//Parallel Convergence// Prologue: A Quiet Day In our world, there are a hundred million things that are still beyond human understanding. From the Big questions about time, space, our beginning and our end, to the smallest of conundrums like why ice is slippery or how bicycles actually stay upright. All these questions still need answering. But that’s just our world. String theory and quantum physics has advanced far enough that many scientists don’t just believe there are other worlds, they know they exist, running parallel to our own. Hundreds of them. Millions of them. What sort of questions do those worlds have? Which ones have they already answered, and what powers and forces are they exposed to that we are not? And what exactly would happen if something crashed those worlds into ours? -------------------------------------------------------------------------- October 14th, Wednesday, 2016 Parrel, Massachusetts. Half a century ago, it was nothing more than a small town next to a big lake. A small tourist attraction like the hundreds of others that dotted rural New England in the US. Everyone knew everyone’s name and everyone’s business, and life was slow and peaceful, days of hard work and nights of family gatherings. Then the brothers were born. Thomas and John Nereci were always going to be meant for greater things. Their family was rich to start, and it was only their vacations that ever brought them to Parrel. But there was something about the land that called to them. So while they both left to realize their own greatness, it was to Parrel they returned once it had been achieved. Both had the mind of a scientist and the savvy of a business man, and through their combined efforts, Parrel has been changed forever. Gone is the small town, swallowed up by a small metropolis that has dug through the surrounding countryside, an oasis of civilization among the pine woods that surround it. One that has surged to the forefront of the academic and corporate worlds. This is the city that is at the forefront of the new burgeoning scientific age, the silicon valley of engineering and biology, the starting point of a new renaissance. All sorts have been drawn here, from those who dream to lead that charge into the future to those who have simply been swept up in the whirlwind of progress, for better or for worse. Few knew how quickly and completely things would change in the coming months for this new city. None knew how terrible those changes would be. And those who would be in any position to prevent it could be counted on your fingers. Too bad not even they knew who they were yet. ------------------------------------------- *Beep!**Beep!* *Beep!* *Beep!* *Beep!* *Beep!* *Beep!* *B- A groan permeated the dorm room, as a hand crept out from under the covers of a bed on one side of the room to flail for the off button on the alarm. It stayed there for a few moments, its owner engaged in a battle of wills with herself to drag herself from the warm embrace of her little bed, and it was a few minutes longer till another groan sounded and the battle was won. Ruby Rose Xiao-Long slowly sat up, rubbing her eyes as she swung her feet around to rest on the floor. She stared in a sleepy haze at the calendar on her nightstand. What was today? Why was there a circle around today? Was today the day Yang got back? No, that was a few weeks ago… Wednesday… Wednesday she normally had… oh. Oh. Oh. She had her psychology midterm today! She yelped as the realization hit her like a freight truck and she half fell out of the bed in a tangle of covers before she suddenly shook her head. ‘Calm down me. I actually studied this time. Maybe I didn’t actually understand everything but I studied! And I even set my alarm early, so I’ve got plenty of...time’ She’d turned and looked at the clock during that internal pep talk, and the slowly building confidence that she’d been gathering shattered with a horrified gasp. Those ‘few minutes longer’ after Ruby had shut off the alarm? Actually an hour and a half. “OhnoOhnoOhnoOhnoOhno-” The messy half of the room that was Ruby’s became just a little bit messier in that half a minute she took to fly out of her pajamas and into her clothes became just a little bit messier in her rush, and she snatched her backpack off the desk and bolted out the door because holy crabapples she was late .-. --------------- Ruby didn’t know yet of other worlds, but the similarities between her and another world’s Ruby were still apparent. She might not of had a team, but she was still the top of her field of study, years ahead of most students, and chasing after the example of her mother’s work in a bid to make the world a better place. She was also god awful at most subjects outside her area of expertise, which was why after her exam she was back in her dorm room, a pillow over her face as she slowly beat her head against the headboard. Why did she have to get up late? Why did she have to sleep through her alarm? Why didn’t Professor Belleran let her make up the test later instead of trying to fit a two hour exam into one hour of work? Why did she think psychology would be a fun class? And how the heck was she supposed to pass now??? “I am so going to fail this class” “The world is shocked and amazed at this revelation.” Ruby’s sorrow soured into disgruntlement as the door quietly clicked shut, and she poked her head over the pillow to glower at the newcomer. “Nobody asked you Weiss.” Weiss Schnee, heiress to the Schnee fortune, terror of the debate and fencing teams, and Rubys’ roommate, gave a dainty shrug in response. Her incredibly pale skin, white hair, and ice cold eyes were as much a mark of her birth as her name, marred only by the thin, jagged line across one of those eyes. Ruby always wondered how she got it, but with Weiss being, well, Weiss...“Thankfully you receive my help regardless. I told you that you should have set more than one alarm” she said as she walked over to her own desk and deposited her backpack there, rifling through it to find her homework. “Perhaps then you would have only barely failed instead of miserably.” “I woke up fine!” Ruby said with a defensive frown as she sat up. She still had the pillow in her arms, and hugged it close as she added a bit quieter with a sullen frown. “I just… didn’t get out of bed is all. there’s a difference!” “I’m sure your grade will reflect that perfectly.” Weiss said primly as she focused on her own work. Ruby huffed and stared at her feet. “...You could have woke me up. Its the only class we have together.” “I could have.” Weiss agreed with a calm nod. “But quite frankly? Your half of the room is still the mess it was at the start of the semester. You ignored my initial offer of study sessions. And I still think that you are far to be young to be attending such a prestigious academy, no matter what kind of… thermometer-matic-” “Thermodynamic” Ruby cut off with a small glower “-Whatever, engine you designed, if you even designed it yourself. Consider this midterm your wakeup call. This school? The pressure, the prestige, the sheer effort one needs to put in to succeed?" The heiress scoffed "You’re not ready for it.” The ensuing silence was heavy as Ruby stared at her roommate, Weiss ignoring her in favor of her papers as worked. The clock on the wall ticked quietly, the only sound for a few moments before Ruby finally quietly said “...you’re wrong.” When Weiss didn’t respond, Ruby sighed and glanced over at the clock before she pushed herself off the bed. “...Well. I’m going to work. Won’t be back until lateish so leave the door unlocked, ok?” “Mhm” “Right. Well… bye” “Mhm” “...Bitch.” “Child.” The door slammed close just a bit harder than it needed to. ------------------------------------ Ted’s Coney Island and Bowling Alley, hereafter and forevermore to be referred to only as Ted’s because no one has time to type that all out, had been around even before the Nereci’s flipped Parrel on its head. The bowling alley was a new addition, and the eponymous Ted had long passed, but his descendents still ran the place, and it did surprisingly well for itself despite the far more mainstream restaurants and entertainments that had cropped up in the city’s rise. Ruby bike skidded to a halt by the back entrance, chained up and locked before she jogged inside. The interior was cut into two halves, the restaurant and bowling alley each with their own sections, and Ruby quickly slipped through the kitchen for the bowling alley’s employee area. She’d only ever been allowed to work one kitchen shift. She was really, really glad it had only been a small fire. One quick uniform change later and had made her way to the counter area. The restaurant was so typically coney island it almost hurt to look at, but the bowling alley was a retro and neon basked homage to the eighties, right down to the old-school arcade machines that lined one of the walls and the fact that everyone who got hired here seemed to have anything but normal colored hair. Up to and including… “Hey there Ciri. Sorry I’m late, I got my butt kicked by that last midterm” Cirilla Riannon was slouched over the counter, midway through a bubblegum pop and perusing through the latest issue of Time. Platinum blonde hair hid bright green eyes, and there was one too many buttons undone than was probably proper on her uniform’s top. Ruby had worked with the girl for over a month now, but apart from the fact that she went to Vincent as well, everything else about her was a mystery. It seemed to be a running theme for people who knew her. Some say she came from old money and had run off. Others said her dad worked for the CIA or MI6, and that was why she never seemed to be strapped for cash despite working such a meager job. No one really knew. Regardless of that, what she was for sure was one of the few friends Ruby had managed to make in this city, and her eyes lit up in recognition and relief at Ruby’s greeting as the magazine snapped shut. “Little Red! About time you showed up. And well thats what you get for not listening to me when I told you not to take Jackass Belleran.” “seems like everyone has an ‘I told you so’ for me today” Ruby grumbled as she flopped across the counter herself with arms crossed and chin hidden behind them. “My mom is gonna kill me when she finds out” T-T “Aww” Ciri threw a one armed hug around Ruby “Relax. Everyone fails a couple classes on their journey to whatever degree, that just means your human.” “...Can I… get my shoes-” “Shoo for five minutes I’m counseling” Ciri snapped at the blonde kid at the counter, one nasty glare enough for him to take the hint that vanished immediately when she looked back to Ruby. “And heck, just because you bombed the midterm doesn’t necessarily mean you fail the whole class. You just have to kick some serious ass for the second half, right?” “She didn’t fail any classes. And… I mean, if I had only failed because I was late sure, but like, I just don’t get this stuff!” Ruby said in exasperation. “Hey, no one said this was gonna be easy little red. Not everything is going to be gears, pulleys and whatever other techno wizardry you talk about and I nod at.” Ciri said with a small smirk. “Seriously, you’re definitely going to fail with that kind of glum attitude. you know what you need?” she asked as she suddenly jerked the hug in closer and put her free hand forward. “...A girls night out!” “...A what?” That actually put a small dent in Ciri’s seemingly endless confidence as she glanced down with a slightly muddled frown. “...You know, going out on the town with your friends. Which I suppose don’t specifically have to be girls but ‘a night out’ sounds far less exciting. C’mon, it’ll be fun! You, me and whoever else you know here?” “Oooh. So like a guild raid in real life.” “...Yes. Exactly.” Ruby slowly nodded but the frown didn’t leave her own face. “...I dunno. That seems like… not my idea of fun.” she finally said. “That’s exactly why its a good idea.” Ciri said with a mischevious grin. “Your playing it too safe here Ruby. You’re away from home, you work enough to have some spending money, and this city’s got plenty to do for a cute single girl like yourself. You’re supposed to do something crazy or two when you go to college, and what better time than to make up for your first real failure of a student!" “... I still dunno…” “Ruby.” Ciri said as she shifted the grip so she had both of Ruby’s shoulders as she stared her dead in the eye. “Have I ever steered you wrong?” “Well there was the time-” “Exactly! You’re going, and thats final. I’ll even pay! So, who do you want to invite?” Ciri said with a bright grin as she released her captive. “O-oh, um, ok. And… well, you… Jaune and Pyrrha… not Weiss… Uhh…” she had a reaaally bad idea of how things would go of Ciri and Yang ever ended up in the same room together e_e “... and… well… I don’t think my guildmates count so uhh….” Ciri gave a good natured sigh as she wrapped Ruby up in a hug. “Good heavens you’re helpless. Never mind, it’ll be just us two, and it was be awesome, ok?” She said as she pushed the hug back. “You won’t bail on me?” “I… I guess not-” “great!” Ciri said with a ruffle of Ruby’s hair before she let go and started to leave. “How’s after your shift tomorrow sound?” “...Sure? Do you really want to do this though, I-I don’t want to cramp your style or anything. Do people still say that or is that just something from movie-” “-Yes Ruby I'm sure and no not really but its fine. Good luck on your shift!” And with that Hurricane Ciri was gone, and Ruby was left still trying to process what the hell had just happened before she rolled her eyes and huffed as she turned back to the counter, smiling despite herself. Ciri might have been way more personality that Ruby was ever able to handle, but she had been the one to help her get this job, and she seriously doubted she would have survived her first semester if it wasn’t for the 3rd year student there to help her along. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all- “...Am I allowed to ask for my shoes now?” “oh! Sorry jaune. Uh, yea, here. You gonna lose to Pyrrha again?” she asked as she passed Jaune his shoes “No! Maybe. Probably. But hey, I only threw three gutterballs last time” her fellow scraggly freshman said with a self deprecating grin. Ruby just snorted and waved him off, asking him to say hi to the redhead for her as she settled in for her shift. Strangely excited for what she was nonetheless sure was going to be a train wreck tomorrow. How little she knew how right she was.