nice to see you again, God~"

"Tell me, who created the God of Light and the God of Darkness?~"

"Why, you did of course."

"Does that satisfy you?~" Ozpin felt the mote turn back to him, despite it lacking any clear sides.

He was speechless. His entire world had been turned on its head in moments. 'The Gods of Light and Darkness were created!?' Ozpin reeled in shock.

"Oh dear, we may have broken him~"

There was a shifting of sand as Qrow stepped forward, "Uh, listen. God. Why did you only show yourself now?" he spoke from nearby, asking the question that was burning in the forefront of Ozpin's own mind.

"Ah, finally. A little back bone~" God teased, "I decided to show myself because you were thinking some very bad thoughts."

"We were trying to stop one of Salem's plots!" Qrow shouted uncertainly.

'Is God on Salem's side in all this!?' Ozpin choked on the thought.

"Violet Regalia has nothing to do with Salem. She is one of my creations~"

Ozpin frowned, finally regaining some of his composure, "What do you mean, one of your creations?"

"Exactly as it sounds. I gave her the power that she possesses, to do with as she sees fit~"

"Why?" the words were echoed by Qrow beside him.

"Because your little quarrel with Salem was getting boring. Your further from victory than you were a thousand years ago~" God scoffed, "And all I want is to be entertained."

"That's what our lives are to you!? Entertainment!?" Qrow shouted in disbelief, eyes going wide.

"Yes, little bird. Your world, and thousands of others stretched across space and time. You are not the first, and you will not be the last~"

"How dare you treat people's lives so callously!" Ozpin shouted in fury.

"Oh, you poor wizard. You do not yet see that we are the same. You know the struggle against Salem is futile. When will you give up and start treating your fellow man as nothing more than pawns on one big chess board? Ah, but don't you already? Now imagine that life of yours spanning across millions and millions of years, instead of the paltry thousand you have now~"

"I would still not delight in the torment of others!"

"Neither do I, wizard. The deaths of those closest to you never get easier, but without death, you cannot appreciate life. It brought me no pleasure to allow Summer's death, or that poor child unfortunate enough to become the maiden for this very vault."

Ozpin's thoughts latched onto the last detail, "So you know who killed her?"

God remained floating in the air, regarding him, despite its lack of eyes. It drifted lazily up and down, "Perhaps I could make a deal with you, wizard."

Ozpin's eyes narrowed, "And what kind of deal might that be?"

"In exchange for the answer you seek, you will grant my creation a boon, of sorts. You may approach her with the intent to gain her trust and bring her to your side, but treat her no differently as you might the young Ruby Rose that you are both so fond of. You also must not bring up any of this to her. As far as she is concerned, none of this exists."

"Deal," Ozpin replied instantly. The girl was kind at heart, and had proven as much by saving the lives of those around her on more than one occasion. He did not doubt he could sway her to joining their side against Salem.

God regarded him for a few moments, "This will not be easy to hear."

"Is anything ever easy?" Ozpin replied sharply.

"Not for you. It will be hard for the bird."

Qrow looked up at the mote of light with confusion and apprehension, "I can take it."

"...Raven Branwen murdered the child, and is the current Spring Maiden."

Qrow stepped back in shock, his head shaking back and forth as he tried to deny the claim. Ozpin stared at the mote of light. It had no face, he could not read it, but there had been no hesitation in its words one it began to speak. 'I believe it.'

"That's ridiculous!" Qrow yelled, "She's too old!"

"But she would not have been ten years ago when the child disappeared."

"Still, even Raven wouldn't-!"

"She would, and she did. Raven desires power above all else to keep herself safe from Salem's forces. The child was weak, and would not have been strong enough of an ally to protect her, so Raven took a gamble on the next best thing before her time as an eligible maiden ran out."

Qrow was dumbfounded. His jaw moved up and down but no words came out as he stared at the mote.

"My end of the bargain has been completed. I will be… greatly disappointed if you do not hold to your end as well, wizard."

The world lurched again as they were brought back to Ozpin's office. A light giggle in the distance, the only sound before they were dropped on to the floor. Ozpin picked up his cane with shaking hands and set it on his desk, sitting down with an utter lack of the grace he usually possessed. His fingers trembled as they picked up his mug. He managed to take a sip before setting it back down. He felt sick.

Chapter Text

Blake led the other two girls back out of the dorm once it was clear that Violet wanted to be left alone. It was obvious that their purple haired leader was exhausted, both physically and mentally, from whatever power she had utilized. The look that had been in her eyes moments after the explosion was what worried Blake the most though. She had seen that look in her own eyes many times, even after leaving the White Fang.

It was shame.

The cat faunus didn't know what their leader had to be ashamed about. They had all been saved thanks to her! Even still, there had been a deep seated regret in those beautiful amethyst eyes. Blake's heart had gone out to her in that moment, wanting more than anything else to give her what comfort she could offer, as Violet had done for her over the last month. Blake didn't have her leader's powers of insight, though. She couldn't tell what bothered her.

As the group found their way back outside into the cool night air atop the Beacon plateau, they sat down together on a bench, one of many that lined the walkway between buildings. They stayed silent for a small time, each collecting their own thoughts on the events that had so recently transpired.

Blake was the first to speak, her mind still incapable of coming to any real conclusion on her own. If she couldn't think of an answer, then perhaps collectively they could, "Did anyone else notice how Violet seemed… ashamed of herself?"

"What do you mean?" Ruby quipped back as she was pulled from her own thoughts, leaning forward on the far right side of the bench to peer past Yang towards Blake.

The blond sat with her arms folded, and nodded slightly at Blake's mention of the fact, still staring forward ahead of herself, "I don't know why… but she's always been evasive. She didn't even open up about being able to set things on fire until after she almost died to the King Taijitu."

Ruby's face screwed up in confusion, while Yang and Blake merely appeared thoughtful. Blake hunched forward and place her head against her hand, staying turned to her right to keep an eye on both of her teammates, "Do you think she did something with them that she isn't proud of? What if she… hurt people in the past?"

Yang shook her head, "On accident, maybe. Violet is too nice to have an evil backstory…" The blond paused, frowning suddenly as her eyes went vacant, "She does have a hate boner for Cardin, though."

"Had," Ruby corrected, "She's been helping him train in class recently, remember?"

The other two could only nod in agreement. Violet had been making efforts to help Cardin along. 'I certainly would never have given him a second chance…' Blake thought to herself, mind going back to the way Cardin had acted in the first weeks of school. Her mind flickered to Weiss as well, though. That one had been a surprise. Blake could at least tolerate the heiress these days. Weiss didn't act racist, but she was still a pompous brat at the best of times.

Yang shrugged, "Just another reason I can't see her hurting someone unless it was on accident."

"I think we should just ask her," Ruby said, eyeing the two older girls, "I know you don't like secrets, Yang, but remember what happened last time?"

Yang stiffened slightly, glancing in Ruby's direction, then sighed, "I was being selfish. The last time I wanted to know was for me. This is different. She just saved our lives! We aren't good friends if we don't at least try to help her."

"Ruby is right, though. We should ask her," Blake accepted slowly, "We don't want to sit here and come up with a bunch of ridiculous theories that might be worse than what's actually bothering her."

That sat in silence for a while, pondering their next possible avenue. Collectively, they sighed. The prospect was daunting. Blake had always thought the girl was an enigma; someone that by all rights shouldn't exist given her background and what Blake knew of Atlas's uppercrust.

"Good job with that ice dust, Rubes," Yang said finally, sitting back and rubbing a hand across the younger girl's head as she changed the subject.

Ruby balked, smacking Yang's hand away and scooting further away, "It wasn't anything special."

"Are you kidding?" Yang's face broke out in a small smile, "You whipped on that bullhead so fast. Spruce Willis would be proud."

"Do you still think our lives are nothing compared to the movie star's?" Blake asked with a smirk, going back to what the girl had said the lunch before they left to see the movie.

Yang laughed, "Sure, we survived one explosion. Spruce survives like, a hundred more of those in every movie he's in," the blond eyed Blake with a smirk, "Though you weren't really paying attention in the movie theater now, were you?"

Blake blushed slightly, mind going back to the way she had been curled up against Violet in the dark theater, enjoying the girl's company more than she had the obnoxiously loud movie that had been playing, "I don't know what you mean."

"Oh, come on Blakey," Yang chastised with a shake of her head, "We've all noticed your little glances."

For her part, Ruby seemed confused by the entire exchange and had tilted her head slightly while she listened in, silver eyes darting back and forth between the two, "What are you guys talking about?"

Yang kept her smile focused on Blake as she replied to Ruby, "Kitty's got a crush."

"I do not," Blake replied vehemently, turning her head away from the other two, hair swishing in its wake to block their view of the heat rising to her cheeks.

"Oooh…", Blake could feel the grin spreading across the younger girl's face as she continued, "Blake and Violet, sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-"

Blake stood up and stormed off, keeping her face averted from the other two. Her efforts proved fruitless though, as the pair simply rose up from their places on the bench and followed along behind.

Yang laughed as Ruby cut off, "That was a little too juvenile, Rubes."

"You said the same thing to Mary Gold when she had a crush on that boy from school in Signal!" Ruby shot back defensively.

The blond tossed her hair, "That was two years ago, Rubes."

"Yeah, and I'm two years younger than you," the girl replied victoriously with a firm nod, arms crossed.

Yang shook her head, "Just because I did something when I was a kid doesn't make it any less childish when you say the same thing about Blake and Violet."

Blake cut in before Ruby could reply, stopping the girl mid breath as she spun, eyes narrowing at the pair, "Would you two be quiet?" The cat faunus breathed out heavily, calming herself, "Look… Let's say I do have an… appreciation for our leader. I hardly want the whole school to find out about it!"

"Why not, Blakey?" Yang replied innocently, the smile returning to her face, "Afraid our dear leader will shoot you down?"

Blake shook her head, eyes downcast as she turned away slightly, hands drawing up in a subconscious display of defense, "My last relationship wasn't exactly the best… and unlike that one, I can't run away if it doesn't work out since we'll be on the same team for the next four years."

"That's ridiculous," Yang replied with some trepidation, hand going out to Blake's shoulder, "Even if it didn't work out, can you really see Violet turning you down in any way other than the nicest way possible?"

Blake stewed for a few seconds as she pondered what she could say next. How much should she admit about her past? Violet had taken the knowledge of Blake being in the White Fang surprisingly well, especially for an upper class girl from Atlas, and had even helped to ease the others into accepting it. Now that Blake thought about it, though… 'How did she know? She knew my father started the White Fang, but…' Blake had been so overwhelmed by seeing her parents again that she had hardly noticed the quick exchange between her mother and Violet. Either the girl had an insane skill for deductive reasoning and insight, or she had already known somehow. 'As if Violet would somehow be mixed up with the White Fang.'

Blake decided that the two girls had proven themselves more than trust-worthy, and that keeping all of her secrets past this point would only serve to worsen the impact later on. She drew a deep breath, and faced the other two with her shoulders squared. Yang retreated slightly at her expression, hand withdrawing and falling back down to her side while she and Ruby waited patiently.

"I don't think I'm worth it…"

When Yang and Ruby both opened their mouths to protest, Blake held up her hand, "Let me finish…" she breathed out once more, drawing her resolve back, "When I was a member of the White Fang, we did terrible things. Inexcusable acts."

Ruby and Yang stood in shock, neither pulling away, but neither having any words to offer at the moment either. Blake decided it was in her best interests to cut off any particularly negative lines of thinking and continued, "I left because they were getting too violent. That doesn't change the fact that I helped them rob dust shipments and… burn down shops that refused to serve faunus customers…"

Yang rubbed a hand across the back of her neck, "Wow, Blake… That's…"

"But you left for good, right?" Ruby piped up from behind her sister, eyes wide as she looked at Blake, hoping for confirmation from the older girl.

Blake nodded, ashamed of herself in a way neither of the two could likely understand, "I thought that we were making a difference, and in some ways… we were. Shops stopped rejecting faunus customers, people weren't as blatantly racist to us in the streets… My… mentor, kept pushing for us to go further though. When he finally wanted me to help him kill innocents… I left."

Ruby rushed forward suddenly, wrapping Blake in a tight hug, "You're okay in my book, Blake!"

Yang took a second longer, but nodded to the faunus over the top of her sister, "I won't pretend like I know what you've been through, but we've all done things we regret…"

Blake doubted that Yang could have done anything remotely close to the hundreds of thousands of lien worth of property damage the ex-terrorist had caused, but accepted it nonetheless, "Thank you…" Tears brimmed in her eyes. Her team really was more than she ever could have hoped for.

Yang patted her on the back and steered the group back towards the dorms, "Don't be so hard on yourself, kitty cat. I'm sure Violet won't care, either."

The faunus let out a small bubbly chuckle, "Violet already knows."

The blond rolled her eyes after a quick glance at Blake, "Of course she does. Honestly, sometimes I get the feeling that girl knows more about us that we do about ourselves."

Blake knew the feeling well. Violet always had a tiny smirk and a glint in her eyes whenever you tried to lie to her, like she could see right through you. It could be disconcerting at times, "Maybe that's another one of her powers," Blake joked out loud.

Ruby held a hand up counting out each of the powers Violet had displayed, "Fire, ice, mind reading... Think she has anything else up her sleeve?"

Yang laughed, "At this point, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest. Next thing you know, she'll turn out to be stronger than Oum himself."

"Don't be ridiculous, Yang," Ruby replied. They all quieted down as the younger girl pulled out her scroll and used it to unlock their dorm room. It opened with a click, swinging wide to reveal Violet exactly where they had left her.

Blake could still hear the girl's shallow breaths, 'She isn't really asleep yet', but didn't mention it when the other girl refused to turn their way at the sound of the door opening.

The trio silently changed into their various pajamas and crawled into bed. Yang helped Ruby get up into her bunk, if only to avoid disturbing the purple haired girl resting beneath her. Blake vaulted up into her own bed with cat-like grace and only the tiniest sound. There was a murmured chorus of 'good night' from the three girls before both Ruby and Yang turned over, quickly falling asleep.

'It was a long day.'

Still, Blake couldn't help but fight off the brimming desire for rest, and instead focused on Violet. The girl was still awake, that much was apparent. The faunus pulled up her scroll and sent a quick message, knowing their leader always kept hers on vibrate.

"Do you want to talk?"

After a minute, Violet's hand slowly crept over to her scroll, and she popped it open to look at the message Blake had sent her. There were a few tense seconds, with the faunus wondering if her offer had been rejected, before Violet turned around and gave Blake a silent nod.

Her leader quietly withdrew from beneath her covers and, still in her pajamas, walked to the door. Blake dropped to the carpet on the floor in front of the bookshelf and followed, glad her offer had not gone ignored.

The two stepped out into the hallway then continued a bit further away, retreating from the close proximity of both team Vibrant's and team Siren's dorms. Violet finally stopped and sat down on a bench in one of the small windowed alcoves that lined the hallway. Moonlight streamed down through the glass, illuminating the pair of them as they sat next to each other.

Violet seemed content to sit there in silence, one leg kicking idly back and forth while the other had been drawn up against her chest, foot resting on the bench while her arms hugged herself tightly against it. Blake could still see the remnants of regret in the girl's eyes from earlier.

"What's wrong?" Blake finally decided to just go straight to the heart of the matter, her curiosity and desire to help her leader getting the better of her.

Violet didn't respond immediately, instead choosing to rest her chin against her knee and eye Blake sideways. The other girl finally sighed, though, leaning back against the cold window behind her, "I'm just… regretting a lot of the things I've done in my life…"

Blake fought down her initial reaction, which was to scoff at her leader. 'How much could a girl from Atlas possibly regret?' The sadness in Violet's eyes kept her mouth shut, though. Instead, she simply waited for the other girl to elaborate. If she didn't… Blake wouldn't press her for it. There were certain things in the faunus's past that she would never want to admit to under any circumstances.

When Violet seemed content to just sit there sadly, Blake attempted to lighten the mood. She bumped her shoulder against Violet's and quipped lightly, "I hope saving us wasn't one of your 'regrets'."

Violet smiled, but there was no real joy in it, "Of course not…" her eyes drifted away, looking down and away from Blake as she spoke again, "That's the complete opposite of what's bothering me…"

'Had Violet failed to save someone in the past?' The previous idea of Violet using her powers on accident were suddenly replaced with a much more grim possibility, one that made much more sense with her idea of who their leader was as a person.

"Who?" Blake replied simply, trying to help ease her friend into a confession, reminded of her earliest story about having a sister, 'If she can't confide in her team, then who else can she?'

To her surprise though, Violet just shook her head, "I never actually had a sister, Blake."

The faunus's eyebrows raised, both eyes going wide as her pupils dilated into slits, "Seriously, the way you read everyone so easily is kind of scary sometimes."

Violet did laugh a little at that and gave Blake a small grin, "It's part of my charm, Belladonna."

The reaction brightened the faunus's mood as well, glad that she had gotten the girl to smile, if only for a moment, "Well, your charm is certainly working." Blake went red, realizing what she had just said. It seemed like Violet hadn't noticed the accidental admission, though, as her face once again fell. The faunus wasn't sure whether or not she relished that fact. It would have been nice to get her feelings out in the open, but… 'Now isn't the time for it.'

"You all deserve so much more than me," Violet said after a few seconds, her eyes once again darting downward.

"Excuse me?" Blake's hackles raised slightly as she inched closer to her leader, "You have been nothing but perfect to us, to me, since I met you. What more could we want?"

"Someone that didn't lead you into a death trap, maybe?" Violet retorted quietly, refusing to meet Blake's eyes.

Blake sat back in confusion, "Is that why you're beating yourself up? None of us could have guessed what would happen!" The faunus shook her head in disbelief, "Even if you had known what would happen ahead of time, Torchwick and the White Fang still need to be stopped."

"We would have been successful if I had used my powers from the start," Violet argued, holding a hand up to look at it in the moonlight. There was a brief flicker of ice crystals that formed above her palm. They were instantly incinerated by a flash of purple flame.

Blake was a little breathless as she watched it happen, "You… know how to control it?"

"Not until now," Violet replied quickly, letting her hand fall as she looked back to the faunus, "But if I had back then, I could have saved the members of team Cardinal sooner. I could have stopped Torchwick and Neo when I confronted them at the van."

Blake shook her head in understanding, "You can't blame yourself for your past mistakes. If I had known sooner that I was going to eventually leave the White Fang, then I would have done so when my father left. It would have saved me from years worth of going down the wrong path."

"Never look back…" Violet muttered with a shake of her head.

"No…" Blake frowned, trying to find the exact wording that she would use, "You should never forget the past. You should learn from it. I'll never make the same mistakes, because I know better than I did back then."

Violet was silent for awhile, contemplating the words that Blake had spoken to her. They seemed to have a profound effect, judging by the expressions that continuously crossed her leader's face. The faunus was starting to get worried by the time the girl finally spoke again.

"You're right."

Her leader surprised the faunus by suddenly wrapping her in a tight hug. Blake returned it in kind, purring softly despite herself in the warm embrace.

"Thank you, Blake," Violet said in a low whisper, quiet enough that even the cat faunus had trouble catching the words she spoke, "I think… those are words I can live by."

Blake nuzzled into her neck and gripped tighter, refusing to be the first to pull away, "I'm happy I could help, Violet. Just... don't be so hard on yourself."

Violet sighed, finally sitting back, "Okay," she had a small smile on her face, this time without the sadness behind her eyes, "I'll be the best I can be for all of you." Her leader jumped up and held a hand out, pulling Blake up to her feet along with her.

The pair made their way back to the dorm room side by side, and eventually wished each other goodnight before turning in.

 


 

That night, Violet let herself dream.

Chapter Text

Violet woke up feeling refreshed, if still a little sobered by the events that had transpired so recently, 'Qrow and Ozpin officially hate me…' Even if it wasn't 'Violet' that had drawn their ire, she couldn't help but feel depressed that she had to lie to them as she had. Playing herself off as a nonchalant deity that strung their lives along on a whim alone had been essential. There was very little chance of a connection being made between both versions of her, now.

The secret goddess and team leader stewed over her possible next steps whilst standing in the shower, letting the hot water pound against her back in an attempt at relieving the tension in her muscles, 'Should I just put an end to it all? I could stop all the worst conflicts in an instant… then try to enjoy my time in Beacon…'

It would be simple enough to adopt her true persona once more, stop by Salem's castle and lay waste to both her, and her lieutenants. Tyrian, Hazel, Watts, Cinder… She could end the entire war with a snap of her fingers…

That felt like too far of an overcorrection, though. If she had been dreading the trip to Forever Fall because the possibility of a little bullying was absent, then how would she feel in a year's worth of peace? 'I still need excitement.' Every conversation she could possibly have would be a repeat, no matter what context it was in. Love, hate, spite, scorn, friendships and enemies. The only thing that tended to keep her entertained was conflict.

'What does that say about me?' Violet laughed to herself, the sound masked by the shower, 'It's only natural. There are so many more variations possible in a fight. Meanwhile, conversations always boil down to people trying to get across the same basic few emotions.'

Still, something needed to change. Putting herself in danger was fine, but the others? 'I won't have a repeat of my other lives. I'll learn from my mistakes, like Blake suggested,' Violet smirked at the idea of having to accept advice from someone she had created, 'Even God isn't perfect, eh?'

Oh, the amount of despair that admission would cause on more than one world. Violet sighed and turned the shower off, stepping out to grab her towel off the rack. Violet could remember a time, long ago, when she was 'perfect'. Unfortunately, that ran hand in hand with boredom, a fact that took her too long to figure out. 'I still had my omniscience back then.' That had been the worst of it. Nothing had been surprising, since she had known everything. These days she only tapped into it while creating new worlds in order to properly set them up. Anything beyond that ruined the experience.

There were a few light knocks on the door, followed by Blake's voice whispering through it, "Are you almost done? Sorry for the rush, but I didn't get the chance to shower last night after everything…"

Violet quickly wrapped herself up in the towel and unlocked the door, giving an equally quiet "Come on in," before heading back over to the counter and getting started on her hair.

Blake stepped into the room uncertainly, her gaze darting to Violet's barely covered form and away in short bursts, her eyes fighting to not stare, "Are you going to, um… stay in here?"

"Plenty of space, right?" Violet quirked an eyebrow, then smirked, suddenly understanding. 'Honestly, they're always so modest.'

"Uhhhmm…" Blake gulped and seemed caught between her desire to leave, and the necessity for cleanliness.

Violet held up a hand and chuckled, "Just messing with you, kitty." She gathered up her things, bundling them in her arms, and brushed past Blake on the way out. The girl went rigid at her touch. Violet was about to tease her again when the door slammed shut with more force than was necessary.

The goddess let out a short giggle and moved over to her dresser, picking out a few matching items before dropping the towel to slip them on. She dressed with comfort in mind, ready to continue contrasting herself with her real persona. Undoubtedly, either she or her entire team would be called to Ozpin's office soon enough. It was the primary reason she had sought to freshen up so much earlier than usual.

Now standing in a pair of semi-tight fitting black shorts that cut off a few inches above her knee, and a purple tank top, Violet's eyes settled on the other two members of her team. They both seemed so peaceful, despite everything that happened. Violet almost envied the simplicities of their struggles. Yang, with her search for her mother, and Ruby, with her desire to help others.

'I wonder if I could divert some of the inevitable attention if I help her unlock her silver eyes sooner…' It was a thought, at least. With them unlocked, she would be a much more capable fighter during all the events yet to come. Violet crossed her arms and tilted her head in thought, 'That might draw undue attention from Cinder and her cronies, though. I'd never forgive myself if I did something like that to help myself and she ended up with a knife in the back…'

Yang was stirring awake, her golden hair shifting slightly as she brushed it out of her face. A pair of lavender eyes blearily opened, blinking in the sunlight streaming in through the curtains.

"Good morning, sunshine," Violet announced quietly, sitting down at her desk to pull on a pair of socks and shoes, "I'm going down for an early breakfast. Want me to bring you back anything?"

Yang frowned in confusion, "You seem awfully chipper this morning…"

"And why shouldn't I be?" Violet's mind went back to Blake's earlier embarrassment and she decided to start the day off right; with a bit of friendly teasing, "I get to sleep with three cute girls every night."

"Well, you didn't buy me dinner first, so I guess breakfast in bed will have to do," Yang smirked, crawling out of bed and glancing towards the bathroom as the sounds of the shower finally started up. The blond sighed, her hopes for a quick shower immediately dashed, "You know for a cat, Blake certainly takes long showers."

"That's racist," Violet shook her head, giving Yang a smirk that showed she wasn't really accusing her of anything, "Besides, that's how I like 'em."

Yang looked confused, "What? You like wet cats?"

"Something like that~"

The blond finally caught on to the implication and immediately went bright red, her eyes widening in shock. Her mouth opened and closed slowly, incapable of forming words. Violet was forced to hold a hand over her own mouth to stifle the laughter threatening to bubble forth. She didn't want to disturb Ruby if she didn't have to.

Violet crossed the short distance to put a hand on the dumbstruck blond's shoulder, "I'm kidding, Yang. You're all like…" the goddess paused, 'I can't really say they're like children…'

"You're... like family. I wouldn't do anything that might threaten that. You have my word," Violet searched the blond's eyes, and was relieved when she gave a firm nod, "Now. What do you want for breakfast? I'm going to stack a tray full and bring it up for all of us, so make your requests now."

"Bacon and waffles," Yang sighed, sitting back on her bed and slumping down to rest a bit more.

"The breakfast of champions, got it," Violet replied, walking to the door and silently leaving to head down to the cafeteria. It was a short enough walk, especially with no other students yet awake to get in her way or to stop and chat with.

Violet stepped out into the brisk early morning air, a light mist still hanging overtop the grass and pathway that led to her destination. A light wind swept across the courtyard, chilling her to the bone in the short span to the large double doors. Violet pressed them open, hands raising to rub the goosebumps that had formed on her shoulders.

The young leader paused, noticing another occupant. Qrow sat at one of the benches, slumped against the table with his head in his hands, a tray of food sitting untouched in front of him. The man's flask was on the table next to him, apparently empty since it was knocked over but showed no signs of leakage.

Violet's stomach churned with self-loathing. Even if what she had done had been necessary, that didn't help her guilt. With a firm nod to herself, Violet crossed the room. She stopped a few feet away from Qrow, allowing a moment's hesitation before clearing her throat, "Are you okay?"

The drunk older huntsman didn't bother looking in her direction. In fact he barely reacted at all, simply choosing to wave his hand in a shooing motion to get her to go away. Gesture complete, Qrow returned his hand to where it had been before, barely supporting his head off the table.

"I don't think your nieces would like seeing you this way," Violet threatened idly, sitting down next to him on the bench. She leaned forward, placing her own head against her hand as she angled to look at him.

Qrow grunted and cracked a bloodshot eye, getting a squinted look at Violet, "Oh… it's you…"

"Oh... it's me," Violet mimicked back, "Qrow, wasn't it? I remember you a bit from the end of the… adventure on Patch. Ruby talks about you too. I might not have recognized you otherwise, especially considering the state you're in." Violet gave him a pitying look, "I don't know what's got you in the dumps, but…" her eyes searched the distant tables, spotting her quarry, "Want some coffee?"

Qrow's response was a noncommittal sigh, followed by a groan as he rubbed a hand across his temple.

"I'll take that as a 'yes'," Violet replied, hopping up to head over to the breakfast tables. Thankfully, a fresh pot of coffee was nearly finished, giving her no issues as she poured a rather large mug full of it before heading back to Qrow. Violet placed the steaming liquid down in front of him, "Careful, it's hot."

"Obviously," Qrow grumbled, slowly fumbling for some cream and sugar. After only a moderate addition of both, Violet's suspicions that Ruby got her love of sweets from Summer had been all but confirmed.

"Well, I need to grab breakfast for my team, soooo… see ya later?"

One crimson red eye swivelled to Violet, and after a few seconds some of the tension left the huntsman's shoulders, "Thanks, kid."

"It's just coffee."

"I wasn't talking about the coffee."

"Oh… right," Violet rubbed the back of her neck, "That isn't necessary. I'm just glad they're okay."

The barest hint of a smile tugged at Qrow's lip, "You know, I said something pretty similar when your parents came to get you in Patch."

"Huh, maybe I learned that from you," Violet shrugged, "Nice to meet you again, Qrow."

"See you soon, kid."

With her tray piled high with bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, waffles, pancakes, and a bowl of various fruits, Violet returned back to the dorm hastily. It was starting to get a bit later in the morning, and already the first few students were beginning to stream into the cafeteria, even more so in the corridors. Violet used her semblance to lighten the tray and hold it one handed while she reached into her pocket and withdrew her scroll to unlock the dorm door.

Apparently, Violet had taken longer than she realized. Blake and Yang had both already finished their showers, and Ruby was just then stepping out of the bathroom as well, a gust of steam riding her heels. Blake averted her eyes from Violet at first, her cheeks reddening slightly. Violet didn't miss the way her shoulders were slumped or how her ears mirrored them, laying limply down in obvious dejection. Blake and Yang had obviously been in the middle of some sort of conversation.

"Sorry that took so long," Violet gave Blake a confused glance, then transferred it into a questioning look to Yang. The girl shook her head, though, refusing to answer.

Violet set the tray down on one of the desks and laid out the extra plates she had snagged, "Eat up. I might just be paranoid, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Headmaster is going to want to talk to all of us about our little fight down at the docks."

"You think he knows?" Ruby gasped in horror, eyes darting around the room to the other two that appeared as equally shocked.

"Well, duh. Do you think the police wouldn't report something like that to him immediately?"

Yang grumbled, holding her stomach, "I'm suddenly not feeling very hungry…" Her eyes stared in panic at Violet, "Do you think we'll be expelled?"

Violet couldn't help but laugh, 'You lot, expelled over something like this?' She managed to calm down enough to actually speak, "Not a chance. Seriously, don't even consider it."

"How can you be so sure?" Blake spoke up from her top bunk, eyes even wider than Yang's.

"Trust me, alright? Ozpin wouldn't dare throw any of you out. You're all some of the most promising young huntresses of our entire generation. He'd be crazy if the idea even crossed his mind."

"I guess that's true…" Yang replied lightly, standing up from her bed to move across towards the desk, "You're sure?" Her hand hesitated over one of the plates, waiting for Violet's confirmation.

The young leader grabbed a piece of bacon and bit it in half in a gesture of confidence, "Cross my heart."

Yang nodded and started filling up a plate, followed by Blake who hopped down off her bed. She still seemed hesitant to meet Violet's gaze, 'Maybe my joke this morning offended her. She might already like Yang, or maybe it's just too soon after Adam still… I'll back off.'

Violet made sure to give Blake a bit more space as the reserved cat faunus grabbed mostly fruit for her own plate. Ruby finished dressing and snagged up a bit of everything, followed by the pair of cookies that Violet uncovered, saving them just for her. Violet grabbed some things for herself last and sat down on her bed, next to the red reaper that had chosen that spot as well instead of tempting fate by climbing up into her own bunk with a plate full of food.

The team peacefully sat and ate their breakfast, each mulling over their own individual thoughts. Blake continued to avoid Violet's gaze, and Yang still didn't seem entirely reassured. Surprisingly, aside from herself, Ruby seemed the most self-assured. Finishing up, Violet patted her stomach with a sigh and set the plate down on top of the bookshelf nearby before leaning back and resting her arms behind her head.

Ruby had already finished as well, and was now fidgeting next to her. Even with her eyes closed, Violet could feel the bed shifting around as the girl shuffled nervously from side to side. Violet huffed, "It's hard to get a little extra rest when you're bouncing around like that, Little Red. What's up?"

"Umm, well… Blake said that you were able to control your power more easily last night… Can you show us?" Ruby stumbled over her words, apparently nervous that her request would be rejected due to her leader's previous stance on 'testing out' her abilities.

"Yeah, that's fine." Violet sat up and looked around the room, incapable of singling anything out to really show off with. She shrugged and moved the plate from the top of the bookshelf to the floor. All eyes were on both her and the plate between her feet as she held her hand out and summoned a foot tall purple crystal of ice.

"Wow…" Yang lowered herself off her bed and crouched down next to the small spire of ice. She glanced up to stare at Violet, "Do you feel any different?"

Violet shook her head, "No, not really. It feels kind of natural, actually. Like I could have been doing this all along."

'Not far from the truth.'

Ruby was leaning forward past Violet, one hand against her thigh to look over at the spectacle, "What about fire?"

Violet gestured for Yang to back off before igniting the small tower of ice in purple flames. The ice cracked and popped under the heat, already pooling into a steaming puddle of purple liquid that quickly dissipated into nothingness, leaving the plate cleaner than it had been before.

"Looks like I'll make an excellent dishwasher. I'm sorry girls, but I've found my true calling."

"Have you tried anything else yet?" Blake piped up, sitting at a high enough angle on her bunk across the way to see over Yang.

'The only other powers I've seen used are lightning and wind, neither of which would be the safest thing in the world to try and use in a small room…'

Violet shrugged, "Nothing yet. I'm hoping the Headmaster might be able to offer a little guidance. Who knows, maybe there's other people like me out there, and we just don't know about them?"

"I've never heard of any," Ruby's face was thoughtful, likely racking her brain for any comics that fit the description.

The team leader's scroll buzzed. She sighed as she lifted it up to read the message, "Oh," it wasn't from Ozpin.

"What's up?" Ruby asked, noticing the hint of surprise in Violet's voice.

She shook her head, "Nothing, really. Just not what I was expecting. It's an email from the SDC, apologizing that the shipment was 'regretfully lost' and promising the order will be filled by next weekend."

Yang snorted, "Do you think they'll find out it was us?"

"I doubt it. The headmaster will probably keep this all under wraps," Violet put her scroll away and stretched, "Either way, I need those cells. I'm down to one shot."

'On second thought, now that the cat's out of the bag… I could try powering it myself with my 'maiden' powers…' Doing away with the dust cells completely would free up such a large constraint, 'And make my parents' accountants happy.'

"When do you think the Headmaster is going to call on us?" Ruby asked from next to her, eyes on the door that led out into the hall.

Violet's response was interrupted by a firm knock on the door, causing her to change what she had been about to say and instead hopped up with a smirk. The adventurous leader was already opening the door before any of the others had overcome their panic. Violet's view of the hallway was blocked by Glynda's chest, as the familiar and strict professor had leaned forward and was already preparing to knock once more.

"Hey, Ms. Goodwitch! What brings you to our neck of the woods?"

The older woman stepped back, hand retreating to her clipboard as a pair of piercing green eyes looked over the young leader of team Vibrant, "The headmaster is requesting your presence in his office," her eyes lifted above Violet's head to the rest of the room, "That goes for all of you."

The other members of her team shared a few looks before slowly rising and filing out behind Violet, all led by Ms. Goodwitch as she marched them outside and to the tower, where Ozpin's office resided. The early morning mist had dissipated, leaving on a slight chill in the air as the sun crept past the horizon.

Glynda led them on a direct path to the tower with little deviation. Soon enough, the group of five were inside the base and shuffling into the elevator. Before the professor had a chance to hold out her scroll, the elevator doors were already closing, announcing their destination as the headmaster's office.

Three sets of eyes continuously glanced her direction on the long ride up to the top of the tower, each girl looking for confirmation that they had nothing to worry about. Violet kept her expression resolute, and nodded once to each of them with a soft smile. Ruby seemed to be the least nervous of the three, 'She did have that interview with him before getting into Beacon. I guess the others just haven't interacted with Ozpin much yet.'

The doors dinged open, revealing the headmaster sitting by his desk, and a very tired looking Qrow a little behind and to his left left. Glynda stepped inside then took up her place on Ozpin's other side, each flanking him and giving him an air of importance. Qrow at least was better off than how she'd left him. He must have gotten a few more cups of coffee before heading here.

The two niece's eyes each darted to their uncle's, confusion clear across their faces. Qrow could only give a tired nod before Ozpin cleared his throat and leaned forward. The group of girls picked up the pace, stopping in front of his desk in a line while the headmaster eyed each of them in turn.

His gaze finally settled on Violet, "Did you happen to catch the news yesterday evening? There was a particularly interesting story, about a destroyed van, and a hole that had been blown through several buildings all in a single line. Do you have any recollection of such an event, Ms. Regalia?"

'Whoops. I'd forgotten about that entirely, compared to the docks.'

Violet rubbed the back of her head, "That was uh… yeah that was me."

Ozpin sat back and made a small motion with his hand, indicating that Violet should continue.

"We were scoping out dust shops to try and catch Roman Torchwick. Blake and the others put a stop to his theft, but he was escaping. I was a further distance away, in the path of his retreat. I uh… stopped his getaway van."

"And caused thousands of lien worth of property damage in the process," Qrow grunted, shaking his head.

"What were you thinking?" Glynda demanded, hand gripping the end of her riding crop tightly.

"I… wasn't?" Violet raised up her hands defensively, "I was caught up in the moment, with my mind only on my goal and not the potential collateral damage it might cause. It won't happen again."

"And yet it did," Ozpin gave her a disapproving frown, "Your firing of Zenith at the docks was the catalyst for the explosion that happened there. What have you to say for yourself?"

Violet's mind retreated to the events of the night prior, how her memories had come flooding unbidden to mind in the middle of the fight, throwing off her timing and allowing the pilot to attempt to avoid the shot.

"There were… extenuating circumstances. The minigun it was firing was too great a threat to leave unattended to."

"Could Ms. Rose have not fired off another ice dust round, blocking the pilot's view as she had done only moments before?"

"I was out! We only brought the three," Ruby piped up from Violet's left.

"I see…" Ozpin weaved his fingers together and stared at the group overtop his hands, giving each a considering look, "And what of Torchwick?"

"He vanished," Blake chipped in, barely able to meet the headmaster's gaze as it was leveled at her, "His hench-girl used some kind of teleport to get them out of there."

Ozpin nodded, "That confirms what we caught on video… However," The holographic screens came to life, depicting an image of the massive, coiling spire of purple ice that had surrounded and protected them, "What can you say of that?"

Each eye in the room eventually swivelled to stare at Violet, who sighed, 'He's trying to figure out how much I know.'

With a small wave of her hand, a short smattering of purple crystals appeared across the surface of Ozpin's desk, forming into a wide swath that covered part of his keyboard. "Oops, sorry," Violet let her cheeks redden slightly, feigning embarrassment. She had done it on purpose, of course. It wouldn't do to show too much skill with her 'maiden' powers so soon.

"Interesting," the headmaster idly poked at the crystals, "Ah, it is purple ice. That certainly clears up some confusion."

Violet ignited one of her fingers, allowing the amethyst colored flame to dance back and forth across them, "I can't consciously do much else with it yet, whatever it is… Do you know why I can do this?" Violet turned two curious eyes to Ozpin, letting the flame go out and the ice disappear.

The ancient man steepled his fingers and leaned back, crossing his leg, "Have you ever heard the story of the four maidens?"

Yang and Ruby both nodded, while Violet and Blake shook their heads 'no'. It wasn't a story that had ever been told to her in this life, even if she did already know it.

Ozpin cleared his throat, then began a retelling of the story, just as Violet recalled it. The old wizard out alone in the woods, the four maidens that visited him, his gratefulness for their efforts and resulting distribution of power.

"So, you're saying I'm one of these maidens?" Violet tilted her head, bangs falling loosely across the front of her face. She smiled and shook her head, "I wasn't alive that long ago, professor. Unless you're suggesting I'm like, two hundred years old."

"Certainly not. The tale of the maidens is true," Ozpin's eyes scanned the other girls in the room, a slight hesitation in his voice, "Ms. Regalia, do you… trust... your teammates?"

"With my life," Violet replied instantly, knowing exactly what Ozpin was getting at, 'They would never turn on me for power.'

After a moment, the older man nodded, "If that is the case, then I shall divulge the process of acquiring the maiden's powers to you all. It is important, as others have sought to steal this power for themselves." Ozpin paused for dramatic effect, "Through death, the powers are passed along. Whoever is in your final thoughts when you die will gain the maiden's power for themselves."

"So if I'm murdered…"

"It is very hard to avoid thinking about your attacker in your final moments," Ozpin finished for her, nodding, "On the other hand, if you die without anyone in your final thoughts, the power will be randomly assigned to another eligible maiden in the world."

Violet grinned at the others, "Here's your chance for unimaginable power, ladies. It sleeps in the same room as you every night."

Ruby gasped, "Don't even joke about that!"

"It would match my eye color…" Yang rubbed a hand against her chin and shot Violet a playful smile, "Hey, Rubes. Do you want to trade bunks?"

Ruby punched Yang, a weak hit that barely served to stagger the older sibling. Yang laughed and ruffled Ruby's hair, "I'm kidding, sis. We would never do anything like that, right Blake?"

"Of course not!" the black-haired faunus replied in mild shock, "Ruby's right. You shouldn't even joke about that, you two."

Violet smirked, "Hey, it's my life on the line."

"Still…" Ruby nervously poked her index fingers together, shooting Violet a worried frown.

Violet placed a comforting hand on the younger girl's shoulder and pulled her into a sideways hug, "Don't be silly, Little Red. I won't be dying any time soon."

Qrow coughed from where he stood, gathering their attention, "Actually, that's the other part we needed to talk about. It's happened in the past, and just recently, another one of the maidens was attacked. Part of her power was stolen." The grizzled huntsman stared them down, "If you value your life… Keep. This. A. Secret."

"That means no using your powers, aside from scheduled times when we will be present to observe," Glynda continued in a tone that brooked no arguments, "We will be taking time each week outside classes to accompany you into the Emerald Forest so that you may practice these new abilities. Aside from then, it is strictly forbidden."

Violet shook her head, "I won't use them if I can help it, but…" her eyes scanned across her teammate's faces, "If something else happens where its the difference between life and death, you 'forbidding' me won't mean jack."

"I would not have it any other way," Ozpin cut off Glynda's retort with a raised hand, "These powers are yours to do with as you please. We only seek to guide you as we have others in the past."

Violet nodded, "Fair enough. I'll take your lessons and try to avoid using my powers as best I can. I'm not exactly in a rush to get stabbed in the back," she tapped her chin thoughtfully, "Although I suppose they would have to do it from the front if they wanted the power."

"Can we please stop talking about people trying to kill you?" Ruby asked quietly. The subject was making her nauseous.

"As you wish, Ms. Rose. While Violet will have her own separate sessions to learn about her new abilities, we will also be moving up the rest of your training," his eyes stared at each of Violet's teammates in turn, "You will all need to be at your best in the future. Glynda has agreed to help you with tandem attacks after your regular combat classes. You all must learn to think as one."

Ruby brightened back up at that. Any chance to train with her team was an idea she could get behind. The rest nodded in acceptance. It was a little earlier than when regular students would start training together. Violet welcomed it, already thinking of attack names.

'I guess the Weiss themed attacks are out, but we still have Lady Bug and Bumblebee to start with… I'll have to ask Ruby for suggestions. It seemed like she was the brains behind the names in the show,' Violet was spacing out already, 'What about all the ones that involve me?' She had a lot of work to do, that was for sure. Her and the little reaper would be attached at the hip until they could agree on each variation.

Ozpin sighed, "That is all for now. Please keep this matter close to the chest," his eyes glimmered as he stared them down one last time, "That means from team Siren, as well. The less that know, the better."

The group shuffled, not quite happy about having to keep secrets from their sister team, but eventually all nodded acceptance.

The door opened with a small ding, signalling the group of girls that it was time for them to leave. They did so fast enough, with only a minute quickening in their pace the closer they got to the elevator. Once they were inside and the doors had closed, a few of them breathed out sighs of relief.

Violet broke the silence after a while, "You know, if I made ice and then kept evaporating it with fire, we could turn any room we wanted into a sauna."

"Violet…" three voices chastised her in unison.

"It was just a thought," their team leader gave them all a smug grin as the elevator began it descent.

 


 

"She took that surprisingly well," Qrow muttered, swirling his newly filled flask, "Better than Amber did at first, anyway."

"Hmm," Ozpin hummed is assent, "Indeed. Amber lacked a team, though, and was only a regular citizen before the maiden's powers chose her. Violet has the advantage of years of training and people she can trust on her side."

"Do you really think it was wise to tell all of them how the power is transferred?" Glynda asked tentatively.

Qrow glared across the top of the wizard's chair, "What is that supposed to mean? Are you suggesting my nieces-"

"No, Qrow. I mean the Belladonna girl. We know she was part of the White Fang before coming to Beacon," Glynda shifted her focus to the headmaster, "Should I keep an eye on her?"

"If it will make you feel better," Ozpin replied, still staring at the elevator in contemplation, "For the record, I doubt Ms. Belladonna could be so conniving."

Qrow frowned, "I used to think the same about Raven."

"Yes, but Raven had already killed long before coming to Beacon."

Qrow shifted uncomfortably, 'So had I…', "I get your point, Oz." He looked between the two, "When are we setting up these little training sessions?"

"You will have to undertake the majority," Ozpin answered, "Glynda and I have our duties here at the school that still must be taken care of, and I have the Vale Council breathing down my neck after what happened at the docks."

"They didn't get a recording, I hope?" Glynda asked, concerned for the well being of her students, no matter how gifted they might be.

"No, no. I made sure of that. Still, a giant explosion hardly went unnoticed by the powers at be. As always, they're asking questions and sticking their nose in business that doesn't concern them."

Ozpin shook his head in exasperation and turned to Qrow, finally taking his eyes off where team Vibrant had last been, "I'll give you Ms. Regalia's scroll number. Set up an appointment to meet with her tomorrow, at the latest. She may be itching to try out her new found powers, and I would rather she does so in a controlled environment."

Qrow swirled his flask but thought better than to take another drink, and instead pocketed it. His expression became measured, as he looked at Ozpin, "...What about God? Are you going to hold true to your deal?"

"I don't believe we have any other choice… Besides, the way I look at it, 'she' has offered us a great opportunity."

"And what might that be?" Glynda chipped in.

"Well… If I feared for my own safety, due to Ms. Regalia's abilities to seemingly destroy the very soul of the creatures she kills, what is to say the same could not be said for Salem?"

Ozpin let his words sink in before continuing, "Ms. Regalia may just be the breakthrough we have been searching for."

'An end to the war…' Qrow could hardly believe it. Did he dare hope that such a thing could be possible? He accepted the girl's scroll number from Ozpin and added it to his contacts, then pulled it open to already designate a time for them to meet up.

"Beacon Cliff, after dinner. Be there. ~ Qrow"

There was no response for all of ten seconds, before his scroll buzzed, Violet's response flashing up on screen for him to read.

"Sir, yes sir."

Chapter Text

The sun was now well past the horizon as the group of four girls exited the lower level of the CCT, back out into the school grounds. They walked in a short line, shoulder to shoulder along the pathway that led back towards their dorm, with Violet on the far right past Yang, then Blake with Ruby on her left.

They had been silent for the majority of the elevator's descent down, and subsequent walk out of the tower. Blake had the feeling that the other girls were sharing in her shock over the details that had been revealed. It couldn't be argued with, though. They had all seen what Violet was capable of, and how it went beyond what was normally capable with a semblance.

The cat faunus was sneaking a glance at her team leader when she heard Violet's scroll vibrate. Blake took note of the small smile that quirked her lips. The cat faunus quickly bumped into Yang to get her attention, waiting for the blond to regain her focus. Blake gestured with her head over towards their team leader.

The blond was fast on the uptake, seeing both the scroll and Violet's expression. Yang grinned, "Who you talking with, Vi? Some secret lover boy?"

Violet turned the screen to face them with a mischievous grin of her own, more than ready to fire back with her own taunts, "Yeah. I'm hooking up with your uncle later," Violet threw an arm around Yang's shoulders, "Hope you're ready to be my nieces~"

Yang screwed her eyes shut and paled, making visible gagging motions as if forcing a finger down her throat, "Oh god, that was not something I wanted to picture! He's like forty!"

Their leader laughed, clear and melodical, "You're never too old for love, dear." The grin remained as she leaned in closer to Yang, arm still around her, "Now that I'm basically your aunt, I'll have to make sure you're raised right. You can start by cleaning your room when we get back~"

The blond narrowed her eyes, "That's all our room."

"Don't talk back to your aunt like that young lady!" Violet laughed and skipped a few steps forward to spin around and face them while she walked backwards, "That goes for you too, Little Red~ Auntie Vi wants to sit in peace and watch her stories, so no loud music, okay?"

Ruby giggled, "Yes, Auntie Vi," Blake caught the younger girl's eyes darting in her direction, "Is it alright if I bring a friend home?"

Violet gave Blake a playful frown, "Do you mean that Belladonna girl? I heard she was running with the wrong crowd, Little Red. I don't want you getting mixed up in any funny business."

"Oh she's past that, honest!" Ruby rushed out.

Violet's smile returned, "Well, that's quite alright then, Dear. Auntie can never have enough cats~"

While the faunus's first reaction was to be offended at the comment, Blake couldn't bring herself to be. She knew her leader hadn't meant to be demeaning at all. Still, Blake narrowed her eyes at Violet for good measure to show the prospect of a cat faunus being 'owned' wasn't exactly appreciated, either.

Violet's act faltered when she noticed Blake's expression, her hand moving up to her mouth as if to forcibly shut herself up, "Sorry Blake. I didn't mean anything by it."

"I know you didn't," Blake shook her head and sighed, then smiled weakly despite herself, looking at the floor, 'I can't be mad at you. Not after all you've done for me… And...'

Yang and Violet began bickering amongst each other while Blake zoned out into her own thoughts, the words that Yang had said coming back to mind, 'Violet thinks of us all like family.'

It really didn't bode well for Blake if her feelings were going to go unrequited. The faunus had never been 'family-zoned' before, but it hardly inspired confidence. 'Maybe I should just cut my losses…' If Blake could just accept Violet as she was, instead of looking to get more out of their leader, then perhaps that would be enough.

'Violet is already a better leader than I ever could have hoped for. Do I really want to risk that for a… a crush?'

"What do you think, Blake?"

The faunus was stirred from her internal struggle by Violet saying her name. Her eyes darted back and forth between the three faces looking at her as they walked and felt the heat rise in her cheeks, "Uhm, sorry. I wasn't listening. What was the question?"

Violet gave Blake a curious frown, "I was asking if everyone wanted to go see a movie again next weekend. We could all use a little break from classes and hunting down bad guys."

The heat stayed in her cheeks when she noticed Yang giving her a knowing smile, "Uh, sure… They are kind of loud, though…"

Their leader beamed, "That's fine, I can help you out again. I don't mind!" Violet spun back around to march in front of them, hands clasped behind her back, "Now that's settled, I'm going to need your help, Little Red."

"Me?" Ruby sounded confused.

"Yes, you," Violet spared an eye over her shoulder to the small red reaper, "I have a feeling you'll be good at coming up with team attack names. We should get those worked out before training starts, so everyone knows which combos they're learning."

Ruby's eyes shone, "That sounds like fun!"

Violet nodded, "I thought you'd want to," she looked ahead again but raised her hands, "For instance, Yang and Blake's team attack name can be 'Bumblebee'!" Her hands clasped together, depicting how the two color themes were supposed to mesh.

Yang smiled lightly and punched Blake, "I like it."

Blake nodded in response. It did sound like a good idea. 'I wonder what Violet's and my attack name will be called?' Her mind couldn't help but wander to the way celebrity couples combined their names and compare it to what they were doing... At least this time she managed to fight back the blush.

Violet pulled her scroll out of her pocket as they approached the door to their dorm, unlocking it with a swift wave past the lock's sensor. Their leader stepped into the room and held the door open for them expectantly, gesturing for them to enter. Blake started to step inside, but was yanked back by Yang who had suddenly grabbed a hold of the faunus's wrist.

Blake shot the blond an irritated frown, but was ignored as the pair of lavender eyes looked past her to their leader.

"Actually, I think it's best if Blakey and I go start training together right now."

Violet tilted her head to the side, a spark of something igniting in her eyes, "Is that so?"

Yang gave Blake a quick wink and started to pull her away, down the hallway opposite of where they'd come from, "Umm, yeah. Better sooner rather than later, right?"

Oddly enough, Violet gave them one of her 'knowing' smiles, 'What does she think is happening right now? What is happening right now!?'

"Have her back by nine!" Violet shouted with a smirk, then hauled Ruby into the room before shutting the door. Blake was left alone with the very handsy blond, and wasted no time pulling herself free of her teammate's grip.

Yang shook her head as they turned away and began walking in earnest, "Honestly. How can Violet be so perceptive, yet so dense at the same time?"

"I'm probably more confused than she is… What are we doing, Yang?"

The blond gave her a mischievous smile, "Training! Like I said."

"Training," Blake replied flatly, giving her a suspicious eye and noting the direction they were headed, "We certainly aren't on our way to the weapon lockers."

Yang shook her head, "We're just going to the gym. It's quiet this early in the morning, and I think better while I'm working out."

"Why does that not surprise me?" Blake gave a bemused smile. The direction they were heading was actually to the gym, "And why the sudden interest in bringing me with you?"

"Because we have girl stuff to work out."

'Girl stuff…?' Blake gave an exasperated sigh, "Yang, we might have only known each other for about a month, but you should have realized by now that I'm not the type to talk about 'girl stuff'."

"Whaaat? Nonsense," Yang gave her a playful smile, "If you'd like, I could even get Siren to kick Ren out of their dorm for a while and we could have a girl's night. Minus Violet and Ruby, of course."

Blake grimaced, "I don't think that would help my standing with Violet. They would probably be wondering why they weren't included. Ren wouldn't appreciate that much, either."

"Oh, he'd be fine," Yang tapped her chin, "You're right, though. Ruby at least wouldn't take it very well. I guess you're just stuck with me, kitty cat."

"I am not an animal, Yang."

"No. You're a part of this family, and if you ever want Violet to be more than that, then you should talk to me."

Blake sighed, 'She has a point…'

The blonde seemed content to take that as acceptance and leave it be for the moment. The pair continued down the hallway through a few more twists and turns, eventually finding their way to the gym.

"Here we are!" Yang punctuated the statement as they reached the door by yanking it open and waiting for Blake to enter.

The 'gym' of Beacon Academy was massive, easily two hundred feet across with a few dozen sets of every piece of workout equipment you could ask for. The room was separated by cleared out lanes, more just lines of open floor space than actual walkways. In the center of it all were four boxing rings, set aside for those that wished to train their skill in hand to hand combat.

"So... what first?" Blake asked passively, eyeing the extensive collection of machines. Yang led them over to a set of weight machines, designed to work similar to a bench press but with a system of pulleys to make it easier on the user.

"We can warm up first, then maybe a spar?"

After a look towards the ring, Blake turned back to Yang and glowered, "Which one of us was the hand to hand specialist again? You and I both know that won't be much of a challenge for you."

"Sure won't!" Yang said with a hint of amusement, "Guess you'll have your work cut out for you in more ways than one."

They each sat down on one of the machines, the black cushioned material at least comfortable to sit on while other parts of your body would be forced to endure self-inflicted punishment. Blake took an extra moment to study the machine, recalling how it functioned exactly, 'Not my favorite…'

Yang wasted no time in grabbing the metal pin from the stack of weights and lowering it all the way down to two hundred. Immediately, the blond bombshell began doing repetitions at a speed that baffled Blake. Yang's muscles rippled as she raised the stack of weights then allowed it to dip back down, nearly allowing the weights to slam against those beneath, but always pulling them up short.

"Ah, yeah! Feel the burn!" Yang shouted, smiling despite the strain on her face.

"Now we know which of us is actually an animal..."

The blond grinned, "Damn straight, Blakey. Now stop staring and give me fifty!"

The faunus rolled her eyes and leaned back in her own seat, reaching down for the pin to set it to a more comfortable weight. She had visited the gym on only a few other occasions, enough to know how the machines worked for the most part. No matter how much she avoided it, coming here was inevitable with Yang as a teammate. The faunus let her mind zone out as she began doing her own set.

While it wasn't her favorite place in the school, their team had already shared a few good memories in the gym, of all places. Blake smiled, thinking back to the first time Yang had brought them all here. Violet had pranked them all, making it seem as if Ruby could lift more weight than her older sister could.

Their leader's taunting had given it away. That and the fact that Ruby simply wasn't built to be a powerhouse like Yang was. The blond had set fire to a few of the machines around her in her literal meltdown, then demanded that Violet spar with her right then and there. The greatsword wielder had done surprisingly well with just her bare hands, an achievement she attributed to her semblance, and very overzealous personal trainers.

In the end, the blond had won that fight, if not as quickly as she'd hoped. Violet had still refused to take any of their weight training seriously, instead relying on her semblance to remain as pristine as ever on their later outings to the gym.

'I suppose it is a useless exercise for someone that can remove mass from whatever she's carrying…' That truth hadn't sat well with Yang, who still considered it sacrilege to not take fitness seriously. Violet was in shape, though, if not on Yang's level.

It seemed Yang had finished her set, letting the weights slowly fall back into place before stretching her arms out above her head, "So. First things first. What do you like most about Violet?"

Blake stopped in the middle of her own set, letting the weights drop slowly to rest atop those beneath, 'What do I like most?' That was a difficult question… There were a lot of things to choose from... Blake sat in silence, thinking it over.

Yang smirked, "Is it her voluptuous figure?"

Blake glared at the blond, "I'm not that shallow, Yang."

She raised her hands defensively, "Just checking. That's good! It means you might actually have a shot at making things work out between you two. If it was purely physical, this conversation would be going a lot differently."

"How so?"

"Well, I'd be telling you it'll never work out between you," Yang rolled her shoulders and began doing another set with less weight, "So what is it? Is it because she likes faunus so much?"

'Is that why?' Blake thought it over before shaking her head, "That certainly helps, but it's far from the only reason."

"Is it because she's a capable fighter? I mean, she's been getting closer and closer to finally beating Pyrrha, and now with the whole 'maiden' thing…"

Blake's eyes darted about the room, already knowing that they were alone but still paranoid enough to double check. She gave Yang a mild glower, "I started liking her long before any of that."

The blond brushed off Blake's disapproval and perked up, "When did you start liking her?"

Blake thought back to the first time she had met Violet, a day before the girl would end up being her team leader, "The first time we met… I don't know, I just had this sense from her. Like she was…"

"Someone you could trust?" Yang interjected into the momentary gap, pausing in her workout to tilt her head in the faunus's direction.

"Yeah... Yeah, that's right."

"I... know what you mean," the blond lowered her weights. They made a quiet clang of metal on metal as she sat forward, "I don't like to bring it up much, but… do you remember the story about how we first met?"

"The time that she used her powers to save you and Ruby?"

Yang nodded, "I couldn't explain it at the time, but when I first met her, there was this sense… Like everything would be okay. In some ways, I think I still feel it whenever I'm around her. I thought maybe she was just a natural leader, the perfect person to be picked for the role on our team, but…"

Blake nodded, "It goes beyond just being a good leader. I want to agree with her, want to be around her," the faunus gave a disheartened laugh, "I want to be with Violet because she inspires that confidence in me. I don't have to run away from my issues, as long as she's there with me."

"It isn't fair. One person, having all that charisma. She's even got Cardin on the right track."

"You don't think…?"

"That she likes Cardin?" Yang doubled over, laughing as she clutched her stomach, "Not in a million years! We both heard what Violet said about him back in the cafeteria. At best, Cardin's gone from 'extra' to 'pet project'. She looks at him the same way my dad does when he gets our dog to roll over."

"You have a point there," Blake admitted, 'Violet treats him like a curiosity more than anything.' The faunus leaned forward, "Do you think we should help with whatever Violet's trying to do?"

"Teaching Cardin how to fight?" Yang grimaced at the idea, "I don't want to waste my time with him. Besides, if our leader wanted our help, she would ask for it."

Blake frowned, "Are you sure about that?"

"What do you mean?" Yang stood up as she asked, gesturing for Blake to follow and leading the pair a short distance to another set of machines. These were designed to workout your calf muscles by straightening out your legs against the weights.

It gave Blake a moment to get her thoughts in order as they set up, each plopping down on one across from each other. Once again, Yang set her pin to a weight that had the faunus shaking her head.

Blake set the bar a little higher for herself. Her legs were a powerful asset in the maneuvers that she did, and were a key aspect in how she managed to fight so acrobatically. It was something that their leader hadn't been afraid to compliment her on many occasions. The praise had been nice to hear, especially from her crush.

With her thoughts now gathered, Blake continued where they had left off, "I mean, Violet is always trying to help people. She's always trying to lighten the load, you know?" Blake paused, a small revelation coming to mind, "It kind of matches her semblance, now that I think about it."

"Figuratively and literally removing the weight from other people's shoulders?" Yang had a far off look, then glanced back to Blake and nodded, "That makes sense. If it was important, I still think she would ask, though. Violet invited Ruby and me to join your stakeout and the attack on the docks."

"True…" Blake paused in her reps, "But now Violet has this whole..." she glanced around the room and lowered her voice, "...'maiden' thing to worry about. How much can one person deal with before it all comes crashing down?"

"You should give her more credit. Violet seems fine enough to me."

"Aside from the time you made her cry?" Blake made the accusation lightly, she had been a part of that as well.

"Hey! We still don't know what that was about," Yang shot back, flustered enough to stop her current set early and let out a few deep breaths.

Blake shifted uncomfortably, "I got a clue last night."

At a look from Yang, the faunus decided to divulge more. It felt like a violation of the other girl's trust, but if it was all meant to help their leader...

"Violet was upset that she couldn't help sooner. From what I could tell... it sounded like she failed to save someone in the past."

The blond opened her mouth, a question clear on her lips, but Blake raised her hands, "She didn't tell me who. I'm just guessing."

The blond stopped what she had been about to say and sat back, in thought, "I don't suppose we could try and look up names of anyone close to her she might have lost?"

"That would be a huge invasion of privacy…"

"I know, but… don't you want to help?"

"Of course I do. That's just…" Blake sighed, "That's going too far. If she doesn't tell us, then maybe we can ask later on. I don't want to go digging through her past, though."

Yang raised her hands in defeat, "Alright, we won't snoop," the blond shook her head, "None of this is getting you closer to what you want."

"I want to spend as much time with Violet as I can…"

"And more?"

"...and more."

Yang smiled, "Well, the theater will be a good place to start. We can work our way up to it. Start making little efforts along the way to get Violet to notice you," the blond gave a sly grin, "Maybe then it can end up a date, instead of just a friendly outing."

"You mean a family outing?"

Yang laughed, "Hey, my own mom was a total bust. I could learn to love two aunts instead."

Blake smirked, "You're going to have to keep your dog locked up whenever I visit."

"What, you don't like dogs, kitty cat?"

"Dogs don't like me."

"Nonsense, Zwei loves everybody!"

Their conversation devolved into more casual conversation as the two continued their workout. Both offering up ideas on what Blake might be able to do to change the way Violet thought about her. The faunus had to shoot down a few of the more… risque ideas that Yang offered up, while the blond did the same for some of Blake's ideas that were far too unromantic.

While they sat and chat, Yang continued to put Blake through her paces, pressuring the faunus into doing more than she'd ever done before. It was a welcome distraction from her own bashfulness and anxiety due to the subject of their conversation. After a couple hours, the pair were ready to head back to their room, get a shower in, and spend the afternoon with their teammates.

 


 

Violet watched the pair leave for a moment longer before pulling Ruby into the room. She sighed, leaning back against the door after it had closed and shut her eyes, "Ah, young love."

Ruby had been in the process of walking over to her desk but froze, slowly turning on her heel to frown at Violet, "What?"

Violet smirked, "Sorry, Little Red. As much as I'd love to share, I'm going to have to respect your sister's taboo on this one. Not supposed to talk about 'adult stuff' around you."

"Has that ever stopped you before?"

Violet tapped a finger against her chin, "It's stopped me from actually saying anything. I might have fun teasing Yang over it, but I hardly want to be the first to 'corrupt' you."

The little reaper sighed and rolled her eyes, "I'm not stupid. I pretend like I don't know anything when Yang is around because she'd probably beat up anyone that looked at me that way."

'Well that opens up so many more chances for teasing Yang. Thank you for the ammunition, Little Red.'

Ruby seemed to understand from the devious look on Violet's face that she might have started plotting nefarious acts, "Hey! I want to keep it that way until there is someone I like. So no messing with Yang!"

Violet groaned, "What? Not even a little bit?"

"No!"

"Fiiiiine," Violet walked over and sat on her bed, slumping her head into her hand and patting the space next to her in an invitation for Ruby to sit.

"Well, for your information, I think Yang and Blake are gonna hook up," Violet shook her head, sounding like an exasperated parent, "Sneaking off to the 'gym' together. They grow up so fast. Auntie Vi is proud."

"Uhm…" Ruby shifted awkwardly, her hands going to her skirt as she stared at the floor, "I don't think that's what they're doing…"

"Oh? Know something I don't? Please tell~ What makes you so sure those two aren't sneaking off to do anything indecent?"

Ruby was distressed, or just embarrassed. The younger girl smoothed out her skirt after her own hands had bunched it up, still hesitant to answer, "I… have my reasons."

"Keeping secrets?" Violet put her hands to her face as if in mild shock, "You can't leave Auntie Vi in the dark like this!"

When Ruby still refused to answer, Violet adopted a smile, as if the younger girl's deepest desires had been laid bare, "Or perhaps you just don't want to believe? Trying to keep Blake for yourself, Little Red?"

Ruby sputtered, incapable of forming words together as her eyes widened.

Violet leaned forward with a glint in her eye, "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue? It's okay, I'll break the news to your dearest sister as gently as I can," her expression grew sad, "I'm sorry, Yang. Your sister… loves catgirls!"

Ruby glared, "No, you dummy! Blake likes you!"

'What?' Violet's eyebrows knit together in confusion, "I don't know what made you think that, Ruby, but you've gotta be wrong."

"Blake admitted to it last night!"

Silence dominated the room as the two looked at each other. Ruby slowly realized what she had said and drew in on herself, giving worried looks to Violet, "Y-You didn't hear it from me! Blake would kill me if she found out I told you!"

'Blake likes me…!? That's ridiculous…' The more Violet thought about it though, the more it made sense. She had swooped in and helped to patch together the faunus girl's life in less than a month. Violet had done everything in her power to get on the girl's good side, and to make her feel at home with her new team.

'I even got her to talk to her parents again… and saved her life…'

The time in the theater came back to mind. How Blake had been cuddled up against her for the entire movie, practically clinging to Violet right up until the end. How she'd been surprised when Violet moved, as if she hadn't even noticed the movie was over... The way she sighed when Violet stopped rubbing her back… How she'd bought her a book from 'the first time they met'…

"Okay… so maybe Blake has a crush on me…" Violet turned her eyes back to Ruby, "What am I supposed to do?"

"I mean… do you like her?" the younger girl asked cautiously, trying to get a read on what Violet was feeling but failing.

'That isn't really the point. I might be in the body of a seventeen year old, but I'm God…' Violet had been in physical relationships before, once up a time. It could be fun to pass the night away in the arms of another, but it had never been serious. 'I can't string Blake along like that…'

"You don't like her that way…" Ruby whispered, eyes once again going wide as she leaned back away from Violet, "Why not?"

"It's… complicated," Violet responded, racking her brain for the easiest excuse. 'I could say I'm not into girls…' That could work. It would be another lie, though, and she was sick of lying. 'I also haven't exactly been the most reserved around Yang when it comes to that sort of thing… I've made more than enough suggestive remarks about girls and guys to tip her off...' The blond would certainly call her out on it. If not in front of Blake, then at least in private.

"Is it because she's a faunus?"

"What? Of course not!" Violet exclaimed, shaking her head emphatically.

Ruby raised her hands, "I didn't really think so… It's just… Blake is a really nice girl, ya know? I couldn't think of any other reason…"

'Gah! How did I deal with this in the past?' Had she ever had to? Even after actively letting the memories come rushing back, many of them were still a blur. Her mind had focused mainly on the battles and friends she had along the way. Trying to pick out a specific memory or feeling in the mix was next to impossible. If Violet focused on one memory, it would simply bleed into another.

'I've lived so many lives… Have I ever had a romantic relationship?' Violet couldn't remember a single marriage, a single vow uttered… Like a boiling pot, some memories rose to the surface, bubbles that popped the instant she tried to interact with them. All things considered, the attempt was giving her a headache.

"I just… haven't thought of anyone that way," Violet admitted finally, turning her gaze back to the younger girl next to her.

"Never?" Ruby was astounded by the idea, "Even I've thought of others that way before."

"Anyone your sister should be worried about?"

Ruby narrowed her eyes, "You're not getting out of this that easily. No changing the subject!" the girl huffed out and crossed her arms, "Well, now is your chance to give it a shot."

'It isn't that simple. You're all going to die, eventually. Then I'll be left alone again… I don't… I don't want to fall for anyone.'

'Ah…' the memories came flooding back, more resilient now as Violet's mind aligned with past experiences. She had always avoided going too far with anyone, afraid of hurting not them, but herself. 'It's the ultimate truth… and the one I try to forget the most... My destiny is to be alone.' It was the reason she created so many worlds. At least then she could lessen the isolation.

"I don't know, Ruby…"

"What is there to not know? You can at least try, Violet. Come on, where's my fearless leader when we need her? Give Blake a chance," Ruby was now leaning far too close, silver eyes burning into Violet's with a determination that was usually reserved for killing Grimm.

"Okay, Ruby," Violet leaned back to escape the reaper's fierce gaze, 'It will never work, but… maybe I can start things off slow? Blake likes books...'

Violet nodded to herself, 'I'll create a book that will express my issues and present them in the story… Then I can ask Blake how she feels about it…' It was the safest way to get an idea for how the faunus might take the truth, and give Violet the chance to break it off without having to reveal too much.

'And what would be the end goal from there?'

Violet was God… 'Bending the laws of reality are kind of my whole thing. It wouldn't be too hard to elevate one of my creations to a similar level…'

The idea sent shivers down her spine. Beings like the pretend gods of Remnant were simple to create, 'Someone like me, though?...' The idea was as terrifying as it was welcoming.

Could she subject someone else to eternal life? 'I wouldn't be alone, then. We wouldn't be alone.' They would have each other.

"Do you promise you'll give it your best shot?" Ruby leaned forward once again after Violet had been quiet for so long.

Violet nodded, "I promise, Ruby."

"Good!" the girl rearranged herself on Violet's bed, leaning over to her desk to grab a notebook, "Now, what should our team attack be called?"

"I don't know. That's what you're here for, Little Red."

 


 

Violet tried to keep the awkward atmosphere to a minimum when Yang and Blake returned. The faunus stole the first shower, rushing into the bathroom before the blond even had a chance to get a word in edgewise. Once Blake had returned, Violet chatted her up a bit. She seemed to have calmed down compared to how she'd been earlier in the morning, which Violet was supremely thankful for.

Violet allowed herself to dip into her powers. An iota of effort was all it took to produce a book that would encapsulate her deepest issues, and darkest secrets. There was no hint towards the protagonist being Violet in particular, only that the main character was a God that dealt with all the same struggles as she did.

Blake was overly pleased by the gift and began reading it almost immediately. The faunus took the time to give Violet a prolonged hug, one that Violet couldn't bring herself to interrupt early. Blake hopped up on top of her bunk and delved into the book, reading it for most of the afternoon.

Yang tried to help Ruby and Violet come up with team attack names, mostly suggesting lines from the fighting game she was playing. Every now and then, the two would look up from the notebook to share a look with each other and just shake their heads. It culminated into Ruby finally telling her sister that she couldn't shout 'Kamehameha' while Violet fired off Zenith since that really wasn't a team attack.

"Oh come on! I can even use my semblance at the same time and make my hair burn gold!" Yang begged, giving Violet a simpering look, lower lip trembling slightly.

Ruby smacked Violet on top of the head with the notebook when the team leader started to consider it, then turned her attention to her older sister, "The attack name for Zenith is already 'Smite', and involves me using my semblance to get Violet in position while she uses her semblance to make herself weightless."

Yang grumbled, "Well, I want a cool attack combo…"

"You have one. 'Bumblebee' is when Blake swings you around by her weapon's ribbon to launch you at the enemy."

The blond stopped to think it over, sharing a glance with Blake who had looked down at the mention of her name, "That would be pretty cool."

"You're going to have to drop a few pounds," Blake smirked.

"No, you'll have to take upper body training more seriously," Yang replied with an evil grin, "We can start tomorrow. I'll push you harder than I did today."

Blake didn't appear happy at the prospect, "My aura hasn't even healed my muscles yet from earlier. If we do more I'll be dead tired the rest of the day."

Yang thought it over, "That's fine. Violet can use her semblance to make getting around easier afterwards." The blond smiled, proud of her own plan.

Violet could see through it easily enough. Her semblance could make life after workouts a lot smoother for Blake. The only issue was that she and Blake would have to be practically attached at the hip if Violet wanted to keep the effect up all day without wearing herself out. 'You aren't as sly as you think, Xiao Long.'

Blake went red in the face but didn't seem all that surprised by the suggestion, and darted her eyes back to the book Violet had given her, "Th-That… would be entirely up to Violet."

Yang's eyes swivelled around to face Violet, while Blake and Ruby shot glances in her direction to see how she was taking the idea.

'Did they plan this out together?'

Violet sighed, lips curling into a small smile, "Anything for my team. I guess you should message me on your scroll when you need me to stop by the gym. I'll be sure to pick you up."

"Great! We can work out before classes so that our afternoon stays free!" Yang cheered.

Blake groaned, ears going flat against the top of her head, "We would be getting up at 6am at the latest…"

Yang waved her off, "You can take a cat nap after classes."

The faunus tilted her head back to stare at the ceiling as if in prayer, "What did I do to deserve this?"

"You ended up on the best team in Beacon, that's how!" Ruby cheered.

"Excuse me!?" the sound of Nora came through their door before she began pounding on it, "Siren is the best team in this school!"

Ruby jumped up to unlock the door, a brief blur of red, followed by a click and another blur as she returned to Violet's bed.

"You know, your semblance might as well be teleportation sometimes…" Violet admitted, giving the small reaper an appreciative smile.

"That's why team Vibrant is the best!" Ruby shouted happily, making sure she was loud enough for Nora to hear as the girl stepped into the room.

"Oh, please. Pyrrha can unlock our door without getting up!" Nora challenged, putting her hands on her hips, "Now, are you lazy butts coming down to dinner or what? You've been locked in your room all day!"

The group collectively checked the time on their individual scrolls, realizing as one that it was six in the afternoon. Dinner was already being served in the cafeteria. 'It was a good thing I brought everyone breakfast earlier…'

Violet's stomach still grumbled in protest, now revealing how empty it felt. It seemed like it was a feeling shared by the other girls in the room, as they all hurriedly put on footwear and followed Nora out to the cafeteria.

"So what were you doing all day?" Nora asked, skipping along ahead of the pack as they joined the dinner line.

"Playing games."

"Reading."

"Coming up with team attack names."

"Ooooooh~, team attacks? We aren't supposed to learn those for a couple more weeks, right?"

Violet shrugged, "Yeah, but what are you going to call out when you and Ren attack something together?"

Nora paused in the middle of adding sausages to her plate to stare off into the distance, her brow furrowing.

"See? Better to come up with them now, right?"

Nora hurriedly filled her plate and ran off to the table that held the other three members of team Siren, slamming her tray down between Ren and Pyrrha. Some of her food splattered across the table, drawing the ire of Weiss, who spared a very disapproving frown. All three listened to her as she began to ramble about needing names.

By the time Vibrant had finished gathering their food and headed over, the table had grown silent. Each member was deep in thought, trying to come up with names to use.

"Hard, isn't it? Ruby and I have been at it all day," Violet confessed, setting her tray down and sitting next to the heiress.

"What are some of the names you used?" Weiss asked, pleading for Violet's assistance with a pair of light blue eyes.

Ruby dropped her plate down across the table from them and sat down heavily, "No way! You don't get to steal our ideas, we worked hard on those!"

"I'm just looking for inspiration, Ruby," Weiss shot back, "Your names probably wouldn't work for us anyway."

Ruby narrowed her eyes, untrusting of the heiress across from her. Violet decided to split the difference and offer up a name that she had already heard being used before, "You could call Ren and Nora's team attack 'Flower Power'."

"How is that supposed to inspire fear in our enemies?" Weiss replied, immediately dismissing the idea with a wave of her hand, "If the rest of your team's names are like that, maybe it's best if we do come up with our own."

Violet simply shrugged, giving out a slight laugh, 'I suppose Jaune would be the only one to think that was a good idea.'

While the rest of her team bickered amongst themselves on what names they should use, Pyrrha appeared to be mostly indifferent. The red headed champion smiled down the table to team Vibrant, her plate already finished, "Did any of you hear about the explosion down at the docks?"

The simultaneous acts of Ruby's eyes going wide, Yang suddenly choking on her food, and Blake shrinking down in her seat, were followed by Violet giving her best curious frown, "What explosion?"

The entirety of Siren gave Violet the flattest stare she had ever seen. Violet let out a quick "Oh! That explosion. Yeah, we heard about it." It didn't seem to have fooled anyone.

"You were there, weren't you," the statement from Ren had no inclination towards being an actual question. It was delivered just as flatly as his team's stares, and with twice the disbelief.

Violet rubbed the back of her head, a slight quirk of a smile threatening her lips, "We… might have, yeah."

"No kill like overkill, right?" Weiss mocked, repeating back the phrase that Violet had once uttered, "I'm guessing your ridiculous weapon was the cause?"

"It wasn't her fault!" Ruby shouted in Violet's defense, "The bullhead kinda… lost control after it got hit."

"You shot a bullhead!?" Nora exclaimed, jumping up from her seat to lean further down the table.

The entire group paused as they all noticed the complete silence that permeated the cafeteria. All eyes were focused on them.

"Haha, yeah... That was a fun mission in that game we were playing, right Yang?" Violet projected her voice as well as she could.

Yang was a little slow on the uptake, but after a second of hesitation caught on to what Violet was doing, "Ha, I remember that mission! It was really fun!"

"Shooting down bullheads isn't a game, you guys," Nora chastised, shaking her head.

Violet slammed her head down against the table in front of her, 'Damn it, Nora.'

Ren raised his voice and grabbed Nora by the shoulder, pushing her back down into a sitting position on the bench, "No, don't you remember? We played that game with them yesterday, Nora."

'Thank you, Ren!'

After a few more tense seconds, the mood in the room gradually shifted back to general disinterest as the other groups there went back to their own conversations. Violet let out a sigh of relief, echoed by several others sitting at the table.

"Honestly, Nora," Weiss was holding her face in her hand in exasperation, "A little more subtly, please."

Violet shook her head and lifted it back up to look at Siren, "Okay, yes. I shot down a bullhead."

"But why?" Pyrrha asked in hushed tones.

Blake leaned forward as well, finally recovered from having dozens of people staring in their direction, "Roman Torchwick was trying to steal a dust shipment. We tried to stop him and it… ended badly."

"Father must have been furious…" Weiss said to no one in particular. Violet smiled, knowing without a doubt that the heiress was likely cheering them on but couldn't show it.

Blake paled, realizing who she had confessed to. The cat faunus was visibly shaking, "Oh, Weiss! I'm sorry! We didn't mean to blow up the docks!"

Weiss waved her hand dismissively, "I know that, you dolt. Father won't hear a word out of me about it. I'm not here for the SDC or my father."

The faunus was doubtful at first, but at a nudge from Violet, seemed to accept Weiss's words as the truth. The heiress gave a firm nod, "Besides, if that Torchwick fellow was going to steal them anyway, it hardly makes a difference."

"Oh, right," Violet gave Blake a tentative smiled then turned back to Weiss, "The White Fang were working for Roman. We haven't figured out why, though. He's as racist as they come."

Weiss sighed, "Why didn't you ask us for help? We would have gone with you. I could have even alerted the dock workers ahead of time since it's likely owned by the SDC."

"It… didn't occur to me?" Blake replied, giving an apologetic shrug, "My first instinct when it comes to the SDC wasn't to go to them with information…"

"I am not the SDC," Weiss shot back vehemently. She took a few deep breaths before continuing in a lighter tone, "My last name may be in the title, but I... do not approve of the way it is being run."

"If that's the case," Violet put an arm around the heiress's shoulders, "then maybe you won't mind helping us on our next outing, Ms. Schnee?"

"Wait. Since when was there a next time?" Yang asked, giving Violet a frown.

"Since we didn't actually catch Roman Torchwick," Violet replied, sparing a glance to the blond, "He isn't behind bars, is he?"

"Would he even stay there with his little assistant with him? How do you catch someone that can teleport?"

Weiss had seized up at the contact of Violet's arm around her, and brought two fingers up to delicately pluck her hand off, "As intriguing as that sounds, we are still students. Let the real hunters deal with Torchwick."

Violet shook her head. She had kept an eye on the world since its inception, and the truth was, most hunters were about as skilled as Dee and Dudley; inept to their core. Most of the others at the table with her wouldn't have realized it by now, still being young as they were, but the whole lot of them were extraordinarily exceptional.

'There's a reason none of us have any competition in combat class aside from each other.'

Torchwick was better than ninety percent of the hunters that devoted their lives to protecting the world, and with Neo at his side... 'He's untouchable for any regular hunters.' The only ones that would have a chance at successfully bringing them in would be those at Qrow or Glynda's skill level, at the very least.

'Now there's an idea…' Could she recruit Qrow to the cause and get him involved earlier? He was here much sooner than he should be, due to Violet's inclusion in events. 'I could use that to my advantage.' She could even tip Qrow off about Cinder and the gang once they showed themselves at Beacon. He may not have seen their faces, but their general look? 'Put them in a line up and even old drunkle Qrow could spot the similarities.'

Violet let her mind return to the conversation at hand but put a pin in that idea for later. An experienced, older huntsman with the power to turn into a bird at will was an incredibly valuable asset.

"-can handle ourselves better than most hunters, Weiss," Blake was still arguing with the heiress, albeit in a very reserved tone to avoid further attention gathering to their table.

"She's right, you know," Violet interjected, cutting off the heiress before she could retort, "You're more skilled and better equipped than the majority of hunters that protect the city. We all are."

"That doesn't explain why you would need me," Weiss replied, raising an eyebrow.

"Well~ If Roman is targeting the SDC shipments, then we could use a little insider information on potential targets… and if your team wanted to join in some 'after school activities'… We could use the help."

"I don't know…"

"Either way, you have a week to think it over," Violet gave her a reassuring smile, "We're taking a week off from any more dangerous missions to stay caught up on school work."

"And we're going to the movies on Saturday, if you wanted to join us for that," Ruby chipped in.

"That too."

Weiss glanced uncertainly at her team. While Nora appeared to be all for the idea, Ren and Pyrrha were both more reserved. The heiress turned back to team Vibrant, "The least I could do is provide you with shipment details. Aside from that… we'll have to talk amongst ourselves later. I didn't really expect my life as a huntress to start only a month after the first day of school."

"Fair enough," Violet nodded.

"Oh no…" Yang glanced around at her team in horror, "That reminds me… I haven't finished that history report for Professor Oobleck yet…"

Ruby and Blake both looked guilty of it as well.

Violet let out a small sigh, "You can copy off mine, just change up some of the words… As long as it looks like we studied together, it should be fine."

Yang frowned, but seemed thankful for the offer, "When did you find the time? You've been as busy as the rest of us!"

The team leader waved it off, "I do Oobleck's homework ahead of time. It's easy enough to figure out what he's going to assign if you read ahead in the textbook."

The blond shook her head, dumbfounded, "Another superpower. It has to be. There's no other explanation."

Blake and Ruby both shot Yang a warning glare, but team Siren was currently wrapped up in their own discussion. From the sounds of it, it would take a bit more persuading to get them to go along. Violet wasn't at all surprised. Without Ruby's influence as Weiss's team leader, the heiress had maintained a more reserved outlook. 'I guess Ruby wasn't the only one that ended up 'breaking out of her shell'. Weiss would have gained just as much out of the pairing.'

Violet finished up the last bits of her meal and checked the time. It was already six thirty, and Qrow would likely be waiting for her soon. The team leader excused herself, letting the others know where they could find her history homework, and set off for the locker room. They quietly wished her good luck, not wanting to draw Siren's attention.

Now, all Violet had to deal with was Qrow… 'Time to lie like my life depends on it.'

Chapter Text

Qrow stood beneath one of the trees near the edge of Beacon cliff, his back against the trunk and one foot resting against it. Harbinger was clipped to his lower back, a welcome weight in these dark days. Qrow held his hand up, scroll resting in it as he watched replays from Glynda's combat classes. Ozpin had sent him several files giving him details about everything there was to know about their newest Maiden, and Qrow had started by sizing up her combat abilities.

'The kids good,' Qrow had to admit. She was a better fighter than Amber had ever been, that was for certain. The recently injured maiden had always relied too heavily on her powers, having grown up with them. Amber didn't have an appreciation for raw combat. The results were clear on how that attitude had panned out.

Qrow paused the video and pocketed his scroll as the sound of rustling bushes came from behind him, "Finally. I was starting to think you'd-" He cut off as he turned, his eyes being met with a familiar red instead of violet.

"Oh? I didn't think you'd be expecting little old me, Brother," Raven replied, hand on the hilt of her weapon as her eyes swept their surroundings. She stepped out from the trees and into the open, "We need to talk."

Qrow's hand drifted down to the hilt of his own weapon, but for the moment he refrained from drawing it. If God hadn't been lying, then Raven was a maiden. The pair of twins had always been near evenly matched, with Qrow's semblance being more useful in a one on one confrontation than his sister's, but with the elements at her disposal… Qrow wouldn't stand a chance.

"What do you want, Raven?" Qrow demanded, keeping a wide berth from his twin.

Raven turned her red eyes haughtily back to him after assuring herself that they were alone for the time being, "What is she, Qrow?"

"Excuse me?" Qrow narrowed his eyes, 'How did she find out so fast?'

"Don't play dumb, Brother. I felt Yang's distress and opened a portal, only to see what that girl did!" Raven glared, "What. Is. She?"

'Damn her semblance!'

"A student at Beacon, and your daughter's team leader," Qrow replied tightly, crossing his arms, "Aside from that, I don't have much to say to a child murderer."

Raven flinched back in surprise, immediately going on the defensive, "What are you talking about?"

"How could you, Raven?" Qrow could hear the pain in his voice, but he didn't care. This needed to be said, "How could you kill the Spring Maiden!? She was just a child!"

Raven's demeanor returned to the status quo in less than a second, dismissing his accusation, "Don't be ridiculous. I didn't kill Vernal. Who told you this nonsense?"

Qrow hesitated, a retort on his lips. He couldn't reveal his source, though, "Let's just say I have it on good authority that you are the Spring Maiden. You can't lie your way out of this one."

Raven slowly circled around Qrow, hand tensed on her hilt in worry, more than as a threat, "I've heard more believable tales spun by drunks in Mistral taverns, Brother. As much as it pains me to say, I'm too old to be a maiden."

"The power doesn't leave you when you get older. You killed Vernal when you were still young enough to steal the maiden's powers for yourself!"

"You're just deflecting with these ridiculous questions! The girl, Qrow! What is she!?" Raven had stopped her pacing and was now staring down Qrow, hand tensed to draw as a warning not to continue with his previous questions.

Qrow didn't back down from Raven's display. There wasn't a chance in hell that he would give her any information on another maiden, even if she was too old to gain the power now. Knowing his sister, she'd try to kidnap the girl and train her up as another little murderess for the tribe, "None of your business, Raven. Go back to the tribe where you belong."

"And here I was attempting to be civil," Raven shook her head dramatically and spared Qrow a pair of pitying eyes, "If you won't tell me, I'll find out for myself. She shares a room with Yang, right? Maybe I'll stop by when everyone is asleep and have a little heart to heart after dragging her through the other side of my portal."

"Don't you dare…" Qrow growled, pulling Harbinger from his back and holding it down to the side, ready for a fight.

"All I want is an answer, Qrow. You could stop this all from escalating any further… She's a maiden, isn't she? Her powers are on a whole other level, though… And the coloration..." Raven's eyes bore into Qrow's own, "Is she Salem's maiden?"

"You would know all about what a maiden is capable of, wouldn't you?" Qrow retorted, "And no. She doesn't have any connection to the witch, so you can stop that line of thinking right now."

"What else is there? Ozpin is too weak to have created another… Although it wouldn't be the first time he's lied to all of us," Raven replied. Qrow could see the growing frustration wrinkling her face.

'I have to give her something. If she makes good on her threat, who knows what could happen?...'

"There are bigger things at play here than you know. The girl is our best chance at defeating Salem for good. If you do anything to hinder that…" Qrow pressed down on one of the triggers along Harbinger's handle, causing the blade to spring out section by section to its full length and leveled it at Raven, "The entire tribe won't be able to keep me from getting to you."

"Defeat Salem?" Raven scoffed and turned away, hand unsheathing and slashing a red portal in the air in the blink of an eye before slowly stowing it, "How many more of the wizard's lies are you going to choke on, Brother?"

With that, Raven stepped into the portal and vanished, the tear in space closing with a sound unlike any other. Qrow let out a sigh and retracted his greatsword, returning it to his back. He tried to go back to his restful position against the tree, but his nerves were getting the better of him. Qrow pulled his scroll back out while he began to pace and sent a quick message to Ozpin, warning him that Raven already had some inkling of what Violet was.

"That is unfortunate, but she likely would have found out at some point. It is difficult to stop someone that can create portals to so many of us at any time. For now, focus on training Ms. Regalia. Raven wasn't wrong, her powers have the potential to outclass any of the maidens I created. If we can get her there, then she should be capable of defending herself against Raven."

Qrow slipped the scroll back into his pocket and let himself calm down. It wouldn't do any good to worry about things that were out of his control, 'Ozpin is right. I need to focus on training the girl.'

Qrow had another ten minutes to get his nerves in check before there was yet another rustling sound coming from within the forest behind him. He waited until he had eyes on the girl before speaking this time. Violet was dressed in her combat uniform, consisting of a large open coat of deep purple, capped on the sleeves and neckline with light grey fur and trimmed in gold. Underneath was a matching set of light leather clothing. Her top had a golden zipper down the front and left a small amount of her midriff exposed, while her shorts cut off long before her knees. A pair of purple stockings ran up her legs to a few inches above the knee, each held in place by golden straps.

It was the enormous greatsword poking up from behind her shoulder blade that drew his eye the most, "You know, bigger isn't always better."

The girl caught his eye and smirked, "Oh, please. You're just jealous. Bigger is always better."

"I've heard differently from many of the ladies," Qrow fully expected the girl to get embarrassed and try to change the conversation as his nieces would have. What he wasn't expecting was for her smirk to widen further.

"They're just out for a bigger tip," Violet chuckled. She stopped next to him and glanced out across the Emerald Forest, "So, what's first?"

Qrow shook himself out of his momentary shock, "Ozpin filled me in on your semblance. I'd like to see your gun in action at some point. Other than that, we'll start slow. I'll distract some weaker grimm while you try and harness your new powers and kill them."

"Ah," Violet paused at the mention of her gun, "The thing is, I only have one more shot… so unless we're going to run into a Goliath, it's probably best I don't use it."

"How do you only have one shot left?" Qrow asked, eyeing the small group of steel rounds clipped to her belt.

"Ruby," Violet replied simply, popping open a chamber along the hilt of her sword to expose what seemed like a single dust cell, "That, and my shipment was included somewhere in all those cargo containers. You know, before they exploded. It takes a lot of lightning dust to power this baby so I have to order a special compact version directly from the SDC."

"That's a problem…" Qrow stroked his chin, "I've seen Amber use lightning before. Mainly calling it down from the sky, but also from her hands on a few instances. We can give that a shot. Maybe you can charge your weapon yourself."

"That would save me a lot of lien," Violet shrugged, "Just don't tell the SDC you helped cheat them out of one of their best customers."

Qrow walked forward to the edge of the cliff and looked down, "No time like the present. Let's get started."

With a slight nod, Violet followed him as he dropped off the cliff.

 


 

'Qrow is a better teacher than I ever would have thought before.'

The drunk old bird had spent the better part of half an hour coaching her as well as he could, throwing in suggestions and tips based off past experiences with Amber. It was all Violet had to go off of for how her 'powers' were supposed to function, and she ate up every bit of it. Anything to keep from exposing herself.

From the sounds of it, he had assisted Amber in a similar way once upon a time, when the now half-maiden had been attending Beacon. Ozpin had found Amber soon after she unlocked her maiden powers and had kept her close for the majority of her life, not allowing the maiden to venture out too far until he believed she was ready. 'Yet another mistake on the wizard's part. I hope he doesn't think he can put me on a leash.'

Violet waved her hand and once again, a spike of amethyst-colored ice shot out along the ground and pierced up through the rib cage of the boarbatusk that Qrow was currently distracting. Violet placed her hands on her knees and breathed out, feigning fatigue, 'I'll have to ask Jinn later whether or not this is actually supposed to take energy. I don't think it normally consumes any aura, but I'll be damned if I'm going to make myself appear any stronger than I should be.'

No doubt Ozpin would be checking in on the pair of them through the hidden cameras in the forest. The danger of tipping off Qrow or the wizard was still in the forefront of her mind, keeping her from making any significant strides with her newfound 'maiden' powers.

"That was a little better," Qrow commented, standing back from the grimm as it made its last few death struggles and went limp, already beginning to turn to ash, "Seems like only the flames leave a body. You should stick to that whenever possible."

"Why? Do you want grimm bodies littered all over the place?"

Qrow stowed his sword and began leading Violet deeper into the Emerald Forest, "Because, if the flames kill the grimm in a way that makes them stay dead, then it's better than anything else we've got. We still don't know how grimm reproduce or where their bodies go when they die. What if they aren't actually dying at all?"

Violet had guessed as much, but also had to stop and wonder whether or not Qrow was lying to her, 'Surely he's been to the grimm lands? He knows Salem can make grimm.' Violet knew Qrow was on the right track, though. She was destroying the very essence that allowed the grimm to function at all. Whenever they were killed normally and evaporated into ash, that essence was simply being whisked away, back to the pools left by the god of darkness. The 'god' was more like a child that had forgotten to bring his toys with him when he left as far as Violet was concerned.

'Eventually, they're going to want me to try and do the same thing to Salem,' there was no doubt about that in Violet's mind. It was the clearest solution, and one that she herself had egged on by mentioning that Ozpin was no closer to defeating Salem, as if 'Violet' was the answer being given to them by God.

'As much as I enjoy being in this world, eventually Salem will need to be stopped. How soon that happens is up to me…'

Violet forcibly refrained from sighing in boredom and instead focused on letting a small charge of electricity zap between her fingertips as they walked, 'This is really like shooting fish in a barrel. I have to pretend to be excited about all this, though. A normal person would be head over heels if they found out they had extra magical powers. Still, I may as well mix it up a little bit.'

"I'm going to try charging up Zenith next, if that's okay."

Qrow glanced back over his shoulder, "Alright. Be careful. You know more about your weapon than I do, but I don't need to carry you back if that thing explodes in your face."

"That's what would happen if you used it," Violet quipped before discharging the dust cell and tossing it to Qrow, "Better hold on to that. I don't want it anywhere on me while I'm charging this thing up even more."

Qrow caught it deftly and stuffed it into a pocket, "Good idea. Ozpin told me your weapon was pretty over the top. I'm hoping for a good light show at the very least."

'You'll get more than a light show, old bird.' With the dust chamber closed, that left only the wind dust held in the blade and the ice dust near the hilt, both of which were kept insulated from any errant electrical charges. Violet had learned that lesson the hard way when she was first experimenting with Zenith. Henna had spent hours chipping away at the ice dust that covered both the weapon and Violet's arms in the resulting explosion.

Violet transformed Zenith into its railgun form and held it across her chest, watching the coils closely as she increased the lightning coursing through her hands. With a little tweaking, she managed to get the coils lit up the same as if she had been using one of her dust cells. Like all the other elements Violet had produced, the lightning flashed across the interior in the same color as the ice and fire.

'Aaaand now I'm Palpatine.'

Violet spared a nod to Qrow once the stream of electricity had reached a familiar hum, "Seems good enough to me. Do you want to scout out a King Taijitu or something?"

"No need," Qrow replied, pointing off ahead of them. Violet had to squint into the dark past the light flashing from her weapon to see the small group of ersa on the other edge of the clearing, sniffing the air as if they'd caught the two hunters' scent.

Violet shrugged, "Good enough. Step aside old man. Things are about to get loud."

Qrow grumbled something under his breath as he stepped out of Violet's way and leaned up against a nearby tree. Violet gave herself a few more feet from him, knowing the recoil her own weapon would produce. Her other hand dropped down to one of the projectiles on her belt, which she lowered into the magnetic field a moment later. Lightning arced from the coils to the projectile the instant it entered.

Violet gave Qrow a thumbs up as it hovered in place, magnetically locked in the space between the first set of coils. The weight from Zenith was then forced into it, all forty pounds of her greatsword compacted into the much smaller piece of pure steel. Violet took aim across the clearing, leveling her weapon's sights on the middle of the pack, and pulled the trigger.

The grimm never knew what hit them.

Black furred arms and legs went flying through the air in a smattering of black blood that instantly misted, nearly evaporating from the sheer heat that boiled everything in the projectile's wake. Purple lightning trailed behind it, exploding on contact with the group of ersa. The lightning slashed through those that remained, more like wild cords of heated plasma whipping through the air than electricity. They stripped through both flesh and bone like paper.

'I might have put too much power in that one…'

Violet picked herself up off the ground, the ice dust having failed to nullify the force behind the recoil. She heard Qrow coughing off to the side as he waved his hand past his face to clear the air. A shower of dirt had been kicked up around them, the smaller particles of dust still hanging in the air. A cone of vegetation and rock had been ripped open across the ground directly in front of where Zenith's barrel had ended.

Qrow coughed once again in an attempt to clear his throat, "Oz wasn't kidding…"

"That was a bit more than usual, actually," Violet admitted, checking over the internal workings of her weapon. Thankfully, they didn't appear to be damaged, "I'll have to recalibrate a few things…"

Qrow's eyes trailed back over to the carnage that had been left in Zenith's wake, "Oz didn't mention anything about lightning…"

"That's because there usually isn't," Violet replied, transforming her weapon back into its greatsword form. The vents opened as they were supposed to, giving her some relief. Steam rose up out of the weapon into the chilled night air, "I guess this gives me a crowd control option."

"If you don't mind getting thrown on your ass any time you use it."

Violet waved her hand nonchalantly, "That can be fixed with a bit of testing. An additional mode to switch between depending on whether or not I'm using dust cells, simple enough compared to what I've already gone through with this thing."

"Well let's leave that testing until you've made a few changes, alright? I'm not exactly enthusiastic about coughing dirt out of my lungs any more tonight."

"Fair enough," Violet returned Zenith to her back while it cooled off and stuck her hands in her coat pockets, "Lead the way."

Their journey into the Emerald Forest continued deeper. Violet let her mind wander to the necessary fixes she'd have to make on her weapon while they walked. She was more than confident in Qrow's ability to take on anything that could possibly be in the forest so close to Vale. Even if another deathstalker showed up like the one at initiation, Violet wouldn't put it past the elder huntsman to handle it as easily as the smaller grimm before.

"Did you have any more questions about being a maiden?" Qrow asked after a while without finding any more grimm, likely beginning to feel as bored as Violet already was.

"Something like that. You said half of Amber's power was stolen. Does that mean she's still alive? Where is she? Couldn't she teach me better than anyone else?"

Qrow sighed, "Amber's condition is… problematic, at best. Whatever they used to steal her powers left her in a coma. We've got her somewhere safe for the time being, but we don't know how long she's going to last."

"And if she dies…"

"There's no saying where the half she still has will go. It might end up seeking out the portion that was stolen."

Violet nodded, "So, we hunt down the thief, kill them, and get Amber's powers back to her."

"Correction. I, as in not you, do exactly that. Unfortunately, the trail ran cold after the attack. Whoever orchestrated it isn't being obvious about it."

"Qrow," Violet put her hands on her hips and waited for him to stop walking, "Do you really want to risk trying to handle it all on your own? My team has already proven how well we can track people down. We found Roman twice."

"How did that go again? The first time you failed to catch him and blew up a few buildings. The second time you failed again and blew up an entire dust shipment."

"Sure, I messed up a bit along the way, but it would have been so much easier with an experienced huntsman like you tagging along. Roman wouldn't stand a chance. The only obstacle left is his little friend that he uses as his ace in the hole."

"Roman Torchwick isn't even close to being on the same level as whoever stole Amber's powers. You don't know what you'd be getting yourself into, kid."

Violet shook her head in exasperation, "I'm nearly as good as Pyrrha Nikos, and that's without using any maiden powers, or," Violet patted the hilt of Zenith where it poked out from above her shoulder, "letting loose. Are you going to tell me that you think anything is going to stand up against what you saw back there?"

"We can't risk it. If you get dropped, we lose our best asset," Qrow's voice had started to grow a little heated in the argument.

"I can handle myself. I'm not going to end up like Amber."

"You don't know that."

"What's the alternative? We wait until someone figures it out? In the meantime, Amber dies and my rival gets even stronger because of it. Do you want Yang or Ruby to get attacked in an ambush? Or would you rather we be the ones doing the ambushing?"

Qrow glared at Violet, likely angry for using his nieces' safety as part of her argument. After a few moments, though, the older huntsman relaxed and eyed Violet, "I don't like it."

"You don't have to like it. We only need to get results."

Qrow waited a little longer before replying once more, "Let's pretend that I'm willing to hear you out. What's step one?"

"We use these training sessions as an excuse for the operation. I don't want my team in the crossfire. I already promised myself not to risk their lives again, and I am not going to break that promise."

"I would have to tell Ozpin, at the very least. I won't go behind his back."

"Fine. We get the Headmaster on board, maybe even Glynda if the situation calls for it. We find Roman and press him for information, make him give up his contacts."

"What makes you so sure he'd have any clue? What if they aren't even in Vale still?"

Violet scoffed, raised a hand out to the side, and let loose with a torrent of amethyst crystals that shot outwards across the ground, crashing through the trees and slashing deep furrows through both dirt and stone. In mere moments, a mass of ice fifty feet long and a dozen feet wide cut a path through the forest.

"I wouldn't want to settle for half of that. Would you?"

Qrow shook his head wordlessly.

"Neither will our would-be thief. She's holed up in the city somewhere. Trust me. Roman can at least supply us with potential targets."

'A great excuse to get directly to the source. Plus we cut into Roman's involvement in the Breach. What will you do then, Cinder? As worried as Qrow is, Amber will last a long time. We can try and be strategic about this. I guess the real question is, what will Salem do after her pet fails?'

Qrow drew himself up, "I can scout for Torchwick throughout the week. You focus on your classes and the team training from Glynda. Whether we catch the half-maiden or not, you'll still need all the time you can get with your team."

"Deal," Violet replied quickly, then paused a moment, "I uhh, do have a contact, though. Jury's out on whether or not I can get him to trust me again, but if I can then it might be faster."

"Who?" Qrow's brow furrowed as he narrowed his eyes at the young huntress.

"Tukson, the bookshop owner. He's a member of the White Fang. But, with a little convincing, I think we can get him to turn."

"I'll check him out," Qrow nodded his approval after a moment of consideration, "Anything else?"

"I have an address for one of Roman's hideouts. I wouldn't put it past him to have changed locations already, so don't get your hopes up too much," Violet pulled out her scroll and messaged the address to Qrow, "Be careful there. I also wouldn't put it past him to have lookouts keeping an eye on the place for any return visitors."

"I'm as careful as they come, kid."

"I believe it," Violet replied unsarcastically. She wasn't about to start doubting his skills now of all times, "That's all I've got. You've already seen the dock footage. His sidekick is no slouch, that's for sure."

"Glass illusions and teleportation. That's a tough combination."

"We should be fine. Best case scenario, I take on the little minx and put her down while you keep Roman preoccupied."

"You're confident you can take her?"

Violet gestured to the towering ice off to their side, "If all else fails, she permanently stops being a problem. I won't risk letting her slip away to try and get revenge later on."

"Only if it comes down to it… You're too young to be taking lives."

"I'll keep that in mind. If it ever comes down to it though, and it's the difference between them or one of my teammates… I won't hesitate."

"I wouldn't want you to," Qrow sighed, turning his head back to face away into the woods, "Let's just… make sure you don't have to, alright? Come on. Time to keep practicing."

Violet nodded and followed him deeper into the Emerald Forest.

It was a few hours later by the time Violet and Qrow returned to the top of the Beacon cliffs, with some mild strategizing between them along the way. Qrow still hadn't revealed his ability to change forms into a bird, and Violet doubted he ever would unless absolutely necessary. She instead trusted him to pull off his half of the operation.

'Hopefully Blake and the others take my suggestion for a week off and don't get suspicious. As long as Qrow doesn't spill it to Yang or Ruby, we should be fine.'

Violet was determined to have the issue of Roman Torchwick and Neo Politan resolved within the week, 'Maybe then I'll be able to relax with my team on the weekend.' That would certainly be nice. She still wasn't sure how far she wanted to press Cinder's plans. If Violet threw too heavy of a wrench in, then the half-maiden might end up changing them to the point where they would be unrecognizable. 'I'd be just as in the dark as everyone else then.' That could certainly spell disaster.

Qrow parted ways when they reached the door into the student dorms, heading off towards the staff building instead. Violet climbed the stairs to the hallway that held Vibrant and Siren's dorms, among others, and quietly unlocked the door. Despite it being well past ten at night, Violet wasn't surprised to see Blake still up, reading by the small amount of light that filtered in through the partially open drapes.

"You know, I heard reading in the dark is bad for your eyes," Violet whispered, already changing out of her combat outfit and into her sleepwear.

Blake averted her eyes in embarrassment back to the book that Violet had given her, "That isn't really true for faunus. You humans have weak senses."

Violet nodded her assent as she slipped on her pajamas, "Fair enough. Henna would always read for me in the dark so the light wouldn't keep me up. I always thought that was really sweet of her."

Blake let out a quiet, breathy laugh, "You're usually one of the heaviest sleepers I've ever known. I'm surprised she even bothered."

Violet shrugged as she lay down, pulling the covers up over herself and shuffling her pillow into a more comfortable position, "It's the thought that counts…"

Violet glanced over to see that Blake had returned to reading the book. She felt some anxiety bubbling up in her chest, "How are you... liking it... so far?"

"Hmmmm…" Blake marked her place and turned over to look at Violet, still whispering, "It's interesting, to say the least. I never would have thought of eternity as boring, but the book brings up a lot of good points. All in all, though… It's…"

"It's what?..."

"Sad…" Blake replied quietly, turning back towards the ceiling as she gathered her thoughts, then met Violet's eyes from across the room, "I can't say I approve of all the things this 'God' does. There's a responsibility that comes with that amount of power. I wouldn't think well of any parent that abandoned their children, and if God created all these different worlds… Aren't they like her children?"

"I don't think the two are really all the comparable," Violet frowned, "Is it still abandoning if they're fully capable of taking care of themselves? Does a parent 'abandon' their child by letting them go off to college?"

"I suppose not… But a parent would still check in and make sure their child was doing well… From the sounds of it, this God doesn't look back once she's done with them."

'That's… true enough, for the most part. It's not like I ever went back to Middle Earth once the adventure was over. Why bother? The story is done. I suppose I could stir up trouble again, but that wouldn't really be fair to the world's inhabitants, now would it?'

"What kind of world would you create, if you could?" Violet asked.

Blake carefully stashed the book beneath her pillow for the night and paused in thought, "...I don't know. I think I would have to make sure everyone on Remnant was safe before I could even consider creating something new. How could I be happy somewhere else, knowing that my parents might still be in danger?"

"Not even Ninjas of Love~?"

Even with the small amount of light filtering through the drapes, Violet could see Blake's cheeks turning red at the remark.

She coughed, refusing to meet her team leader's gaze, "How'd training go?"

Violet laughed at the obvious change in subject, but decided to let her have it, "Easy enough. Turns out Qrow is a more reliable teacher than I thought he'd be. I'll be roasting fields full of grimm in no time."

Blake smiled, "That's good to hear. Make team Vibrant proud."

Violet placed a hand to her chest in a mock bow despite lying down as she was, "It would be my pleasure." A yawn escaped her lips, "...Now, if I recall correctly, you have a date with Yang in the morning. Better get your rest while you can."

Blake sighed and rolled over as well, "You're right. I doubt she's going to take it easy on me... Goodnight, Violet."

"Goodnight, Blake."

It was several minutes later before Violet finally let herself drift off to sleep, but as usual, refused to fall into the soft embrace of dreams. With only a slight tug back towards the waking world, she found herself hovering over her own body, watching her chest rise and fall with each shallow breath.

Violet turned her eyes over to Blake, hovering near the top of the room as she was. The cat faunus had curled herself up beneath her blankets. Every now and then, Violet could see her ears twitch in her sleep, reacting to some part of her dream that the goddess would never see. 'What am I going to do with you…'

Violet shook her head and drifted away, off towards Vale. There would be time to figure that whole mess out…

'Right now, I need to find wherever Torchwick is hiding… And maybe I'll stop in to ask Jinn a few things…"

Chapter Text

Glynda stood on the opposite side of the desk from Ozpin, listing off reports and details of the tasks that had yet to be completed before the next week began. Classes that required additional funds, mission requests and updates from older teams, and information from other kingdoms.

Ozpin removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to relieve some of the mounting pressure that seemed to stem from that point. Trying to save the world was all well and good, but he did still have a school to run. In that way, Glynda was one of his greatest assets, running the majority of the school that Ozpin simply didn't have the time for.

'Perhaps paperwork will be the death of me in this lifetime. Salem won't even have the satisfaction of causing my downfall.'

"Would you like me to stop for now, Professor?" Glynda asked, having paused when she noticed the headmaster's mounting headache.

"No, no, Glynda. Please con-"

The icon on Ozpin's screen flashed, indicating that he should check the elevators. With a momentary glance, he pressed the button and waited, taking a sip of his coffee. Glynda didn't bother to ask who it was, she could see as easily as Ozpin due to the holographic screens. She tucked away the pen she had been using to check off the list and held the clipboard beneath one arm.

The doors of the elevator shifted apart to reveal Qrow leaning against the back wall, taking a swig of his flask. He capped it as they opened fully and stepped inside, placing the flask back into his pants pocket.

"How did the first training session with Miss Regalia go?" Ozpin steepled his fingers and sat back, glad for the brief break from school grievances.

"Well enough," Qrow replied, giving Glynda a brief nod as he stopped next to her in front of Ozpin's desk, "Kid definitely has more potential than a usual maiden, that's for sure."

Ozpin inclined his head, "I agree. The spire of ice at the docks was proof enough. I kept watch for a portion of the training session, but was pulled away by school matters. Is there anything else of note?"

Qrow scratched the back of his head, "The kid made a request, actually. Wants to help hunt down Amber's attacker."

"I hope you didn't accept such a ridiculous notion," Glynda snipped, shifting her arms higher to strike a more stern pose.

"About that… She actually had some good points to make. Her offer is pretty tempting, Oz."

"And what might that be?" Ozpin arched an eyebrow quizzically.

"Violet already has a source that could lead us to Torchwick and the White Fang. She thinks Amber's attacker would have stayed in the city to try and finish the job, and Torchwick might know something."

"If there is anyone that can bring together the most unlikely of allies, it is Salem," Ozpin confirmed, "I would be wrong to suggest a connection isn't possible. Still, it is too early to be risking Miss Regalia for a chance at finding the attacker sooner."

"I think we can pull it off," Qrow stepped forward, edging closer to the table, "The kid's a natural, she just doesn't realize it yet. When she was focused on trying to control the maiden powers, it was difficult for her. The instant she used it without really thinking too hard on it, though, she created a cascade of ice shards twenty times the size."

Glynda took a step closer, edging between Qrow and Ozpin a fraction, "It is still too dangerous!"

"Now, Glynda…" Ozpin held up his hand to gesture for her to calm down, then weaved his fingers together again, "You said Miss Regalia had a contact, Qrow. Did she say who?"

"Faunus by the name of Tucson that owns a bookstore down in Vale. Says he's a member of the White Fang."

"Interesting…" the contact itself didn't strike Ozpin as overly odd or out of place. How the girl had come about realizing this Tucson was a White Fang member in the though was a curiosity, "Did she say how she came about this knowledge?"

Qrow's brow furrowed, likely thinking back to the previous conversation, "No… She also gave me an old address for one of Torchwick's hideouts. Said he could have moved somewhere else by now. I checked on my scroll and saw it's a medium sized cargo building in the warehouse district."

'How did a young girl from Atlas discover the existence of a White Fang member right beneath our noses, and one of Torchwick's hideouts so quickly? Is there some other entity feeding her information, whether she realizes it or not?'

"Do what reconnaissance you can on the information she's already given you. For the time being, I find I must agree with Glynda. It is too dangerous to allow our maiden to traipse around in Vale on secret missions, even if she is in your capable hands."

Qrow seemed ready to interject, so Ozpin raised a hand, "However, if Miss Regalia makes large strides in controlling the maiden's powers, I will reconsider the request. Once we are certain she is capable of defeating the half-maiden, then I believe it is our best chance to save Amber as well."

"You can't be serious, Professor…"

"I am quite serious, Glynda," Ozpin turned a firm eye to his second-in-command, "While Miss Regalia's newfound inclusion within our inner circle is a welcome one, so too would be the recovery of Amber. We cannot win this battle without taking risks."

"She's so young…"

"She is a maiden, Glynda. Miss Regalia will be forced to make choices that many others would never even have to consider. Her life is sure to be a gruelling one, and we do not have the luxury of time."

Glynda turned her head away, appearing to be too frustrated with the conversation to continue. Ozpin could not blame her. It had taken him many life times to come to the conclusion that no one person was worth the rest of the board, not even himself. Besides, with all the events that had taken place so far, Ozpin was beginning to believe that God had a much heavier hand than any of them had yet realized.

'It begs the question… Is God manipulating all of us in order to make events happen with such frequency? A near indestructible King Taijitu appeared in Forever Fall, with no trail or path pointing towards where it had come from. Was that entire situation manufactured by God to expose Miss Regalia further and push events on to the fast track to where we are now?"

What if allowing her inclusion in events would speed up the process and allow them to save Amber that much sooner? Did it even matter what they wanted?

'And Miss Regalia's weapon is another matter. There are none on Remnant quite like it. Where did she get the idea for it? What was her inspiration? Could God have fed her the pieces of that puzzle so that she would construct such a thing? It is certainly flashy; something I might expect a bored God to enjoy seeing put into action. And its name as well... 'Zenith'... An allusion to God?'

Ozpin realized he had been silently pondering the entire situation for a few minutes while his allies patiently waited for his decision. He cleared his throat and returned to his usual demeanor, "That is my answer, Qrow. Help Miss Regalia become a competent maiden, and I will allow the both of you to track down Roman Torchwick, and potentially, Amber's attacker. Once you have, you will let us know," Ozpin pointed to himself and Glynda, "And we will all discuss how best to go about it. While we must take risks, it is foolish to not at least minimize them wherever possible."

Qrow nodded acceptance and took a swig from his flask, "That I can do. Like I said, the kid just needs to stop thinking so hard about how to do it. We'll be ready in no time."

Glynda turned back to regard the other two, and sighed, "Be careful, Qrow. We're counting on you."

"Hey, don't worry about it. This is me we're talking about here," Qrow gave a half salute and headed back for the elevator, leaving Glynda and Ozpin once again alone.

The pair flinched as one of the lightbulbs near the elevator blew out, scattering shards across the floor.

"That's exactly what I'm worried about, Qrow…" Glynda sighed and drew her riding crop, relying on her semblance to clean up the mess that Qrow had inadvertently made.

'Do not fret too much, Glynda. I believe God is on our side for once…'

 


 

Violet carefully dabbled into her omniscience; like dipping the tip of her finger a fraction of an inch into the massive ocean of knowledge that she had long since separated herself from. That miniscule amount was all it took to know Torchwick's exact location. With a swift flicker of land passing by beneath her, she stood in her spiritual form within the confines of yet another large warehouse, unseen to those within.

Roman stood at a table, a newspaper laid out in front of him, and his back to two dozen White Fang that were busy loading large crates that bore the Schnee Dust Company logo across their exterior. It seemed that despite team Vibrant's best efforts, the thief had still managed to swipe a hefty supply of dust over the last few weeks.

The thief was grumbling to himself, reading over the text on the page. Both his and Violet's attention was pulled towards the entrance as a small disturbance arose.

'Oh no… They got to you first...'

The book dealer and White Fang member was beaten and bloodied, being pushed along by two other members that had grabbed him by the forearms to keep him moving. Behind the trio was Neo, parasol across her shoulders and a smug look on her face.

Roman stepped forward a few feet, but chose to wait for the others to cross the remaining distance to him. Tucson was shoved to the ground at his feet, and weakly rose on to his knees, arms trembling from the exertion. Thin lines and cuts criss crossed his exposed flesh, revealing the damage that Neo had already caused.

Roman looked up from the bloody faunus and quirked an eyebrow at Neo, "Is this the one?"

The small multicolored girl smiled delightedly and nodded, leaning down to poke Tucson in the back with the blade at the tip of her parasol. Tucson gasped and shuffled closer to Roman, eager to avoid further pain.

"Well then, it would appear that you are the animal we've been looking for," Roman sneared, using the end of his cane to tip Tucson's head up and look into his eyes, "The girl. Who is she?"

Tucson coughed up blood and spat it onto the ground at Roman's side, defiantly returning his gaze back to the finely dressed thief, "Like I told that psychopath... I. Don't. Know."

There was the sharp sound of metal on skull as Roman beat him across the temple with his cane, knocking Tucson on to his side, "And yet when given the description of the girl, you said you had helped her to find one of our meeting places! Now why is that?"

Blood dribbled from Tucson's mouth as he worked his tongue around, finally spitting out a tooth, "...She knew the code…" his voice was barely audible. If not for having some inkling to what he might say, Violet would have missed it.

It appeared Roman in fact, had, as he bent lower with a hand to his ear, "What was that? I couldn't hear you from all the way down in that grave you're digging yourself into. Speak up!"

There was a small growl from Tucson's throat, but it faltered as he turned his head back to Roman, "I said, she knew the code."

"Unbelievable!" Roman spun on his heel, throwing his hands into the air, "You're saying some huntress in training managed to come across a phrase as obscure as 'Third Crusade'? Or are you suggesting she stumbled upon it by asking for a book that doesn't even exist!?"

"I'm saying she knew. So I gave her the card, like I have for anyone that knew the code."

"And did she have anyone with her?"

Tucson opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted as Neo excitedly raised a finger to catch Roman's attention. She stepped on top of Tucson on her way to her boss, reaching into her back pocket as she did so. Her hand came forward with a printed off picture which she handed to Roman.

Violet could see it from Roman's side. It was an image from a camera within the shop, depicting Violet and the rest of team Vibrant. Roman's eyes brightened as he looked at them, then handed the image back to Neo.

"Have one of the animals print off some copies and pass them around. I want to know if someone recognizes any of the brats in this photo. Someone had to be an informant. You don't just happen across code phrases like that."

Violet shifted uncomfortably, 'Not good… Some of these faunus had to have been pulled from Adam's camp… They'll recognize Blake, no doubt about it.'

Violet's hands were tied at the moment, though. What could she do? Burst the image into flames as she had Jaune's application? Then what? Destroy the original recordings at Tucson's shop so that they couldn't make any more?

'That wouldn't be suspicious at all,' Violet's internal voice dripped with sarcasm. She shook her phantasmal head, 'Qrow and I will take care of Roman soon enough. Even if Adam is alerted to Blake's presence, he would have known eventually. We can take him.'

As Neo left with the photo, Tucson struggled to rise. Roman spared him an eye and tutted, "You aren't off the hook yet."

Roman gestured for the two White Fang on guard to help Tucson back to his knees and waited until he was once again facing the bookstore owner before speaking again, "Let's say I allow you to leave this place in… well I was going to say 'one piece', but that ship has sailed," Roman laughed at his own joke, "Regardless, let's say I let you leave alive. What would you do then?"

Tucson appeared to have become hazy from lack of blood and repeated blows to the head. His eyes squinted, trying to focus on Roman and the words he spoke, "What would I do…?"

"Precisely! It is up to me to lead you animals since you were gifted to me like regular stock. If I allow you to leave, you are to retain your position at the bookstore. The girl tricked you once, she may attempt to do so again. If that is the case, you are to give her the location of the warehouse on Muller, then let me know. Do that, and I'll consider your failure forgiven. Does that sound like a good plan to you?"

Given the chance at life, Tucson numbly nodded his head in agreement, "Muller… got it. Let you know…"

"Excellent!" Roman replied offhandedly, already turning away from the bloody mess of a faunus, "Get him cleaned up and back to his store," Roman snapped at the two White Fang guards, then lowered his voice from its usual exuberant tone into one that was far more series, "Oh, and Tucson? If I hear that you've fled Vale, I'll be sending Neo and a few others to retrieve you. You don't want that now, do you?"

Roman didn't bother to turn around and see Tucson's fervent nod of agreement before the faunus was dragged away by his brethren. Roman's eyes returned to the newspaper in front of him before he was once again interrupted.

"Trouble in paradise, Roman?"

The sultry sweet voice surprised both Violet and Torchwick, as both spun to face Cinder and her cronies. Cinder gave a casual glance down at the tortured faunus as she passed by, then returned her gaze back to Torchwick.

Roman backpedalled half a step, raising his hands, palms upwards. "You forced me to work with these animals, and I must say, Cinder, I am not impressed. I expected at least a little competence, but all I've been given are untrained mutts spreading their fleas and shedding on my carpets."

"Oh, Roman," Cinder stepped close to the thief and placed her fingers against the underside of his chin, "Are you sure you aren't just failing to groom them? It is a leader's obligation to teach through example… Perhaps I should make an example of you?"

"Th-that isn't necessary," Roman flinched away from Cinder's hand, "We have a team of students hounding after us. They interrupted us at the docks… I thought we were free of them with the explosion," Roman gestured over to the newspaper on the table behind him, "But there's nothing about four corpses matching their description, or missing students."

Cinder allowed her hand to fall away from Roman's face, her eyes glowing slightly, "Is that so?"

The conversation was brought to a halt as the group focused on Neo, skipping back into the throng and holding out a stack of photos to Roman. Violet could see the flash of danger behind Neo's eyes, but by now the girl should know that she wouldn't stand a chance against Cinder. Neo handed one to the half-maiden as well and stepped back, a fake smile plastered across her lips.

Cinder held the photo up in front of herself and stared at the faces shown on it, "Which one of these children has been giving you trouble, Roman?"

Roman leaned forward, craning his neck to look at the photo as well, then pointed out Violet, "That one. She's definitely the ringleader of her little group."

Cinder absentmindedly held the photo out behind herself for Mercury to take, "The one with the purple hair and eyes. Find out what you can about her. We may be able to ease up some of dear Roman's burden. Wouldn't that be nice?"

"I, uh, would definitely appreciate it," Roman replied. Violet could see a small bead of sweat running down his forehead and around the outside edge of his brow, "They've been a complete thorn in my side."

"Rest assured that Mercury is more than capable of taking care of your problem," Cinder turned her eyes to scan across the faunus loading the crates up into a line of trucks, "See to it that the shipment is delivered to Mountain Glenn unhindered. We'll have another surprise for you in the coming weeks that should help to boost your number of recruits."

"No issues there. I already have the bullheads fueled and ready to head out. The first shipment should be there in a few hours, along with a group of mutts to speed up repairs."

"Good," Cinder turned away, both Emerald and Mercury stepping aside to allow her to pass. She stopped to look back over her shoulder, "Fail again, and it will be you that Mercury takes care of next. I don't know about you, Roman, but I quite enjoy having your head attached to your body. Don't you?"

Cinder didn't wait for a response, and neither was one forthcoming from the pale thief. Roman tugged on his collar and waited for the sound of the door closing behind the three of them before breathing out a sigh of relief. Neo still stood at his shoulder, looking after the group with a baleful glare of contempt.

"I know, Neo, but what can we do?" Roman shook his head, "We've gotten ourselves into a world of trouble. I know she's going to betray us sooner or later… As soon as our usefulness runs dry, she'll burn us to a crisp."

Neo caught Roman's attention and mimed slitting a throat with her finger, but Roman simply shook his head again.

"We'll have to wait for an opening. The instant we finish whatever she ends up having us do, we break contact. If we aren't of use anymore, then maybe she won't bother sending her goons after us, either."

Based on the pout on Neo's face, Violet could tell that she wasn't particularly excited about the proposition. Without Roman backing her, though, she wouldn't make any moves that might ruin his plans. Violet knew that much. 'Loyal to a T…'

With the conversation dying down and Neo leaving to go about her business, Violet returned to her room in Beacon. She began to pace across the floor in her spectral state.

'So, now I have Mercury after me, and soon enough, Adam will be after Blake. At the same time, whatever loyalties that Roman may have had are long since burned, or perhaps were never there to begin with… Could I turn him against Cinder? He's afraid of her power, but if I were to display some of my own when we capture him, that might sway him to turn against her. I could ruin Cinder's plans months before their completion…'

And Adam and Mercury…?

'Individually, they aren't truly a threat to us. I can take Mercury, even if it takes a little help from my 'maiden' powers to do so… Better him than me. Adam on the other hand…'

Maybe it really was a good idea that she and Blake would be practically attached at the hip for the foreseeable future. Violet didn't see Adam and Mercury cooperating together in order to bring either herself or Blake down, while the two huntresses would definitely be a match for either alone.

'The sooner we get to Roman, the better. I might have to make a few questionable leaps in logic to help Qrow find him faster than he might otherwise, but it should be worth it in the end.'

Violet had never considered turning Roman and Neo against Cinder before, but now that she considered it, the potential was there. 'And if Cinder is forced to replace Roman with one of her henchmen, that means they'll be stretched even thinner. What had Cinder said? 'It's about taking away what power they have'? Two can play at that game.'

Violet paused in her pacing and sighed, 'There isn't much I can do about it now…' Her eyes roamed across the three other sleeping forms in the room, finally settling on Blake in her top bunk above Yang. Her feet drifted up off the ground as she sought a better look at the cat faunus.

Violet hovered in midair above Blake's bed, looking down on the faunus consideringly. Every now and then, one of Blake's ears twitched in her sleep, and Violet couldn't help but smile. Her eyes drifted back to the other two sleeping forms in the room.

'What a mess this has turned into, huh? I never expected any of this to have changed so drastically… I was fully expecting to be on a team with Pyrrha, Ren, and Nora, and be engaging in friendly competition against team RWBY…'

Things would have been easier that way, 'But I guess JNPR's involvement was mostly minimal at best… Maybe I would have gotten bored…' Violet snorted, reconsidering that train of thought immediately, 'I doubt any time spent with Nora on your team could be called 'boring'. Still, I would have avoided all this potential drama with Blake…'

Violet's eyes scanned the bookshelf, latching on to the book she had given the faunus girl. She drifted back into her body and turned over, reaching across for the book to pull it off the shelf. Violet flipped it open to the bookmark and checked the chapter that Blake would be starting next.

'Ah, she's up to the part where I created Remnant…' Violet hadn't had much of a choice but to skip through the majority of her life and only touch on the finer points, 'At the rate she's going, she'll be done in a couple of days... Then I'll have my answer.'

If Blake thought the 'main character' was sympathetic, then Violet was willing to give whatever they had a shot. On the flipside, if Blake considered her irredeemable or abhorrent… 'It wouldn't be the first time one of my creations cursed my name.' Needless to say, Violet would break things off as gently as possible in that case.

'Blake would still have Yang to fall back on. I never wanted to separate them in the first place...'

Violet replaced the bookmark and slid the book back on the shelf where she'd found it, then turned over in her bed and pulled her blanket tight across her shoulders. She breathed out one long breath, letting her body settle into the mattress beneath her.

'Nothing to do now but wait.'

Sleep was not to come so easily, though. Violet spent the next few hours rolling around in bed, uncertainty gripping at her heart, and indecision gnawing at her thoughts. After a while, she had to admit the honest truth to herself.

'I don't know which I would prefer…'

Chapter Text

The dull buzz of Violet's scroll receiving a message stirred her awake, eyes cracking open to see sunlight already filtering into the room. Her hand reached out, feeling for the small device on her bedside table.

"That's probably Blake or Yang. They left to go workout two hours ago," Ruby yawned from the bed above Violet. There was the quiet sound of a page turning and a pencil scratching on paper.

Sure enough, the most recent message was from Yang and included a picture she'd taken of a very exhausted Blake, dressed in a loose fitting tank top and shorts, weakly reaching out and failing to stop the picture from being taken. The caption across the middle read 'Waiting for her maiden!' in bold lettering with hearts on both sides.

Violet sighed in exasperation and slid out of bed, heading for her dresser to get changed while she shot back a reply to let the two know she was on her way, "What are you up to so early, Little Red?"

"Finishing up that homework from Oobleck," Ruby mumbled. Now out from underneath her bunk, Violet could see that the younger girl was lying on her stomach, both a book and notebook laid out in front of her and pencil in hand.

"You didn't do it last night?" Violet started rifling through her drawers and pulled out her school uniform, noticing that classes would begin in around an hour, "There isn't much time left."

"I know..." Ruby admitted glumly. Her pencil continued to scratch at the paper next to her, "Yang and Blake were kind of… preoccupied, so I didn't want to bother them with questions."

"Well, you can always ask me," Violet smiled as she pulled up her stockings, "What are you stuck on?"

Ruby glanced her way and spun the history book to face Violet, beginning to ramble about a specific event that was giving her issues, and how certain details were missing from the book itself.

Violet listed off some of the missing bits, giving Ruby a better grasp on the topic by the time she'd fully finished dressing, "So, that's why General Havasta used a small battalion of soldiers that hadn't unlocked their auras yet. When your aura is unlocked, you become more noticeable to the Grimm. By using that unit to lead their enemies into Grimm infested territory, he was letting them wear out the enemy before closing in with his regular soldiers."

Ruby's face had turned a shade of green, "That's so messed up... Why would someone use the Grimm like that!?"

Violet shrugged as she opened the door, pausing to look back at Ruby, "It worked, didn't it? Havasta won that battle because of it, and spared the lives of a lot of his own men. History is full of people trying to use the Grimm to their advantage. To them, it's no different than setting a forest on fire to root out an enemy, or blowing up a bridge to protect a retreat."

"Still…" the honest truth didn't seem to sit well with the young reaper.

"I know. The Grimm are vile creatures bent on killing humanity, but… 'The enemy of my enemy is….' at least worth exploiting, in this case," Violet checked the time on her scroll. Five minutes had passed since her first message to Blake and Yang, "I'll be right back if you need any more help. I doubt they brought their school uniforms to the gym so they'll have to shower back here anyway."

"Alright," Ruby was quickly writing in her notebook, "I think that'll be good enough for Professor Oobleck. Thanks, Vi!"

"No problem," Violet gave a little wave and let the door close behind herself, setting off for the gym. Some students were already out and about this early in the morning. With another hour left before classes started, most were on their way to and from the dining hall for breakfast. Violet spotted a few plates stacked high with food, students likely supplying their teammates with much needed sustenance during last minute study sessions to catch up on homework they'd forgotten to do over the weekend.

The trip to the gym was short enough, and in only a few minutes Violet caught sight of her teammates. Yang was standing next to the door with her arms crossed, cheerily talking down to a very exhausted looking Blake that had practically melted into the tiled floor. She stirred when Yang prodded her with a foot, at least managing to sit up before Violet arrived.

"Thought you'd never make it!" Yang exclaimed, giving Violet a wink, "The poor kitty is tuckered out. You're going to have to give her a bit extra today."

"Please, Violet…" Blake groaned from her place on the floor, "It got so much worse after I stopped moving. Every muscle in my body wants to cramp up."

'I hope she gets a bit more used to it by the time Saturday rolls around… I'd hate to have her nearly incapacitated if Adam suddenly attacks.'

Violet reached out a hand, smiling down at the faunus. Once Blake had grabbed a hold, Violet pumped her aura's influence into the girl, drawing out as much of her mass as she possibly could. There was a mild strain on Violet's part, 'I'll definitely need to stay close,' but it was manageable.

Immediate relief crossed Blake's face as she worked with Violet to pull herself to her feet. She bounced on her toes, feeling nearly completely weightless as a broad smile crossed her face, "This. Feels. Amazing."

Violet gave a small bow, "Anything for my favorite faunus."

"What about your favorite blond?" Yang mocked from the sideline, pointedly staring at the two still holding hands.

Violet gave Yang a playful frown, "What?" her head scanned the halls around them, "I don't see Professor Goodwitch anywhere…"

"Hey!" Yang punched Violet on the shoulder and gave her a glare, "I'm better than that old hag!"

"She's hardly an old hag," Violet replied, using her free hand to rub where Yang had hit her. With her aura up, the blow hadn't truly done any damage other than to knock a few percent off, "I mean, have you seen how tight that dress is around her hips?"

"Ewwww," Yang shuddered, "First my uncle, and now Goodwitch? I'm starting to think you have a thing for older people."

Violet scoffed, "No, I'm just observant," Blake stumbled the first few steps as Violet started to lead her along, forcing Yang to follow.

"Is that what perverts call it when they get caught staring?" Yang teased from behind.

"I don't know. You'll have to ask one for yourself," Violet shot back, glancing back over her shoulder to see the grin clearly spreading across Yang's face.

"Thought I just did."

Violet laughed, "Oh please, I'm a connoisseur. Perverts are gluttons."

"What's the difference?" Blake interjected between the two.

Violet looked around the immediate hallway and spotted Sky Lark, the L of team CRDL. Violet gestured for the other two to remain silent, then raised her voice to catch the boy's attention, "Hey Skyyy~ we were thinking about having a pillow fight later tonight. You up for a little fun~?"

Sky's eyes went wide and darted up and down each of the three girls, visibly reddening, "Oh, uh- I… uh…"

"Oh, I guess you're busy then? Maybe some other time~" Violet led the trio past and whispered to them the instant they were out of earshot, "Look back in 3… 2… 1…"

The three girls glanced back over their shoulder as one and caught Sky staring after them, his eye line definitely lingering much lower than head level. Violet laughed as Blake turned an embarrassed shade of scarlet and Yang cracked her knuckles with a glare. Sky realized he'd been caught and paled before turning away, moving at a brisk pace to escape the potential ire of the three girls.

Violet wiped a tear from her eye, glad her plan had worked out so flawlessly, "See? Glutton. He wasn't content with staring after just one of us."

Yang calmed down and let her fist unclench once Sky was no longer in sight and turned back to Violet, "You mean you wouldn't have stared? That was a pretty tempting offer, all things considered."

Violet waved a hand in dismissal, "I get an eye full every morning."

"What!?" Yang glared anew, "Ruby better not be included."

"That precious little cinnamon roll?" Violet scoffed, "Not a chance."

Yang breathed out a sigh and relaxed, "Okay. I've heard enough," she raised her hands in defeat, "Let's get back to the room before our lecherous leader finds another person to spy on." She took the lead, walking a dozen or so feet ahead of Blake and Violet. The faunus was still having trouble keeping up. While she technically weighed less, that did little to stop her muscles from locking up, only serving to ease the pain.

Violet noticed how quiet Blake had become, and the slight tinge that still clung to her cheeks. She gave her a small bump with her shoulder, the two still holding hands between them, "I was just messing with Yang. You don't have to worry about me staring."

Blake gave Violet a considering look, then brightened with a coy smile, "You did want to hang around in the bathroom when I was trying to take a shower."

Violet smiled, "Okay, fine. You don't have to worry about me staring at Yang. That better?" She held in her laugh at the conflicting expressions that crossed Blake's face, ending with her turning another shade of darker red and nodding acceptance.

'Little different than your books, eh Blake?' Not for the first time, Violet wondered have far things had gone between her and Adam, 'No time like the present to ask.'

"So, have you ever had any flings, Blake? Someone wrapped up in your dark past, perhaps?"

Blake's hand tightened in her grip, the girl reflexively tensing up, but at a glance to their surroundings, her shoulders lowered, "I did… once upon a time. He wasn't what I thought he was, though."

After a few seconds, it appeared like nothing more would be forthcoming. Violet gave her a nudge and made a 'go on' motion with her hand, "Give me the juicy details! I want to know."

Blake's brow knitted together, "Juicy isn't a word I'd ever use to describe him… he was my mentor… Adam ran the White Fang group that I joined... I was right there next to him for a long time, helping with train robberies and burning down shops that wouldn't serve faunus…" Blake gave Violet a sad look, "I regret it… I want you to know that."

Violet smiled kindly, "I don't blame you for any of it, Blake. You never took that next step, and that's what's important; the law be damned. I'll never think less of you for the things you did."

Blake sighed and nestled closer, "Thank you. You don't know how much it means to hear someone say that… I'm always so worried about people finding out… being ostracized from Beacon…"

Violet laughed, "If you go, I go," then shook her head, "That'll never happen though. Ozpin can't afford to lose someone of your caliber, and any students that caught on and tried to make a big deal out of it?... They'd have to deal with me instead."

There was a few moments of silence that passed between them, ending when Violet's eyes drifted up to the bow on top of Blake's head, "You know… I really wish you'd get rid of that thing... Who's left at the school for you to be afraid of? Cardin was never a threat, and he's been turning over a new leaf as of late. Even Weiss Schnee knows, and she's never said anything offensive to you, right?"

The bow twitched in place, Blake's hand drifting up to it, "What if word got out about a cat faunus in Beacon? The White Fang don't take very kindly to deserters, Violet."

Violet snorted, "Are you forgetting who we fought on our last couple outings to Vale? If you were there with Adam that long, then at least one of them would have recognized you, right?"

'That isn't technically why they know, but it's better for you to be on your guard, Blake. Four eyes are better than two.'

Blake paled and swore, clenching her free hand into a fist, "You're right… I didn't even think of that with everything else going on. By now, Adam's gotten word about me," she gave Violet a sorrowful look, "I'm sorry. You're all in danger with me here…"

Violet laughed, "As if we weren't already? Don't worry, Blake. I can take on your ex. Maiden powers or not, he won't get to you."

"You shouldn't underestimate Adam," Blake warned, shaking her head, "He's one of the strongest people I've ever met."

"And you're currently walking hand in hand with the strongest," Violet reminded her, tightening her grip with a small squeeze.

"I just don't want you getting complacent… Amber would have been strong too, remember?"

"Qrow told me a bit about her. Amber wasn't a fighter. She didn't have any battle sense and preferred to throw her powers around as a first and last resort," Violet could still see the doubt on Blake's face, "Point being, I have a much better chance than she ever did. Adam won't know what hit him."

'Although, by now he's been threatened by Cinder, so he'd have some idea at the very least,' with his personality, Violet didn't think he could be coerced into working with them, 'And I really wouldn't want him to, anyway…'

Blake grew silent as they continued following Yang through the last leg of their journey. Violet had to help her up the stairs, with the faunus wincing the entire way and using Violet as a crutch. Yang shouted encouragement from the top and pumped her fist, offering no real assistance beyond moral support.

Blake stopped to take a breather at the top of the stairs, with only a hundred feet left down the hall to their room. She stretched to release some of the tension and finally signalled for them to continue. Violet resumed her place and helped her for the final stretch. Yang held the door open for them as they crossed the threshold, and Blake unceremoniously collapsed on Yang's bed, incapable of getting up into her own.

"It's alright if you rest there a bit kitty cat, I'll take the first shower while you relax," Yang grinned, grabbing her school outfit and a towel before darting into the bathroom before Blake could offer up any protests.

"You look tired," Ruby said matter-of-factly, watching as Violet sat down on the bed near Blake's feet, "What did Yang make you do?"

Blake turned her head from where it had been face down in the mattress so that she could speak, "Ruby, I'm sorry you have to hear this from me… but your sister is the God of Darkness incarnate. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she learned how to run people ragged as a slave master in the Schnee Mines."

"It couldn't have been that bad," Violet joked, kneading her hands across Blake's back. The girl groaned from the pressure against her taut muscles.

"You don't know the half of it," Blake replied seriously, "A hundred push-ups, a hundred sit-ups, a hundred squats, and a ten kilometer run…"

"That doesn't sound so bad…"

"Try it with an extra fifty pounds strapped to each of your arms and legs. And that was just the warm up!"

"I mean…"

"Yeah, I know. Not everyone has your semblance, Vi."

Ruby laughed from up in her bunk, "If you think that's bad, you should have seen the training she put herself through back home. That sounds like a cheat day for Yang."

"I'm telling you she isn't human, Ruby. I think she might be a bear faunus in disguise… or a mammoth."

"Maybe she hides her faunus trait under all that hair, and that's why she's so protective of it," Violet played along, giving Ruby a sly frown, "Are you by chance a hedgehog faunus, Little Red?"

"What? Don't be ridiculous."

"Hmmmm," Violet shared a glance with Blake, "I think she's hiding something, don't you?"

Ruby rolled her eyes and chose to ignore them, going back to the last bit of her homework that was left. The page was mostly filled, Oobleck's usual requirement for essays being an entire page, with as much of the margins used as possible. She tapped her pen against her chin, "I need a closing statement, Violet… any ideas?"

"Hmmm…" Violet continued to massage out Blake's muscles as the girl laid there, thoroughly enjoying her leader's ministrations. Violet could only guess that she'd learned how to do this in one of her past lives, as the action felt too instinctual.

"How about…. 'In conclusion, while the use of the Grimm can be an effective tactic against your enemies during warfare, it remains a deplorable act that should only be considered as a final resort in desperate times. The dangers posed to both sides are, in most cases, too great a threat to be a viable strategy'."

Ruby furiously scribbled down the words as Violet said them, trying to keep up. Violet repeated a few sections over again until Ruby finally had it down and nodded in satisfaction, "Thanks, Violet!"

"It was my pleasure, Ruby," Violet had finished with Blakes shoulders, upper back, and lower, and was now working her way down past her thighs. With the amount of knotted muscles, Violet couldn't help but wince in empathy, "You weren't kidding about that ten kilometer run, were you?"

It had been a rhetorical question, but Blake still answered anyway, preoccupied with the massage as she was, "No. Yang is-"

The door opened as Yang stepped out, dressed in her school clothes and with a towel on her head as she dried it out even more, "Yang's what?"

"A perfectly capable physical trainer that shouldn't increase my workout in the slightest," Blake answered instantly, eyes widening as she couldn't see Yang from her position on the bed.

"Blake says you're a bear faunus," Ruby confessed with a giggle, stuffing her newly finished paper into her bag along with her book.

Yang smiled and flexed one of her arms, "I can see where she might get that idea. I'd say I'm more of a dragon faunus, though."

"There's no such thing as a dragon faunus," Blake scoffed, sitting up in bed. She gave her body a few experimental movements, rotating her arms and stretching out her legs before standing. Blake winced, still not nearly fully recovered, but gave Violet a smile, "That definitely helped. Where'd you learn how to do that?"

'Not in another life. Nope. No way.'

Violet shrugged, "My physical trainers were expensive," she glanced over towards the now open bathroom, "Think you can manage on your own? I can't keep my semblance up from that far away."

Blake bit her lip, glancing at the bathroom as well before grabbing a hold of her bunk to support herself, "Drop it for a second… I'll see how I feel…"

Violet waited for Blake to nod before dropping her semblance. Blake winced, a slight gasp of pain escaping her lips as her full weight came rushing back on to worn out muscles. She wavered, having to rely on her hold to keep herself up at first. Blake took a moment to steady her legs, then took a hesitant step towards the bathroom. Despite some trembling, she managed to get all the way there on her own.

"Can you pass me my uniform and a towel?"

Violet did as she was asked and handed over the items, helping to steady her as she made the last few feet into the bathroom, "Alright. Maybe don't lock the door just in case you need something? I'll make sure nobody walks in on you."

"Thanks Violet," Blake smiled.

Violet left her to it and shut the door behind herself.

Yang pouted, "Guess I'll have to run her a bit harder tomorrow. It was too easy if she can walk on her own already."

Violet shook her head, "You know we do still have combat class and our team exercises later, right? Blake might be better off if she can actually practice with us properly, you know?"

"Pssshh," Yang waved her hand, "She'll be fiiiine. Her aura will get her back up to par long before then."

"If not, you'll dial it back a bit?"

"Yesss, Auntie Vi," Yang rolled her eyes.

Violet shuddered, "Nope, it just sounds weird when you say it. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to disown you and go back to being just teammates. It's not you, it's me."

"What about me?" Ruby chipped in from above on her bed.

Violet spared her a sweet smile, "You're fine, darling~"

The trio continued their banter for the next ten minutes until Blake finally emerged from the bathroom, having been able to handle herself well enough without help. She immediately asked for Violet to activate her semblance again though, which the leader was more than happy to comply with.

Violet nodded in approval when they left, noticing that Blake had refrained from including her bow as part of her regular attire. Both of her ears twitched on her head with every passing glance, each excited whisper, but with Violet right there at her side, Blake kept her anxiety in check.

With Blake slowing them down slightly, they arrived at Professor Port's class later than most. Violet led her team to the place in a row directly beneath team Cardinal, and gave Cardin a meaningful glance towards Blake once both teams had settled in. Yang shot a glare at Sky in the meantime, causing the boy to pale again and look ready to bolt from his seat.

Cardin frowned down at Blake, taking a moment to notice the disappearance of her bow and the cat ears that had taken their place. Understanding dawned on his face, and he leaned forward.

"Um… Blake?"

Blake flinched and turned around, her expression guarded.

"Nice… um… ears?" he nervously glanced at Violet, and with the flat look she gave him, clearly knew that wasn't enough, "I'm... sorry for what I said about the faunus. It was stupid of me to try and group an entire species into such a narrow-minded viewpoint... Maybe we could talk some time?"

Blake's eyes widened slightly as her ears twitched furiously, "M-Maybe, Cardin. I'll think about it." Blake turned back to face the front of the class, and Cardin leaned back in his chair with a small smile tugging at his lips, proud of himself. Violet gave a nod of approval and scooted closer to Blake.

"He is trying. You have to give him that much, at least."

"How do you do that?" Blake whispered in bewilderment, sparing Violet a glance that was still wide eyed, "My father tried to change how humans looked at the faunus for years before finally stepping down. He could never manage it."

Violet shrugged, "Maybe it helps that another human is the one saying it?"

"That can't be all there is to it," Blake muttered. She stared at her desk in confusion, as if the wood could spontaneously offer up some solution to her problem, "We tried everything to get humans to accept us."

"Well, once we graduate, maybe I'll help you," Violet offered. Her words were said more quietly, as the bell rang and Professor Port took his place at the head of the class. Violet kept her head forward to appear as if she was paying attention, "We could show the White Fang some hope."

"That…" Blake spared a timid smile, "That would be nice. I hope we can do that, Violet."

"You can count on me."

The pair were forced to stop talking as began his lecture, now requiring everyone to jot down notes that he believed to be important. Violet wasn't sure how the time he killed ten beowolves in a single swing would be applicable to their own lessons, but added it to her notebook like most others. The class ended with some assigned homework, a question sheet on the different variety of forest Grimm, and the class was excused.

Oobleck's class passed without a hitch. Ruby was even given perfect marks on her essay and congratulated in front of the class, though Violet suspected that the teacher was under the impression she'd helped more than she actually had, going by the small nod and smile he sent Violet's way.

Violet's own was perfect as always, while Blake and Yang both received passing scores. Oobleck scrutinized them more closely, but appeared to allow their similar subjects this time around. Violet doubted he would do so again, and made a mental note to create some reminder in their dorm to not forget any more of his essay's due dates. Aside from that, Oobleck gave a lecture on the historical use of grimm in battle, using Ruby's essay as a prime example.

Ruby was embarrassed, but proud of herself, and Violet made sure to encourage that as much as possible. She wanted her team to be the best they could be, whether that was in the field or in a classroom. Ruby tried to wave off the compliments, but was certainly pleased with the attention.

Oobleck refrained from assigning another piece of homework at the end of the day, causing the entire class to leave happily for lunch, only a brief intermission before Professor Goodwitch's class. By then, nearly three hours had passed, and Blake was managing much better on her own. 'Good thing, too. That was really starting to fatigue me…' She was now only reducing the faunus girl's mass by half, enough to keep her on her feet without any strain.

Violet stepped into line behind the rest of her team and let out a deep breath, trying to hide how tired the continued support was really making her. The pair of cat ears atop Blake's head swivelled at the sound though, picking up on her distress.

Blake turned to face Violet, concern etched on her face, "Are you feeling alright?"

Violet gave her the 'okay' sign with her hand, "I've been better, not gonna lie. This is definitely the longest I've kept my semblance up on a person at any one time. Guess we're both training, huh?"

"How does it feel? Do your muscles actually get sore?" Blake tilted her head curiously, looking Violet up and down, "You aren't sweating or anything, I can tell that much."

Violet paused, "It's… hard to explain. It's like having a second set of muscles that can take the weight off things and shuffle it around however I want. They're constantly carrying any weight I've pulled off… When I fire Zenith, they're stuffing that weight down and compressing it into the projectile… They still get tired, but it's sort of an intangible feeling…" Violet shrugged, "Best way I can think of to describe it, honestly."

"I think I get it...?" Blake didn't sound certain of anything, but she played it off well enough as far as Violet was concerned, "Does your semblance get stronger with training, like a regular muscle?"

"It does, yeah. When I first decided on Zenith's base design, I trained my semblance constantly so that I could carry its weight. I can go an entire day with it on and not feel it. People are different from objects, though."

"How so?"

"Your aura is an extension of your soul… People can choose to allow it, but even then, on a subconscious level, they're wary of the connection. You've been fighting back a little bit this whole time, whether you noticed or not."

"Really?" Blake's face frowned in concentration, and Violet could feel the strain on her semblance dip slightly, though the uncertainty still remained.

"It's okay. The only ones that have ever managed to stop fighting back completely were my parents and Henna. I wouldn't expect you to be perfect at it after we've only known each other a month."

"I do trust you though, Violet…" Blake appeared to be frustrated with herself. Her eyes were downcast, refusing to meet Violet's own, and her ears had flattened down across the top of her head, blending in with her black hair so that you might not even see them from a distance.

Violet raised a hand and ran it through Blake's hair between her ears, causing them both to perk up slightly, "It's fine. There's a difference between trusting someone and literally raising them from the time they were a baby. I'd be surprised if anyone else ever managed to reach that same level of innate trust. There's nothing wrong with you for not being able to."

"I want to…"

Violet smiled reassuringly, "Then you'll have plenty of time to practice. Whatever you did just now definitely eased up on it. Keep trying that each day and you might pull it off."

Blake seemed happy at the admission and turned back to face the front of the line with a smile. Both Yang and Ruby were chatting with each other as they began selecting food from the buffet they passed. Not too long later, the four of them joined team Siren at their usual table.

"So, did you guys discuss whether or not you wanted to help us next week?" Violet asked, sitting down across from Weiss near the head of the table. The rest of the spots were then filled by Blake, Yang, and Ruby across from the rest of team Siren.

"We did talk about it… Nora voted for helping you, and since Nora would go no matter what the rest of us chose, and Ren would follow her… and neither Pyrrha or I want to let our teammates risk themselves without our help…"

"Ah, democracy…" Violet laughed and flashed Nora an amused smile, "I can see your predicament. Would it help if I said we'd refuse to let Nora tag along if it wasn't what the rest of you wanted?"

"Hey!" Nora crossed her arms.

Weiss and Pyrrha exchanged a meaningful glance before both turned back to Violet with Pyrrha speaking, "It would. We agreed that if you wanted all of us to be in agreement, then we would go with you."

"And if I had just let Nora rule the vote?"

"Then we would have restrained her in our room," Weiss announced matter-of-factly, "Between Pyrrha and myself, I think we could have managed," she eyed Nora sideways who was currently bending a metal spoon in one hand and glaring at them, "Maybe…"

"Welcome aboard!" Yang cheered.

"I'm glad you're coming along," Ruby confessed, giving team Siren a wide smile.

"Your help will be appreciated," Blake nodded her thanks.

"So when do we start?" Weiss asked. Violet could sense a hint of nervousness in the young heiress's voice and held a hand up.

"Not until next week at the earliest. We aren't even talking about our plans until then."

Weiss stopped herself in the middle of a sigh of relief and instead changed it into a curt nod, "That is acceptable. You'll let us know, then?"

"Yup. Running theory is that Torchwick is held up in the warehouse district. Aside from that, we don't know yet and won't be looking into it further."

"I was so ready to shoot down a bullhead, though!" Nora complained from the side, standing up to place her hands on the table and lean closer across it, "Why don't we go tonight!? It'll be fun!"

"No way, Nora. Not after the docks. I'm not risking my team or any of you so soon after that catastrophe."

'Or at all if Qrow and I can track down Roman. We can put a stop to the Breach early and maybe even catch Cinder...'

"That works for me," Weiss folded her arms across her chest, "The preparations for the Vytal Festival start next week, and new students should be arriving. I'd like to have that time to uh, greet them."

"Do you mean spy?" Blake asked with a sly smile.

Weiss's arms tensed defensively, her facing going slightly pink, "D-Don't be ridiculous! As students of Beacon, it is our duty to welcome foreigners to the city for the festival! I-It's tradition!"

Blake smirked, but let it go. The atmosphere calmed down a bit after that as everyone dug into their lunches. Violet spent the time testing how much support Blake still needed, and could feel the girl doing the same through her side of the connection, attempting to ease up on the strain. Violet was glad for the reprieve. By the time the half hour lunch had ended, Blake gave Violet the go ahead to drop her semblance completely.

After a few tentative steps, Blake flashed the rest of her team a smile, "Good as new. Thanks, Violet. That helped get me back into action a lot faster."

"And just in time for combat class," Yang grinned and patted Violet on the back, "What did I tell you?"

"You're the expert," Violet agreed, impressed with how well Yang had scaled Blake's first day to her individual needs.

Yang leaned in to whisper to Violet, still grinning, "It only gets more difficult from here. I hope you're ready~"

They left together as a group for the locker rooms, Violet and Blake next to each other out of habit, if not holding hands as they had earlier in the morning. Violet could feel her semblance slowly but surely recovering from the days strenuous usage, 'At least my semblance doesn't take as long to regenerate as actual muscles.'

As much as she enjoyed messing with Yang when it came to working out, this was a good opportunity to increase the strength of her semblance overall. Violet wasn't sure if she'd ever get to the point where some of her weaknesses were nullified, but there couldn't be any harm in trying.

As always, the stands that partially encircled the arena floor were dotted with students by the time both Vibrant and Siren arrived. They took up their usual set of benches and sat back, waiting for Goodwitch to announce the first spares. The final group of students filtered into the stands and sat down, talking amongst each other.

"Ahem," Ms. Goodwitch cleared her throat loudly, eyes slowly roaming across those gathered, "Now, as I am sure many of you are aware, the Vytal Tournament will be taking place in Vale this year. As such, I believe it is important that you go into the tournament with a solid idea of who you will be sending on to each round. Today, you will be pairing up with another member of your own team, to spar against the other two. While this will not decide who you send along, I hope it gives you a better idea of your own standing."

Both Ruby and Blake turned to look at Violet and Yang, nodding in agreement before any arguments could even begin.

"There's really no other choice, is there?"

"You guys are the strongest on the team, no doubt about that!"

Violet and Yang turned to look at each other and shrugged, "Best three out of five?" The two of them had already sparred four times in Goodwitch's class, with the results sitting at two to two. While Violet was more skilled overall, and had years of different lives to draw from, Yang's speed and tenacity were simply unmatched.

"I'll take you up on that!" Yang pounded her fists together then leaned in, a hint of doubt on her face, "You aren't going to use any of your… extra abilities, right?"

"I wouldn't exactly be able to use them in front of a stadium full of people, now would I? Violet laughed, "There's going to be thousands of eyes watching us from the stands, let alone everyone tuning into the broadcast."

"Okay, good," Yang raised her hand to get Glynda's attention, "I wanted to make sure you weren't going to pull any tricks."

"Yes, Miss Xiao Long?" Glynda called up from her place on the arena floor, "Do you have a question?"

Yang raised her voice, "We've already decided who we're sending to the doubles round. Can Violet and I fight to figure out who gets into the singles?"

After taking a moment to consider, Ms. Goodwitch's fingers tapped away at the device she held, and soon enough, both Yang and Violet's names and images were plastered across the large screen, "I trust you to know your own team well enough. We may as well get your spar out of the way first. Proceed."

Violet and Yang returned to the locker room shared by all the girls and retrieved their weapons before stepping back out on to the arena floor. Yang held out a hand before they separated. Violet accepted the fist bump with a smile.

"Where do you want me to take you for dinner after you lose?" Violet called out, walking away with the flash of a grin while drawing Zenith from her back. She allowed it to regain its weight as it slammed down against the ground, cracking the floor beneath.

"I know this really nice place on main street that makes a hell of a good burger," Yang smiled back, "Where do you want me to take you?" She pumped Ember Celica in the air, loading a round into place.

"Pizza sounds nice. I'm feeling like… bacon and pepperoni with stuffed crust."

"And the dipping sauce?"

"Why wouldn't you get the sauce? That's what makes it worth getting the stuffed crust in the first place."

"Fair point. Anything else?"

"No, now I just want a pizza. We should get enough for leftovers in the morning."

"Why? The dining hall usually has at least a few slices."

"Yeah, but we didn't even get breakfast this morning."

"Oh yeaaaah, well then, I think-"

"Would you two just fight already!?"

"Sure thing, Miss Goodwitch."

"Whatever you say Glynda... Wait, do you want us to bring you back any-"

Violet was cut off as Yang blasted across the arena floor, spurred into action by the fierce glare sent her way from Ms. Goodwitch. The fight commenced, with Violet heavily on the defensive, struggling to recover from the immediate ground she'd lost.

Violet used Zenith's wide blade to block Yang's blows, knowing that if she tried to return its weight to it, her arms would be too slow to keep up with the brawler's speed. For the time being she waited, allowing Yang to grow more and more frustrated as each blow was swiftly deflected, none managing to slip past her defense. She had also transferred Zenith's weight to her shoes, giving her a stronger footing. It was a technique that Violet had been forced to create specifically for her fights against Yang, as the brawler didn't have the reach to slip past.

Each blow was jarring. Violet was forced to take the brunt of the impacts with only the bare minimum of Zenith's mass left to offset each blow, 'Better Zenith than me.' Violet could see the mounting frustration in Yang's stature. Each subsequent attack became more and more erratic. The team leader waited for Yang's current set of attacks to finish.

'Now,' Violet spotted the telltale sign of Yang winding back up, her foot sliding backwards, preparing to change stances. Violet swung her greatsword forward, a weak blow, but one that fulfilled its purpose in throwing Yang off balance. The greatsword's path continued as Violet spun in place, giving it a full three hundred and sixty degrees of wind up before forcing its own weight and much of her own into its blade.

Yang threw her arms up the instant before Zenith connected. There was a terrible shriek of metal on metal as the heavy greatsword slashed a deep scratch across the gauntlets. Yang was launched backwards by the force of the blow and sent into a backwards tumble across the ground. The blond managed to gain control over her roll and planted her feet, sliding to a stop while raising her fists back up into a defensive stature.

Violet charged, now the one to go on the attack as she kept outside Yang's range and used fast, sweeping horizontal slashes, denying her an inlet past Violet's guard. Yang dodged what she could, backpedaling from the blade and looking for an opening of her own. The greatsword offered little chances, and the brawler knew she would be punished severely if she failed to get the timing right. Violet's sword could hit like a truck, and was regularly known for ending weaker students in a single blow.

Seeing an opening, Yang backed just outside of Violet's swing and threw an uppercut, blasting Ember Celica simultaneously. The explosion knocked the blade off course, sending it much higher, then down in an arc that planted it into the floor. Violet reduced its weight and tore it free from the ground, but was far too late to block Yang's follow up blast to her chest.

Luckily with her grip tight on the handle, Zenith came with her as Violet was sent flying back across the arena floor. She stabbed downwards and found purchase. Zenith left a long, deep furrow in the ground that stopped Violet just short of the arena's edge.

She wasn't given a moment to recollect, as a series of blasts from Ember Celica streaked her way. Violet rolled to the side, awkwardly forced to dragon Zenith along with her. She brought it up in time to block the next shots, each bursting in a flare of red across the greatsword's wide blade. Yang popped the spent shells from her gauntlets and grabbed two more strips, tossing them into the air so that they would fall into the correct slots with a practiced grace.

'Sorry Yang, but I didn't agree to not get tricky…' Violet pulled a projectile from her belt and transformed Zenith into its railgun form. Her final lightning dust cell hummed, charging the coils in a flash of electricity that arced between each.

Yang paused, not advancing in worry and confusion. She knew what the railgun was capable of. Her eyes searched Violet's, looking for a hint of frustration or anger that might have spurred this plan of action. Finding none, Yang's expression calmed somewhat, but her shoulders remained tensed, uncertain of what exactly Violet was planning to do.

Violet checked each of their aura levels on the nearby screens, noting that she was down to seventy-three percent while Yang was still in the high eighties. Violet lowered herself and prepared to dash forward, removing the mass from her body as well as Zenith's. There was a large gap of ground to cover, but she could cross it easily enough in only a moment.

Violet had transformed Zenith only half way. The grip still remained in the form of a sword haft, while the blade itself was fully in railgun form. The coils continued to hum, finally reaching peak charge.

Violet used a burst of strength and dashed across the intervening distance, swinging Zenith with the perfect timing to force Yang to block a blow from the side. Both arms raised to that side, dampening the impact as Violet returned all of Zenith's weight to the blade. Yang staggered under the unexpected blow, her mind too caught up with the charging coils to block effectively. Her eyes widened as understanding dawned on her.

A fraction of a second after Violet's weapon made contact, she pulled the trigger.

An explosion rocked the arena, as the floor itself was ripped up in the blast. Yang was caught in the brunt of it, the force lifting her off her feet and sending her flying to the side, hard enough to collide with the bottom wall of the stands outside the arena bounds. Violet was similarly propelled backwards but with less force as the inner workings of Zenith served to lessen the impact on its user.

Violet rolled across the ground and back to her feet before glancing at the aura monitors once again. Yang was down to twenty percent and out of bounds, while Violet was down to fifty, and still in the arena.

Silence prevailed in the stands, until after a dozen seconds passed, the students erupted in surprise and bewilderment. Violet took a bow, then returned Zenith to her back in sword form, allowing it to cool off as the vents expelled steam. She made her way off the stage and over to Yang, who was just then struggling to rise from the floor.

Violet pulled Yang up by her hand and gave her a hug, "Sorry you had to be the first, Yang."

"I didn't think you'd ever intentionally use Zenith that way…"

Violet nodded, "I don't usually since it hits me pretty hard as well," she held out her hand again, extending it for a handshake, "No hard feelings, right?"

Yang knocked Violet's hand away and went in for a hug instead, gripping the other girl tightly, "Of course not you idiot. That was awesome! You had me so worried for a second there."

Violet scoffed, "As if I'd vaporize you. The thought shouldn't have even crossed your mind."

"What exactly were you thinking, Ms. Regalia?" Glynda demanded, angrily striding up to the two of them, "I believe you were strictly forbidden from firing off your weapon in this class."

Violet shook her head, "I didn't fire it off, because the projectile didn't go anywhere. If I don't add any mass to it, the metal just explodes before it ever has a chance to exit the coils."

Ms. Goodwitch looked Yang over, checking for any visible damage, then nodded, "Next time you pull something like that, I'd appreciate some type of warning first. I nearly stopped the fight."

"No need to worry about that," Violet gave Ms. Goodwitch a wink, "This poor maiden is all tapped out on tricks up her sleeve."

Glynda narrowed her eyes but didn't bother to comment before turning back around and pulling the riding crop from her belt. With a quick wave of it, the exploded bits of arena floor drifted through the air, returning to their previous positions. The air suddenly cleared of a fine dust that Violet hadn't even realized was there. She breathed more clearly and put a hand around Yang's shoulders.

"So, about that burger…"

Yang smirked, "That pizza actually sounds really good right about now. I'll take a double since you're paying."

"Awww," Violet hugged her close, "I changed my mind. You are my favorite blond."

The pair returned to the seats next to their team and spent the remainder of the class taking bets on who would win.

'We still have team tactics after this… Those pizzas will have to wait…'

Chapter Text

Class continued for another hour and a half, with every team taking their own turns fighting. Pyrrha and Weiss against Ren and Nora was quite a spectacle to behold. While most wouldn't have put it past Pyrrha to win any match up she was a part of, many weren't giving Weiss the respect she deserved. She was no Pyrrha Nikos when it came to raw talent, but Weiss fought with a practiced grace and tenacity that overwhelmed both Nora and Ren. Violet had no doubt that she and Yang would have their work cut out for them if they went head to head with Siren in their doubles round.

Cardin and Russel managed to edge out both Dove and Sky. Cardin himself had improved drastically, only needing that extra push to get his fighting style on the right track. It seemed as if he'd been doing more training with his teammates as well, as they all appeared more competent than they were in weeks past. Violet cheered the loudest at the outcome, more than willing to encourage Cardin's continued growth.

Finally, class was dismissed. Team Siren wished them luck with their team training before heading off back to their own dorms, leaving Vibrant alone with Miss Goodwitch. Violet led them down to the arena floor where Glynda was, finishing up the grades for the last spar.

"So, Glynda. How are we gonna do this?" Violet asked, fingers laced behind her head.

Glynda didn't raise her eyes from the device she held, "It is a rather simple process. I will provide you with a number of opponents in various configurations, and you will decide how best to handle them as a team."

"And when you say 'opponents'...?"

"Atlesian tech training dummies. They are designed with simulations in mind, and as such are built with a far stronger material. They are programmed to sense impacts and deactivate on a well placed strike."

"We're just beating up robots?" Yang slumped, "Do we even need to use teamwork against them? Those things aren't very coordinated."

"A half-baked strategy will always fail if you have not put the time in to improve upon it. The difficulty is in your communication with each other, not with your opponents, Miss Xiao Long," Glynda finished up with the last class's final scores and changed to a different application. With a few quick keystrokes, a series of doors opened up beneath the stage. Half a dozen androids stepped out, colored to fit with Vale's aesthetic instead of Atlas's, though it was easy to tell exactly what they were.

The androids marched their way across to the arena floor and stepped up to take positions along one side. They were each outfitted with lightning dust rifles, guns that fired a small round, enough to give you a shock to know you'd been hit, but not enough to actually damage your aura.

"I trust your team has been thinking of potential combinations to practice. If not I could offer some suggestions," Glynda offered, stepping off to the side of the stage, out of the line of fire.

"We've thought of some!" Ruby chipped in excitedly. She eyed the gathered androids along with Violet, "There's too many for 'Smite', what do you think we should start with?"

Violet looked over the androids and smirked back at Ruby and Blake, "How about 'Ladybug'? Yang and I have already had gotten our warm up in, and it'll let me see how well you two work together."

"Okay!" Ruby moved into position with Blake and began describing the maneuver to her, a mixture of confusion tactics involving Blake setting up clones to focus on and Ruby moving in and out of combat with her speed.

They spent the next two hours running certain strategies through their paces and getting recommendations and tips from Glynda. Violet was happy with their performance for the most part. Her entire team trusted each other, and were quick to forgive any failed attempts. They weren't anywhere near seamless yet, but with a couple weeks of training under their belts, Violet could definitely see the more basic maneuvers being perfected.

"Alright, that's enough for one day," Glynda called out, looking over the four exhausted girls, "Miss Regalia, you still have your training with Qrow later this evening. I suggest you rest up while you can before then."

Violet wiped the sweat off her forehead and nodded. Even reducing Zenith's weight as she did, it still regained it right before contact. Two hours of swinging it around had left her arms feeling numb. Blake was even worse off. She sat panting on the sidelines with Ruby while Violet and Yang ran their combination. It focused heavily on overwhelming an opponent with a series of fast-paced attacks. Violet had her work cut out for her trying to keep up with Yang.

"Okay," Violet breathed out heavily and returned Zenith to her back, "Showers and pizza, my treat… the pizzas, I mean. You can take your own showers," she turned from her team and gave Glynda a raised eyebrow, "Sure you don't want me to pick you up a slice?"

"I will be quite alright, Miss Regalia," Glynda shook her head, "Qrow will message you when he's ready. I believe he's eager to continue making strides in your development."

Violet wasn't sure what to make of that. She assumed Glynda would have known about her request to help track down Roman, 'Did we get denied?' That was troubling, to say the least. The longer it took for their side mission to begin, the more time Cinder and her cronies would have to prepare, 'I'll have to 'make strides' in my training, I suppose. It might run a few risks, but that's preferable to risking my team.'

Violet gave a half salute as Glynda left. The other three were already shuffling off to the locker rooms and their attached showers. Violet joined them, more than ready to rid herself of the sweat that had built up over the course of training. Thankfully, they'd all long since realized it was a good idea to keep a spare change of clothes in their lockers.

Violet wore a simple pink long sleeve shirt and white jeans out of the locker room to find the others similarly dressed in street clothes. Among them, Violet was the only one that still carried her weapon.

"Are you really going to bring that down into Vale?" Yang cocked an eyebrow at the massive greatsword.

"Better safe than sorry. I doubt Amber expected to get attacked, either," Violet shrugged, "It might be better if we all kept them close at hand from now on."

Blake was the first to agree and fetch her own weapon. Violet hardly blamed her with the looming threat of Adam being out there somewhere. Both Ruby and Yang seemed uncomfortable about the proposal, but followed Blake's lead. They returned fully armed, weapons in tow.

Violet nodded her approval and began leading them to where the bullheads were docked. It was still early in the evening, half past five with the sun still far from the Vale horizon. The four boarded and were swiftly transported down, left free to roam the city streets.

"Alright, ladies," Violet spread her hands wide, "We have an hour or so to kill. Where to, Yang?"

Yang and Ruby exchanged glances and a shrug, "Best place in town is Rosso's."

Ruby nodded agreement, "Yeah. Uncle Qrow would bring some home after long trips."

"Rosso's it is, then," Violet gestured for the two girls to lead and fell into place next to Blake. While she was trying to hide it, the faunus's eyes were on a constant pivot. Her ears twitched at each passing car, every loud shout.

Violet bumped into her and spoke quietly, not wanting to put the two sisters on edge the same way Blake already was, "Hey, we'll be alright. If this 'Adam' guy shows up, I'll freeze him in ice a mile thick."

"I think maidens would be more known about if that were possible, Violet," Blake replied tightly. Her eyes continued to roam, but she did spare a glance for her team leader, "It's fine. I've spent a long time looking over my shoulder."

Violet sighed, "If it makes you feel better, then I won't stop you. Just let me know if you see him, alright? I don't need you slipping off because you're worried he'll hurt one of us. Your safety is just as important to me, dark past or no dark past. Don't ever think you aren't worth protecting."

Blake skipped a step, eyes moving to stare into Violet's, "I… That's…" the faunus shook her head, exasperated, "You always know what to say."

"Promise me, Blake. Promise me you won't run off like that."

Blake sighed, "I promise I won't run off to protect all of you."

"Because we would chase you down anyway," Violet nodded, accepting Blake's promise, "Come hell or high water, it's better to stand together."

Violet could see Blake's expression soften. A smile tugged at her lips, her eyes staring into Violet's.

"Oh, jeez," Yang called out from a little ways ahead, "I didn't know Ruby and I would be chapperoning!"

Violet broke away an extra step from Blake with a small laugh. The faunus's cheeks reddened and her eyes turned to glare at Yang, "That's strike two, Xiao Long. You don't want to know what happens on strike three."

"Oooooh~" Yang held her hands to her face in mock panic, "Ruby! Please protect me from the vicious kitty cat!"

Blake narrowed her eyes in a pretend glower. It was easy enough to tell the difference as her ears didn't flatten as they would when Blake was actually angry. She crossed her arms for good measure, whispering under her breath, "Just you wait, Yang. We'll see how funny it is when you find someone."

Violet gave a quiet laugh and kept her voice down, "I don't think she'd mind, honestly. Yang has no shame."

Blake took Violet's word for it and gave up on her glower with a shake of her head, returning to keeping an eye on their surroundings, if a bit more relaxed than earlier. Every now and then her eyes would fall back on Violet and stay there for a second too long before darting away.

"So, what's Menagerie like? I've heard it's very tropical, but you can't exactly trust Atlas as a source of information when it comes to the faunus," Violet asked, sparring an eye to their surroundings as well. The streets were still rather full with citizens, many of which gave the group of girls a wide berth at the sight of their weapons. The street lights were beginning to come on, washing the shadows out with a dull glow that wasn't quite necessary yet.

"Kuo Kuana is… nice, if you don't mind large crowds. The portion of Menagerie that the faunus settled on is rather tropical, but beyond that, the land is nothing but hard packed desert and dangerous creatures."

"Like the grimm?"

"No. There are hardly any grimm on Menagerie. It's filled with mostly large predators, and a thousand different venomous insects and reptiles that could kill you with a single bite."

'Was the God of Light dabbling in Destruction? What's up with that?' Violet frowned, 'I might do something about that before long.' She didn't really see any negative in helping to fix up Menagerie and make the rest of it habitable. It would have to be over the course of a few years, perhaps, otherwise 'god's hand' would be visibly at work, but better that than left as it was indefinitely.

"Anything you could keep as a pet?" Violet joked with a smirk.

"When I was little, one of the guards did try raising a dune panther, buuut it turned on him after it reached adulthood. Another three guards died trying to take it down. There's laws about keeping anything in the city as a pet, mostly to keep them away from everyone else. The guard had to get written permission from my father to even try with the panther."

"That's awful. Did your dad get a lot of backlash from it?"

"Some," Blake shrugged, "But everyone knew what he was trying to do. If we could tame the desert then it would let us branch out further and free up space."

"That's too bad. I bet riding around on a dune panther would be fun."

Blake laughed, "Don't let the name fool you. They resemble cats, but they're twice the size of regular panthers and have thick scales instead of fur. They blend in with their environment like chameleons and won't hesitate to attack anything smaller than them."

"... Nevermind then," Violet shivered, "That sounds more like the stuff of nightmares."

"Faunus closer to the frontier use them as warnings to their children when they misbehave. 'If you don't finish your dinner, then a dune panther will see how small you are and have you for dinner instead'."

"That's terrible!" Ruby gasped, having fallen further back with Yang while the two spoke.

Blake smiled, "Did your dad never use the grimm to scare you?"

Yang laughed, "That wouldn't have worked on Ruby. She's always been pretty gung-ho when it came to killing grimm. Besides, after that whole incident in the woods," she gave Violet a meaningful glance, "he thought Ruby would be terrified of them."

"Pfft," Ruby waved her hand limply, "I don't even remember that."

Violet thought back to that tiny scream she'd heard all those years ago, and the way Ruby had shivered, hidden beneath her hood in the cart for the rest of the way home. She let out a sigh, "I'm glad you don't, Ruby."

Yang nodded in agreement, then turned back to face the way they were heading. "Almost there!" she pointed a little ways up the street to the front of a restaurant with a brightly lit neon sign, announcing itself as Rosso's. Each 'O' was a pizza with a single slice starting to get pulled out.

"At least we couldn't have missed it," Blake replied simply.

The group of girls made their way to the diner. The front of the building mainly consisted of one long window, with the door set on the far left. The red brick work was cracked in places, showing its age in comparison to the buildings surrounding it. They stepped into the brightly lit interior, a din of voices washing over them the instant the door opened.

The entranceway was mostly blocked from view, but Violet had seen a few empty tables through the window out front. A waitress stood behind a small podium at the end of the entrance walkway, dressed nicely with a clipboard held against her chest. Violet's eyes narrowed as she caught on to the 'No Faunus Allowed' sign behind her.

The waitress's eyes paused on Blake's ears before she could begin greeting them. She coughed into her hand instead, eyeing the weapons they carried. Violet stretched and left one hand behind her head, near Zenith's hilt.

"Hi, we'd like to get a table," Violet said sweetly, eyes going to the small name tag on her chest, "That won't be a problem, will it Afina?"

"Um…" Afina nervously glanced at Blake again, then scanned the crowd for other employees. She was young, barely a year or two older than any of them, and likely had nothing to do with the sign, "I… I think we're full right now-" at Violet's glare she stammered, "B-But let me go find a m-manager and see what we can do!"

Blake had noticed the sign as well by then, as did Ruby and Yang.

"What the hell!?" Yang stared aghast at the sign, then back to Blake, "I swear they didn't have that the last time we were here, Blake."

Blake shifted uncomfortably, ears flattening on her head, "Maybe we should just leave…?"

"As if," Violet practically snarled, "We're going to get to the bottom of this.".

The waitress returned with an older man, in his late fifties, brown hair dusted with grey. He looked across the group with a bored expression, eyes pausing on Blake for a few seconds longer than the others. His gaze then settled on Violet at the front.

"I'm sorry, but due to the recent crime spree linked to the White Fang, our restaurant will no longer be serving faunus. If you want, I can recommend another establishment a few streets over that doesn't mind fleas?"

"How dare y-" Yang began, but was cut off as Violet raised a hand. Her fingers trembled for a second, but then relaxed as she maintained her composure.

"Let me get this straight…" Violet's voice was dangerously low, "You're afraid that any faunus you let into your restaurant could be a White Fang member, and in order to avoid that, you're banning all faunus?"

"That's right. The laws allow us to refuse service to anyone we choose. We chose faunus."

"And you're going to stick to that, going so far as to deny four huntresses? The exact people that you would need to save you if your restaurant was attacked by the White Fang?"

The manager frowned, seeming to understand what Violet was implying, "It's your duty to protect the citizens."

Violet scoffed, "It's my duty to protect what I want to protect. There's no law saying that I can't 'refuse service' either," she stared into the manager's eyes, "The way I see it, you have two choices. Leave your signs up while drawing the ire of the White Fang, and get no protection from anyone at Beacon... or take it down, and you can have us on speed dial."

A hint of uncertainty passed behind the manager's eyes, but he stood firm, "Are you saying you could convince everyone to leave us to the mercy of the White Fang?" his voice was full of doubt.

Violet stepped closer, lowering her hand from where it had been resting near her hilt and grabbed the edge of the wooden podium. Amethyst flames ignited where her hand touched, slowly rippling out and blackening the wood beneath it. Her eyes glared into the manager's, "I can be very persuasive."

The manager and waitress both took a step back, uncertainty shifting to fear. Violet withdrew her hand and extinguished the flames, then purposefully held the same hand out to the manager, "Do we have a deal?"

The manager spent a few moments looking between the burn marks and Violet's outstretched hand before he finally turned around and ripped the sign off the wall. He held out his own hand and shook Violet's roughly, eyeing the scorch marks, "Leave your number on the bill and the sign stays down."

"Of course," Violet smiled, "I never go back on a promise."

The manager gestured for the waitress to lead them to a table, where they were quickly seated next to the window near the front. Violet was forced to lean Zenith up against the side of their booth, since sitting with it on was nearly impossible. The waitress stayed an extra foot away from the table, hands shaking as she held a pen overtop the clipboard.

"W-would you like anything to d-drink?" Afina stammered. Her gaze repeatedly flickered back to Violet's hands, though she tried to hide it.

Violet gave her a sad smile, "You have nothing to worry about, Afina. I know you aren't to blame," Violet turned to the rest of her team, "I'll take some water. What do you guys want?"

The rest of her team shared a glance, but ordered, also looking mildly uncomfortable with the situation. Blake gave Violet a very disapproving stare as she ordered her drink. Once the waitress hurriedly left, three sets of eyes focused on their team leader.

"Not cool, Vi. Not cool."

"What were you thinking?" Blake added on immediately after Yang, voice lowering, "You shouldn't be abusing your power like that. What if someone had seen!?"

"Who could have aside from them?" Violet pointed out, "The entire entryway is blocked off from the rest of the restaurant by that wall."

"They might tell other people!"

Violet waved them off, "Most people will think it was a semblance or some kind of dust manipulation. I didn't exactly go overboard with it."

"You did more than enough," Blake fixed her with a frown, "I appreciate how much you care for faunus, Violet, I really do… but threatening people is going too far."

"Oh come on," Violet looked at each in turn, sensing the disapproval behind their eyes, "That was the only way for him to see reason! The White Fang specifically targets businesses that don't serve faunus. He was making himself a bigger target!"

"Is that why you did it, though?" there was doubt in Blake's voice.

"Well…" Violet shrugged dejectedly, "I couldn't stand the idea of you being upset…"

"I keep telling you I'm used to it, Violet," Blake replied, gently placing a hand on her arm, "You don't have to defend me from everything little thing. Especially if it means hurting other people to do it."

"I wouldn't have actually hurt anyone," Violet balked, eyes widening.

"The waitress didn't seem to think so," Yang muttered, watching as Afina returned with a small tray topped with four drinks. She carefully set the tray down on the table and handed out each glass, preferring to stand closer to Ruby than Violet.

Violet sighed, "Afina," and waited for the girl to meet her eyes, "I'm sorry about my behavior before. Please believe me when I say you have nothing to worry about. I was a little angry because of the sign… but I would never resort to hurting other people. I didn't mean to scare you as much as I did."

Afina kept her eyes locked on Violet's, able to both see and hear the sincerity in her voice. The tension left her shoulders, and her stance shifted into one that was more relaxed, "How did you do that with the flames?"

The other three shot Violet a warning glare, but she simply brushed them off, "Just a semblance. It won't hurt you," Violet held her hand out, palm upward, "Want to see?"

Afina had been holding the tray to her chest like a shield, but at Violet's offer, her curiosity got the better of her. Tentatively, one hand reached out to rest atop Violet's.

Ever so slowly, the amethyst flames lit up, tickling the underside of Afina's hand, but otherwise doing nothing to harm her. Her eyes widened in surprise, "It's… not even hot."

Violet allowed them to once again extinguish and smiled, "Of course not. Why would they be?"

"But the podium…"

"Was just a podium, not a person."

Afina gave a small smile, comforted by Violet's attempts to make amends, "... Are you ready to order?"

Violet laughed and glanced about the table, seeing that none of the others had even bothered to open up their menus yet, "I think we'll be a bit longer. Thank you, Afina."

"You're welcome," she gave a small nod to the group, "I'll be back in a few!", then returned to the podium. Once there, Violet could see her brushing a hand over the black mark that marred its surface, the quirk of a smile on her face.

Ruby stared wide-eyed at Violet, "Why didn't you say you could do that? This changes everything!"

'Because I made it up on the spot?' Violet gave a small frown, "What does that change, exactly?"

"Our team attacks!" Ruby rolled her eyes, "We don't need Blake for 'Cheshire', you can do that with anybody!"

Violet held a hand to her chin in thought, "I guess you're right."

Ruby leaned forward with a sudden intensity and whispered, "Can you set Crescent Rose on fire without burning it?"

For her answer, Violet picked up one of the knives on the table and lit the blade in amethyst flames before handing it to the young reaper, who accepted it carefully. Ruby timidly edged her finger closer to the flames, feeling for any heat, but found none. Violet grabbed a napkin and pushed it closer to her, "Touch the knife to it."

Ruby did so, and the napkin burst into flame. Violet hurriedly put it out and used some of her water to help wipe away the ashes that had been left behind. Yang's and Blake's eyes darted around the nearby tables, but no one seemed to be paying them any mind. The fire had been small, all things considered. The smell of burnt napkin was overwhelmed by the smell of pizza that already permeated the air.

"You can decide what gets affected?" Yang whispered in awe, staring at where the napkin had been previously, "I thought it only worked on grimm?"

"That's all I used it on before," Violet confirmed, "A little training with Qrow helped figure a few more things out."

'A lie, but I'll work it out with him tonight and no one will know the difference.'

"Be more careful!" Blake hissed quietly, eyes still scanning those nearby, "Save it for your training with Qrow. There's too many people around us."

"Nobody noticed," Violet chided affectionately, "but," she raised her hands when Blake looked like she wanted to argue further, "You're right. Now isn't the time."

Blake gave a self-satisfied nod then turned to Ruby, "So what's this 'Cheshire' team attack you mentioned? Neither of you brought it up during the class with Glynda."

Ruby leaned across the table, voice low, "It's one of the secret attacks we came up with. You would draw in a group of grimm, then escape with your semblance and Violet would do her 'thing' when they attacked it. Now it doesn't matter who's the bait, though."

"Glad I was consulted on it," Blake replied flatly.

"We were going to wait until after we finished with team tactics and Violet finished with her own training before we brought them up."

"Hey, if Blake doesn't wanna do it, I'm game," Yang offered up, "I'm pretty much on fire when I activate my semblance anyway."

"I didn't say I wouldn't do it," Blake balked quickly.

"Okay ladies," Violet raised her hands between them with a smile, "No fighting over who gets to be set on fire. I'm hot enough for both of you."

Yang grinned while Blake rolled her eyes. Ruby muttered something under her breath. Violet caught the jist of it, 'like having two sisters', and laughed.

Conversation died down for a minute while they each finally took the time to choose out their orders. Violet told them to get whatever they wanted as a reward for training so hard. It didn't take Violet very long to choose out what she wanted for herself. Her mind had already been made up since combat class.

While waiting for the others to finish picking out their orders, Violet couldn't help but notice Afina welcoming in another patron. It was the grey that tipped her off first, as Mercury stepped into view. Violet averted her eyes back to her team while the assassin's gaze roamed across the restaurant.

With a nod of his head to indicate where he wanted to sit, Afina led Mercury over to the booth directly behind team Vibrant's. He sat a foot away from Violet, backs turned towards each other, with only cushions and wood separating them. Zenith rested against the side of the booth between both.

"I'll take a water for now," Mercury stated mildly. Violet could hear him picking up his menu, the laminated pages turning as he looked through it, "I might take a minute to order though."

"Not a problem!" Afina smiled, "I'll be back in a few!" she then stepped a few feet to her right, so that she was now in front of Vibrant's table, "Are you all ready to order yet?"

Violet shared a look with the other three, confirming that they were all ready, then started it off by ordering for herself. Ruby and Yang chipped in next, both requesting meat lover's, while Blake asked for a plain cheese pizza with anchovies. Violet couldn't help but snicker at that, earning herself a light backhand to the shoulder.

Afina left with their orders, leaving the four alone again aside from the new eavesdropper. Thankfully, the others noticed the addition of another person much closer than most and had the sensibility not to talk about secret matters any more.

"I don't think Oobleck is going to let you two get away with slacking again," Violet warned, deciding to change the subject to something school related; a natural topic for huntresses in training, "I'm glad you did so well though, Little Red."

Ruby squirmed under the attention, "I didn't do it all myself."

Violet waved it off, "Ninety percent is close enough. didn't lose sleep over it."

"Why are you so good at history in the first place, Vi?" Yang asked, slumping her head on her hand, "It's so boring."

'I could teach you a few things about real boredom,' Violet smiled, "I had good tutors. It's important to understand the mistakes that other people have made so that you don't make the same ones in the future."

"Like what?" Yang scoffed, "It isn't as if I'm going to end up like General Lagune."

Violet decided to take a risk with Mercury sitting behind her, "Ah, but you don't have to be in that specific circumstance to learn the real lesson behind Lagune's story."

Yang frowned, "And what's that?"

"To not fall prey to your own arrogance. Lagune believed his assault was destined for success, and we all know how that panned out. In the end, many of his officers were executed, and Lagune himself will be remembered throughout history as a failure."

"Serves him right," Blake glowered darkly, "The things his men did to the faunus they captured… They're lucky they were only executed."

Violet laughed, "Another lesson to take from it. Karma always comes knocking in the end. They would have been better off cutting their losses."

"I guess I see your point," Yang replied, "Doesn't stop it from being boring, though."

Violet conceded with a small smile, "I won't force you to like it. You still need to pass the class."

Yang waved her hand dismissively, "You think I could show my face at home if I failed a class? Dad's a teacher too, you know."

"You've mentioned it," Violet nodded, "What exactly does he teach?"

"Home Ec."

Violet had to stifle a laugh, 'The T in team STRQ, most badass of all teams to ever graduate Beacon... teaches Home Ec!?' The sisters both caught on to Violet's demeanor from the way her chest twitched and how she held her hand over her mouth.

"Hey, he still kicks butt!" Ruby insisted fiercely, giving Violet a glower.

Violet waved her hand, managing to suppress the laughter that still threatened to bubble out, "No, no. I just wasn't expecting that. He did seem pretty laid back when we called him. I'd like to meet him for real some time."

"I'll set you up with a spar," Yang said flatly, eyes still narrowed, "Bet he could teach you a thing or two."

"No, Yang, really. That's not necessary," Violet smiled apologetically, "I was expecting you to say he was the combat instructor or something."

Ruby expression grew somber, "Dad doesn't like to fight anymore… Not after… Mom."

"Say no more," Violet placed a hand overtop the young huntress's, "I get it. I would still love to meet him."

Ruby smiled, "Maybe next Sunday! I bet Dad would like that, too."

Yang looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded, "I could spare a Sunday to go see the old man. You in, Blake?"

Blake appeared uncertain for a moment, but eventually nodded, "That sounds fun. I've never been to Patch."

"It's a cozy little town," Yang confirmed, "Not much happens there, honestly. We get the occasional grimm or three, but for the most part it's really peaceful. A lot of hunters move there to retire on their own patch of land. It's where the island gets its name, or so I've heard."

"It gets more than the occasional grimm," Ruby corrected, "but with some many retired hunters around, they don't tend to be an issue in town."

"That sounds promising," Violet smiled.

The conversation died out as Afina returned with their orders, both arms carrying two circular trays apiece. She gently lowered them down on to the table and slid them into place, "Can I get you anything else?"

"We should be good, thanks," Yang replied, eyes only on her own pizza that had been stacked high with toppings. It appeared the manager had been more than generous. Blake's order had even come with an extra box, filled to the brim with more sardines and a written apology.

Violet doubted its sincerity, but welcomed it all the same. She continued appearing as nonchalant as possible while they ate, but kept her attention focused as well as she could on Mercury behind her. Afina returned with his water and he once again declined to order, saying that he was having difficulty deciding. Afina offered up a few suggestions, but Mercury turned them all down.

'Should I be more direct to try and scare him off?' Violet pondered her options as she ate, finally deciding that simply talking to him might spook him. She turned to the side, feet out into the aisle next to Zenith, "The bacon and pepp is pretty good."

"Is it?" Mercury turned to the side as well, "I was thinking about getting the meat lover's, but after seeing your teammates'... That's a bit more than I could handle."

"Nobody to bring leftovers home to?" Violet put on a fake pout, "A guy like you has to have at least a couple girls on his heels."

Mercury laughed, "You offering?"

Violet smiled, "Sorry, someone's already staked their claim."

"Pity," Mercury held his hand out, "Name's Mercury. My team and I are here early for the Vytal Festival. Our grades were good enough so they let us come here instead of taking another boring mission."

"Oh!" Ruby piped up, "Where are you from?"

"Mistral," Mercury replied simply, "It isn't nearly as nice as Vale. Hence why we wanted to get here so soon."

"Makes sense," Yang replied proudly, "I've heard my uncle saying crime is pretty rampant in Mistral."

"He's right about that. There's more thieves and scoundrels than honest businessmen."

'Takes one to know one,' Violet's scroll buzzed, and she pulled it out of her pocket to check who was messaging her.

"Meet in ten," Qrow's message was displayed across the screen. Violet pretended to sigh, but was secretly thankful for the excuse to leave.

"Gotta go, ladies. Let's get this packed up," Violet gave Afina a polite wave to get her attention before turning back to Mercury, "It was nice meeting you, Merc. I hope we'll have a longer chat next time."

"Looking forward to it," Mercury smiled to the group before turning back around. He picked his menu back up and muttered to himself, "Maybe I will get the meat lover's…"

Violet requested some take out boxes, which Afina was quick to fetch. They loaded up their food. With Mercury there, Violet made sure to hand her receipt, scroll number included, directly to Afina along with a substantial tip and a promise of repeat business, 'If only to make sure they're keeping up on their side of the bargain.'

The girls left with a skip in their step, and Violet with an eye over her shoulder.

"Thanks, Vi. That was almost worth losing."

"Yeah! Thanks Violet!"

"Thank you, Violet."

"Guys," Violet turned back to them and shook her head, "There's no need for that, seriously. You having a good time was thanks enough."

"Awwww, just what I'd expect out of Auntie Vi."

"Yaaang," Violet rolled her eyes, "You're going to make me regret ever making that stupid joke, aren't you?"

"You do act like a doting parent sometimes," Blake added.

'Well, you're not too far off in the grand scheme of things,' Violet smirked, "You'd all be lost without me."

"Hey! Give us some credit!"

"Fine, fine," Violet held her hands up, "Without me, you all would have ended up with Weiss on your team instead, and Ruby would be the team leader."

"Like that would ever happen," Ruby scoffed, "I'm two years younger. Why would I be the leader?"

"To match the team name, obviously. You, Weiss, Blake, and Yang would make team RWBY."

Ruby frowned, "The entire team named after me? That's way too much pressure."

"Nah," Violet patted her on the back, "You would have been fine."

"Ruby can hardly lead Zwei on a walk," Yang laughed, "But I would have still rooted for ya, sis."

"I can't imagine being on a team with Weiss," Blake's eyebrows were knit together in a frown, "That sounds like a literal nightmare."

"I guess we'll never know how it would have gone," Violet sighed, "Instead, we ended up with the best team I could have ever asked for."

"You got that right!" Yang cheered, "We're going to have to train extra hard to make sure you can beat Pyrrha in the final round of the tournament."

"That confident, eh? You never know how strong some of the people from the other schools might be. I wouldn't put it past them to have a few strong contenders as well."

"We'll knock 'em down a peg or two."

"Or three!" Ruby chipped in.

Their conversation continued, all the way from the bullhead to the platform on top of Beacon where Violet excused herself to go meet up with Qrow. Violet found the older huntsman waiting at the edge of the cliff, looking down on the forest beneath as Violet walked up.

"Hungry?"

"Huh?" Qrow turned around to see Violet standing nearby and holding out the pizza box.

"Heard you liked Rosso's, so I thought I'd offer," Violet continued, gesturing for Qrow to take the box off her hands. He complied and popped the top open, pulling out one of the slices before taking a bite.

"So," Qrow chipmunked the bite he had taken, "Good news and bad news. Good news is, you can help me go after Torchwick. Bad news is, it's only after Oz thinks you've improved enough to take care of yourself."

Violet nodded, though her agitation was apparent, "That's fair enough, I guess. Is there some 'standard' set for when that might be? The longer we wait, the closer Amber gets to letting the maiden's power transfer." 'And the closer our teams get to trying to find Roman for themselves. Delaying a week was all I thought Blake could handle before she would end up fixating on the White Fang againRecruiting Siren definitely helped as well.'

"I know," Qrow replied sullenly, "but orders are orders."

"Well, in that case," Violet stepped up to the edge of the cliff and glanced back at Qrow, "Shall we get started?"

Not wanting to waste a moment that could otherwise be spent 'proving herself', Violet fell off into the trees below.

A muttered curse following after.

Chapter Text

A few more days had passed, and Violet had managed to avoid allowing her team to go out on the town again. With Mercury snooping around, and Adam remaining an unknown, Violet felt that there was too much risk for not much reward other than spending time with her team. She could do that in Beacon anyway.

It became the norm for her to invite team Siren over, or for Siren to reciprocate. Either way, Violet or Weiss would end up paying to have food delivered depending on whoever happened to be hosting that night. Once they had some food to snack on, they would use the earlier portion of the night to act as one large study group, and help out anyone that was having difficulty with any of the material. Violet may as well have been another Oobleck with how often she answered questions pertaining to history.

Yang and Blake continued their morning routine, while Violet and Blake continued theirs. Yang hadn't been joking when she'd said it would only get worse from then on. Each day, Blake's workout increased, yet each day by the time Combat Class was about to roll around, Violet could safely dispel her semblance. Her own endurance increased, leaving her less fatigued even by the end of the third day.

With Ozpin's denial of Violet's involvement, she had also increased the pace at which she was making 'improvements'. As it stood, Violet was betting on Qrow once again asking for the go ahead after the training session they were about to partake in. Violet sat at the edge of the Beacon cliff, cross-legged and leaning back with her hands in the grass, staring up into the shattered moon above while she waited for Qrow to arrive.

Violet had always enjoyed staring at the moon, no matter what world it was. The large pearlescent orb, sundered by the departure of the God of Darkness in a childish display, watched down upon Remnant from above. Violet had always seen a bit of herself in the moon. Beautiful, but distant. Rarely interacted with by any other than a chosen few. Its presence could bring hope and comfort on a moonlit night, while its absence bred fear in the darkness that took its place.

Violet couldn't help but think back to how she had once been. More than omnipotent, more than omniscient. She had known the exact outcome of every event; past, present, and future. She was there, and always would be there, for everything thing that would ever happen. However, among all that knowledge, there had been one path, one series of events that remained unknown.

It had intrigued her originally, this branching path that presented itself to her. Like a barely audible whisper, her attention had been inevitably drawn to this enigma.

'What happens if I give up my omniscience?'

It had been odd at first, giving up infinite knowledge to become just like any of her creations, but after a while a new sensation had appeared. A sensation that She had never felt before... Excitement. The unknown stirred up the same feelings for her as it did her creations. Until then, She hadn't believed herself capable of even feeling emotions. How would it have been possible, when every outcome was known ahead of time? You couldn't be happy, or sad, or surprised by the inevitable.

She had discovered emotions for herself, and after trying to go back to being omniscient… realized for the first time what boredom was. A constant state of being, an infinite string of events, stretching back to the moment of creation and forward until well past the end of time. None of which would provide any of those emotions she craved unless she gave up her omniscience for good.

It had been an easy choice. One that led to where she now sat.

Violet was brought out of her brief reverie by the tell-tale sounds of Qrow making his way through the trees. The sound of a bush against his pant leg, the swish of grass beneath his feet, the metal scraping of a flask being uncapped before he took a drink.

"You know that stuff is bad for your liver, right?" Violet peeked over her shoulder back at the greying huntsman as he stepped past the final few trees into the clearing next to her.

"I hear that often enough from Tai," Qrow snorted, recapping the flask and shoving it in his pocket, "I don't need it from a kid like you."

Violet picked herself up and dusted her hands off, "The truth is the truth no matter who says it, Qrow."

The huntsman grumbled and looked out over the forest, "You ready? You've been making a lot of improvements these last few days. I told Oz to keep an eye out tonight through the cameras so that he could judge for himself. Don't disappoint, alright?"

"Do I ever?" Violet smiled and fell backwards off the cliff. The wind whipped past through her hair and rippled her coat before she activated her semblance. Violet's rapid descent slowed drastically, allowing her to gently come to rest on the ground, eyes skyward to watch Qrow as he followed.

Qrow used his scythe against a tree to slow his fall and land heavily next to her, leaving a deep jagged gash through its bark. He transformed Harbinger back and stowed it away beneath his cloak, "Show me what you're made of, kid. I won't be running interference tonight."

"Fine by me," Violet gave the benefit of her semblance to Qrow as well as she set off in a jog, eyes roaming the forest and Zenith still on her back. They didn't have long to wait before the sound of beowolves howling in the distance was heard, echoing out across the still night air.

Violet led them into a clearing and walked to the center. It was decently sized, nearly a hundred feet across in any direction. Violet did a few stretches and cracked her knuckles, 'Time to make things a bit more spectacular.' She gestured for Qrow to stand nearer. Once he complied, Violet placed her hands against the ground.

Ice streaked out, small fingers of amethyst crystal that surrounded the two of them a dozen feet in every direction. They stopped for a moment at that distance, then erupted upwards at their ends, creating a cage of ice shards, two feet across with gaps between large enough to see through. In this cage, they would be protected from the grimm, while she would still be able to attack within.

Violet could hear the howls of the beowolves closing in, too few by far for the spectacle that she wanted to put on. With a small dip into her omnipotence, the number tripled in size, each beowolf suddenly joined by two more. The pack of nearly fifty closed in, the first few making their entrance into the clearing so that they were clearly visible in the moonlight. Scores of glowing red eyes streaked through the trees, surrounding the two hunters on all sides.

Qrow tensed, seeing the sheer number that had suddenly appeared from out of the woodworks, "There shouldn't be this many beowolves in the Emerald Forest…" his hand drifted down to his lower back, grabbing Harbinger but not yet drawing, "You got this, kid?"

"Easy enough," Violet admired her own work past the safety of their cage. Several of the beowolves she had created were alphas, adding to the perceived threat they posed. She smirked, "Just relax. I'll protect you."

A bloodchilling chorus of howls announced the beowolves' charge, as the sea of black furred grimm sprinted towards them, bearing sharp fangs and flexing large claws. Violet waited until the first of many was about to reach the cage, mere moments from putting its durability to the test, before slamming her hands down against the grass beneath.

From her hands erupted a circle of amethyst flame, a wave that grew in size the further out it went. Like a brilliantly colored tsunami, the inferno crashed over the charging beowolves, expanding out until reaching its apex, towering thirty feet into the sky. The wave receded at the edge of the clearing, ebbing back down until finally disappearing.

The beowolves were left in its wake, bodies still and lifeless, bereft of what little of the God of Darkness's power kept them animated. Aside from them, everything else in the clearing remained untouched, unharmed by the burning inferno that had inhabited the clearing only moments before.

Violet turned a smug smile to Qrow and shrugged, "See?"

Qrow shakily pulled his flask out and took a long swig, recapping it and returning it to his pocket before speaking, "Give a guy a little warning before you pull a stunt like that. I saw my life flash before my eyes…"

Violet waved a hand dismissively, "Oh, don't be a baby. You already knew I could choose what gets harmed by it," she brought her hand up and poked him on the chest affectionately, "You've got nothing to worry about, old man."

Qrow rubbed his chest where Violet had poked him, "There's a difference between knowing, and experiencing firsthand," he eyed the corpses that littered the clearing, "Any other tricks up your sleeve?"

Violet raised a hand and 'concentrated' for only a moment before the ice that surrounded them shattered to pieces, falling to the grass and disappearing in as many moments, "A few."

Qrow gestured for her to continue onward, deeper into the Emerald Forest. Violet took the lead once again, already plotting more encounters of a… believably spectacular level. Over the next few hours, she made a showing of her powers, walking the fine line between what was expected, and what was necessary in order to have her request accepted. Whether it was by calling lightning to strike down from the sky, or skewering grimm on thick shards of ice... death lay in her wake.

 


 

'The girl is impossibly strong for a maiden…' Raven watched from the trees, well beyond the range of Qrow's perception, but still able to observe the feats being laid bare. Raven had felt her twin's sudden panic, the instantaneous heart-dropping certainty of death, and rushed to the location through her portal. Instead of a fight, she had found a much more imposing danger than she ever would have imagined.

Not a danger to the world at large, but to herself. With the girl directly under Qrow's tutelage, Raven had no doubt that she herself would not be looked favorably upon, and with her daughter being on the same team to boot… 'Perhaps it's about time I introduced myself to Yang. I wouldn't want her coming to look for me with this girl in tow. The clan would never survive the fallout.'

Raven lifted off from the tree with a beat of her black wings, a portal shimmering into existence in midair. With a final flap, she vanished through it, leaving a single black feather to drift lightly to the ground below.

 


 

Violet's breath misted in the air as she panted heavily, arm resting against Zenith where she had planted it in the ground to lean on. A field of ice, flames, and craters from lightning lay scattered about the battlefield. Those grimm that had died from a source other than her flames were still in the midst of disintegrating, sending thick trails of black ash spiraling up into the sky.

A king taijitu lay on the ground in front of her, the final victim of her training induced slaughter. Both heads were severed, its black blood coating both the grass around itself and the edges of Zenith's blade. The blood itself hissed, slowly evaporating in the heat of the flames that licked up Zenith's steel. Violet would have to thank Ruby for that idea at some point.

Qrow hung up his scroll and walked back over to her from where he'd watched at the treeline, "Oz wants us to head up to his office. I think he's got good news."

'He'd better after all that…' Violet breathed out one final heavy sigh and hefted Zenith back out of the ground to return it to her back, relaxing as her semblance once again took hold.

Violet's eyes scanned the carnage that they were about to leave behind, "You know, I hope Oz has someone coming out here to pick up after us. Someone might get suspicious if they stumble across a mountain of dead grimm that aren't disappearing like they should."

"Professor Peach collects them for her research," Qrow replied idly, beginning to lead their long trek back through the forest to the cliffs themselves, "She wanted me to pass along her thanks for all the new subjects, by the way. And that she doesn't have to keep making fake taxidermy grimm parts for Port's trophy collections."

Violet frowned, thinking about the few times she'd seen Peach from a distance. The female fox faunus professor was hardly five foot six, at best, and scrawny to boot, "How did Professor Peach manage to get them out of the forest in the first place?"

"Peach's semblance lets her store nonliving things in a… pocket dimension…? It was very confusing the one time she told me about it. Suffice to say, she can take stuff that isn't alive and make it disappear until she wants to bring it back again somewhere else."

'Oh no, she's a gamer fanfic character,' Violet laughed but refused to answer Qrow's questioning stare, "So, did you make any progress finding Torchwick on your own time?"

Qrow shrugged, "Not much. I went to that address you gave me, but it was already cleared out like you'd guessed. There was a sentry posted, but he only led me back to a smaller White Fang rallying point. None of them seemed to be in direct contact with Torchwick."

Violet nodded, "Unfortunate, but not unexpected. Tukson, then? He should be able to provide us with another lead."

"He looked pretty roughed up the last time I saw him," Qrow replied, a shred of sympathy in his voice, "Tukson may have been found out."

"If that's the case, he has even less of a reason to stick around, right?" Violet tapped her chin, "How would a one way ticket to Menagerie sound for an abused ex-White Fang member that needed to go into hiding?"

Qrow smirked, "Like a pretty good deal if we could guarantee his safety. I don't know anyone in Menagerie that could take care of him, though."

Violet smiled, "I do. And it just so happens that they owe me a small favor for reconnecting them with their daughter."

Qrow laughed and gave an approving nod, "I was wondering when your teammate would reveal herself. You called up the Chieftain of Menagerie?"

"Blake still had him as a contact in her scroll after all these years. Hard letting go of a parent, but that goes without saying," Violet shrugged, "Ghira has motive to help, too. He isn't exactly fond of the more violent factions of the White Fang…" a thought came to her mind, "And he might be able to put a word in with Sienna Khan about the most recent string of robberies and murders…"

Qrow frowned, "Isn't that the White Fang's M.O.? I doubt she'd care about humans being killed in Vale."

"But other White Fang members being threatened with death, or working for a human? I think she might have a thing or two to say about that. If Amber's attacker really is using Torchwick and the White Fang, we might be able to disrupt them inside as well."

"It takes around a month for a ship to go from Vale to Menagerie, kid. Even if Tukson does agree to go, it won't even matter by then."

Violet smirked, "Stop living in the past, old man. An airship could get to Menagerie in a couple days, at worst," she reached into her pocket to flash her Lien Account card, "and I'd be more than willing to send him First Class."

"If he agrees to it," Qrow replied, "You don't know how afraid of running away people can be. Someone like Torchwick would've been sure to make it clear that trying to escape would have far worse consequences."

"So we sweeten the pot," Violet argued, "We give him an escort. A huntsman that can keep him safe on the journey, watch his back."

"I don't know any hunters that would be available for a mission like that, kid."

Violet shrugged, "A student team then," she pondered it for a few seconds, "Team Coffee has Velvet on it. That would help keep things going smoothly, I'd think."

"That bunny girl?"

"Rabbit," Violet corrected, "They're a decent enough second year team, even by Beacon standards."

"We'll see what Oz has to say," Qrow replied after a few seconds, "There's no telling whether or not there are faunus in Menagerie that agree with what the White Fang are doing here. If they do, then Tukson and those second years could become a target."

'Fennec and Corsac would definitely fall into that category,' Violet agreed silently, "They can handle themselves well enough, but I get where you're coming from. Do you know if the faunus on Menagerie would be accepting of humans going there?"

"Beacon students, with a faunus on their team to vouch for them? They should be fine," Qrow confirmed easily, "Aside from a few, I've heard the faunus there aren't nearly as radical since they aren't dealing with humans every day."

"I'd like to go there myself some time. Blake's parents were nice enough, and I bet they'd love to have her back, even if it was only for a few days."

"Meeting your girlfriend's parents so soon?" Qrow gave a knowing smirk, "Next thing you know, you'll be taking her home to meet your parents in Atlas too."

Violet frowned, "How'd you know about that?"

"It's my job to protect you, kid. Doesn't matter if you know I'm there or not. You look good together. I'll say that much."

"Well, she isn't my girlfriend yet."

"What's stopping you?"

'Blake has been too busy doing her workouts with Yang, classes, and team tactics to finish the book the whole way through, that's what…' Violet shrugged, "I don't know if it's meant to be."

Qrow laughed, "You're going to have a rough time if you spend your whole life waiting for 'Ms. Perfect'. Trust me, nobody gets along completely with anyone else. There's always going to be petty differences. That's what relationships are, though. You work through them to better each other."

"This, coming from the resident loner~" Violet teased with a smirk.

"Hey, just 'cause I haven't been in a long term one myself doesn't mean I haven't seen what went wrong in other's," Qrow scowled back.

"Would be an awkward four years if it didn't work out," Violet mumbled, still loud enough for Qrow to hear.

"Better to regret trying than to always wonder what could have been…" the way Qrow said it clued Violet in to his own regret.

'Did he have a crush on Summer?' Violet didn't see why that couldn't have been the case. They'd spent years together, and with Tai and Raven getting together, it would have left the two other members of the team in a position to try things out for themselves. 'Maybe she never reciprocated. Summer was pretty quick to swipe up Tai after Raven left…'

"I'll keep that in mind, Qrow," Violet replied simply, "Always wondering what could have been' is a long time, in my case.'

With the cliff approaching, the two of them quieted down while they took the narrow path back up, eventually breathing out a sigh of relief at the top. It was a long back and forth trek across the paths that had been cut into the cliffside, more dangerous for a civilian than a huntress in training, impossible for a grimm.

The two set off across campus to the base of the CCT. Qrow was well known enough that the guards didn't bother them as they entered, allowing the two to go directly to the elevators. Before Qrow even had a chance to flash his identification, the elevator's systems pinged.

"Restricted Floor, Headmaster's Office."

Violet felt the elevator shift beneath them, carrying them up the length of the enormous tower to the top where the wizard's office resided. With another chime that announced their arrival, the doors dinged open, revealing both the Headmaster and Glynda already in the room.

Violet gave a polite nod of her head, "Professor Ozpin, Miss Goodwitch."

"Miss Regalia," Ozpin nodded back with a tilt of his head, hands steepled in front of himself while he sat upright in his chair, "Thank you for coming to see me."

"Of course," she flashed a smile and sat across from him, relaxing in the chair provided while Qrow and Glynda both remained standing.

"Do you know why I asked you here today?"

Violet shrugged, "I was hoping it was because of my request to help hunt down Roman Torchwick. I wasn't wrong, was I?"

"You are indeed correct," Ozpin smiled, "I had another question that I wanted to ask you, but we may as well get the business with Torchwick out of the way first. I am approving the mission you desired. Your display in the Emerald Forest tonight was more than enough to sway my opinion to the positive."

"Glad I could give you a little entertainment," Violet laughed, "So, what did you want to ask?"

Violet could feel the air in the room still as both Qrow and Glynda seemed to hold their breaths. Ozpin's eyes became more intense, his body leaning ever so slightly forward despite his best efforts to appear relaxed, his eyes narrowed minutely.

Ozpin smiled, offsetting the mood, "How did you come up with such a miraculous design for your weapon?"

Violet made a small "Hmm" sound and sat forward, allowing her eyes to grow distant as if thinking back on the early days of Zenith's conception, "Well, I wanted something that would work well with my semblance. I thought, 'If I can shoot something with that much mass, then it can do a ton of damage'. You following?"

"I believe so. A larger projectile could potentially do more harm to its intended target."

"Right. The problem was the speed. With a heavy projectile condensed down into a smaller object, I would need a firing system capable of getting it up to a respectable speed, otherwise it didn't matter how much it weighed."

"And?"

'And now for the confusion.'

Violet mimicked back his own word, a confused look on her own face, "And...? I made Zenith. Not much more to say beyond that."

Ozpin shared a frown between the other two adults in the room, confusion palpable, "What inspired you to use magnets in such a way?"

Violet explained the mechanics behind how her weapon worked. The interlocking magnetic fields, the perfectly timed pulse that went into actually firing a projectile from it, and the systems in place to protect herself from its backlash.

Ozpin's confusion had only grown after all of the scientific jargon was used, and shook his head, "Miss Regalia, my question is more geared towards how you learned all this, not how it all works."

Violet opened her mouth to speak, then paused for dramatic effect, allowing her face to form into a frown, her eyes to awkwardly move around as if looking for an answer in her own headspace, "I… I just… know…" Violet gave an uncomfortable shrug, faking a nervous laugh, "It's all pretty basic… isn't it?"

Ozpin's eyes peered into Violet's soul, attempting to cypher out the answer he was searching for. With a sigh, he leaned back in his chair, "I suppose it is, Miss Regalia. Thank you for your time here tonight. Qrow can speak with you tomorrow and the pair of you can work together to bring down Roman Torchwick. I wish you the best of luck."

"Th-thanks, Professor," Violet kept up the confused act as she stood, then patted Qrow on the shoulder, "See you tomorrow, old man."

"See you tomorrow, kid," Qrow nodded as she left, the three teachers watching her right up until the moment the doors closed.

Violet kept her expression neutral, knowing of Ozpin's cameras set up in the elevator itself. She took off Zenith and held it in front of herself, looking it over for good measure. A single, clear message being repeated for all to see.

'Violet Regalia doesn't know how she came up with the designs for her own weapon.'

Violet had known the instant Ozpin asked where the question had been leading. He believed that the 'goddess' was influencing her life towards her own ends, wanting to be entertained. 'What's more flashy than a huge sword that makes even bigger holes in things?' With this reaffirmation, she was sure Ozpin wouldn't question her again. Violet had full confidence in her own ability to lie and manipulate, though she tried to refrain from it as much as possible.

The wizard didn't stand a chance, in retrospect.

 


 

"That was confirmation enough for me," Ozpin sighed, glancing to the other two still in the room, "God is manipulating events for her own gain. It is quite worrying, to say the least."

"Isn't that a good thing, though?" Qrow asked with a frown of his own, "That means she's on our side."

"Make no mistake, Qrow. I do not believe that the road ahead will be easy, despite Miss Regalia's powers. If anything, that only raises my fears to a greater extent. God wished to be entertained, and what is a story without drama? I am accepting your request for the two of you to hunt down Torchwick, because it will help to keep her team out of harm's way."

Qrow shook slightly and raised a hand to his face, covering his eyes as he sighed, "If God tries to take away my family…"

"Then there is nothing we can do about it… I have witnessed the powers of the Gods of Remnant first hand, Qrow. Anything greater than them is a force that cannot be denied its wishes. We are at the mercy of whatever story God is about to weave."

Ozpin turned to stare out the window, down across the city of Vale that lay below, 'We can only hope that it is a story of overcoming the odds, and not a tragedy…'

Chapter Text

With their team training all but wrapped up for the day, Violet sent a short message to Qrow, letting him know that she was available as soon as he was ready for 'training'. Blake and Yang were in the middle of practicing 'Bumblebee', and after five days of strength training, Blake was on track to succeeding with the maneuver.

Violet and Ruby watched from the sightlines, having just finished practicing a dry fire exercise of 'Smite'. The maneuver itself required both individuals to be on the same track, and Violet's communication skills were really being put to the test. The two needed to be in perfect sync for the shot to be on target. It was difficult, to say the least. Add on top the concentration required for her semblance, and the oddity of suddenly moving faster than the speed of sound, Violet was having just as much trouble as Ruby.

"What if there are multiple targets?" Ruby asked, sitting with her legs crossed and Crescent Rose in her lap.

"Try to position us so that they're lined up as well as you can," Violet looked up from her scroll after reading Qrow's message, "and make sure that nobody we want to stay alive is on the other side. Your semblance must augment your senses somehow. I can't keep up at those speeds, so I'm really depending on you to guide me."

Ruby squirmed, "That's a lot of pressure…"

"You can handle it," Violet laughed and clapped the younger girl on the shoulder, "I trust you, Little Red."

"I wish I trusted myself…" Ruby picked at the lace on her skirt, "What if I mess up?"

"You won't," Violet replied simply, giving Ruby a confident smile.

Ruby seemed to cheer up somewhat, hands stilling on her skirt and instead moving to idly caress Crescent Rose. Her eyes moved to watch Blake and Yang finishing their last attempt.

Blake fired off Gambol Shroud as she threw it, aiming it perfectly into Yang's path as she ran perpendicular to the ribbon-bound weapon's wide arc. Yang caught it deftly in one hand, then used the recoil on her shotgun gauntlets to increase her speed. Blake's muscles went taut as she strained, using the added momentum to swing Yang along that wide arc. With a grunt of exertion, she completed the arc, sending Yang hurtling towards their target.

The blond bombshell blasted her gauntlet into the android's chest, sending it tumbling back from the combined force of her entire body behind the punch. It clanged across the arena floor, shattering the tile with pieces of broken metal and flew off the side of the stage to crash into the wall, leaving a plume of dust in its wake. Yang stopped in place after the attack and placed her hands on her knees, bending over to breath heavily. She turned back around long enough to give Blake a smile and a thumbs up.

Violet and Ruby cheered them on loudly, earning themselves both tired smiles. Violet hopped up and got within range to activate her semblance on both. Yang and Blake gave her an appreciative nod and straightened, wiping the sweat of their brows.

"Really great work you two. I think that's the hardest any of us has hit one of them. Glad to see the attack is as effective as it is!"

Blake coiled Gambol Shroud's ribbon back up and stowed it, "That went well. Guess we can skip tomorrow's morning training, eh Yang?"

Yang shook her head with a smile, "It could be better. Another couple weeks and we'll be hitting that android harder than Zenith ever could."

Violet laughed, but shared an apologetic smirk with Blake, "You heard the boss, Blake. It is a strong attack. I want both of you to get it down perfectly."

Blake sighed, "Nothing but the best from team Vibrant, huh?"

"You betcha!" Ruby cheered as she walked up. Yang raised an arm and cheered with her, if with a bit more fatigue mixed in.

"Well done today, all of you," Miss Goodwitch said in genuine praise from off to the side, "I believe we can call it there. Qrow wants to get your training in earlier than usual today, doesn't he Miss Regalia?"

Violet shook her scroll in the air, "Yep. We've got a few extra things to try and get down," she gave a tired smile to her team, "I'll see you guys later if anyone is still awake by then. Don't stay up too late, though. We have the test from Oobleck tomorrow."

Ruby gave her a concerned frown, "You need your rest too, Violet. Don't let Qrow keep you out too late."

Violet waved a hand dismissively, "I could ace one of Oobleck's tests in my sleep. I'll be fine. You can bet on that," she re-read the message, "I have about thirty minutes before I need to head out. What say we go back to the room until then?"

"Sounds good to me," Yang agreed. The other two nodded, ready to head out. Violet thanked Glynda for her time and led her team out into the halls, headed back for their room.

"What are you going to practice tonight?" Ruby asked curiously, holding her hands behind her back and half skipping to Violet's right.

"Well, I can use fire and ice, but also wind and lightning. I've been working on getting my lightning use up to par, it's just really hard to control sometimes."

"Lightning?" Blake tilted her head, ears perking up, "Does that mean you could power Zenith without dust cells?"

"Yup," Violet grinned, then tugged at the top collar of her shirt, "It is… kind of extra, though, if you catch my drift. I don't think I'll use it unless the situation really demands it."

"As if Zenith wasn't extra enough already," Yang scoffed, "I don't even want to know what kind of havoc would make you of all people want to show a little restraint."

"Hey! I restrain myself all the time!"

Yang smirked, purposefully taking Violet's words out of context, "Kinky~" she gave Blake a meaningful glance, "Looks like you'll have your hands full with this one, Blakey."

"That's-!" Violet cut herself off and folded her arms across her chest, "You know what I meant, Xiao Long."

"Uh oh~" Yang laughed, "I think the maiden doth protest too much."

Blake rolled her eyes, some color dusting her cheeks a light red, "Don't be ridiculous, Yang. Keep this up and I'll post your browser history on the library bulletin board."

Yang let out a short laugh, "Hah! I know how to clear it."

"Yeah?" Violet grinned, "Have a lot of experience with it, do you?"

Yang held her hands up, "All I'm saying is I lived with a single dad for most of my life, and I couldn't trust him not to stumble on to it by accident."

It was Violet's turned to let out a short laugh, "You think he didn't know how after sharing a computer with his two daughters? He was probably thinking the same about you."

Yang paused in the hallway, eyes going wide as she grimaced, "Eewwww…."

Ruby held her face in both hands, refusing to look at any of them, "Please… Let's talk about anything else."

Violet giggled, "Blake might count to three, but my timer starts and ends at one, Yang. I bet there's tons of things like that you haven't thought about. Maybe consider that the next time you feel like teasing us."

Yang gave a fervent nod, "Message received, loud and clear."

The conversation shifted to Oobleck's upcoming test, much to Ruby's approval, as they finally made their way back to the dorm room. Ruby and Yang went straight to their desks, wanting to get some more studying in, while Blake hopped up into her own bed and pulled out the book Violet had given her.

Violet paused on her way into the shower, seeing how close Blake was to being done, "How, uh… How long do you think that'll take?"

Blake smiled and showed off the small amount left, "I'm almost to the last chapter. I've really enjoyed it so far!"

"R-really?" Violet felt her nervousness lighten somewhat, then reminded herself that you could enjoy a tragedy just as easily as you could an action packed adventure, "When you're done, we'll talk about it, yeah? I want to know what you think about the main character."

"The Goddess?" Blake's mouth shifted to speak and Violet held a hand up.

'I… I'm not ready to hear it yet...' Violet lowered her hand when it was clear that Blake had gotten the message, "After you get the whole way through. It's important to the story."

'The last chapter is the creation of Remnant. Her true feelings might come out once the book feels more 'real' to her. I'd rather hear what she has to say after that…'

Blake nodded, seeming to understand. She was an avid reader, after all, 'It might sound like there's a twist coming. Not far off, all things considered.'

Violet hurried into the bathroom and got through her shower quickly. Blake could read fast, and it was only fifteen or so pages in the last chapter. She wanted to get out of there and save their talk until after the night's mission. Violet changed right back into her combat outfit after giving it a quick once over with her 'godly' powers. 'Wasting omnipotence on dry cleaning. Ozpin would have an aneurism.'

The rest of her team were just as she left them by the time she returned to their living space. Yang jumped up and headed in for the next shower. Violet took a minute to point out a few key points that Ruby should study, as they would likely be on the test, before heading out.

"Don't stay up too late," Violet gave Ruby a serious stare to get her point across, "Being rested is just as important for a test as knowing the material."

"Yes, Auntie Vi," Ruby smirked and bent back down to her paper, thoroughly rereading her notes.

"Stay safe," Blake called out with a smile. Violet returned it, along with a wave as the door closed behind her. The sight of the book in her hands sent another wave of nervousness coursing through her chest.

She leaned back against the door gently and breathed out a sigh, 'Alright. Focus. Time to follow through on my promise to keep them safe.' Her mind flashed through all the people she had lost in previous lives, then settled on the faces of those she cared for in this life. Ruby, Yang, Blake, Ren, Nora, Weiss, Pyrrha, Qrow, Tai… the list continued.

'Never again. I'm done letting Fate get its way.'

 


 

"You ready, kid?" Qrow's static ladened voice crackled through Violet's earpiece as she leaned against a corner nearby Tukson's book trade. Night had fallen upon the city of Vale, and while the streetlights were in full effect, they left deep pockets of darkness in which to hide. From her vantage, Violet could see the lights in Tukson's store dimming, the glass itself being shaded as the faunus book seller closed up shop for the evening.

"As ready as I'll ever be," Violet confirmed, starting to slink through the shadows towards the front of the store. The plan was for her to distract, while Qrow broke in through the rear entrance. Once inside, he would immobilize and silence Tukson, then allow Violet in if necessary.

Violet's eyes scanned the nearby rooftops and alleyways as well, annoyed, not for the first time that she hadn't chosen to be a faunus, 'Night vision would come in really handy right about now.' Seeing nothing, she continued up to the front door. With one deep breath, Violet knocked loudly, announcing her presence.

"Distraction started," Violet turned away slightly to say it, enough to hide her mouth incase Tukson could read lips, 'At least he doesn't have extra ears. Qrow would have had a tough time sneaking up on him in that case.' Violet had seen for herself just how exceptional Blake's senses were.

The window's undimmed, revealing the silhouette of Tukson as he peeked through the window, "Who's there?"

"Hey, Mister Tukson… sir. I didn't manage to make it to the last rally. Do you know where the next one is being held?"

There was a pause before Tukson's voice came through the door, muddled by the glass between them, "Eight twenty-five, Muller Street, in the warehouse district. The next meeting is tomorrow night… You'd better show up this time…"

"Oh, I will! If you aren't too busy, I had a few more questions, though."

"Shop's closed…"

"I get that, but it's just a few questions. Please, sir?"

"Sorry, you'll have to come back during busi-"

There was a strangled cry, followed by the sound of struggling for a few moments before the door's lock clicked, handle swinging open to reveal Qrow with his foot pushed down on Tukson's arms to hold them against his back.

Violet smiled, "Excellent. You're one of the first doormen I've seen in Vale," she strode in past Qrow, careful not to step on Tukson as well.

"Tips are mandatory," Qrow snarked back, then bent down to grab Tukson by the wrists and drag him up onto his feet, "But I'll settle for some answers instead."

"Please, I don't know anything," Tukson trembled in Qrow's overpowering grasp, muscles flexing but incapable of budging the huntsman's hold by even an inch.

"Sure you do," Violet replied evenly, "That address you gave me was a fake, going off how beat up you are. What? Roman set up some nasty surprise for us there?"

"N-No, no surprises. That's where they are!"

Qrow tightened his grasp, causing Tukson to go up on his tiptoes to avoid the pain in his shoulders, "We can do this the easy way or the hard way, pal. Take your pick. Either way, we're leaving with the information we want."

'Good job, Qrow. Play the bad cop. The nice, naive young lady will offer him the bone.'

"We don't want to hurt you, Tukson," Violet sighed and stopped in place, turning abruptly to face him with concern etched on her face, "I'm sorry I tricked you the first time, but the person we're after means serious business. You don't want the White Fang being run by a human, do you?"

Tukson spit on the ground, "Course not. Snotty bastard thinks he's all that, treating us faunus like trash. But they keep doin' what he says!"

Violet shook her head, "A shame, really," she held a hand to her chest in a gesture of sympathy, "I care about the faunus, Tukson. I defend your people at every turn. Torchwick will lead you all astray. He doesn't care whether or not you die. Does he even know the names of those that died at the docks?"

"Doesn't remember any of our names, no matter how much he's reminded. Just calls us all Perri, or mutt, or animals," Tukson sneered, "But are you really any better? Humans, the both of ya," he sniffed at the air and made a face as if their scents were offensive.

"We're better than Torchwick, at the very least," Violet countered, then struck a relaxed pose in front of the faunus, "and I'm willing to prove that to you, Tukson. In exchange for information, you'll be getting an all expense paid trip to Menagerie. With a Beacon team to guard you."

"Ha!" Tukson laughed in her face, "And go straight into the snake's den, a traitor!? They'd gut me alive."

Violet smirked, "I don't think Ghira Belladonna is the type," then waited for the look of recognition, "Yes, Tukson. That Ghira. Do you want to talk to him?" Violet pulled out her scroll, Ghira's contact page already pulled up.

At a short nod, Violet hit the call button and waited. She had already discussed the plan earlier that day during lunch with the Menagerie Chieftain. After only a few seconds, the call went through, and Ghira's face appeared on screen to the bewilderment of Tukson.

"Nice to meet you, Tukson. I can vouch for this young lady's intentions. Please give them your trust."

"Uh… um…" Tukson appeared lost for words for a few seconds before he finally managed to pull himself together, "Are you sure, sir? These… humans?"

"I'm quite certain, Tukson. They've informed me of the situation, and I'm currently trying to get a hold of Sienna. There's no way she knows about Roman Torchwick leading the Vale faction. Having you by my side would go a long way in convincing her of the truth of the matter."

"Y-Yes, sir. I'll… be there as soon as I can."

"Good man. I'll have my wife prepare a feast for you and your escorts. I hope you like tea."

"Love it, sir."

With a nod, the call ended and Violet pocketed her scroll, "I hope that was enough to convince you. We really do want what's best for the faunus, Tukson."

Qrow, sensing the change in the atmosphere, let go of Tukson's wrists. The large man gave an appreciative glance back over his shoulder before rolling out the kinks. Apparently Qrow had one hell of a grip.

Tukson sighed heavily, looking back up at Violet with his face bruised black and blue, "Torchwick is holed up in the warehouse on Chelsea. Big place, two story. Can't miss it with all the White Fang scouts posted up. They don't wear their uniforms, but it's the only place on the strip that isn't deserted. There's usually at least one guard posted in a building across the street. Third floor, fifth window from the left."

"Thank you, Tukson. When is the next rally?"

Tukson grimaced, "Tonight. Sorry, but I told you tomorrow so that I'd have time to let him know you were coming…"

Violet patted his forearm gently, "No worries. Anyone else would have been tempted to do the same if they were in your shoes. Gotta look out for number one, right?"

"... Right…" Tukson seemed put off by Violet's easy acceptance of the ruse, but gave an uncertain shrug, "Their whole crew is supposed to be there."

Violet got a distant look in her eyes, a smile on her face, and glanced towards Qrow, "Thinking what I'm thinking?"

"That it's time to crash a party?" Qrow replied with a smirk, cracking his knuckles.

Violet nodded, "Let's save Amber."

 


 

"Nice to meet you, Mister Tukson," the tall black haired youth greeted, extending a hand out for Tukson to shake it, "My name is Yatsuhashi," his hand began to point, "That is Velvet, that's Coco, and that is Fox. We'll be your guards on this trip."

"Pleasure to meet you all," Tukson replied easily, looking the group up and down and sparing a long smile to the rabbit faunus, "I must say, you all look like you've come prepared."

Yatsuhashi's hand drifted to the large greatsword strapped to his back, "We are ready for any dangers that may come our way," he gestured towards the large airship that awaited them on the tarmac, "You'll have your own compartment to yourself. Two of us will stand guard at all times, changing in shifts until we reach our destination."

"Oooooh!" Velvet cooed, wrapping the girl Coco in a hug, "I'm so excited for us to see Kuo Kuana!"

"Me too, Vel. I've heard it's nice this time of year," Coco smirked and returned the hug before releasing abruptly, "but this is a business trip, bunny. Stay focused."

Velvet pulled away and gave a quick nod along with a smile before turning back to Tukson and flashing him a hasty salute, "You have nothing to worry about!"

Tukson smiled, "Glad to hear it."

The group entered through the side of the airship, a long ramp leading up to the tall doors. Yatsuhashi still needed to bend down in order to get through them, though Tukson had no troubles. He was guided to his compartment near the front of the airship, passing many similarly dressed attendants along the way. Each gave a smile and curtsey before leaving to complete their tasks.

"That kid wasn't lying about First Class accommodations…" Tukson's head moved on a swivel, taking in the intricate detailed work and finery that lined the hall. Yatsuhashi opened the door to Tukson's compartment, and the faunus had to stop for a moment to take it in.

"How much did this cost…?"

Coco shrugged, "Violet let me borrow her card to pay for it, along with whatever we need in Menagerie," her eyes roamed over the room, "Let's just say… it wasn't cheap… and leave it at that."

Tukson nodded his acceptance and stepped into what would be more accurately described as a small lounge. The carpet was extravagant, the walls gilded, the couch clothed in silk. Tukson sat down near the window to glance out over the edge of the Beacon platform down on the city below.

'I hope the kid is doing alright…' It had been a couple hours since Tukson gave them the location of Torchwick's current hideout. They had left quickly after dropping him off at Beacon with the promise that the airship would be by soon. From his place at the window, Tukson could just barely see into the warehouse district.

He leaned closer and pushed a plant out of the way that had been left in the sill. Black flowers didn't interest him much compared to the rest of the room or the sight from atop Beacon. Tukson had never been atop the cliffs that overlooked the city. It was quite a view…

The door opened behind him, startling the faunus slightly before he turned around and breathed out a sigh of relief. One of the attendants stood in the door with a tray. She walked the few paces needed and set it down on his coffee table. A steaming cup of tea sat atop it, along with some gourmet food that Tukson would never have been able to name.

"Thank you," Tukson smiled and blew on the cup before taking a sip. It was bitter, but had a minty aftertaste that was overall pleasant.

The small female attendant smiled and rooted around in her pocket before pulling out a scroll. Tukson frowned in confusion as she dialed a number and set it down on the table in front of him. He yawned, the stress of the day starting to get to him all at once.

Tukson straightened in fear as the image of Roman Torchwick appeared on the display, smug look and all, sneering at the faunus through the screen, "So, Tukson. Thought you could get away, did you? I told you, we would come after you," Roman shook his head, "Stupid animals. This is what I get for working with common strays."

The attendant's clothes shimmered like glass, transforming from bottom to top into the short psychopath known as Neo. Tukson tried to stand, and was shocked to feel his legs refuse. He opened his mouth to shout, but no air would come out. He could only sit there limply, the cup falling to the ground from his hands that had lost all their strength.

"Unfortunately, your services are no longer required. I bought something special just for you, though. A flower native to Mistral. Can you feel its affects? First, the body goes completely numb…"

Tukson could only gurgle in response, his body refusing to cooperate even as he thrashed internally, fighting to make his body do something, anything! Tukson groaned as his body began to feel like it was in a vice. Every part, clenched tightly by some invisible force.

"Then, your blood begins to coagulate all at once and expand. I've been told that after a few seconds, it becomes quite excruciating."

Every inch of Tukson's body felt like it was ready to burst. He could see his veins bulging along his forearms, going from a light blue to a pitch black as the poison took its affect, 'Someone help, please!' Tukson couldn't draw breath to scream.

Neo smiled and bent to look more closely at Tukson's eyes, tilting her head as she enjoyed the show.

The door exploded open from the hallway, and all at once a barrage of gunfire peppered its way towards the small assassin. Neo flipped backwards over the table, grabbing the scroll as she went. Bullets ripped holes through the airship's wall, shredded in mere moments by the gatling gun being hefted by Coco.

Neo flashed the group of second year students one annoyed pout, and was gone, body shattering into a thousand pieces and scattering across the ground.

Velvet pushed past and rushed to Tukson's side, placing a large floppy ear against his chest, "He's fading fast! It must be some kind of poison!" Her eyes took in the blackened veins across his body, the shattered cup on the ground, and the black flower in the windowsill. She whimpered, "It's from the black lotus… I don't know how to mix the antidote!"

Yatsuhashi strode forward in three long steps and swiped up the flower by the base, careful not to touch the leaves themselves, "It is more simple than you think. The black lotus provides its cure through the nectar, so that the small bugs that transfer its pollen are not harmed," the large student showed exceeding finesse as he swiped up some of the nectar with his finger. It was thick and bright purple, almost like a syrup, and clung to his skin.

Yatsuhashi forced Tukson's mouth open and rubbed the nectar across his tongue, then shut his mouth. The nectar quickly began to dissolve, and although it wasn't immediate relief, Tukson could feel his ability to breath at least come back. Yatsuhashi waited a few seconds, then repeated the process. He applied the nectar five times, until the base of the flower was all but empty, and helped Tukson to lie down across the couch. Velvet sat next to him, holding him steady and nervously tapping her foot against the floor, tears in her eyes.

His breathing stable, Tukson could see the black in his veins ever so slowly beginning to recede. After five minutes, he could breathe without issue. After ten, he could twitch his fingers. After twenty, he finally managed to sit up with the large student's help.

Tukson took another deep breath, "Th...Thank… You…"

Yatsuhashi shook his head, "If it was not for Fox's semblance, we would not have known you were in trouble."

Tukson slowly turned his head to eye the orange-skinned student and gave a weak nod, the best he could manage.

'You are welcome,' a voice said in his head, matching what Tukson might have imagined the young man to sound like.

'You can project your thoughts?' Tukson wondered curiously.

'And hear others,' Fox confirmed with a smile, 'I heard your shout for help and alerted the others. I'm glad you're alive.'

'Me too,' Tukson could feel the nervous laugh translate through his thoughts, then froze, panic once again taking hold, 'I can't speak well enough to yet, but you have to warn them! Torchwick knew I had betrayed him already somehow. I don't know what the girl or that huntsman are walking into!'

The other three seemed to pause and listen to a voice before sharing concerned glances. Coco whipped out her scroll, fingers wildly blurring across its screen as she dialed a number. She finished and held it up to her ear, muttering "C'mon… pick up… pick up…"

An enormous orange glow lit up the Vale night sky, the product of an explosion in the warehouse district.

A few more moments passed in silence before the scroll went to voicemail.

Click, "Hey!~ This is Violet's scroll! Sorry I'm not available right now~ Leave a message after the beep!"

Chapter Text

The moon crested above the rooftops, illuminating the White Fang members in a pale glow as they made their rounds of the large warehouse. Violet remained in the mouth of an alleyway a few buildings down, eyes scanning the area for every minute detail. Qrow had broken off a few minutes beforehand to 'climb' up to the top floor of the three story office building across the street.

There was a moderate amount of activity around the Fang's hideout, with four guards posted on the ground level, and the one Qrow was attempting to sneak up on. The address and building were familiar to Violet. It was the same as it had been earlier in the week. The White Fang members on the street wore no masks, but among them was at least one with a tail, and another with an extra set of ears poking up out of her long brown hair.

The deep rumbling sound of a vehicle interrupted the night's silence. Violet peeked from cover to see a transport heading down the street. It pulled to a stop in front of the wide bay doors, but didn't enter. The driver hopped out to speak with one of the guards, then headed past him into the building itself, leaving the vehicle parked outside.

'What's in there?' Violet narrowed her eyes, trying to focus in on the vehicle. A deep green canvas stretched over the back of the truck, obscuring its contents from view. Violet wouldn't have been able to see inside the warehouse regardless. With her position two alleys down on the same side of the street, anything past the bay doors would have been a mystery.

Violet's eyes drifted up to the guard in the window across the street. The window was open, drapes partially closed to provide cover. Through the six inch crack, Violet could see the faunus watching over the street. He at least wore his White Fang mask, providing a point in the dark that Violet could focus on with her human eyes.

"I'm in," Qrow's voice buzzed over Violet's earpiece, signalling that he had made his way into the top floor.

"He's right where Tukson said. Fifth window from the left," Violet squinted, "He hasn't moved since I've been here."

"Might have fallen asleep at his post. The White Fang isn't exactly known for training the best," Qrow's voice crackled back.

"Standing like that? I don't think so."

"Who knows? Maybe he's a horse faunus."

Violet let out a small snort, "That wouldn't be a very worthwhile trait."

"He's making the most of it."

Violet shook her head with a smile and continued to watch over the street, then hunkered down as the guards began to show signs of movement. The one that had gone inside returned, eyes scanning the street for a moment before waving to the guards out front. The four of them shared his look around the area before moving to the back of the truck and hopping in. The engine fired up, lights flickering back to life before driving away into the distance.

"Hey… Qrow…."

"Not now, kid. Radio silence. I'm almost to the door."

Violet's eyes whipped back up to the unmoving guard, the only one that wore a mask that just so happened to make him extremely visible to anyone keeping an eye out, "Qrow. Wait. Something isn't right."

"Getting the jitters? Happens to the best of us, kid. Don't sweat it."

"No, Qrow. The rest of the guards just left."

"What? Where did they go?"

Violet's scroll began to buzz in her pocket. She ignored it and focused on the situation at hand, trying to figure out what Torchwick may have been planning, "They left in a truck that showed up. There's no guards out here except the one in the building with you…"

"...Sounds like a setup. I'll meet you back ou-..." Qrow's voice crackled more than usual, the connection dropping for a moment as his voice faltered, "Ruby...? Ruby! Come back here! Violet! Did you give the rest of your team the address!?"

'Ruby?' "No, of course not. Where did you see Ruby?"

"She just crossed the hall into that room… Ruby! Don't think I didn't see you! We need to get out of here!" Qrow's voice came through as a loud whisper, as if he was still trying to remain silent while shouting to be heard a short distance away.

Violet stared up at the unmoving guard, 'Emerald…' "Qrow, you have to get out of there! Ruby is still at Beacon!"

"I saw her, kid!"

A flash of green hair announced Emerald's presence as she jumped from a third floor window on to the rooftop of the two story building next to it. She dropped into a roll to catch her fall and disappeared behind the lip of the roof, vanishing from sight completely.

"Qrow! Get ou-!" Violet began to shout, activating her semblance. She managed to take two steps before being hurled back into the mouth of the alleyway. An earth shattering explosion leveled the second and third floor of the building across the street, sending a shockwave reverberating outwards that caught Violet full force.

Debris scattered across the surrounding area. Huge chunks of rubble cracked the pavement and showered Violet with pieces of stone and wood. She coughed to clear her throat and pushed some of the rubble off herself, peering through the smoke and dust that lay thick in the air. Flames suffused what was left of the building, its entire top half gone completely in the blast.

"Qrow!? Qrow answer me!" Violet desperately called out over her earpiece, hoping for any sign that the huntsman was still alive.

A low buzz was Violet's only answer.

The sound of rubble being disturbed behind her caused Violet to spin around. Mercury grinned as he emerged from the smoke, body lowering into a combat stance.

"Well, well, well. What have we here?"

 


 

"They finished up your armor," Vernal stepped into the tent, holding Raven's outfit folded in her hands. The metal of the bracers gleamed as she set it down in the light of the nearby lantern.

"Thank you, Vernal," Raven moved to change into her battle garments. She had considered wearing something less intimidating to her meeting with Yang, but first impressions were important. Yang should see her for how she was, not how the child wished Raven would be.

"You're really going through with this? I don't think it's going to be a very happy reunion," Vernal stood off to the side, arms crossed and a frown on her face.

"It needs to be done. I already told you why."

"I know. Even still, it's hard to believe."

Raven finished pulling up her skirt, then began on the thin black stockings before moving on to her bracers and boots. With a few more odds and ends added in, and her beaded necklace around her neck, Raven strapped Omen to her hip. Her hand reflexively reached out to her grimm mask on the table and paused, hesitant.

"I wouldn't, unless you're trying to scare the kid away," Vernal teased with a smirk, eyeing the gruesome mask that was the source of many nightmares across the small towns of Mistral.

Raven let her hand fall to her side, "Not this time. If she decides to act out then I may have no other choice in the future."

Vernal shrugged, "Tough love. The kid's had it pretty easy up until now, living in Vale."

"You have no idea," Raven sighed, "That city breeds weakness. It makes it that much easier for Oz to control."

Vernal stepped forward and raised her hands to begin making small adjustments to Raven's outfit, tightening straps and realigning her belt, "Why didn't you bring her with you to the camp? If I survived out here, then your own flesh and blood certainly would have."

Raven scoffed, "And be forced to constantly fight off the grimm because of the child's tantrums? Where would I have left her during raids? Mercenaries don't exactly make the best babysitters, Vernal. It was easier for everyone involved that she stayed in Vale."

"She won't see it that way."

"Because Yang is naive," Raven flipped her hair over her shoulder, "It's my duty as her mother to fix that."

Vernal stepped back, final adjustments complete, and looked Raven over, "Well, best of luck. Any idea if she's alone right now?"

Raven focused on her semblance. Through it, she could gain insight into the feelings of those she was closest to emotionally. In Vernal, the smallest tinge of jealousy. In Tai, melancholy like always. He was missing his children, now that they were off to Beacon and he'd been left at the house alone. Qrow…

Raven frowned, feeling the increasing panic setting in through her connection with her brother. It was unlike him to lose his cool, even in fights to the death. Her brother was confident and collected at all times. They had been trained since birth to not allow their emotions to get the best of them during battle.

Making her decision in the moment, Raven unsheathed her weapon and slashed a red portal open, connecting their point of reality with another in Vale. Raven held up a cautioning hand to Vernal before stepping through the portal, fingers tightly wrapped around the hilt of Omen.

"Ruby! Don't think I didn't see you! We need to get out of here!" Qrow's voice was in a low, frantic whisper.

Raven froze for only an instant, eyes taking in the gallon fuel drums and fire dust charges lining the hallway that Qrow was currently standing in, along with the young green haired huntress at the end of the hallway. The girl's eyes widened, seeing Raven appear from the portal behind Qrow.

"I saw her, kid!" Qrow shouted, entirely ignoring the girl at the end of the hall. Raven's eyes narrowed, taking in how oblivious her brother was being. The girl's semblance had to have a hand in the way he was acting.

Raven shifted her stance lower, bending her knees and preparing to attack. The girl backpedaled, then turned on her heel and sprinted for the open window at the end of the hall. She dove out of it to the adjacent rooftop and spun around, raising a metallic device.

'Shit!' Raven grabbed Qrow by the back of his cloak and hurled him through her portal with all her strength. His face changed to one of shock for an instant, expression clearing as the girl's semblance lost its hold before he disappeared through the rippling red tear in space.

Raven dove through after him, simultaneously dropping control of her semblance to allow the portal to collapse, and throwing up a thick sheet of ice with her maiden powers once they were on the other side. With only a moment to create it, the ice was ripped to pieces by the blast that followed them through the narrowly closing hole. A gout of flames blasted outwards over their heads, igniting the wall of the tent.

With the sound of sucking air, the portal closed and extinguished the fire, cutting off the source of the intense heat. Vernal rushed to smother the fire with a small rug, managing to get the majority of it quickly enough to prevent serious damage. Qrow coughed, waving a hand across his face, and stared intently up at Raven.

"What the hell just happened?"

"You almost died, idiot! That's what happened!" Raven snarled, patting down part of her armor that had also been set aflame, "A kid almost got the drop on you!"

Qrow's face turned chalk white, "Ruby… No!..."

"I don't think she was actually there, Qrow," Raven fumed, rolling her eyes at her brother, "You were walking through a building full of explosives. Did you not see them?"

"What? There weren't…" Qrow shook his head, "I need to get back to Vale, now. Violet is still out there!"

Raven sighed, "Yang or Tai? You could get there faster from Yang…" she focused on her connection, "I don't think she's alone at the moment."

"Yang is fine," Qrow growled, dusting himself off.

Raven drew Omen once more and sliced it through the air before stopping Qrow with a hand, "This was your one. Don't expect me to swoop in and save you again."

"You said that last time, Raven," Qrow tried to push past, but his sister's hand remained firm.

"I mean it this time. I can't afford to continue getting myself noticed like this. You're dealing with forces beyond your control. I don't want any part of Salem's war."

"You should have thought of that before becoming a maiden," Qrow replied haughtily, then shoved past, vanishing through the portal.

Raven allowed it to close and resheathed her weapon, taking a look around at the partial devastation that had been wrought on her small abode. She shook her head, "Not even a simple 'thank you'."

"Could use some help here, Raven!" Vernal shouted, struggling to reach a patch of flames that was working its way across the ceiling.

Raven sighed once more, raising her hand to begin casting ice on to the remaining flames as she grumbled, "Gotta do everything myself…"

 


 

"How's it going over there Rubes?" Yang asked from her place on the floor, hands furiously mashing buttons on the controller she held. She sat with her legs crossed and hands in her lap, leaning forward to stare intently at the screen. Blake sat next to her, arms wrapped around her knees to grip her own controller as she humored Yang, playing as more of a punching bag than an actual opponent. Even still, a small smile tugged at her lips every time she managed to get a glancing blow in.

"I'm okay…" Ruby replied in mild distraction of her own. She had snagged Violet's notes for Oobleck's class, only to find it full of doodles in the margins and very few actual notes that had been taken, "I need to look at someone else's notes. Violet's aren't helping at all."

"Yeah, she doesn't really pay much attention in that class," Yang snorted, leaning to the side as she blocked a rapid series of attacks from Blake's character, "Must have had some expensive tutors in Atlas."

Blake tilted her body in the same direction as Yang, trying to get in a hit past the blond's defenses, "You know, I asked one time and Violet told me she had tutors since she was five. Not just a single teacher and then more later on. Multiple tutors… for a five year old."

"Well, it paid off," Ruby tossed Violet's notebook back on to her nearby desk, "I can't make heads or tails of what she wrote down half the time. Most of it isn't even in the book."

"Very expensive," Blake confirmed, both girls now tipping back the other way as she was forced to defend instead, "You can borrow my notes though, Ruby. They're under the book on my desk."

"Thanks!" Ruby hopped up and headed over to Blake's desk, quickly noticing the decently sized hardback that she'd been reading over the last week or so. Ruby hefted it and read the title, seeing that the book marker had been placed at the very end, "Did you finish the book Violet gave you?"

"Yeah! I'm hoping she gets back soon so we can talk about it," Blake sighed and set down the controller as Yang cheered in victory, edging out Blake's potential come back.

'The Lonely Goddess, huh?' Ruby flipped through it to get an idea for how long it really was, "Is it okay if I read it next?"

Blake laid backwards, getting an eye on Ruby from her upside down position on the floor, "Promise to treat it nicely? No dog-earing, no tears, no smudges?"

Ruby gave a mocking gasp and held a hand to her chest as if insulted, "You've seen my comics. They're pristine!"

"As long as you're careful, then I don't mind," Blake pulled herself back up as the next round counted down, timer audibly ticking down the seconds, "It isn't really an adventure story, though. Fair warning."

"What is it, then?" Ruby spun the book around to try and get a look at the synopsis. It certainly sounded like an adventure.

Blake shrugged, "You'll have to read it yourself for that. I'd be heading into spoiler territory if I say too much."

"But you still recommend it?"

"Absolutely. It's really interesting, at the very least. You'll find out for yourself once you get into it."

Ruby headed back over to her desk, book and notes in hand to continue with her studying. Opening up Blake's notebook, the faunus had kept far better track of the topics that would be showing up on the test. With the groundwork laid out, Ruby focused back on the issue at hand; not disappointing her team leader.

An hour later, and with a bit more help from the other two girls, Ruby was ready to call it quits. Her eyes were trying to shut of their own accord, and she couldn't help but yawn every minute or so. Ruby replaced Blake's notebook and gave Violet's empty bed a concerned frown.

"Should we give them a call? It's getting pretty late," Ruby asked the other two.

Yang shrugged, "You can if you want. Violet said not to stay up or anything though, so I think she knew it was gonna be a late night for them."

"Isn't your uncle pretty strong? They should be fine..." Blake answered as well from her place up in bed. Despite her words, she was still checking the time on her scroll every few minutes, and was obviously watching the door for their leader's return.

While Ruby was looking at Blake, she noticed the faunus's ears visibly perk up and twitch towards the window. Blake hopped off her bed and pulled the drapes aside, peering out into the night, "Did either of you hear that?"

Ruby and Yang exchanged confused glances, "Hear what?"

"It sounded like an explosion down in Vale…"

The three of them looked to Violet's empty bed in unison.

Yang partially sat up off her own bed, voice low, "You don't think…?"

Blake moved to the dressers and flung Yang and Ruby's combat outfits to them, "Unfortunately, I do. Get ready, we're heading out."

The three quickly changed, throwing off their sleepwear to slip into their outfits. No sooner had they strapped on their weapons before something appeared in the room with them. Ruby pulled the bolt back on Crescent Rose, Yang punched the air to cock her Ember Celicas, and Blake pulled back the slide on Gambol Shroud. The sound of voices could barely be heard through the red portal before Uncle Qrow barged through, straight into their dorm.

"Qrow!?" Yang exclaimed, letting her fists drop at the sight of her uncle, "How the hell…?"

"No time to explain," Qrow shouted and ripped open the door, downright sprinting out into the hallway. The door closed behind him while the three girls stood in shock, wondering what was going on. Only seconds later, the portal winked back closed and was gone, its presence only a memory shared by the occupants.

"Let's follow him," Ruby said seriously, collapsing Crescent Rose to place it on her back, "If Qrow is alone, then something might have happened to Violet. We need to go help."

Yang and Blake nodded their assent and headed for the door, determined to catch up with the older huntsman. What they were met with once they stepped out was an empty hallway and an open window. Qrow had vanished as quickly as he'd appeared, leaving no trail to speak of.

Ruby grimaced, "To the bullheads, then. We might be able to see where the explosion was from the air and have the pilot take us straight to it."

The three girls sprinted through the halls, with Ruby taking the lead. Once they reached the doors out into the courtyard, the small reaper activated her semblance to blur ahead to the bullheads in an attempt to optimize their time. Ruby ground to a halt, seeing a larger ship docked off to the side with team Coffee, a familiar figure in tow.

"Velvet! Coco! What happened!?"

The two kept a wary eye on their surroundings. Velvet's long ears stood at attention, flopping from side to side as she listened intently. Coco spared Ruby a glance, "We were about to start our escort mission for Tukson. Some crazy girl snuck on board and poisoned him," she checked back on Yatsuhashi, who was all but carrying Tukson, "Luckily, at least one member of our team pays attention in Professor Peach's class."

Hearing his name, Ruby now recognized the muscle bound man as the owner of the bookshop down in Vale. His skin was pale, while his veins were darker than normal and protruded from his skin as if struggling to break free. Tukson gave a very weak wave, barely able to raise his arm.

"Tukson!?" Blake yelled in confusion as she and Yang caught up. The two stopped next to Ruby, "What are you doing here?"

Coco frowned, "He was heading to Menagerie to act as an informant against Torchwick and the White Fang. Violet and your dad didn't tell you?"

"An informant…?" Blake tilted her head to the side, ears lowered, "Were you working for the White Fang?"

Tukson gave a small, tired nod.

"Excuse us," Yatsuhashi pressed past, forcing the girls to make way, "He shouldn't speak yet. We need to get him to the infirmary to help reduce the effects of the poison."

The rest of team Coffee followed with him, continuing to keep watch. However, Fox stopped after appearing to listen to something for a moment and turned back to the group. Ruby heard a voice in her head as Fox gestured to them, "Tukson would like to apologize… and promises that he didn't set up your teammate."

Yang's eyes flashed red, her fist clenched down at the side, "He'd better pray we don't find out differently. I'll do worse than poison him."

Blake's hand reached out to grab Yang's from behind and pull her away, "Let's go. We're wasting time here."

Yang's eyes immediately reverted to lilac. She gave a tight nod to Blake and set off at a jog for the bullheads. Ruby could still see her sister's face was set with fierce determination and hoped it was reflected on her own.

'Please be okay, Violet. We're coming!'

 


 

The wall next to her exploded outwards as Violet managed to divert Mercury's kick, edging the blow past her while backpedaling. In a moment, Zenith was off her back and held between the two of them. Mercury slowly withdrew his foot from the wall, bits of brick and mortar falling loose in a small shower compared to the devastation that lay around them.

Violet's eyes burned, tears being held back through sheer force of will, 'I failed again… All I did was trade Qrow for my team. Why did I think I could protect anyone at all?'

Mercury grinned, looking over her shoulder to the ruined building, "At least his death was quick. He didn't even see it coming. That's better than most get," he lowered back into his combat stance, "Like you, for instance."

Anger began to boil to the surface of Violet's mind, her hand quivered on Zenith's hilt as she sneered, "You think you're strong enough to take me, Mercury? I'll tell you this much right now… You wasted your explosives on the wrong person."

Mercury laughed, "Oh? I guess I won't go easy on you then!"

The assassin dashed forward with a sudden burst of speed, immediately going into a quick series of kicks to feel out Violet's defenses. With Zenith's weight currently absorbed by her semblance, she easily kept pace with Mercury's attacks. Each blow was stopped before it could reach its mark or deflected in an attempt to throw him off balance.

Violet managed one particularly good riposte, catching Mercury's ankle with the blunt side of her greatsword and knocking his attack off course. He was sent into a wider spin, ending with his back nearly turned. Violet continued with her own momentum into a swing, dumping Zenith's weight and her own body mass into the greatsword. Nearly two hundred pounds of steel slashed through the air at her target.

In the instant Zenith made contact, Violet knew she'd made a mistake. The blade whistled through empty air without hitting anything, the illusion puffing into smoke. An invisible kick collided with her back, sending her flying forward with her reduced mass. Violet rolled with it back to her feet and swung back around, blindly asserting distance between herself and where Mercury might be.

'Emerald is still around…' Violet's eyes scanned the rooftop where she'd seen the green haired thief leap to before, but couldn't make out Emerald's position. She'd moved to another area to keep an eye on the fight, and was using her powers to assist Mercury.

Violet backed up more, hoping to break line of sight by stepping into the alleyway. However, Mercury remained invisible. Violet carefully watched the rubble strewn across the ground, hoping for any hints she could get to his location. 'I could end this in an instant if I used my maiden powers, but then Emerald would be able to escape and tell Cinder… I need to catch both of them.'

The small shifting of a brick was Violet's only warning to raise her sword to the left. She rocked backwards as the attack was blocked, then stepped back, continuing to press further and further into the alley. The wafting of some dust in the air warned her next, causing her to duck. Violet felt the breeze ruffle her hair, Mercury's foot surely passing mere inches away.

Going on the offense, Violet used wide arcs across the front, seeing the rubble shift beneath Mercury's feet as he was pressed back. Without Zenith's long reach, her tactic wouldn't have been viable in the slightest. Fortunately, the greatsword wasn't something you'd want to risk getting hit by.

Violet stumbled forward as a barrage of bullets hammered into her back, revealing the direction of Emerald's position, though Violet paid dearly for it. She pressed her attack, doing her best to ignore her aura getting dropped low, and passed the edge of the alleyway. With no line of sight on Violet, Emerald's semblance dropped and Mercury appeared once more, already on the counterattack. His smug smile dripped with confidence.

Mercury launched himself up, falling down with a heel kick aimed at Violet's head. Zenith intercepted the blow, but was too slow to block his follow up kick that slammed into her chest. Violet threw herself backwards with the attack, allowing herself more distance from the alleyway. She wasn't sure how far back Emerald was, but at this rate, she'd have to take her chances.

Zenith transformed in her hands, its blade collapsing and middle splitting apart to reveal the coils within. With the gap between them, Violet had enough time to load in a projectile before Mercury was on top of her again. Violet focused on dodging instead, and bid her time. It was difficult, but with her eons of experience, she managed to keep Mercury from landing another solid hit.

After a few more moments, Violet's vision swam and Mercury once again vanished. Taking this as her queue, Violet aimed at the alleyway she'd come from and fired. The rubble strewn across the ground in front of her was instantly blown away as the forty pound steel projectile blasted from the barrel at Mach three. Amethyst colored lightning shot outwards with it, streaking through the air to whip against the building. A five foot wide hole had appeared through the wall and was cut from the corner of the nearest building. The edges of the holes dripped molten rock from the heat created in Zenith's path.

Mercury reappeared slowly, standing slightly off to the side, eyes wide as he took in the carnage that Violet's weapon had caused. Blood and gore steamed while what little was left of Emerald's body lay scattered across the ground. The corner of the building groaned, bits of rubble falling beneath the pressure of its missing support beam.

"I liked Qrow…" Violet stared at the remains of Emerald before turning to look at Mercury, a deep seated fury in her eyes, "There are a lot of characters in this story. On a scale of one to ten, I'd say he was an eight."

Violet raised a hand out towards Mercury. Amethyst ice shot up from the ground to grasp his arms and legs, freezing him in place. Her hand ignited, flames licking outwards while she crossed the short distance to stand in front of him.

"Do you know where you're at on that scale?"

Mercury desperately struggled against his bonds, ineffectually trying to tear his limbs free. His breath came out hitched, in sheer terror, "Y-you're a maiden!?"

Violet sighed and placed her hand against his chest, "Not exactly."

Mercury screamed as his body was immolated, amethyst flames rippling over his entire body, ignoring his aura completely. The assassin's muscles went taught as his adrenaline tried to kick in for a moment, feeding him all the strength he could muster. The ice cracked in a few places before Mercury's body went slack. His head slumped forward, chin resting against his chest, eyes wide open.

Violet let Zenith fall to the ground, it's coils still steaming from the recent shot it had made. She fell to her knees alongside it and wrapped her arms around her head, closing her eyes and burying her face in the rubble.

Violet could imagine the heartbreak on Ruby's face, the accusations on Yangs, the disappointment on Blake's. She had betrayed their trust while trying to protect them, and it had ended in the loss of more than Violet could bare. The memories once again resurfaced, the deaths of all those she cared for in the past boiling to the forefront of her mind. Qrow's face was one of many, a singular flickering candle among an ocean of tiny flames. Many of them had burned brightly, but one by one, they had all been snuffed out in the end.

'My fault…' Tears finally broke from Violet's hold and flowed freely, pouring down her cheeks and into the sleeves of her coat, 'I'm so sorry, Ruby. I'm sorry, Yang. This is all my fault. I shouldn't have even brought Qrow into it. I thought it would be okay… he was so tough and experienced… We could have taken on the world together…' Violet's shoulders shook, her breath coming in choked bursts, 'Now what will I do?'

"Kid!?" an echoing shout pulled Violet from her stupor. She raised her head and turned around, searching for the source of the familiar shout. Violet rubbed her coat's sleeve across her eyes, trying to wipe away some of the tears that blurred her vision. Qrow swam into view, his head on a swivel as he took in the devastation.

"Q-... Qrow?" Violet stumbled as she raised back up to her feet, realizing in the moment just how close she'd been to death herself. Her aura flickered weakly in the light of the burning building.

Qrow's eyes caught on to Violet and he rushed forward, quickly grabbing her by the forearms and checking her over, "Oh, thank god. I thought you were a goner…"

Violet stared up into his face in confusion, "Wha…? How!? I thought you died in that explosion!"

Qrow took in Mercury, propped up by Violet's ice, and closed his eyes when he noticed the pieces of Emerald that remained. He pulled Violet into a tight hug, hiding her face against his chest, "It's alright, kid. My sister managed to pull me out before the explosion… I'll explain later. For now, we should get you out of here. You look terrible."

Violet's back ached from where Emerald had shot her, and she wasn't totally certain her difficulty breathing was all due to her grief. Mercury's attack had made a solid connection with her chest in the fight, "That sounds good…"

Violet allowed her ice to disintegrate without looking back, wanting to at least keep up appearances and pretended to be ashamed of what she'd done. These were the first two people that 'Violet Regalia' had ever killed. It was an unfortunate loss, all things aside. She would have been interested to see if the two could break their ties from Salem in the future… Violet might have even helped them do so if things hadn't come to a head so soon.

The roar of an approaching bullhead put both of them on alert. Violet reached down and dragged Zenith back up, transforming it into a greatsword to hold at the ready. The engines of the bullhead stirred up the dust anew, sending thick plumes back up into the air. Violet and Qrow both held hands up to shield their eyes while trying to get a look at the occupants that just then began jumping out.

'Great…' Violet cursed her luck as the rest of team Vibrant arrived on the scene, and turned to Qrow, "Was this your sister's doing, too?"

"Kind of…" Qrow grumbled, then helped Violet along as the two made their way towards the bullhead.

"Violet!" Ruby rushed to her other side, doing her best to support her team leader, "Are you okay!?"

"I'm fine, Ruby…."

Yang and Blake both looked over the remnants of the battle. Their eyes took in Mercury's body, a spark of recognition igniting in their eyes from seeing him at the pizzeria. With a small flex of her powers, Violet made sure they wouldn't see the chunks of Emerald, nor the splatters of blood that remained.

"Vi…" Yang's hand drew back in a fist as the three got closer, then flew forward, stopping inches from Violet's face. Her body trembled, eyes downcast with tears threatening to fall, "Don't… Don't you dare ever do this again. We are your team. Qrow isn't. How are we supposed to help protect you if we can't fight by your side?"

"I…" Violet could feel her anguish bubbling back up, "I wanted to keep all of you safe."

"We can take care of ourselves, Violet," Blake crossed her arms. Her voice lacked any of Yang's acidity, though. Her eyes flickered back to Mercury's body every few seconds, "If we'd come with you, then maybe you… wouldn't have had to do that…"

"There will be time for this later," Qrow growled and pressed past, working with Ruby to help Violet into the bullhead, "Let's get back to Beacon. Now."

The rest climbed in, and Qrow gave the pilot the signal to take off. Police vehicles were already pulling in to the street below, the first others on the scene to witness what had happened firsthand. With a miniscule wave, Violet made sure to remove the obscurement on Emerald's body. It wouldn't due to try and keep it a secret.

The trip back was quiet. The others either refused to speak, or didn't know what to say. Violet could tell though, that once they were back in the dorm, she'd be getting more than what she bargained for.