Ch1. A New Beginning
God I hate this dream...
"Come on Mom, how much longer is this going to take?" I whispered in an exasperated voice as the councilman droned on in the same boring monotone he'd had for the last hour now. "I've only got a week off from Aegis you know."
My mother sighed in the seat next to me, shaking her head before turning to face me, "Joel, this ceremony is big for your father, don't slouch, and..." She reached out grabbing at knot I'd made of my tie, "learn to straighten one of these things will you; it's a suit not a noose."
"Seriously though, is it supposed to go this long?" I grumbled under my breath as the man started on some tangent about honor and...the weather!? Does this guy even remember what he's going on about at this point!?
"It actually was supposed to be done a half hour ago." She smiled working out the knot. "Just bear with it like your brother." She gestured next to me where my little brother sat silently gazing at the speech behind a pair of sunglasses. "He's not complaining."
"That's cause he's asleep." I said grinning waving a hand in front of his face getting no response. "Want me to wake him up?"
"No, just leave him; frankly he has the right idea." She said resignedly, leaning back into her seat. "Someone should be...ah there we are." As she spoke an attendant ran forward, shepherding the aging official away from the podium, much to the relief of everyone present. A portly man in a pinstripe suit stepped forward rubbing two meaty hands together.
"Thank you, councilor for that riveting speech, I'm sure none here will ever forget it. Now as you all know we are here to honor the efforts of Bastion's police force, whose tireless efforts alongside our hunters has led to the capture and imprisonment of yet another White Fang cell trying to gain a foothold in our city." He paused for a second, letting the applause quiet before continuing, "Special commendation goes to the man responsible for leading the task force, a man whose service will not go unanswered." The man smiled widely, gesturing back as my father stood up straightening his dress uniform, face beaming as he stepped forward. "Sergeant Thomas Ambrose, our city needs more men like you."
"Thank you sir..." Dad bowed his head, "but it was a team effort, and the assistance of our city's hunters was most appreciated." He glanced over to where we were seated, shooting mom a quick smile.
"That may be, but as the man who put it all together your superiors and I feel you deserve a fitting reward, congratulations on your promotion Lieutenant Ambrose." The speech and everything else was worth it to see the shock on dad's face as applause rose from all corners of the room.
"Thank you Sir I-I don't know what to say." He stammered out weakly as he shook the man's hand.
"Say yes so we can all finally get at the food already." That got more than enough sentiment from the rest of the audience. A short time and a few unscheduled press photos later found me sitting at a pristine white table watching my parents socialize as hundreds milled about the extravagant ball room set aside for the award banquet. They deserved a party, a chance to let loose; both had been stressed for months during this whole investigation.
"Is that...can't be, Joel Ambrose! Hello my boy!" I spun around to see the large man who had spoken walking towards me followed by a small girl with black hair streaked with blue looking back at me with pink eyes behind a pair of horn rimmed glasses.
"Mayor Corbell." I leapt up clumsily, trying to smooth out my clothes. "It's good to see you. Hey Nat, didn't know you were here." I waved nervously at the girl who smiled back warmly.
"Please, let's not stand on ceremony, it's Nathan. It's been months, Natalie's been filling me in on your progress at Aegis but she didn't mention just how big you were getting." The man clapped me on the back, looking me up and down. Natalie shrugged, shooting me an apologetic look. "Taking after your father and grandfather in that regard I see. Good on you!"
"With how small I was, I had to be due for a growth spurt at some point." I laughed nervously, scratching the back of my head awkwardly. "But uh...yeah things have been going well so far..."
"Well? Only a second year and already racking up a kill count!" He went on. Iron grip on my shoulder. "Just like your mother, a future hero of Remnant!"
"It was only a pack of Beowolves. It was nothing too special." I shrugged, "Anyone with training could have managed it."
"Well that's a pack of Grimm more than I've ever hunted, aye Natalie. Why, you must tell me the story, how you..."
"Calm down dad..." Natalie interrupted pulling him off me, grabbing hold of my arm in the process, "you two can catch up later, Joel let's go dance."
"Yes yes of course." Nathan chortled, "Enjoy the festivities you two, it is your break after all." He winked at me slyly before adding, "Just keep your hands where I can see them alright."
"Dad!" She shrieked; face reddening as she pulled me away into the throng of people on the dance floor. "Sorry about him." She muttered quietly as she guided my hands into position.
"He's fine." I laughed, desperately trying to remember how to waltz as we started moving. "My dad's just as bad with that sort of thing. Ah...sorry if I get your feet, still a little awkward at this."
"Just let me lead." She replied smiling, "How is it that you fight so well but when it comes to dancing, that's beyond you?"
"No idea, but hey I'm making the attempt at least." I glanced back at my parents still talking with what must've been friends from work before focusing on the very pretty girl in front of me wearing a strapless silver dress, feeling my cheeks redden. "You look nice, liking the look." I added quickly.
"Thanks..." She looked down blushing slightly, wait she's blushing that's good right, "You too."
We danced for a few more minutes chatting amicably before heading out to a deserted table on the edge of the room, grabbing some food off a Faunus waiter's tray, missing the cross look he shot me. "Enjoying the party?"
"Could have done without the speech at the start but I think it's come out alright."
I leaned back in the chair next to her, stretching out my sore feet. "Thank your dad for me, will you." I hesitated for a second before continuing. "Sorry I've been a bit scarce since the hunting trip...things have been pretty hectic lately."
"It's alright." Nat sighed, she's leaning on me now, when did...? "I did sort of drop that on you. Thought I might've scared you off."
"It wasn't too much of a shock in retrospect..." I could face down a charging Ursa but yet THIS was somehow more terrifying, "We were fast friends, I helped you with your gift, you never gave me shit about my family legacy and how I need to live up to their glory." Arm's over her shoulder now, I could smell her perfume. Sweet, maybe a sort of flower...
"You know I never did get an answer." She'd taken off her glasses and her face was now dangerously close, eyes staring deep into mine. "It's rude to leave a girl hanging Joel."
"Well, that's no good." I grinned leaning forward as an explosion blew through the room.
"Ah!" I was jolted awake as the armored van ran over another pothole, sending my head crashing into the wall. "Shit..." I muttered rubbing my head gingerly. I had to lean forward awkwardly to reach the bruised area; the chain linking my handcuffs to the floor didn't have much slack and the itchy gloves and coveralls they had me wearing didn't help either.
"Finally awake are you?" One of the armored officers said dryly, looking me up and down. "We were going wake you earlier but it looked like you were having such a nice dream."
I sighed, leaning back against the hard wall, "Thanks…it usually starts well enough."
"Anyway we're only a few minutes out from Beacon." The one next to me, the one in charge judging by the sergeant's patch affixed on his shoulder said gruffly, chewing on the end of a thick unlit cigar. "You'll be their problem soon enough Ambrose."
"Aw but you guys have been such great company." I said sarcastically, jingling the chain on my cuffs, "And to think here I believed we were actually bonding."
"Shove it, it's cause of you the bruises on my ass have bruises." The one sporting a short mohawk across from me spat out, glaring my way. "Damn hunters have to put their stupid school in the middle of nowhere…"
"I don't see why I just can't be transported by air like the other new students? I mean I was the one that volunteered to attend." I pointed out to the van at large, cutting off the man's whining before he could gain momentum. "It's not like your all forcing me to do this."
The sergeant chuckled softly, "And let you on an internationally rated airship just so you can escape and be well on the way to Vacuo within hours. Not a damn chance."
"Nah…Vacuo is wayyyy too hot for me, too many sandstorms, though I do hear Atlas has great weather this time of year." I winced as mohawk kicked me in the shin hard, "Joking, I'm joking…you do realize to take that airship I'd have to take on dozens of highly trained students, security personnel, and learn how to fly an airship that size all at once and unarmed, aren't you guys are giving me a bit too much credit."
"Better more credit than not enough…" the sergeant looked down at his watch flashing a signal to his men, "never do know with you Trappers." The truck came to a slow stop, finally settling with a long hiss. A series of thumps rang out from behind the door, "Answer back." Mohawk nodded replying back with his own prearranged series of knocks, slamming his fist against the doors. It was all arranged beforehand, a knock and an answer, they don't get the right series of knocks in time then doors don't open. I guess the guy got it right because the door opened after about half a dozen clicks, blinding me as light poured into the confined space. Another click and a rattle as I felt the chain holding my cuffs fall to the floor, "Get up." A rough hand pulled me to my feet and shoved me out the door, sending me stumbling onto a neat cobblestone avenue.
I had to blink for a few seconds to clear up my eyes; months of low light had had its toll, though the view was definitely worth it. I couldn't help but whistle at the impressive sight; Beacon Academy loomed above me, its ramparts reaching high into the clouds, "Definitely bigger than Mom made it out to be."
"It does seem rather larger than life, doesn't it?" a calm voice spoke up from behind me, I turned around to find a pale middle aged man with gray hair in an suit leaning on an elaborate looking cane near the truck staring my way behind a pair of spectacles. Another stranger, a woman with light blonde hair tied back in a tight bun stood behind him chatting with the driver, nice looking in a mature sort of way. "I'm sure it must be a little jarring for you, especially after what you've been through these past few months.
"Professor Ozpin, Sergeant Johnson, Vytal Military Police Force. We've dropped the prisoner off as per your instruction." The sergeant saluted
"Thank you Sergeant, thank you for your men's hard work, I know it wasn't an easy trip." The man replied, nodding to each man in turn, "I'll be sure to make a note of this to your superiors, now please remove Mr. Ambrose's bonds."
"Sir I must protest...!" Johnson started but a quick glare from the woman silenced him quickly enough, instead nodding to mohawk and gesturing towards me, "Private, uncuff him!"
The man moved forward slowly, hand on a thin baton hanging off his belt, "No sudden moves filth." I just shrugged holding out my hands expectantly, giving him a small grin as he undid the cuffs. I spread my arms widely, stretching out my sore muscles and working out the kinks in my back that had accumulated during the trip. "Don't get to comfortable; I'm certain I'll be seeing you again real soon."
I massaged my knuckles nodding along absently before lashing out with an open palm, catching the unsuspecting guard full in the face snapping his head back with a crack. The man grabbed at his nose with a shocked squeal before a follow up sweep sent him to the ground in a moaning heap, I would've continued but the simultaneous clack of weapons being drawn gave me pause as I noticed laser sights dotting my clothes while the woman had a short riding crop in her hand. "Alright sorry…" I raised my hands up slowly, backing away from the whimpering guard, "guys been spitting in my food for months."
"Stand down Sergeant!" The professor, Ozpin, cried out stepping forward and bringing his cane down with a loud clap on the stone pavement, "collect your man and be on your way, you have my sincerest apologies. We will be sure to cover his medical expenses." Johnson sighed, moving forward and dragging the private to his feet, shooting me a last minute glare before making his way back to the truck with his men. "And you Mr. Ambrose…" he glanced back at me sternly, "I'd prefer it if you avoid repeating such actions in the future, unsanctioned acts of violence will not be tolerated at this establishment." The air suddenly felt somewhat colder as the man narrowed his eyes, a tightening pressure gripping my lungs.
"R-right sir understood." I finally stammered out, giving him a short nod. The professor nodded, gesturing for me to follow him inside the building, leading me through winding corridors and a few flights of stairs until we reached a large darkened room with no windows, looking frighteningly enough like an interrogation room. Ozpin entered the room, taking a seat behind the desk dropping a large pile of folders, I recognized a few of the files as transcripts and information likely concerning other students, namely those belonging to a…Ruby Rose if I was reading that right, must be some sort of prodigy for the headmaster himself to be taking interest. I sat in the seat across from him, the woman placing a glass of water in front of me that I greedily gulped down.
"Joel Ambrose, 18 years old…" the woman read methodically off her scroll in a measured tone, "born within the frontier city of Bastion to Thomas and Patrice Ambrose, attended Aegis Combat Academy with high marks until being caught up in a terror act instigated by the White Fang that claimed the lives of both parents and over 200 people including Mayor Nathan Corbell." I must have tensed noticeably because she paused for a few seconds before continuing, "Noted as missing a shortly afterwards, later resurfaced as an agent, or by the common term "Trapper", of the Red Hand, a group formed by victims dedicated to eliminating the White Fang and its members by any means necessary."
"You want me to finish that for you?" I spoke up, cutting her off before she could move on and earning a sharp tsk in the process. "I'm guessing something along the lines of "Willingly surrendered himself to police custody promising information on the Red Hand in exchange for the full pardon of one of his accomplices, sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole" right?"
"Now Mr. Ambrose, let's get straight to the point…" Ozpin started affably, "I am Professor Ozpin, headmaster of this academy and this woman here is Glynda Goodwitch, my aid in charge of student affairs and one of your future teachers."
"I know. I've heard of you both over the years, you two are legends here in Vale."
"And we've heard a great deal of you as well…" the hunter replied as Glynda placed a steaming mug of coffee in front of him, Í knew of your mother, Patrice was a fine woman and a fine huntress…" he took a quick swig, seemingly unaware of my clenched fists, "she didn't deserve to meet her end in such a way."
"Thank you sir but I didn't come here to discuss my mother…" I said, a note of bitterness entering my voice, "I would prefer to get to the matter at hand."
"As you wish, Glynda, please fetch the boy's effects."
"Right away professor." She adjusted her glasses, giving me a harsh glare before leaving the room.
"Forgive her, she was against bringing you here, said it was a danger to place you amongst the student population."
"It's alright, It's not like I can't see where she's coming from."
To be perfectly honest, many of those who know of this decision are against it as well…" The headmaster continued, "It took many of my connections with the Vytal government as well as more than a few promises to arrange your release from prison after only a mere five months."
"Which begs the question of why you chose to go through all this just so I could attend your academy?"
"I've always been a man who believed in second chances. Mr. Ambrose your abilities, if what we have on you is to be believed, are extraordinary for one your age. I find that such talent is better spent facing the Grimm rather than wallowing inside a jail cell. Before this however I do have some questions of my own that I wish to ask you."
"Why did you surrender yourself to the police, and now that you are here, will any Faunus students be in danger because of you."
I contemplated the question, taking a few seconds to work out how I would describe my answer, it was obviously critical to me staying here. "I won't go into details…" I started, staring into the man's face trying to meet his gaze, "I've done a lot of bad things in the name of vengeance, and I left because I realized that that path made me into the very thing I was fighting to eliminate." I bowed my head ashamedly, "As for your other question, I never hated the Faunus; never blamed them for what the White Fang did like many of my comrades. Part of why I left was because the organization started to lose sight of the difference."
I leaned back in the chair as the blonde professor reentered the room carrying a cloth bag under her arm. I accepted the bundle with a polite thank you, smiling internally as her expression softened somewhat.
"Good answer." The headmaster said with a warm smile, "Your weapons and equipment are all there along with what personal effects you had with you at the time of your capture…" Ozpin noted, pointing at the large bundle with a free finger, tapping away at a desk mounted scroll with the other, "We took the liberty of obtaining a new set of combat gear for you to use, for anonymity's sake of course."
"I appreciate it." I answered, surprised when Goodwitch produced a black metal half circle and held it out to me.
"Place this at your neck in the most comfortable way you can." The huntress ordered curtly. I hesitated for a second before bringing the circle up to just below my Adam's apple, drawing in a quick intake of breath as the circle latched on; stretching until it completely encircled my neck, each seam blending in perfectly leaving no indent visible.
"What the…!" I clutched at the strange device as it conformed to my necks shape.
"That is a tracking collar designed especially for Aura enhanced prisoners…" Goodwitch explained, keying in some figures to her scroll, I noticed a few bio-metrics pulsing rhythmically in time, "powered by your own Aura, the collar relays a signal directly to mine and the headmaster's scrolls giving us access to your current location and medical status allowing us to keep better track of you." She glanced up as I kept fiddling with it awkwardly, "It's nigh indestructible even with your semblance. That collar will only come off if we take it off or you die."
"All in all I would advise against making any sort of escape attempt with that collar functional." Ozpin added, setting aside his mug and leaning forward to rest on his hands."
"What? Is there a bomb set to blow my head off if I try to leave without permission?" I asked jokingly, poking at it, the strange device already feeling light as air and warmed to my temperature, if I'd had my eyes closed I probably wouldn't even notice it.
"Nothing so barbaric…" Ozpin gave me a reassuring grin, "if you try to escape we'll merely send Professor Goodwitch to collect you, in which case I'm certain you will wish the collar had an explosive in it."
I glanced up at the bespectacled woman, shivering slightly at the implication, note to self…do not screw with this woman. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Excellent, then let me be the first to welcome you to Beacon Academy." He stood up, holding out a hand towards me that I took, surprised at how strong his grip was, "I expect great things from you Joel, I look forward to working with you."
"Well this day hasn't gone as badly as I thought it would." I thought lazily to myself as I stepped out of the shower, staring at my reflection in the steam fogged mirror for the first time in what felt like months, actually it had been months. I ran a hand through my short cropped stark white hair, blue eyes watching as I pulled a razor from the kit Ozpin had given me with the other hand, quickly shaving off what dark stubble had built up. I glanced down at the scroll sitting on the counter next to me, the time showing that it was almost noon. "Other students should be showing up pretty soon." I sighed pulling out the gear the headmaster had provided.
Aside from two sets of the standard Beacon uniform, Ozpin had provided a pair of grey jeans, a blue t-shirt, a short sleeve black hoodie along with a pair of fingerless gloves and combat boots. I also found a collapsible blue chest plate along with pairs of knee and elbow plate pads that I put on over the outfit. I did a few quick punches and stretches, finding that the armor did little to restrict my movements and would actually help considering my fighting style. Last but not least I pulled Storm Circuit out from the side pocket, staring down at the near two foot long cylinder, tracing the silver ridges spaced evenly along its length. The weapon had served me well enough against the White Fang; I could only hope it would handle Grimm just as effectively. Strapping the weapon to my back using a thick sheath I also placed two small rectangular dispensers at my sides on each hip.
Feeling satisfied with my appearance I left the bathroom, making my way to a small garden just outside the main building watching the fleet of airships nearing the school in tight formation. "Been awhile since my last first day of school…" I muttered under my breath shrugging as I made my way towards the nearest airship docking station, "might as well look like I came with everyone el…!" a loud explosion rang out from the direction of the station along the main entrance way where the rest of the first years were docking.
A twinge of panic shot through me, hand reaching for my weapon before I calmed myself down, judging by the length of the actual blast and color of the smoke it had been a small explosion, likely dust related, a weapon misfire perhaps. "Might as well check it out, might be fun." I ran the rest of the way, coming to a stop outside the school looking around, "I thought it was around here?" There were signs of scoring on the pavement but no sign of anyone who might have been involved except…"Hey you, up in the tree." I glanced up at where a girl sat up in a tree reading a book, though at the moment looking at me with a surprised look on her face. She was pale, with long ebony black hair wearing shorts, a white undershirt topped with a black buttoned vest along with a pair of stockings that grew steadily more violet as they ran down her leg and a bow atop her head. What really hit me were the eyes however, amber like a cat's, almost glowing in the shadow cast by the overhanging branches.
"You noticed me?" She asked, sounding pretty impressed, I grinned, definitely a ninja this one.
"I have pretty good senses." I replied walking up to the base of the tree, tapping my head "You wouldn't happen to know what happened, I heard an explosion and came running."
"Came running?" she said, a note of amusement in her voice this time, "Not a lot of people just come running towards explosions."
"Guess I'm not a lot of people." I shrugged scratching the back of my head, "Sounds like you know what happened."
"Some girl in red was getting a lecture from Miss Weiss Schnee herself about the dangers of dust when she sneezed, setting off some powder." The girl's eyes looked me up and down, settling on my face for maybe a second before she turned her gaze back to her book, "Weiss stormed off while the girl went somewhere with another boy, their probably at orientation now. "
"Thanks…" Weiss Schnee, heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, the Red Hand had done a job for her father about a year and a half before I'd been arrested that had involved acting me as her bodyguard. Despite spending months around her the girl had barely said a word to me apart from orders and insults. Bit arrogant that one, the most meaningful conversation basically going along the lines of, "You fight pretty well Miss Schnee." followed by, "Why the hell are you talking to me creep, just do your job.", "Mind if I ask your name?"
"Blake…Blake Belladonna." The ninja supplied, flipping a page absently, glancing up at me again.
"Joel Ambrose, well, I suppose I'll be seeing you?"
"Seems likely." She went back to her book, I knew enough about women to know this meant she was done talking and went on my way.
Night fell pretty quickly and I soon found myself camped out in the ballroom with the rest of the first years, sleeping on the floor in a tank top and shorts with my duffel as a pillow. From what I'd gathered from a few of the other students we would all be completing some sort of initiation the next day or we wouldn't be able to stay at Beacon. "Which basically means jail again if I don't pass…yay." I groaned as I sat up, at this rate sleep wouldn't be happening. I noticed a bit of candlelight shining at the other end of the hall, careful to avoid the sleeping students I made my way across and was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face reading by candle in a black yukata. "Hey."
"Hey." The ninja from earlier looked up from her book, "Joel, right? You aren't stalking me are you?"
"Nope, just a weird coincidence I swear, I can go if you want." I turned to leave.
"No it's alright." She gestured to the spot next to her, "You can stay if you don't make too much noise okay?"
"Thanks." I sat down gingerly, pulling out my scroll along with a pair of ear buds, switching on one of the tracks I had downloaded a few hours before, head bobbing to the steady beat. We spent a few minutes like this, peaceful silence, I'd missed this. In prison it had been for the most part just me alone in a cell with nothing to do but exercise and meditate, and even that got boring after a while. It did teach me that you didn't have to speak to someone, sometimes just having people be present was enough.
A light tap broke me out of my reverie as I looked up to see girl with a wild mane of hair that seemed to glow in the dim light looking down at me with violet colored eyes while another smaller figure with black hair tipped with red highlights talking with Blake about her book. "Sup." She grinned, giving me an appraising look "Names Yang and this…" she indicated the girl next to her, "is my little sister Ruby". I just stared back and forth between them dumbly before snapping back to reality, Ruby?
"You all right?" Blake asked, a concerned look crossing her face. "You kind of zoned out through our whole conversation."
"Sorry." I said blushing slightly, "I tend to get wrapped up in my music sometimes, and it's been awhile since I've been able too just sit back and enjoy it."
"Haven't been able too?"
"Uh…" shit, Joel think, "It's just that I've been really busy with things lately and haven't had as much time as I would like to just sit and listen to it."
"Oh that's cool, like not being to the gym in a while." Yang nodded, Blake seemed satisfied with the answer to my relief. "So are you two friends?" Yang asked pointing between me and Blake. We glanced at each other before I answered for us.
"Not exactly, we just met today…I suppose an acquaintance is more accurate." Blake nodded in agreement, eyes darting back to her book."
"Really, I thought you two might have known each other you know like some dom-sub relation going or something." She grinned evilly, pointing towards her neck. I reached up remembering the tracking collar I was still wearing. I'd actually somehow managed to forget it was there!
"It's just jewelry." I said quickly, blushing lightly, Blake remained stonily silent, face suddenly buried in her book.
"Yang! You just can't say that to people!" the smaller girl said frantically, "It's rude!"
"My bad, little sis, my bad." Yang laughed loudly, patting Ruby on the head and ruffling her hair playfully.
"Anyway Joel this is the girl who you were looking for earlier." Blake said indicating Ruby.
"What? The one who exploded?"
"DOES EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THAT!?" Ruby cried out, face matching her highlights. "IT WAS AN ACCIDENT BUT SHE STILL YELLED EVEN AFTER I READ THAT STUPID PAMPHLET SHE GAVE ME!" She was getting louder, entire hall was going to wake if this kept up.
"Well Ruby, Yang it's been a plea…" Blake tried to calm her down however before she could finish…
"What is going on over here!?" An annoyed voice called out as a white haired girl in a pale nightgown stormed towards our group, "Don't you realize some of us are trying to sleep!?" Weiss Schnee hadn't changed much in the past year it seemed, I turned away slightly trying to stay out of her focus.
"OH NOT YOU AGAIN!" Yang and the heiress screamed simultaneously while Ruby tried to keep the peace, well…keep Yang from ripping off the heiresses head by the sound of it.
"Night." I waved to Blake as she set her book aside with a sigh, reaching for the candelabra, "Thanks for letting me hang around."
"No problem." Blake blew out the flames, plunging the room into darkness with a last minute shriek from Ruby as I made my way off to bed.
"You! White hair by the locker!" A commanding voice called out from over my shoulder as I tightened the last strap on the chest plate, giving it a firm rap with my closed fist.
"Huh?" I looked over to see Weiss stalking towards me wearing a white vest and combat dress and a sword at her hip. She held a thick binder and pen in her arms with a serious expression on her face. I pulled Storm Circuit from inside, placing it on my back before shutting the locker quickly turning to face her arms crossed. "Are you…talking to me?" I asked as the heiress stopped in front of me, standing to her full height which admittedly still put me more than a head above her.
"You were the boy hanging around with that one girl the other night, the one talking to those annoyances correct?" She stated more than asked, icy blue eyes staring into mine like daggers. It was unlikely that the girl remembered me from one short conversation over a year ago but it still had me on edge.
"If you mean Blake, Ruby, and Yang then yeah I am, Joel Ambrose." I replied hesitantly, leaning back against the locker, "Did you uh…want me for anything?"
"Yes my name is Weiss Schnee, heiress of the Schnee Dust Company…" she opened up her binder turning to a fresh page, pen primed in her free hand, "it is common knowledge that students at Beacon are placed into teams of four for the length of their time here. I have already secured Pyrrha Nikos as a teammate and am currently evaluating other students in this once in a life time opportunity." She finished haughtily.
"Yes, Pyrrha Nikos, top of her class at Sanctum, renowned for winning the Mistral Regional Tournament four years in a row setting a new all-time record."
"Oh right, isn't she the girl on the Pumpkin Pete's box?"
"Yes, yes she is…" Weiss almost growled "She and I will be partners."
"Sure, so Weiss…"
"Miss Schnee" she corrected quickly, cutting me off.
"Miss Schnee…" I amended quickly, "let me get this straight. You want to interview me to see if I'm good enough, by your standards, to be on your team?"
"Yes, was that not clear?"
"I shook my head shooting her an amused grin, "No, no I get it, so when do we do this interview, the initiations in an hour?"
"It's already started…" she said icily, hand already scribbling frantically on the piece of paper muttering under her breath, "observational skills are somewhat limited, asks questions…" she grit her teeth at that one, "What school did you attend before coming to Beacon?" she asked suddenly, shocking me into action.
"I attended Aegis Academy in the city of Bastion a while back, you hear of it?"
"Of course." She sounded as if she were offended I would even ask such a question, judging but what I've seen of her she probably was, "Subject has attended well known combat school, likely possesses requisite skill for membership but must account for tendency of Aegis students difficulty acting in groups or in a command structure."
"Subject, what…?" I began to ask before being cut off by another quick question.
"Do you have difficulty following orders from a superior?"
"Depends on the superior I suppose."
"Subject is unsure of answer…"
"Can you stop with the subject talk for a minute!?" I interrupted her annoyed now, yelping as she smacked the tip of my nose with the end of her pen before continuing to write.
"Aggressive and irritable when generalized, will have to be rectified if selected…" her eyes narrowed suddenly as she leaned in close to me, pulling my hand away from my nose, "Do I know you?" My heart froze but I kept my face calm, trying to give her a look of honest confusion.
"I don't know what you're talking about?" I lied quickly, giving her an innocent smile, "Why would I know you?"
"I'm not sure, it's just I could've sworn." Weiss muttered leaning back as I breathed an internal sigh of relief. "Now back to the next question, have you ever…" she was stopped by Glynda Goodwitch's voice ringing out over the loudspeaker.
"Would all first-year students please report to Beacon Cliff for initiation, again all first year-students report to Beacon Cliff immediately."
"Well gotta go, good luck on initiation." I said quickly, making my escape while Weiss was distracted, ignoring her calls for me to come back.
"Please, please don't let me end up on her team…" I muttered running pell-mell towards the cliffs, trying to ignore the fact that if I didn't pass this test my world would get a whole lot smaller.
"Each of you will be given teammates, today." Professor Goodwitch noted, staring intently at each of the assembled students lined up along the cliff on a series of stone platforms. The news sent a flurry of excitement rippling down the line except for a small squeak from Ruby. To be honest I didn't much care who my teammates were, I'd adjust and move on no matter who I was paired with.
"Getting paired with Yang or Blake might be nice…" I thought to myself glancing over at the girls in question, "as long as it isn't Weiss, I didn't think I could take that higher than thou attitude for very long." Judging from what the headmaster was saying, the first person I make eye contact in the forest would be my partner; from there it was just a matter of getting past the Grimm and retrieving a relic from a temple at the northern edge of the forest. The whole "instructors will not intervene" thing was a bit sketchy though not unexpected, Aegis had been full of sink or swim assignments when it came to Grimm hunting.
"Are there any questions?" Ozpin asked after finishing his speech, a blond haired boy in white plate armor raised his hand trying to get his attention.
"Yeah um…sir?" he said weakly, moving forward slightly.
"Good." Ozpin finished, ignoring the young knight completely, "Take your positions." I felt a slight rumble in the platform beneath me. Realizing what was about to happen I crouched down, drawing on my Aura for the first time in five months. I smiled widely as the world suddenly seemed so much clearer, more vibrant, and my body pulsed with raw energy. Blue arcs of electricity sparked to life across my body, kicking up dust and sending the students on the platforms next to me inching back in alarm. God I missed this.
I noticed Goodwitch staring at me, clearly making out a concerned look in her eyes as a red flash emanated from one of the screens on her scroll. "So she's going to be keeping an eye on me…well let's give her a show!" I thought gleefully as the platform jolted upwards, sending me flying through air as the forest flashed below me growing steadily closer.
"LET'S GO WILD!"
The Frontier- A common name for lands considered outside of a kingdom's influence or protection (The dragon continent on the upper left of Remnant acting as a prime example) Treacherous weather, hostile Grimm, and hosts of other dangers plague the region though through the efforts of brave settlers and kingdom assistance in return for resources found, settlements popularly known as "frontier cities" have begun to reappear sporadically in the region, creating a foothold. Walled off and well defended, these sites represent mankind's will to take back Remnant from the tyranny of the Grimm.
Bastion- One of the oldest, largest, and wealthiest of the frontier cities for its silver and Dust mines (Both great assets against the Grimm), Bastion has stood strong for generations in hostile territory fighting Grimm and nature alike, a beacon of hope representing that Remnant's reclamation is possible. Situated farther in the frontier than most, Bastion as a result has developed a culture well apart from the kingdoms, wealthy families descended from its founders and large business owners (Like well respected nobles in a feudal system) and its defenders, the hunters, stand at the top of society just underneath the elected Mayor and Councilman (The city's link to the kingdoms) in running the city's affairs. With the proximity to Grimm and the danger they present, skilled hunters are treated almost like celebrities, becoming household names to it's citizens and popularizing Aegis Academy, the city's combat school.
Aegis Academy- The sole combat school in the Region and Bastion's most famous landmark, Aegis stands simultaneously as one of the most well respected, and most demanding, hunter academies on the face of Remnant. Recruiting qualified persons at the age of 14, though with the harsh trials placed on initiation most hopefuls train for a lengthy period even beforehand in preparation, the school acts as a primary and secondary school (Think like a combination Signal and Beacon 14-early20s) Due to Bastion's traditions the school has a tendency to focus more on personal performance and glory, encouraging harsh competition between its students in an attempt to push them to their best and stand out, rivaling even Beacon in it's reputation for creating superior hunters with greater skill individually but with often limited team effectiveness as a result.