We've all heard tales of the hunters. Highly trained warriors, traveling and working in teams of four, seemingly mythical in both ability and skill. We've also heard tales of Beacon, the famous school where hunters are trained in their art. But what about the people who don't make it? What about those who fail, or leave the prestigious school? What about those hunters that abandon their calling? Well gather 'round, my friends. This, is a tale about them.
This’ll be the day we waited for!
This’ll be the day we open up-
He drew his hand back from the alarm clock and groaned, only mildly irritated. On one hand, he only wanted to sleep more. On the other hand, that had been one of his favorite songs. Oh well. No use crying over spilt milk now. He sat up in his bed and yawned, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he glanced back at the clock.
Ah. Great. Time to start prepping for the night’s work. The man stood up out of his bed and got dressed in his usual attire: White shirt, royal blue slacks, vest, and bolo tie. He looked in the mirror propped up on the dresser and shot it a wink, clicking his tongue as he did so. Then he walked through his room, whistling that one song from the radio. He could smell the tempting scent of breakfast wafting up from downstairs, and damn if it didn’t smell delicious! He popped open the door to his room—the owner’s suite—and went down the stairs, down into the dining room of the tavern.
It wasn’t an awfully large establishment: It only had eight bedrooms, the kitchen, and the dining room in the whole building. And it only seemed smaller with the four full-timers literally living there. That dwindled the tavern’s bed-count to a measly four bedrooms, even if they did have a commanding balcony view of the lower floor. But hey, that’s okay. To be perfectly honest, those rooms were just for the folks too spectacularly drunk to drive home anyways. That’s what he guessed the two men covering their eyes and huddling over a couple of mugs of coffee in the corner booth were still recovering from.
He sat down at the bar, next to the brown-haired man in a dark-brown jacket with blue-jeans and a white t-shirt. The very same man who also happened to have a pair of bovine horns sprouting up from his temples. “So, Bruce ol’ buddy... Anything I miss during the festivities last night?” the man in blue asked, conversationally.
The man in brown didn’t even break eye-contact with the television he was watching—above the end of the bar—before replying “Can’t say there was, Royce. Pretty quiet, considering.” Then he nodded slightly in the direction of the screen. Royce glanced over at it, seeing the mug shot of a man with fiery orange hair in a white coat with a red collar.
“The robbery was led by the nefarious Roman Torchwick, who continues to evade authorities. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Vale Police Department. Back to you Lisa.”
Royce shook his head. “Damn shame. Poor old Thomas must been scared half to death!”
Bruce only grumbled in reply as the TV changed scenes, now showing a lavender-haired news anchor standing before an image of several animal-eared people holding up picket signs and the like. The news anchor continued. “Thank you, Cyril. In other new, this Saturday’s Faunus Civil Rights protest turned dark when members of the White Fang disrupted the ceremony. The once peaceful organization has now disrupted—“
Royce just shook his head as Lisa rattled through the past incidents that many residents of Vale remembered all too vividly. Then he put a hand on Bruce’s shoulder. “It’s not like there’s anything you could’ve done, anyways,” he offered apologetically.
The muscular faunus’s fist clenched up, threatening to snap the handle right off the mug of coffee he was holding. “You know damn well that you’re wrong about that,” he growled through clenched teeth. “If someone doesn’t deal with them, who knows what they’ll resort to next?” It wasn’t an invalid point, but it still didn’t convince Royce that his friend throwing away his life would make a noticeable difference.
However, before the barkeep could voice his opinion, a man in an immaculate white chef’s uniform with golden trim and equally well-kempt, short blonde hair burst through the kitchen doors. He pushed a small serving trolley over beside the bar, and began placing the usual breakfasts in front of their respective diners in nearly mechanical fashion. “Crepe, rolled, strawberry topping and orange juice.” He declared this with all the enthusiasm of a convict reciting his own prison sentence, and placed the meal in front of Royce.
“Another fine breakfast as always, Dimitri!” the barkeep shot with a wink.
“Obviously,” Dimitri grunted, having already moved on to Bruce’s plate. “Eggs benedict, bacon, coffee with one sugar, two cream.” He set the dish down in front of the burly man.
“Excellent…” Bruce downed the mug of coffee he already held and got started on the new one right away. “Thanks, chef.”
Dimitri just growled and moved further down the bar, to where a green-haired woman in a brown tank-top and green pants was sitting on a green jacket. She was slumped down, her head buried in her folded arms on the counter. The chef was not amused. “Nadia. You have three seconds,” he muttered with venom.
“Mmmergh.” It was the only reply he received. That said, she sat up just enough for him to place her plate on the bar.
“Waffles, buttermilk, blueberry topping, whipped cream, scrambled eggs, water.”
Nadia squinted as she looked down at the meal, trying to let as little light as possible into her bloodshot eyes. “Water? But I wanted…” Then she looked up at Dimitri. The man’s orange eyes looked like they were about to fire beams through his gold-rimmed glasses, straight at the alcoholic. “This. I wanted exactly this.” She sat up straight and began to eat. “Dick."
The chef growled, then stooped to the bottom of the serving tray. “Scones, powdered sugar, Earl Grey, honey, no sugar. Bon appétit.” He took the last plate and went over to the far corner booth to start his own breakfast. “You fucking ingrate.”
Nadia, meanwhile, looked forlornly at her glass before cradling her head in her hands. She let out an obnoxiously long sigh, prompting Royce to finish his light breakfast and hop down from his bar stool. “Hold on, I’ll get you something.” The barkeep walked over behind the counter and began mixing up a (deceptively) weak drink.
“Hehe, yay!” Nadia giggled before tearing into her breakfast. “Boss, you’re the beeest!”
“Yeah, I know,” Royce shot with a wink before stooping down to grab some ice from the small machine under the bar. He pulled the door to the machine open, only for a loud crackling sound to greet him as a flurry of ice-crystals came flying out of the box, solidifying into a solid layer of ice on contact with both himself and the drink-rack behind him. “Not again!” he shouted over the rogue ice-machine.
“Ah, shit…” Bruce jumped off his stool, dashing around the bar and throwing the door of the machine shut. Then he turned to Royce, who was pretty much stuck to the bar “Alright, here goes nothing…” the faunus dug his fingers into the sides of the ice-chunk and pulled, prying it apart and freeing the barkeep.
“Th-th-thanks, man,” Royce mumbled through blue lips and chattering teeth. Then he shot a wounded look at Nadia, who had fallen clean off her stool and was rolling around with laughter. “What, you th-think that’s f-funny?”
Nadia jumped up from her feet, and leaned on the bar before replying “Mhmmmm!” The sagely nod and closed eyes accompanying the response did nothing to restore Royce’s faith.
Dimitri leaned out of his booth and took one look at the frozen mess on the bar before shouting. “I’ve told how many times, you’ve got to replace that shitty-ass ice machine! I’ll bet it blew ANOTHER uncut!”
“Probably.” Bruce opened up the back panel of the device, and several light-blue shards of a crystalline material fell out and onto the floor. “Yep, Dee nailed it. Broke as a joke.”
“Alright then, guess I’ll have to pick up a replacement.” Royce muttered as he rubbed his hands together. “May as well pay old Thomas a visit. If we’re lucky that Torchwick guy will have left a light-blue behind.”
Dimitri snorted from over at his booth “And if he didn’t?”
“Then I could still give Tom a hand cleaning up, you heartless bastard!” Royce shouted, although by his tone he was obviously joking. “Didn’t have anything better to do today anyways. I should be back with plenty of time for opening.” He shrugged and walked out the front door.
Meanwhile, Nadia realized her only source of booze had just walked out of the bar, taking the only vehicle any of the four of them owned with him. She sighed and dropped her face into the rest of her breakfast, accordingly.
* * *
“I should be back with plenty of time for opening, he says. Only going to get a light-blue, he says!” Nadia grumbled, even as she played an upbeat tune on the green-backed keyboard in the corner of the room. “I swear, if that bastard doesn’t walk through those doors in the next twelve seconds, there will be hell to pay!” The tavern had been open for business for the last hour, and yet there was still no sign of Royce. And while Dimitri’s food and Bruce’s reputation as a bouncer did plenty to prevent anybody from being too restless, they did nothing to stop the crowd of disgruntled patrons gathered around the vacant bar from agreeing with Nadia’s sentiment.
But, fortunately, there were indeed such a thing as miracles. The roar of a motorcycle engine heralded a new arrival at the Blenheim Brew and Bunk, an arrival that burst through the door in record time, with only a slightly disheveled appearance. “Hey guys, sorry I’m late!” Royce announced.
And there was much rejoicing.
“Fucking took you long enough!” Dimitri shouted from over at the kitchen, before putting another order up on the window. He leaned out before snapping “Table four. Now!” He ducked away without another word as one of the servers dashed over to the window.
“Yeah, man, what took you so long?” One of the customers asked before placing some lien on the counter and tapping it. “And I’ll have a brass monkey.”
Royce ducked beneath the counter and piped “Comin’ right up, Barry.”
“The bastard went to grab some dust and probably got fucking distracted again!” Nadia hollered from the keyboard. She adjusted some knobs on the green instrument’s controls before launching into a frantic piano piece.
“Wait a minute, you didn’t get roped into helping clean up From Dust Till Dawn, did ya?” a blonde patron asked as she sat down on a barstool.
“Sure did, nobody else bothered to give ol’ Tom a hand.” Royce shrugged. “Lemon drop, I presume?”
“Of course!” The blonde replied.
The barkeep stooped down and began throwing the drink together as he continued talking. “Anyways, you should’ve seen it! Half the damn block was cracked pavement and broken glass. Hell, somebody blew a couple chunks out of some nearby buildings, way up on the top floors!”
A blue-haired man spoke up from further down the bar. “You know, I heard about that, it’s a damn shame. Here’s hoping they catch that ginger psycho soon, yeah?”
Royce chuckled before saying “Hey man, I’ll drink to that.” Then he looked up and down the bar. “Anybody else feel like drinkin’ to that?” he asked as he slid a few more drinks down the counter and collected his tips. The patrons, of course, agreed heartily. “Damn straight you do!” He moved down the bar as the crowd began to thin somewhat, the less social drinkers having received their liquor and retreated to the booths and tables.
One of the regulars, a white-haired woman with matching bear ears, spoke up. “But that’s not the best part, I heard that fiery bastard got his thug’s asses handed to ‘em by a little girl!”
“Oh god, not more of this feminist crap, Irene…” a purple-haired man moaned further up the bar.
“Hey, it’s true!” The woman replied, growing defensive.
Royce nodded as he served the last drink, and leaned on the bar for a few moments. “Gotta go with the lady on this one, Phil. Thomas himself said so, even could describe her plain as day: Thin little thing, had a bright red cloak and a matching scythe. Knocked the creeps into somewhere next week, flipping all over the place and everything! Couldn’t have been much older than a Signal student, to hear Tom tell it.”
“BWAHAHAHA! Now that is funny!” Nadia shouted from over at the keyboard. “Oh, thankies!” she squeaked as one of the servers delivered her drink from where Royce had left it on the bar.
“Well I’ll be damned, a Signal student made that mess? Well, shit.” Phil replied “You win this round, Irene.” He admitted, moments before Irene stuck her tongue out at him.
The night proceeded from there just like it did any other night at the Brew and Bunk: Much food was eaten, much booze was drunk, and plenty of good stories were shared over the white noise of Nadia’s keyboard and chattering amongst the bar-goers. It was just this kind of evening that made this bar one of the most popular spots for the plain-old working-class person. The kind of person Vale was seeing more and more of, it seemed. It was a spot where for at least one evening, someone could forget the troubles of the world and just enjoy some friendly company.
A man with brick-colored hair walked in through the front doors, and smirked. “Heh. Well. I suppose this place will have to do.” He walked over to the bar and took a seat, three other men spreading out in his wake, before hollering down the bar. “Yo! Bluie! Whisky on the rocks, pronto!”
That’s not to say that the B&B didn’t have some… turbulence, now and again.
Royce raised an eyebrow before bending down beneath the bar. “Straight-up, I can respect that,” he mumbled.
“Funny, I don’t remember asking what you respect.” The man asked, his voice already loaded with liquor and bravado.
“… Yes sir.” Royce placed the drink on the counter and walked away without a word. He hit one of the silent alarms under the bar, causing the small lights set into the tables, booths, and bar to fade on and off softly. The regulars knew enough to start edging towards the staircase to the balcony. There they could view any possible commotion without getting caught up in it.
“Mhmm, damn right.” A second man, a black haired fellow with a body builder’s physique, mumbled as he sat down beside the first rabble-rouser.
Meanwhile, the third and by far heaviest-looking among the four sat down at a table, and beckoned to one of the servers. “Hey man, get the fuck over here, I’m starved”
Dimitri looked out of the window at the “man” sitting down at the table. He squinted his eyes and growled “Oh fuck me, no.” Then he darted away from the window, throwing his hands up in disgust.
Finally, the fourth man - dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit – had taken the closest seat to the keyboard. “Play the one about the frog ‘n’ the cow, awright?”
Nadia just tipped her head to the side. “The what ‘n’ the what now? Man, you’ve gotta be some special kind of sloshed. And trust me, I would know!”
“Whatever bitch, jes shut up ‘n’ play!” He slurred.
A razor-sharp glare sprung up in Nadia’s usually passive eyes.“… Yeah, sure, I can do that.” The musician began adjusting some knobs on the keyboard, and the sound of an electric guitar floated up from the instrument’s speakers.
Bruce, meanwhile, had decided he’d had enough. Sadly, rules were rules, so he’d have to at least try to use some delicacy at first… He walked up to the black-haired man at the bar, seeming to be the most sensible of the four thus far. “Hey, buddy.” He tapped the man on the shoulder as he spoke.
“Yeah, whaddy- what the fuck.” The man looked over at Bruce in disbelief before turning back towards the bar. “Yo, barkeep, you know you’ve got a farm animal runnin’ around the place?”
The man had hardly finished the sentence before the spectators on the balcony fell totally silent. It looked like the evening was going to be eventful, indeed. Bruce locked eyes with the black-haired man, a restrained fury shining behind them. “Listen. This is a nice place. We have standards. Simple rules. And if you and your friends can’t follow them, we’re gonna have to put you on the list. Now, that alright? Or are we gonna have a problem?”
The black-haired man grinned darkly before hopping off his barstool. He smirked before cracking his neck, and growled. “A fucking cow just told me to mind my fucking manners. We’ve already got a problem, beef-steak.” Without a word more, he reached out with both hands and grabbed Bruce’s horns before wrenching down, forcing the faunus down into a kneeling position. “I think I’ll be having steak for dinner… Dinner.” He muttered with a grin.
Bruce’s eyes shot wide open, and a solid, dark-brown glow began to radiate from his body. His muscles strained as his aura flared, and he slowly stood up in spite of his assailant’s attempts to wrench him back down again. He stood up until he was back at eye-level with the black-haired man, his normally blue eyes having become a luminescent red. He glared at the man, panting with effort as the two wrestled for control. Then….
“Hrmph- NNNRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOR!” Bruce roared with a primal fury as he swung his head, sending the black-haired man soaring through the air, then through a table, then out the front door. “Royce, Brazen!” Bruce growled, shooting a glance at the barkeep and noticing movement out of the corner of his eye.
Royce noticed that the second man at the bar had drawn a pair of triple-barreled pistols, and the barkeep wasted no time in responding. He shouted “Four horseman!” before leaping over the bar and punching the brick-haired man in the chest, just as the first couple of shots were fired. The rounds went wide, punching a couple holes in the wall but leaving Bruce unscathed. “You four pricks get the hell out of my bar!” Royce shouted. As if to accent his point, his body became wreathed in faint, deep-blue flames. A quartet of glyph-covered rings appeared next, encircling his ankles and wrists and causing his fists and feet to glow with brighter, white-colored flames.
The brick-haired man looked over to the heavy man sitting at the table. “Well? Don’t just sit there! DO SOMETHING!”
The hefty man looked up from the menu in his hands, then lumbered to his feet. “Fine, fine. Didn’t look like this place had good eats anywa-“
“YOU TAKE THAT BACK!”
The muffled scream had come from the kitchen doors which flew open to reveal Dimitri. He was holding lightweight swords in each hand, similar in appearance to elongated kitchen knives. Except for the fact that the handles had triggers and spools of cable on them. “TAKE IT BACK, YOU TASTELESS SWINE!” the chef screamed again, before pointing a blade to either side of the chubby man. He squeezed the triggers on his swords, firing the blades into the floorboards, a length of cable connecting both of them to their hilts. Then he jumped into the air, the cables retracting and launching him towards his foe. The chef brought both feet into the man’s chin, sending his girth crashing into the floorboards as Dimitri’s swords reconnected to their hilts. Then he struck up a ready pose as the big man stood back up.
All along the man in the orange jumpsuit was fumbling with some sort of weapon, that he finally managed to coax into a firearm form with a drum magazine. “You fuckin’ buzzkils’ve gotta learn!” he slurred, pointing the weapon at the three staff members.
However, the orange-clad man never got the chance to teach them. Before he could pull the trigger, Nadia pulled the hidden lever on the bottom of her keyboard, jack-knifing the speakers and control panel away from the physical keyboard and revealing several dust prisms housed within the latter as well as a long barrel within the former. “Sit back down ya drunken bum!” the musician muttered, before playing a few “notes” that shot out the end of the barrel in the form of yellowish, arcing blasts of energy. They sent the gunman twitching to the ground in short order.
Meanwhile, Royce dodged the gunfire from the brick-haired man, which shot through several bottles of liquor behind the bar. “You’re paying for that, douche! JAEGERBOMB!” when he said this, a puff of dust shot out from the chrome cocktail-shaker device on his waist before traveling to his hand, coalescing into a white-burning blob of energy. He threw it at the brick-haired man, who went flying towards the door when the orb exploded on impact. The target didn’t quite go flying out of the doors, and instead was stopped when he impacted with the black-haired man, who had entered the bar for more.
Bruce had gone behind the bar and retrieved the heft broad-axe stored above the bar in the meantime, and now brandished it alongside Royce as the four offenders stood back up, looking like they were in the mood for round two. “Alright then,” The giant faunus muttered, before the axe’s head reconfigured into two prongs with electricity arcing between them. “Come get some!”
The black-haired man was all too happy to oblige, carrying a large black-colored hammer with a spiked maul on the reverse side of the head. He charged toward Bruce and hefted a mighty swing, Royce dodging out of the path of the shock-wave resulting when Bruce blocked with his aura-wreathed weapon. The two giants exchanged blows with crushing force, evenly matched blow for blow as they fought each other.
Royce attempted to recover from his dodge and assist Bruce, but the Brick-haired man wasn’t finished with him yet. The ruffian fired off a few shots at the barkeep, one in fact grazing a cheek slightly. Royce recoiled in pain before gesturing with his arms. “GUNFIRE!” A complex ring-glyph with several other ring-glyphs arranged on its outer perimeter appeared in front of Royce, before spinning up to speed.
A stream of white dust-bolts flew forward from the glyphs, a few flying wide but most of them soaring towards the offender. The brick-haired man was able to intercept the bolts with shots from his own pistols, the two seemingly matched tit-for-tat.
Meanwhile, Nadia was drunkenly swinging her hefty keytar at the orange-clad man, who had dropped his weapon when he was shot the first time. “Whassa matter, boy? You run out of pew-pew?” the musician taunted before her target popped up from beneath a table, weapon in hand.
“Pew-pew this ya little bitch!”
Nadia barely managed to place her keyboard between herself and the hail of bullets, diving for cover with a surprised squeak.
Dimitri just looked on at his three fellows, tut-tut-tutting as he contemplated the various flaws in their respective forms. “Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy,” he grumbled, before tilting his head to the side, avoiding the rotating saw-blades lining the pudgy hostile’s shields with perfect timing. He glanced at the foe with a murderous glare, angry at him for having reminded the chef of his existence.
The blonde chef leaped into the air, narrowly avoiding a second swipe from the pudgy man, and shot out his sword’s blades again, into the floor behind the oaf. He reeled them in and zip-lined down past the man’s defenses, kicking him in the side of the head with surgical precision. Then he repeated a similar maneuver, between the man’s legs, and punched him in a particularly weak point as he flew past for massive damage. As the fat man collapsed to the ground in pain, Dimitri decided to prove once again that he had to do everything around here. He fired off his blades again, this time swinging past the orange-garbed man (Who he disarmed by kicking the gun out of his hands), the brick-haired man (Who he ensnared the gun-arms of with a sabre-cable) And the black-haired man (Who grabbed the chef out of the air and slammed him into the ground).
Dimitri looked up at the brute, who glanced down at the blonde man and smirked. “Cute.” Then the black-haired man raised his hammer, about to finish him off. But then he froze and began twitching.
The chef scurried out of the way to see Bruce, jamming the electrified portion of his weapon into the giant man’s back. The faunus was obviously not impressed with his enemy’s distractibility, and muttered “Pay attention to me when I fight you, dammit.” Then he picked up the unconscious man and tossed him out the door, his three comrades close to follow.
Meanwhile, a few of the spectators up on the balcony were offering cheers to the staff, having enjoyed such an intense fight. As a few of the regulars began filing back down to the floor, one of the newer patrons just sort of stood there, mildly confused. “What… What the fuck did I just watch?”
“You just saw team RBND in action, son.” An older regular chuckled as he walked past. “Yer damn lucky, too. Not many guys are big enough ass-holes to get them to fight like that.”
The younger patron's head popped up a bit. “”Rebound?” What the hell kind of team name is “rebound?”...” then after a moment he just shrugged and went back down the dining room. There the barkeep had started serving what hadn’t gotten shot up, the cook had gone back to cooking, the musician had gone back to playing songs that didn’t involve the shot-up portions of her keyboard, and the bouncer was waiting to file the report when the police arrived.