Sunday, 29th​ March 79AGW.
Mistral Limited, Sanus Ocean.
9:49 AM.

“I heard them talking about it!” A man whispered.

Lima cracked his eye open; it was his opposite bunk-buddy talking to the guy below him.

“That’s-How many is a ‘flock’ exactly?” The guy on the bottom bunk said nervously. “Are we talking about two of them?”

“Has anyone ever called two birds a flock before? Idiot!” Top-bunk said incredulously, “It’s gotta be at least half a dozen, probably more-they sounded pretty worried about it.”

“Did they say where?” Bottom-bunk said worriedly, “If it was a report from Vale, it has to be on the east coast somewhere? Right?”

“He said they were South of Port Line,” Top-Bunk said, frowning, “So it would be the north-east part of Sanus, and exactly where we are headed-of-fucking-course.”

Lima rolled over to face away from the two men, and they stopped talking almost immediately. A flock of something off the east-coast of Sanus. It could be Nevermore, Giant Nevermore, Griffons, or any number of flying Grimm.

A flock of Nevermore was usually anywhere from twenty to forty; Eight to twenty for the Giant variety. Griffon was about the same, from ten to twenty. Either way, there was no reason to worry; the trains all came with automated defenses built into the roof. There was also a pair of Hunters on board that he had spied having a conversation yesterday. ‘Jesse, and Wedge,’ should be able to handle anything that came up. If the Grimm did make a move, he had his equipment in his bag so he could be ready to fight in less then a minute, but he doubted it would come to that.

Sanus was a big place, and ‘south of Port Line’ could mean literally anywhere on the east coast.

Sunday, 29th​ March 79AGW.
Mistral Limited, Sanus Ocean.
2:49 PM.

By the time the glass from the window settled on the floor of his cabin, Lima was already dragging his bag out of the luggage compartment. The train shuddered again as a series of impacts rang out along the roof, and the tip of what looked like a bone spear stuck out from the ceiling above him.

“Stop screaming,” Lima demanded, as the man on the bottom-bunk continued to wail.

He dragged his armor on and hooked his quiver of expandable spikes into the back of his belt. He didn’t have time to worry about the green hooded coat. Lima stepped out of the shattered window and stood on the side of the train with the use of his Semblance.

Giant Nevermore, two on top of the train and three in the air; judging from the sound coming from the other side of the train, there was moreover there as well. He strode forward while drawing out one of the spikes, and it expanded to its full length with a click.

He was lucky that he didn’t have to worry about hitting anything important with all this water around.

The spike was more reminiscent of a spear then an arrow, but its function remained the same. He took aim for a moment, dragging his aim around when the creature curved suddenly, paused, and then used his Semblance. The spike disappeared from his hand with a crack, and the Grimm tumbled violently through the air before it vanished into black smoke before it hit the water.

The downside to all the water was he wasn’t going to be retrieving any of his ammo.

Jessie, the Huntress onboard, sprinted across the roof of the train, the tails of her red bandanna fluttering about in the wind. The Huntsman, Wedge, was up the front of the train, firing off a barrage of bullets from some kind of Light-machine-gun.

Lima walked up the wall and stood on top of the train, taking aim at the Grimm that was busy firing a rain of massive feathers, each taller then he was, at the back of the train. The Grimm flapped its wings once to fire off another burst, and Lima shot off another spike at it. The Grimm vanished a moment later, tumbling out of sight, and didn’t reappear.

Jessie was had already clipped the wings of another with her scimitars, and it spun down to the water below, unable to stay aloft with only a single wing. A flash of red in the corner of his eye drew his gaze for a moment, as Pyrrha climbed up the side of the train.

Lima turned back to another of the creatures and fired off the third spike; this one was a bit to one side; instead of splitting the thing down the middle, it tore its right-wing off and dragged it into a violent circle.

He laughed to himself; there was nothing so soothing to the soul then ridding the world of its greatest enemy.

“Lima!” Pyrrha’s voice called.

He turned towards the voice and had to fall backward as one of the smaller Nevermore flashed through the space he had just been standing. He tilted himself back up to his feet as soon as it had passed but didn’t bother shooting at it; it was too small to waste a spike on.

“Thanks!” Lima called happily, enjoying the wind rushing past as it tried to tear him off the roof.

The Nevermore curved around and angled back towards him for another swoop, but this time he could see the thing coming. He stood still waiting for it, and the second its beak entered the edge of his range, it crumpled as if it had hit an invisible wall.

It screeched pitifully before it vanished into a wave of smoke that washed away from him and further down the train. Pyrrha had killed one of her own while he had been distracted, and it vanished a moment later. Wedge was busy turning the last one into nothing more than a series of holes and loose feathers.

It looked like the fun was already over.

Lima looked down at the three empty holes in his quiver and frowned, he hadn’t even arrived at the damn school, and he was already spending money. The cut of Gravity Dust sitting in the base of each arrow was the most expensive part; usually, he would simply need to get close enough to where his arrows had landed, and they would be dragged back towards him; they were more than durable enough to survive the impacts he put them through.

He stared out at the ocean at where his arrows were; he wasn’t getting any of those back.

“Fucking Grimm.” Lima sighed before walking back down the side of the train.

Sunday, 29th​ March 79AGW.
Mistral Limited, Sanus Ocean.
3:23 PM.

Bottom-bunk guy was gone when he returned to his room; through the train corridor.

The window had been completed sealed over by a metal panel, so he had needed to go open one of the doors between the train cars to get back inside. The feather that had been piercing the ceiling had evaporated along with the creature when it had died, but the hole remained.

A constant whistling of wind rushing past the hole filled the room; there was also glass covering most of the floor.

“Fucking Grimm,” Lima whined, before picking his way over to where he’d thrown his bag.

He packed away his weapons and armor before tip-toeing through the glass and climbing up the ladder to sit on his bed.

“No fucking way am I cleaning this up,” Lima mumbled.

Did the train have a janitor or something? He assumed they had some kind of cleaning staff; they would probably get to his room eventually.

Lima flopped back on his bed and stared up at the annoyingly loud hole in the ceiling. Was he going to have to deal with this for another two days? He might actually be driven mad and have to swear vengeance, go around attacking all the trains on Remnant; he’d need a cool nickname, though.

“The rail tra-” A familiar voice said, from several rooms down in the corridor, but he couldn’t quite make it out.

The voice drew closer, evidently checking in on the occupants of the rooms to make sure nobody was hurt. The bright red mane of Pyrrha Nikos appeared outside his room, and she stepped inside, glancing around at all the glass.

“Sir? Are you okay?” Pyrrha asked worriedly, only able to see his legs.

Lima sat up on his elbows and raised an eyebrow at her archly.

“I’ll never be okay again,” Lima said sadly, “I’ve got a case of the terminal owwies.”

Pyrrha laughed when she realized who it was.

“The two hunters said to thank you for the help,” Pyrrha said, smiling. “But any further actions from ‘civilians’ will have to be reported, or so they told me.”

Lima laughed sheepishly.

“We aren’t supposed to interfere without our licenses.” Lima winced, “Sorry for abandoning you to face their wrath on your own, I totally forgot about that.”

Pyrrha shook her head.

“I forgot about it as well,” Pyrrha admitted, “I’ve never had anyone tell me off for it before.”

“The perks of being the famous Pawpaw of Mistral, huh?” Lima said wryly.

“Yes, in a way.” Pyrrha agreed, pouting at the nickname. “Why did you forget?”

“I always used to sneak off and kill Grimm back in Argus,” Lima confessed, “Don’t tell anybody though, I got enough shit for it from Sage whenever he caught me.”

“That’s very reckless,” Pyrrha looked surprised.

“Daring is the word you’re looking for,” Lima snickered, “Or heroic? Incredible? Handsome?”

“One of those is most certainly not like the others,” Pyrrha laughed, “I shouldn’t judge; you certainly seem to know how to deal with the Grimm.”

“You weren’t half bad either,” Lima offered, before grinning.

He cleared his throat and pointed at her.

“They brought war to our door, but they never knew what they were headed for,” Lima rapped terribly, “It’s the one all the fans adore, the four-score Pawpaw; Laying down the law, and making sure the ones I abhor; those feathered fucks, are Never-more.”

“Oh, lord,” Pyrrha looked embarrassed. “Please stop.”

Lima just laughed.

Sunday, 31st March 79AGW.
Port Line, Sanus.
8:42 PM.

The train crawled into Port Line, wounded and several hours late. So late, in fact, that Lima had less than twenty minutes to board the last train. Less than twenty people left the train station, while most of them were quickly ferried aboard the Vale Limited.

He handed his ticket over to the man at the counter;

And was quickly let through; they were obviously skipping some of the checks in order to keep everyone moving. They didn’t want a bunch of traumatized people stewing in the station and potentially drawing in more Grimm.

Even so, it didn’t leave the station until fifteen past; he saw a flash of red hair in the back of the queue as he was getting on, which was probably Pyrrha. They were both headed for the same destination, after all. He boarded with a sigh; three trains were a hell of a lot longer than a single airship would have been. Next time he would just go to Atlas; future frosty ass-cheeks notwithstanding.

At least this one wouldn’t be nearly as long of a trip as the last.

Saturday, 4th April 79AGW.
Vale Limited, Vale.
6:42 PM.

Lima watched through the window as they entered the city; it just went on as far as he could see, and then kept on going. He had thought that Mistral was big, but Vale was an absolute goliath of a city, just without the tusks.

The tunnel had spat them out right next to the ocean, and the island known as Patch was just barely visible; a sprinkling of lights dotted its surface, marking it out in the dark. The train angled back towards the city of Vale, and he could see an immense cliff face in the distance, with a dark structure visible right in the center on edge.

A massive span of water cut from the ocean all the way through the middle of the city and ended at the cliff. Water was similarly falling straight off the edge in a series of rivers-turned waterfalls along its face.

Beacon was supposedly at the top of that cliff, but he couldn’t see it from the low angle; there was a series of piers and structures at the bottom of the cliff resting on top of the water and a chain of pathways that crept up the sheer cliff allowing for foot travel from the base to high above.

“Oh, I am so going base-jumping,” Lima said, amazed at the sheer size.

He had thought the wall in Argus was tall, but it wouldn’t have even reached a fifth of the cliff’s height. The buildings that had been getting taller the further they made it into the city finally swallowed the view; even with the raised train tracks, the buildings continued higher.

He was left to study the buildings that made up the city.

Argus had tall, thin rectangular houses; Vale’s, on the other hand, were massive square things that stretched five stories tall at a minimum. They were mostly unbroken and seamless except for the occasional alleyway that vanished deep out of sight.

He quickly packed his strewn about things into his bags and hoisted them up over his shoulder in time for the announcement.

“We have arrived at Vale Central Station,” The woman's voice said pleasantly, “Before disembarking, please ensure you have all of your remaining luggage and personal belongings with you.”

Lima gave the room another quick check over before stepping out into the corridor and making his way to the nearest doors. It took a bit of maneuvering to actually get his once tightly packed, but now much looser and, as a result, unwieldy bags, through the doors.

He took a moment to figure out which way he was supposed to go and strode off down the stairs. He’d booked a room at a hotel that was near the station weeks ago, so that was his first stop before he went exploring.

The Airship that was supposed to take the students up to Beacon wasn’t scheduled until tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM, and he had at least three hours before he needed to get some sleep.

Lima wondered what trouble he could get into before that.

Saturday, 4th April 79AGW.
Radiant Petal Hotel, Commercial District, Vale.
11:42 PM.

It was almost midnight when he finally returned to the hotel, and the double bed was absolutely amazing.

All single beds could go straight to heck for all he cared; he was never getting in one again. It had obviously been a space-saving measure for the trains, but still, coming from his own queen-sized bed to a single was traumatizing.

He’d stayed out later than he had intended, but this place was fucking gigantic, to put it bluntly. The nightlife was seemingly popping as well because people were still wandering the well-lit city when he decided to call it a night.

Nightclubs, theatres, shops, and everything else were on every street; he would definitely be sneaking off down here on whatever days they got off at Beacon. It almost felt like he could spend a lifetime just searching this side of the city.

Lima yawned loudly in the otherwise silent room and tried to think if he needed to do anything else before tomorrow.

He was pretty sure he was ready. The enrolment package that the Beacon staff had sent to his scroll had told them to expect an entrance exam, the details of which were basically non-existent. The waiver’s you needed to sigh before joining any of the Academies had been in there as well.

You pretty much had to sign off on the idea that the possibility that you would be killed while training or out in the field was a distinct possibility, and if you had any qualms about it to not bother applying.

Well, the wording had been a bit more subtle than that, but the message was clear; You might die during the course of your studies, and they weren’t liable for anything.

It wasn’t really anything unusual though; Sage had told him once that you had to sign similar waivers for just about any job outside the cities, and even a few inside it. The instructors had to sign them as well.

The most prominent use of them was when a project was underway for an expansion of a city. Lima wouldn’t say those happened frequently, but they did happen every year or so. The council of Argus had been discussing one such expansion for more than a year, but it seemed no more likely to occur then a year ago.

If you were going outside of the cities, where the Grimm were found in great numbers, you did so with the understanding that you might not be coming back into them. Lima didn’t have any compunctions about signing it; none of those that had made it this far would, and least he thought so.

He wondered what the Exam was going to be like.

It would be a test of their capabilities, he supposed, something combat-related maybe. They’d already had weeks to look over their applications; all that would be left was to see if they could actually keep up.

Would they put them in a room with a Grimm, maybe? That could be fun. They might pit them against each other, grade them based on their performance. Fighting one of the instructors could be a possibility as well. Hell, it could be a series of tests that included all of those; he had no way of knowing.

Whatever it ended up being, Lima hoped it was exciting.

A note from Elbowsnapper

Give me your criticisms, your rage takes, and above all else; Enjoy.​

About the author


Bio: I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.

My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.

I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.

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