Welcome to Remnant 0.1: Dawn
Warning: I tried to avoid them, but some pretty significant Worm spoilers follow, and eventually RWBY spoilers as well. If you don't want to have their plots spoiled, I'd suggest you read Worm and watch RWBY first.
On a related note, I've tried to explain enough for the benefit of those who read this without reading Worm, but some of this will only make sense (or will make more sense) to those who have read Worm. It's a great read, anyways. Similarly, those unfamiliar with RWBY won't understand what's going on any better than the Undersiders, and the first volume, at least, is pretty good.
Lisa, better-known to many as Tattletale, woke up. She wasn't in a bed. Lisa tried to stop her power from telling her the obvious—that was quite literally a headache before she got the hang of it. Hard ground, green canopy, tree trunks. She was in the middle of a forest, but...something wasn't quite right about it. Lisa had been a city girl, and aside from a couple camping trips when she was young, Lisa hadn't spent a lot of time in forest. Still, even ignoring her power, it was obvious that something was off. The trees seemed a bit shorter and rounder than the trees she remembered from both camping and pictures of natural forest, looking more like solitary trees you might find in parks or on lawns. The ground was covered with a homogeneous coat of grass, rather than bushes and more patchy grasses where there was space and light. Not that there weren't bushes, they were just more clumped and leafy. There was something that smelled odd, but she couldn't put her finger on it.
Around her were the unconscious forms of her friends and teammates—Brian, Taylor, Rachel, Alec, and Aisha. They all had codenames they used while out in costume, of course, but at the moment they were in…well…calling the clothes normal would be a bit of a hard sell, but they certainly weren't in their costumes.
Brian, the former de facto leader of the team, was wearing a black shirt and what looked to be a black leather trench coat over jeans which were, remarkably, black. So far, relatively normal. However, the collar, the ends of the sleeves, and the trailing edges of the coat were overly large, and the entire coat looked stiff. In addition, he had some sort of dark gray shoulder armor, and there was some kind of smoky emblem on the shirt and one shoulder.
Taylor, the current de facto leader, was arguably the most normally-garbed of them. She was wearing a blue dress with thin black lines scattered across it like webs, collecting on the chest into a solid spider-like shape. Its skirt only reached to her knees, with dark fabric fluffing it out; the skirt was just about met by a pair of dark blue boots. Her glasses were replaced by a pair with large cyan lenses and a strap holding them onto her head, while a dark belt went around her waist. Underneath her was a rumpled, dark blue cloak.
Rachel, the most quarrelsome and antisocial member of the team, wore a gray shirt with a white vest over it. The vest had a spiked pauldron on the left shoulder and a symbol resembling a stylized wolf's head over the right side of her chest. On her lower body, she wore white sweatpants and brown boots, while she had a fingerless glove on her right hand. Referring to his clothing as white was not entirely accurate, as much of it was prominently smudged with green and brown from the forest floor, all the more obvious due to the pale fabric.
Alec, one of the more senior members, was dressed in clothes which were actually not unlike his costume. He had a sky blue, ruffled shirt, and a pair of blue leggings. On his hands were cyan gloves, on his back was a sky-blue cape, and on his feet were blue pointed shoes. Like Rachel, his clothes were adorned with green and brown stains. Despite this, one could make out a crowned heart emblem on his shoulder and, once Alec rolled onto his side, cape.
Aisha, the newest member of the team and Brian's younger sister, was not dressed for the weather. She had a cloak around her shoulders, a top that was something like a cross between a tube top and a corset, a pair of shorts, and thigh-high boots, all varying shades of dark gray. On each boot was a stylized pair of horns.
Lisa looked at her own garb. She wore a short maroon dress with a pair of straps holding it onto her shoulders and a brighter belt around her waist. The skirt wasn't lying flat on the ground like skirts tend to do, so she suspected that it had some sort of fabric within, similar to Taylor's. She also had a short jacket that just reached past the small of her back, of the same shade of red, and high-heeled boots which reached roughly halfway up her calf.
Aside from these six, two others were nearby. One Lisa immediately recognized as Sabah Nejem, another parahuman from Brockton Bay. She had been working under the name of Parian, trying to protect a group of people. She had eventually agreed to work with the Undersiders, though not really as a full member, in exchange for their help with that goal. The other was an Asian girl Lisa didn't recognize. Neither of them were in what could be counted as normal clothing, either. Sabah's current attire was at least similar to what her costume had been, a pink dress with a pair of crossed needles embroidered on the chest, its skirt fluffed out with some kind of white fabric. She also had corset of a paler shade of pink, looking to be some sort of leather, was laced around her waist. On her feet were high heels more suited to a formal dinner than a camping trip. Her companion wore a yellow low-cut shirt with sleeves that reached her elbows, with a gap at the shoulders. She also wore yellow jeans and boots—guess what color—with thick black laces. The shirt and boots had a stylized bow-and-arrow emblem on them.
Something was going on, and while the implications were troubling, Lisa knew that they all had to be sorted out. Except maybe the precise details of how they had gotten into these outfits—that was something not worth dwelling on.
Lisa's memory of the previous day was a little fuzzy, but she could remember bits. Noelle had gotten free, heroes from across the nation and a few villains came in to try and stop her, and in the process the close ties between some major heroes and a group called Cauldron came to light, confirming the existence of the latter to many. While the reveal was initially limited only to those present at the battle, the Undersiders had chosen to spread the knowledge a bit further. They went public…which was, in retrospect, a terrible idea. Cauldron was a covert organization, but it had plenty of power to use when prompted. The Undersiders had been betting on them not being willing to use their power in a manner direct enough to catch them, with Lisa's power and their contact networks letting them hear about more indirect methods. Lisa had had her doubts, but she was convinced that it would be worth it even if they were killed. Probably. In any case, Lisa and the others went home; Lisa had gone to bed, and later was forced awake. Her power had told her she was being attacked, and a half-awake Lisa saw her life flashing before her eyes before she was knocked unconscious.
Lisa had never predicted that Cauldron would do something like this—not that she was sure what their plan was, entirely. Still, sitting in unfamiliar woods, she could guess what had happened so far pretty easily. One way or another, Cauldron had captured them all, knocked them unconscious (probably at roughly the same time), and left them…here. Wherever that was. Her first intuition was that this was some kind of park or similar, maintained to look pretty…
Thin, winding trails, no gravel or wood chips: Game trails.
Game trails, lack of artificial materials or constructions, lack of human footprints leading down trails: Minimal human presence for extended period.
…but that theory was quickly discarded. Maybe it was abandoned for a while? This train of thought crashed quickly; Lisa didn't need her power to point out that the trees would have spread their limbs, the bushes would have spread, and most conspicuously, there would be younger trees springing up.
The others were beginning to wake, sit up, and look around. Sabah exchanged surprised looks with the others. The unknown girl glanced at the others, and paled slightly when she noticed Rachel, before glancing at the rest of the Undersiders.
"Something's...not right," noted Taylor.
Alec rolled his eyes. "What an astute observation. Maybe it's that we're in the woods? That doesn't seem right."
"Maybe it's the fact that we lost our clothes and look like the Power Rangers?" Aisha guessed.
"Um...Aisha? What Power Rangers shows have you been watching?" Lisa asked.
Taylor raised her voice. "I mean, something other than the obvious. The air's different, somehow. There's something missing, and something...extra in it. The bugs are different, too."
Now that Taylor pointed it out, Lisa could see it. The air smelled different, a bit like the difference between inner-city air and what you'd breathe on a camping trip, only magnified. In addition, there was something unusual in the air. It was faint, but it was present enough to just be notable to human senses—a scent sort of like a coppery taste, if it was like anything she'd experienced. As for the bugs, well…if it was another world, there were bound to be differences, right?
Lack of recognizable pollutants: No heavy industry present in region, likely none on planet.
Unusual smell: … … Unusual pollen in air?
Lisa knew that when her power worked that long and hard to come up with anything, it didn't have much to go on and was barely better than a guess. But she still knew one thing.
"Taylor's right, there's something weird going on here, besides…the obvious. We're definitely not in Kansas anymore."
Aisha interjected, "No sh—"
"More specifically," Lisa explained, "we're in a completely different world. One where the inhabitants, if there are any, haven't been pumping the same stuff into the atmosphere as we have been for the past couple centuries. We are almost certainly here due to Cauldron."
Sabah frowned. "Cauldron?"
The unknown girl spoke up. "The group those clones talked about last night. Controlling the PRT and stuff."
Lisa nodded. "Right. And…we sort of forced them to go public."
Brian shrugged. "It seemed like the right thing to do. Cauldron ruined a lot of lives, probably killed more than a few people. It's not right to keep the world ignorant about something like that. And we thought, maybe we'd be able to deal with their response."
"Maybe. We knew they could kill us, but hoped they wouldn't."
Rachel spoke up. "Why didn't they?"
Brian looked towards Rachel. "Excuse me?"
"Why didn't they kill us? Why were we brought here? Killing us would be easier."
The question hung in the air.
Lisa broke the silence. "Probably because they need us alive."
"Why?" the yet-nameless girl asked.
"…I don't have an answer. It's something they either can't handle, or don't want to handle, but that they think we could help with. So, more than a typical supervillain, but less than an Endbringer."
"Reassuring," Alec noted.
Brian frowned. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
Lisa tried to think like Brian for a second. "Jack Slash?"
He nodded. "It makes sense. We…mostly came out ahead when we fought him, and the Nine are the kind of enemy you want everyone you can get when you fight them."
"That still leaves one question unanswered, though," noted Aisha.
"Why did they leave us here? Wouldn't it be easier to just leave us locked up somewhere?"
Lisa nodded. "It is odd. I suspect there's something here for—"
Taylor raised her hand, cutting Lisa off. "There's something weird in the woods, and it's coming straight for us."