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Fanfic / Redemption

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Russel: I want to pound my head against a tree. What is wrong with this team? What sort of fucked-up personality decides getting stung repeatedly by wasps is fair payback for being better in class? Cardin. What sort of person decides hardcore psychological warfare is a suitable substitution? Dove. I'm almost afraid of what Sky will suggest if I keep refusing.
Russel, in one of the moments of Lampshade Hanging common to this fic.

Redemption by RainStorm4 is a re-telling of RWBY from the point of view of Team CRDL. The author watched the show, decided the Gang of Bullies archetype wasn't good enough for a series with such great characters, and took steps to amend that themself. It's told from the point of view of Russel Thrush, who's presented as a Deadpan Snarker with a Dark and Troubled Past, and shows Cardin as a Jerk Jock who develops into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold; Sky Lark as a nerd developing into a Badass Bookworm; and Dove Bronzewing as the Plucky Comic Relief who also serves as The Heart of the team. Considering that only one of the four was given any personality in the show, this is definitely an improvement.

Because CRDL shows up so infrequently in the actual show, the author invents numerous situations and events, including occasions where CRDL interacts with RWBY and JNPR, to the extent of developing some actual friendships with the main characters that can be pretty Heartwarming.


It is now complete with 42 chapters and is a standalone story without any sequels or spinoffs.

Redemption contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Cardin’s father; a large part of Cardin’s plot is learning to be someone other than the man who raised him.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: How Russel treats the reveal of Pyrrha's Semblance. Sure, he's mad, but the fact that his armour-wearing teammates kept picking fights with the girl with a Semblance of magnetism is too appealing to his sense of irony for him to hold a grudge. Though he does insist on being the one to tell them.
    Russel's internal monologue: Cardin, Dove and Sky's faces make nearly dying worth it.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The whole point of the fic.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Russel acts like this sometimes to hide his own grief and guilt over Violet’s suicide.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Team CRDL, gradually:
    • Cardin and Russel have a couple of good moments, like when Russel refuses to allow Cardin to become ashamed of his Semblance and when Cardin helps Russel get over Violet’s death.
    • Sky and Dove, who are partners both in fighting and romantically, are frequently made of this trope.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Cardin feels he has this before Russel snaps him out of it by pointing out the ways he can use his Semblance to his advantage. His Semblance is to induce fear.
  • The Beard: After the fall of Beacon, when Team CRDL becomes the keystone of the shelter's defence, Glynda has Russel pretend to be in a relationship with the Malachite twins to project an image of Team CRDL being unspeakable badasses who have everything under control to keep the refugees' morale up.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Yang and Russel. It gets to the point where Ren threatens them with Nora Valkyrie if they don't pull together and complete a group assignment. They then hook up.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Dove and Sky, to Dove's family.
    • Cardin to his team (once he's gotten over his more dictatorial instincts).
    • Downplayed, but Russel shows this in a mild way in regards to Ruby once or twice, noting that she's a cute kid who reminds him of some of his foster-sisters.
    • Sky also shows shades of this to Nora, after the group assignment; for example, he is seen checking on her welfare when the bomb in Mountain Glenn goes off.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Russel and his team survive the invasion of Vale, as do many other named characters. However, the events of canon still happen, and Russel willingly gives up trying to reach Yang that night, despite her having already lost her arm, because too many ordinary citizens need his help, and, as already established in-story, he can't heal a missing limb. In the aftermath, when Yang completely shuts down as in canon, she doesn't reply to any of his letters.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Part of CRDL's reason for hating Jaune once they learn of the forged transcripts comes from the logical consequences of this; primarily, that Jaune cost someone who had actually trained for applying to Beacon their chance at attending the Academy, and that it is a legitimate concern that Jaune will hold JNPR back or put the rest of their lives at risk to accommodate for him needing to catch up in terms of skill level.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Cardin, whose fear Semblance makes him lethal to his own team in a melee until he gets control over it; Sky, whose super senses make him a hilariously unfit partner for Dove, whose Semblance is basically sonic screaming, and Russel, who hates his Semblance so much he refuses to tell his teammates what it is for almost two semesters.
    • Russel's Semblance is revealed to be healing through absorbing and then suppressing injuries. He has a lot of issues with it because his parents, who were Hunters, and his grandmother, who was old, all died before it manifested, then Violet, who he could have saved if she hadn't set it up otherwise, killed herself in such a way as to make sure he couldn't help her. He tells his teammates that his Semblance is simply absorbing injuries and that he doesn't actually suffer from them; unfortunately, by that point they know him well enough to know he's lying through his teeth. Surprisingly, they see that as very positive because it means he's not suicidal.
      • Russel's Semblance also leads him to be targeted by an unknown assailant so that he can't heal Mercury after Mercury is attacked by Yang during the tournament.
  • Call-Back: A fair few, actually.
    • Russel tells his brand new team that his foster-parents didn't care where he went to school, noting to himself that he should do this before they learn to tell when he's lying. In chapter 32, Dove and Cardin both realise that Russel was lying to them about how his Semblance works and both express amusement that he thinks he can still lie to them.
    • Russel spends a good part of one chapter arguing with Cardin and Dove about the pros and cons of full plate armour. Russ doesn't wear armour because it impedes his mobility. Cardin, Dove and Sky wear armour because it provides them protection and they're strong enough for it not to bother them. When the teams are in Mountain Glenn, and Dove accidentally collapses a tunnel, Weiss uses a glyph to throw RWBY, JNPR and CRDL to safety, and Russel is one of three who lands on his feet. However, when the bomb goes off, Russel is down for a couple of minutes and his Semblance is severely reduced, while Cardin, Sky and Dove are the only ones who shrug off the blast.
  • Camp Gay: Played With and Invoked; Dove and Russel are joking around right after Dove reveals his sexuality to Russel; Russel makes an emotional reveal of his own but then tries to wave off Dove’s concern, leading Dove to accuse him of invoking this trope.
  • Character Development: Like you wouldn't believe.
    • Cardin goes from a racist bully to a genuinely good leader and professional Huntsman over the course of their mission. He puts trust in Russel, uses the Semblance he hated to save his team from a horde of Grimm and even allows Russel to heal Blake despite the very real risk to Russel's life.
    • Russel goes from an angry, depressed guy suffering the stages of grief to a guy who's happy where he is and who quite clearly adopts CRDL as his new brothers. He also gets over his grief at Violet's death, gets a handle on his temper and bad attitude, and starts a relationship with Yang.
    • Even Dove and Sky get some: Sky goes from being a nerd who's not great at fighting to being a decent tactician who can come up with a half-dozen possibilities for the motivation behind the invasion of Vale off the top of his head, while Dove goes from being someone whom nobody takes seriously to being a real peacemaker between the teams.
    • This is best seen in their fight against the Grimm, where all of their incompatible or despised Semblances come into play: Cardin uses his Semblance to draw the Grimm to him and triggers the cartridge of fire Dust that Russel gave him; Russel goes to save him from the collapsing cave and is guided to him by Dove and Sky, Sky using his super senses to tell Dove where to direct them. Russel then heals Cardin, and Cardin returns the favour by pulling Russel to safety.
    • There's also the fact that for the most part, none of CRDL care when they find out Blake's a Faunus. By that point, they've gotten a real sense of perspective.
    • Russel's reason for disliking Jaune is that while the members of CRDL are all trying to become better people, Jaune never displays guilt or remorse for sneaking into Beacon under false pretences, and instead keeps benefiting from his more competent friends.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Downplayed and Subverted for Russel: he had several foster-parents and his last ones actually tried to convince him to stay in Vacuo rather than moving to Vale. Also Deconstructed in that his lack of family made him cling to Violet, leaving him emotionally-devastated when she died.
  • Convenient Coma: After draining his Aura by healing Blake of taking a bomb to the face, Russel lapses into a coma and is kept in the infirmary for a number of weeks. When he is released his fitness levels are incredibly poor and he has lost much of his stamina.
  • Darker and Edgier: When the hunter shadowing mission started the author announced the story would get both physically and mentally dark. Cue largely underground battles with masses of Grimms inside a mass grave. Afterwards, when they reconnect with the other teams after the Breach, a bomb that the White Fang has left for Blake is triggered. Blake is severely injured, and Russel heals her despite his Semblance and Aura being dangerously low. The strain of this leaves Russel comatose and on life support for a day.
    • The last chapters of the Vytal arc as well, as Beacon itself and many relations built up are Doomed by Canon.
  • Death by Origin Story: Violet.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Sky accidentally does this to Ozpin and Goodwitch. As his Semblance makes him a living lie detector, he can identify when they aren't telling the truth about their reasons for firing Russel as the tournament's medic. After CRDL confronts Goodwitch, Qrow is sent to explain the situation, to try and limit the damage that CRDL may unwittingly cause by blundering in unaware.
    • Averted with Cinder, of course. When Russel's Semblance is revealed to be healing, she arranges for him to be ambushed and badly injured, so that he won't be available to heal Mercury after Yang breaks his legs on live television.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: What Russel considers releasing the wasps on Pyrrha to be. This is justified, because it's suggested Cardin has a few other issues he's working through, that lead to him overreacting.
  • Driven to Suicide: Violet. A large portion of Russel’s character arc is working out the resulting angst.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Wivern, one of the Huntsmen CRDL shadows on their mission during the Breach of Beacon. To be fair, though, he's not their mentor.
    • He also appears to be a Sink-or-Swim Mentor, but that is ultimately subverted and lampshaded: while he was content to let Russel and Cardin fight Grimm by themselves, he also pointed out that he wasn't exactly going to stand by and let them get mauled if they were in over their heads, and he did also need to get an idea of their skill levels.
  • Evil Mentor: Downplayed. Because Corvus and Wivern lie about their true names CRDL is justifiably suspicious. However, it's revealed that they are legitimate Huntsmen, and they are on a necessary mission. They're also Qrow Branwen and Taiyang Xiao Long. When Russel reveals in a very misogynistic way that he's interested in Yang, Taiyang almost chokes and Qrow has to make sure Tai doesn't break their cover.
  • Foreshadowing: Because of the aesthetic differences between Russel and the rest of CRDL, the author made Russel a character who was originally from Vacuo, and who had moved to Vale to enrol in Beacon. This is superficially similar to Sun Wukong, and when Russel and Sun meet at the dance, they discover they have several friends in common. What Russel doesn't realise is that one of those friends told Sun about Russel and about Violet's death, and that Sun, not realising Russel had only told CRDL, let the information slip out to RWBY.
    • One of the first conversations the newly-formed Team CRDL has revolves around how much armour they wear, and highlights the fact that Russel only wears a single spaulder (mostly as a makeshift pocket). Later, when Jaune and Russel fall into a crevice at Mountain Glenn, Pyrrha is unable to stop Russel from falling because his spaulder-strap snaps, and he has no other large metallic items she can lift with her Semblance.
    • A meta and unintentional version: chapter 25 was published before the release of season 3, which introduced the Pyrrha-as-Fall-Maiden plotline. In chapter 25, Russel jokingly asks Pyrrha whether she wants actual divinity. Rain Storm should be proud of himself; he called it!
    • What has to be a deliberate example: Qrow, when talking to CRDL about the chaos Cinder's as-of-yet-unknown group is arranging, tells them to simply be on guard and wait until they realise what is happening before they act. Specifically, he tells them to 'wait until the penny drops'. This is before Pyrrha and Penny's match.
    • Jaune's canon semblance works similar to Russel's.
  • Face Palm: Everyone in the team, but especially Sky, who frequently plays the mature one to the rest of his team's antics. Although, it's Russel being the Only Sane Man when things get really out of hand.
  • Friendless Background: Downplayed for Russel; his poor attitude, lack of a stable home and decision to date a Faunus girl made him a bit of a social outcast, although he and Sun Wukong do have several friends in common since they're both originally from Vacuo.
  • From Bad to Worse: The final act, in which we see the Fall of Beacon. If anything, this fic is even more explicit in showing the destruction caused by the Grimm invasion than the series.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Dove's parents name every child with a peace theme, but Dove is aggressive enough to counter it.
  • Groin Attack: Russel's Semblance is transferring injuries from other people to himself, and then suppressing said injuries. Scarlet was hit in the groin with flaming coconuts. Russel is not amused when he is asked to heal the injury.
    He’s looking at me with big, pained eyes. He looks like a puppy that’s been kicked. In the groin.
    I let out a heartfelt groan. ‘I’ll only do it if you all agree to never bring this up again.’
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Subverted to hell and back with Russel, who, while an orphan, threatens Jaune with physical harm if Jaune tries to make anything heart warming or emotional out of the fact.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Sky and Russel argue over what is Yang's best feature (her chest or her ass) right in front of her father, who is in disguise at the time. When this is revealed to the team, it's several minutes before Dove can speak.
  • Hurricane of Puns: How Yang and Russel's conversations always end up, during the chapter when they are forced to write a history paper together with Ren. Ren gets increasingly irritated by it, especially when they start punning with his name.
  • Jerk Jock: The entire group, although for different reasons with extra flavor.
    • Cardin actively refrains from using anything else than brute force because of his Semblance.
    • Dove comes across as a bit of a dope who acts impulsively and follows the crowd.
    • Sky is bookworm who is frequently so wrapped up in his thoughts that he doesn't realise how insensitive he's being.
    • Russel is dealing with a lot of grief, but he is also just a natural smartass who doesn't suffer fools lightly.
  • Karma Houdini: Jaune, to team CRDL. As Russel points out during the Mountain Glenn missions, Jaune displays no regret for costing someone their chance into Beacon due to his forged transcripts and relies on the rest of JNPR to carry him until he catches up to their level.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: Russel, after Violet’s death.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A lot of things in the RWBY universe:
    • Blake’s ears especially, as well as the partnering system and how it matched everyone up romantically.
    • The title of the fic itself counts: Redemption refers both to the fact that Russel feels a huge amount of guilt over Violet's suicide as well as the fact that the author wanted to develop the characters, which involved making them appear more sympathetic.
  • Missing Mom: Cardin's mother left the family to get away from Cardin's abusive father. Cardin's father then apparently spent years trying to track her down to get revenge.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Downplayed, subverted and played straight all in one! Ren reveals that he and Nora spent time in foster care after the death of their parents. Russel notes that he feels a stronger connection to Ren as a result, but he never says the same thing about Nora, and he also notes that there is no one type of child produced by the foster care system.
    • He does wonder if this is why Ren goes by his last name, noting that he picked up his own habit of using people's surnames due to the filing system used by the foster care system.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Jaune. Oh dear God, Jaune. Russel and Cardin both separately wonder if this is his Semblance.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: CRDL's supervisors Qrow and Taiyang out of all people, though CRDL do not know them in person and thus don't recognize them.
  • Posthumous Character: Violet, Russel’s dead Faunus girlfriend.
  • Pragmatic Evil:
    • Russel's enemies from Vacuo are bullies, not sociopaths. They defend civilians alongside of CRDL instead of trying to pick another fight in the middle of the invasion.
    • Junior Xiong is a nightclub manager with mob connections, but he willingly offers his easily-defensible building as a public shelter and sends out his men to provide disaster relief.
  • Pungeon Master: Both Yang and Russel; Ren is less than amused when assigned to work with both of them.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Russel was raised by his grandmother for a few years after his parents died. Then his grandmother died too and Russel went into fostercare.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Dove and Sky suspect that Russel has PTSD because of some large scale incident; really, it was just the way he was expressing his grief over losing Violet .
  • Shipper on Deck: Cardin, Dove and Sky are all convinced that Yang is the right girl for Russel, to the extent that they trick him into dancing with her at the school prom.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Once Ironwood and Ozpin are made aware of Russel's Semblance of healing they hire him to work as a medic during the Vytal Festival Tournament, while Cinder's faction targets him to prevent him from finding out about Mercury's legs.
  • Stepford Smiler: Dove. Because of his own violent nature than anything else.
  • Stepford Snarker: Russel, with a vengeance. He doesn't have much space for anything else in his worldview and Ozpin needs to curtail this trait.
  • Straight Gay: Dove and Sky. They are not shown to be gay until they talk about it.
  • Strawman Has a Point: The story explains in context why Jaune forging his transcripts is a worse offense than people usually believed.
  • Survivor Guilt: Russel, due to Violet’s suicide.
  • The Medic: Russel, after he becomes more comfortable using his Semblance. Weiss lampshades how unsuited his temperament is for the role.
  • Trickster Mentor: Qrow under the alias Corvus. Tai is just not invested into mentoring or actually doing any interaction with the teens.
  • Wham Line: After Russel has been ambushed, beaten, arrested and then subsequently fired by Ozpin as the tournament's medic, Ozpin essentially tells him that he is doing it because everything that has happened is Russel's fault. Cue Sky:
    He was lying. Ozpin... was lying to us.