Jaune Arc Expelled: Settling Scores – Part 2
(A RWBY Fanfic)
Author’s Note: I don’t think anything I can write will trump Volume 3 Finale. Why you gotta kill my ship, Rooster Teeth?
Jaune’s breath ran ragged as he sprinted across the hard-packed forest ground. It was uneven, cluttered with trees and undergrowth that threatened to trip him up if he made a misstep.
Trailing behind him by only a few steps, Noyuu struggled to keep pressing forward as his ears caught the sound of a motor steadily approaching. “They’re catching up!”
Jaune struggled to hear over the sound of his blood pounding in his ears. They hadn’t even finished restocking at the last village before the White Fang sent pursuers after them. Another town filled with sympathizers and spies in a long list of them.
Their hearts pounded and lungs burned as they ran blindly ahead. It was a good thing there weren’t any clearings around for them to be lured into; otherwise they would have been entrapped again. They had gotten lucky the last time, when the rain was falling and they had gotten their hands on that Lightning Dust, but he doubted they could continue to be that fortunate.
“Jaune, I can’t run for too much longer!” Noyuu warned. His face was flushed from the exertion to a greater degree than Jaune. Made worse was when the tree near his head exploded in a spray of splinters and wood dust from a round of heavy artillery punching through it and he tripped at the suddenness of it. “Ahh!”
Jaune gritted his teeth as he doubled back, gun in one hand and shield in the other. He moved to the front of Noyuu and held the shield in front of him, only to feel the rounds hammering away at his Aura-infused heirloom and breaking upon it into shrapnel. He returned fire, pulling the trigger thrice and sending three explosive rounds ahead to intercept the two four-wheeled ATVs housing four White Fang members. Flame, smoke, and dirt went up in a spray and obscured their path, forcing them to swerve around as Noyuu got back onto his feet.
Layering his Semblance upon his drawn blade and swinging it around, the crescent wave of power smashed into the trees between them. It broke them, shattering them into pieces and carrying them along its path, causing them to collide into others. The net result was something like dominoes, toppling one over another, sending both small twigs and thick limbs scattering about and into the four pursuing them. A second swing and wave added a cloud of dirt and leaves, further obstructing their view.
Both ATVs ended up crashing as their drivers were hit and blinded by the makeshift veils until they ran into a fallen tree, and he moved in while they were briefly dazed. He held his shield held out in front of him to catch the gunfire before he was in striking distance. The point of his sword cut through the air before finding the chest of the first driver, their Aura shielding them from fatal damage at a subsequent loss. He followed up with a shield bash that sent them tumbling back onto the ground and then brought the shield to his rear to intercept another round of gunfire, sweeping his sword upwards to catch the third Faunus before he swung down his axe.
Viridian chains coiled around the one who tried to get around his shield to fire his rifle at Jaune’s forehead. He disappeared into the mess of trees while Jaune slammed the pommel of his sword into the mask of the Faunus that had weathered the point, shattering it to reveal the face of a woman. He introduced it to the flat of his heater shield before jumping out of the way as the fourth descended from above with a spear.
There he stood, shield at the front and three opponents trying to flank him. He spun as he used his Semblance on his sword, creating an expanding ivory halo that slammed into each of them and repelled them backwards as though they had each been hit by a sledgehammer. Viridian chains once more emerged from the rear, coiling around the neck of the woman and pulling her backwards fast enough that it was only spared from snapping by her Aura. One of the White Fang soldiers called out her name and turned his back to Jaune.
He used the opening. Kicking off the ground with his Semblance layering his foot, he was repelled forward as the immovable ground cratered instead. His shield met the spear-using Faunus’ body and followed him as all of Jaune’s weight and speed carried them into a tree that buckled. The tale-tell flicker of a dying Aura signaled for him to bring his sword around, felling the White Fang soldier as it painted the blade crimson and filled the air with the coppery scent.
“You damn human!” shouted the one that had been spared his blade so far. He pulled out a small tube-container that was housing a Fire Dust Crystal and twisted the top before throwing it at him. Jaune’s eyes briefly rose and he braced himself as the mechanism in the top sent a charge through the crystal and caused it to erupt in a billowing explosion that ate the space between them.
The force of it swallowed him whole and spat him out, sending him airborne until he met an abrupt end at the base of a hearty tree. Pain blinded him, a groan of agony leaving his mouth as he rose to his feet. Then he heard a scream and looked towards the source.
The White Fang member had brought his axe around and slammed it into Noyuu after seeing the two others strung up and dead. Noyuu wasn’t much on offense, but strangulation was an easy way to bypass one’s Aura, and those two bound to the trees by their throat were most certainly dead. Unfortunately, Noyuu wasn’t suited to front-line combat and would be killed if he was caught in a second strike of that axe.
Jaune snarled as a dark fire briefly flickered within his body and heart. He was before the White Fang member and lashing out with his shield in mere rampant heartbeats, putting all his strength into knocking the Faunus away from Noyuu as everything went red. The impact was strong enough that it tore through whatever protection his Aura gave them, the brief flicker of fear dancing on Jaune’s tongue with its salivating flavor until the body crashed and broke against the tree like an old doll.
‘A calm soul and a straight head are the keys to survival. A calm soul and a straight head are the keys to survival. A calm soul and a straight head are the keys to survival,’ Jaune chanted to himself, over and over, desperate to quell the dark fire within until it was smothered for the moment. Iria had always said it, had him repeat it as a calming technique for the battlefield. It had its uses even now, driving away the ruinous taste of fear.
Noyuu slowly stood up. There was a somber look in his eyes, and his ears slightly drooped. “Are you okay, Jaune?”
He nodded as the darkness dissipated. “I’ll be fine. Let’s loot the corpses for their Dust and Credits and get out of here. We don’t want to be around when more show up to look for them.”
Noyuu consented with a slight nod and slackened the chains that held the other corpses up, letting them fall gently to the ground. “I really wish they’d stop coming after us. We’ve already had to kill so many of them.”
“We have to put up with it for a little while longer, until we get close enough to the kingdom.”Jaune pulled out his Scroll and brought up the map. “We’re not too far from the next town. If the White Fang had a tight grasp on it, I suspect we’d have been ambushed from both directions.”
That being said, he could only hope that was the case. There was no telling if there were sympathizers lurking there. They would have to be careful, and work to get what they needed as fast as they could before getting out. They couldn’t sit still if they wanted to be safe—or if he wanted to keep the promise he made to get to Vale….
The Present – With Pyrrha
“The food was delicious,” Noyuu said as he finished his plate. He and Pyrrha were in the Beacon cafeteria, after dropping off his cloak to be washed. The various scents that clung to it had been bothering him and she had assured him that they would get it cleaned quickly, before the next airship arrived.
“I’m glad you like it….” Truthfully, she was trying to think about how to broach the subject of Jaune’s nightmare on the airship. There was a lot about him that was a mystery from what she knew, but she was hoping that if she could understand it better, then maybe she could do something about it. “Do you know how long Jaune has had nightmares like that?”
His expression shifted, going from elated at the meal to somber. “Ah…” He set down the fork he had been using and sighed. “I suppose since we were in the Dust Mine.”
That wasn’t the answer she was expecting. “Dust Mine?”
“There was a recently discovered Dust Mine found near the desert town I lived in,” he explained. “An untapped mine, not in control of the Schnee company, naturally drew the wrong kind of attention. A couple of Huntsmen took over our town and put us to work in it—Faunus and Human alike.”
“That’s horrible.” The notion that someone would abuse the profession of a Huntsmen, a protector of the people, to grab power and lord it over people didn’t sit right with her.
Noyuu nodded. “A lot of bad things happened in those mines, but then they dragged Jaune into the camp after finding him in the desert, near a wreck. His scar was bleeding, so it had to be shortly after the ship he was on went down. They figured he would make for another pair of hands to work in the mines, so they didn’t kill him.”
“Excuse me,” a female voice said. They looked up to see Velvet there. She looked a bit concerned.
“How can I help you?” Pyrrha asked.
“I just wanted to say that I saw that friend of yours with Cardin’s group,” she said. “They were heading to the training room. I figured it was strange given what Cardin was saying about getting him expelled last year, and thought I should tell you since he was your teammate.”
Pyrrha felt a sickening sensation lurking in her stomach as Noyuu rose out of his seat and asked, “Did he have something with him? A cloak?”
“Um… yes, actually.” She nodded. “It smelled a bit fresh at a distance, like it had been washed.”
“He’s baiting him,” Pyrrha realized almost immediately. “Probably to get even with Jaune for earlier when we parted.”
“His pride could be the death of them if we don’t get to him,” Noyuu said. “Jaune’s told me a bit about them, and from what I’ve heard they’re a lot alike some of the Huntsmen that ran the mines and along the way here. That won’t end well.”
Jaune kept the dark fire within him in check as he stepped into the training room while Cardin shut the door and locked it.
“Looks like your friend managed to weasel his way out,” Cardin said as he stepped forward, mace in his hand. “Shame, but now we have the room all to ourselves.”
“You can drop the act,” he said as he took up his shield and sword. “You’d have to get past Pyrrha to get to him. That’s something you’re not capable of. You just bought me out here to put me in my place, right?”
He gathered his Aura and shifted his footing, deciding on which one to go after first while he ignored Cardin’s follow-up. The only reason he’d gone with it was because… well, frankly he had been in a bad mood on the way down. Perhaps he was projecting a bit, but everything he’d lost could be traced back to Cardin getting him expelled.
Had he remained at Beacon, he would have remained lackluster, but he would have been happy. He would have certainly had less blood on his hands, and likely would have been able to pursue a relationship with Pyrrha. It was a flimsy justification, but ultimately he was just pissed off after everything he’d learned in Ozpin’s office and Cardin’s group was the nearest punching bag. As far as he was concerned, they bought it on themselves and he could justify it if he got in trouble by saying that they mentioned kidnapping Noyuu.
When they finished talking and started circling him, Jaune picked out the first target to deal with and turned towards Russell Thrush trying to position himself behind Jaune. He kicked off the ground with his shield raised to his chin, layered his Semblance to his upright foot while Russell was preparing to try and avoid, and then stomped.
The abrupt acceleration beat out Russell’s expectations when it came to dodging, causing him to take a trip into the air and into the back wall with Jaune crushing him between it and his shield to break through his Aura shielding. For a moment, he was tempted to swing the blade and end him, but he couldn’t justify murdering students—and he didn’t want to be someone who would even try. So he pulled back.
“Uuhhh…” Russell collapsed, sliding down to the ground.
“Russell!” Jaune heard one of them yell as he reached into his pouch of supplies and pulled out a coarse cloth housing Fire-Dust and an adhesive on one end. He rubbed it onto the metal of the blade fast and hard, causing it to spark. Fire erupted and clung to the blade, as it would until it burned up the adhesive or he used his Semblance on the sword.
“That’s one down,” Jaune said as he tossed the expended cloth behind him to land on Russell’s downed figure. “Who’s next?”
The door was locked when Pyrrha and Noyuu arrived at the entrance to the training room, so they opted to go to the stands instead. The barrier between the arena and the stands was up and the lights were off, obscuring them from view of the four still fighting and leaving them to watch.
There they watched as Jaune drew the firearm housing Ice Dust rounds, aimed for another of Cardin’s entourage, and pulled the trigger thrice. Cardin blocked the shot that came for him, shattering the thick ice that coated his weapon by slamming it into the ground, but Dove Bronzewing wasn’t so lucky. The brown-haired boy was caught at the foot and head, anchoring him in place and encasing his head in a block of ice. Unable to breathe and caught off-guard, he tried desperately to break the ice with the pommel of his sword to no avail.
“Dove!” Sky Lark called. He moved to help him, but Cardin immediately grabbed and pulled him away. It was all that saved him from losing his arm as Jaune closed the distance with a Repulsion Step and swung the flaming sword between them, the flames promising to cleave-off and cauterize his arm should his Aura give out.
Another broad swing forced the two back, allowing Jaune to layer his Semblance on his shield again and mercilessly bash the pinned member of Cardin’s team in the chest. The blow pulled his foot free with a twist, and his muffled scream from within the ice died when his head hit the ground hard enough to shatter the ice. It knocked him out.
“That’s two,” Jaune said as he brandished his flaming sword towards the surviving pair. Sweat dripped from their foreheads, whether from the heat of the flames or nerves of dealing with him. He locked eyes with Sky Lark and then swung the sword, releasing a flaming crescent that smashed into the ground and flared bright enough to claim their sight for a scant second.
In that moment, Jaune closed the distance and delivered a trio slashes upon the grey-haired body’s armored chest to send him staggering back, the four that followed slamming the butt of his sword into his face before Jaune turned to block the overhead blow that Cardin brought down. The strength behind the blow brought Jaune to one knee, but he leapt off to the side with his planted foot and rolled back into a fighting pose as the two re-orientated themselves.
He pushed back further, expanding the distance between them as Sky Lark twirled the halberd in his approach. Jaune reached into his cloak and then pulled out a pouch that he tossed at the gray-haired boy. He immediately hit it with the end of the halberd as Cardin rushed behind him to get to Jaune.
The impact scattered a mixture of powdered Fire Dust and herbs that immediately exploded when it came into contact with the lingering flames from his earlier attack. The two members of CRDL began to scream, stopping their advance to cover their faces, with Sky Lark dropping his weapon entirely.
“Ouch,” Noyuu said with a wince.
“What was that?” Pyrrha asked.
“It’s a hunting trick that we picked up in one of the out-of-the-way places we visited,” he said. “Basically, you take a slip of fabric, pour in a little Fire Dust inside of it, and tie it into a ball. Then you bundle that into another cloth with a lining of some dry or powdered plants that acts as an irritant and stops it from going off easily. When something hits it hard enough it, you shoot it, or place it near an open flame, the Fire Dust combusts and the explosion makes the pouch burst open, at the same time burning the dry materials to create a smoke screen that irritates the senses—it’s especially bad for animals that have keen senses.”
“That’s an improper method of handling Dust,” another female voice abruptly noted, causing Noyuu to jump. Somehow, Weiss had gotten next to them, along with the rest of their teams. “You’d be fined for that since it presents a clear and present danger to the public.”
“Where did you come from?” he asked, looking to the rest. Nora waved at him.
“We ran into Velvet,” Blake explained, before turning to Weiss. “And that’s only in the Kingdoms, where there’s someone who’d be likely to enforce the law. Remember, most smaller villages don’t have that sort of luxury and are self-governing or self-sufficient. If I had to guess, it’s used to make hunting easier for anyone who lived on the outskirts, and they would have gotten out of range before it went off.”
Noyuu nodded. “It’s not very useful against Grimm since they can sense your fear, but it’s been useful for dealing with… other problems.”
“What kind of problems?” Pyrrha asked.
He fidgeted slightly under her gaze. “I didn’t finish telling you that the White Fang was ultimately the ones who put an end to the mines… Most of the Faunus who were enslaved ended up joining their ranks and the Humans there….”
“Ended up becoming sympathizers, right?” Blake finished for him. He nodded. “The White Fang were originally for equal rights between Humans and Faunus, but they can’t operate on Faunus solely. Either the Faunus who are in high positions in society aren’t members or they cover their tracks well, but the authorities rarely look at another human with suspicion when it comes to their crimes. They’re beneath notice.”
Noyuu looked crestfallen. “The ones in the mines continued to work in the mines at the promise of better treatment—their way of saying that even if their fellow man treated them like animals, the Faunus themselves were better than that. It made the White Fang feel superior to the downtrodden, which only feeds further into their behavior. They had nothing left, while Jaune only had a promise he made to get back to Vale keeping him going and thoughts of all of you. He was barely out of the town before they tried to kill him so word didn’t get out, and I… did what I had to.”
“You helped him escape,” she realized. “Even if that meant you’d be seen as a race traitor?”
He nodded. “He was broken, but I would have died down in those mines if he didn’t help me during a cave-in.” His fingers tightened into balled fists. “And when I couldn’t work from the injury and they cut my food and water, he offered up half of his own until I was back on my feet. So I helped him and then we fled together ever since.”
The conversation died there as ivory light clung to Jaune’s blade and he released it with a mighty swing. It smacked a stumbling, pain-laden Sky Lark hard enough that he went tumbling into the air and slammed smack against the privacy barrier hard enough that he lingered there with his face pressed against it like a glass pane before sliding down with a groan. He didn’t move when he hit the ground.
“And then there was one,” they heard Jaune say.
End Note: Had to split it up again, but Part 3 should be out a lot sooner with the end of the fight. I originally wanted to incorporate a bit of Volume 3 into the story, but then the finale came on and ruined my happiness. I mean, first Penny, then Roman, Ozpin, and Pyrrha. Roosterteeth got darker than anything I could write.
Incidentally, I did get an idea for a fic that would be a sort of ‘Bad End’ where Pyrrha inherited the powers of the Fall Maiden and Jaune became the next Progenitor (that dragon thing from the finale would fall into the same category), leaving them opposites one another. They would meet on the battlefield alone, engaging in a sorrowful battle to the death as Jaune is overcome by the darkness, knowing that the true role of the Maidens are to wipe away the Progenitors that spawn them—four Maidens to nurture the world and humanity, four Progenitors to wipe them away.
In the end, it’s a mutual kill. Jaune’s blade cleaved her open from hip to shoulder while her spear gouged out his heart. He dies after thanking her with a smile on his face, eyes wide open as he was finally freed of the darkness. Pyrrha struggles to crawl next to him as the blood loss robs her strength, only able to barely grasp his hand and tearful states that she won’t let him leave her again. When the others find them, the two are holding hands on the ground and dead.
Beautiful and tragic at the same time….
Of course, after the Volume 3 Finale, I’m fairly sure that would get me a lot of pissed off PMs, so it’s there for anyone who wants to take a swing at it.